Twelve Very Bitter Divorces

Michael Estrin Columns, Lawyer 12 Comments

Love does not conquer all. Virgil got that one wrong. People fall out of love just as easily as the fall into it. And when the relationship goes south, there’s a good chance bitterness isn’t far behind.

Here are some divorces that certainly left a bitter mark. Happy Valentine’s Day from your friends at Bitter Lawyer.

1. Someone Madoff with the Alimony

Think a divorce settlement is final? That’s probably what Paul Weiss partner Steven Simkin thought. Then he realized that the $2.7 million he had agreed to pay his ex in 2006 was part of larger sum that was invested with, you guessed, Bernie Madoff. Simkin is back in court trying to lower his wife’s alimony. Nothing beats a Ponzi scheme for bringing quarrelling lovers back together.

2. SEC U Later

You know things are bad between you and your ex when a divorce proceeding draws the attention of the SEC. The 2003 split up between former GE CEO Jack Welch and his wife Jane was already anything but a run-of-the-mill divorce, but setting the SEC on him because of allegedly undisclosed retirement perks? Jane, that was a low blow.

Fortunately for Jane, it was a low blow that worked. Jack agreed to pay GE $2 million a year for use of an apartment and the company’s private jet. That got the feds off his back. Getting Jane off his back was probably a little more expensive, though the specific amount wasn’t disclosed.

3. Kissing Cousins

You can’t marry your cousin. You can’t marry your second cousin, either. They don’t teach this in law school, presumably because everybody got the memo. Well, everybody except for Rudy Giuliani, who married and then divorced, his second cousin, Regina Peruggi.

But it’s not like any of this came to light during, say, the honeymoon. Giuliani and Peruggi had been childhood friends, and it took 14 years, a civil dissolution and an annulment by the Catholic Church to separate these two. Talk about an awkward family reunion.

4. You Got Served

Feuding spouses take a strange delight in informing each other of their intent to divorce. And if you want a nasty, knock-down-drag-out fight, it’s best to fire a particularly crass opening salvo.

Enter Rudy Giuliani, who makes this list for a second time with an especially bitter tactic. So Rudy, how did you tell Donna Hanover it was over?

At a press conference.

Of course, Hanover may have had the last laugh. She had Rudy’s girlfriend, Judith Nathan, banned from Gracie Mansion. Hanover also walked away with the kids and $6.8 million.

5. Marriage is a Prison

There are those who liken marriage to a prison sentence, and then there are those like H. Beatty Chadwick who are literally doing matrimonial time. Chadwick spent 14 years (and counting) in jail for contempt of court because the judge believes that he began hiding $2.5 million when his wife initiated divorce proceedings.

Chadwick, who remains in custody, says he doesn’t have the money. Of course, he also describes his marriage as “placid and happy.” But his wife, Barbara, tells a different story, alleging that Chadwick controlled every aspect of her life, including what she wore, when they had sex (7:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays) and how much toilet paper she could use (six sheets per visit).

Of course, as a guest of the state, someone else gets to make those same decisions for Chadwick now.

6. Take Another Little Piece of My…Kidney

Honey, I want my kidney back—or $1.5 million. That’s effectively what a Long Island, New York surgeon told his estranged wife in the middle of a lengthy divorce proceeding.

Dr. Richard Batista had donated his kidney to his wife Dawnell in 2001. Two years later, Dawnell was allegedly engaged in an extramarital affair. In 2005, she asked for a divorce, and a few years later, he asked for his kidney back. Too bad Dr. Batista didn’t marry Dawnell in a community property jurisdiction.

7. The Check is Mos Def in The Mail

BigLaw doesn’t really do divorce, which makes Blank Rome one of the few Am Law 100 firms to deal with marriages gone bad. They’ve handled divorces for Howard Stern, Geraldo Rivera and Donald Trump (twice). But when Blank Rome represented rapper/actor Mos Def in his divorce from Maria Yepes, there was a little problem with the bill.

Strike that. There was a $60,000 problem with the bill, which prompted Blank Rome to sue Mos Def in 2008. Maybe next time Blank Rome will demand a retainer. Just a thought.

8. You Keep The Men, I’ll Take The Name

Would you read The Stassinopoulos Post? Neither would we. So it was probably a good decision when Arianna Huffington (born Arianna Stassinopoulos) decided to keep her ex-husband Michael’s last name.

So what did Michael get? How about the chance to finally come out of the closet and become a gay rights activist. File that one under bittersweet.

9. Gubernatorial Sandwich

There’s usually another man or woman in the middle of a divorce proceeding, but when that other man is allegedly in the middle of the marital bed, you just know that the divorce is going to be way nastier than that nasty-good night they shared as newlyweds.

That’s what happened with former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey and his ex, Dina Matos. But in a surprising twist, it was McGreevey who claimed that the couple had had a threesome with another man. Matos vehemently denied the claim and said she had no idea McGreevey was bisexual.

McGreevey is now happily out of the closet and unhappily out of the Governor’s Mansion. And Matos is without alimony. [New York Post]

10. Second Time to Claim the Ring

Here’s a Forbes list you don’t want to be on—most expensive divorces.

Throughout his career, six-time NBA champ Michael Jordan has prided himself on being No. 1. But when MJ finally split with his wife Juanita (it took two tries), he reportedly had to pay $150 million. That was back in 2006. One has to wonder how much MJ might have saved if he had pulled the trigger back in 2002.

11. Tough Enough

Divorce isn’t hard. Just ask former New York Giants sack-master Michael Strahan who said his $15 million divorce from Jean Muggli “wasn’t tough.”

Not tough, Michael?

She accused you of beating her, secretly videotaping her sister undressing and having affairs with different women, including one nicknamed Cupcake.

Well, maybe that’s not nearly as tough as facing the Eagles’ offensive line on Sunday.

12. Hope You Were Taking Notes

Divorce comes with the territory for many of the NBA’s top players. But Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade may have to cough up more than just a chunk of his millions.

After alleging Dwyane had an extramarital affair and gave her an STD, wife Siohvaughn has demanded the names of “all of his sexual partners during their six-year marriage.”

Siohvaughn, if half of what you say is true, that’s going to be long list with a lot of first names and identifying details like “those twins in Dallas.”

Share this Post

  • Al Dickman

    What about the women who “stuck with her man” in the face of adversity, like Spitzer’s wife?  That woman deserves a medal or 2; first for marrying the Klingon –why she chose that guy?!!?- she was once very attractive –in the 1980’s–, and an Harvard Law graduate to boot–, then for bearing him children (can you imagine having to look at that guy on sweating top of you all the time–and finally, for sticking with the dummy after finding out he was paying big bucks to hump some high class whore, all while wearing his long socks (but not a condom???).  Other women would have skewered that a-wipe, not stayed married to him for a nano-second.  But After all, he’s worth some money now, and his old dad who’s 83 and ill is really loaded.  That’s probably why she’s waiting before filing the divorce-o papers.  Once Elliot comes into the big buckaroos, a 50% settlement will REALLY be worth some snatch.  She’ll then Go for it, Silda baby, and men will be beating a path to her door!

  • BL1Y

    What about the 800+ lawyers and staff who found out yesterday that their firms were divorcing them?

  • Geek

    We’re talking about romance, dude.  Tho they’re all getting f***ed by their firms, that’s not in a romantic way.

  • Anonymous


  • Chad

    What about my divorce?  It’s pretty damn bitter.

  • Anonymous

    I have the opposite problem.  I haven’t been able to attract chicks until lately, when they’re all getting laid off and I have a good job.  Do you think they are only interested in me for my paycheck?  Or have I all of a sudden become suave and sophisticated?  Please advise.

  • Vengeful Bastard

    3:06, if any of them are the same ones who paid you no mind when they were employed, and are now seeing you as a potential ATM, pump and dump.  They deserve no less.

  • BL1Y

    @3:06: Funniest thing I’ve ever read here.  I literally laughed out loud.

  • Bill Dugan

    Anonymous, I would watch it.  If you were a dork before, you are probably a dork now, but one with a job.  I think the maybe women may be interested in having you take them out to clubs where they can meet other guys.  In any event, don’t spend any money on them and see if they’re still interested. If they’re not, its your job/money they’re after.

  • Alma Federer

    Why do you men always link sex to money?  The anonymous man is concerned that women ARE attracted to him, and you others are telling him to “pump and dump” them?  Whatever happened to accepting God’s gifts as they present themselves?  Is it possible that women have come to find the good in this man, or that this man has matured and become more attractive over time to these women?  Why should it all boil down to quick satisfaction.  A woman is interested in a relationship with someone who is going to be there?  This man may well fulfill that need.

  • Jessie

    Good comment Alma!

  • Anon

    Someone Madoff with the Alimony FUNNY PUN