In our effort to provide the reader of this blog all of the serious (ahem) family law news we can find, a top source for family law news, the New York Daily news provided some fodder for this blog this weekend. While I suspect some of you are waiting for us to discuss the Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez break-up, the story at issue is not that one, but the one involving a woman in England who divorced her husband because he wouldn’t play Fifty Shades of Grey.
In this case, it was reported that the woman, a successful banker earning $600,000 per year alleged that her attempt to jump start their love life with author E.L. James’s provocative novel backfired when her husband accused her of “unreasonable behavior.” The husband allegedly blamed the breakdown of their marriage on that book.
Whether or not this book is causing similar marital distress, or perhaps the opposite, in New Jersey is unknown. Since most divorce Complaints in New Jersey are filed citing irreconcilable differences, a no-fault ground, we don’t hear the same level of the detail regarding why a couple is divorcing. This was not the case 7-8 years ago and before, when irreconcilable differences was not available and most cases proceeded on the fault ground of "extreme cruelty." Back in those days, parties had to allegedly prove the reasons why the conduct of the other made it unreasonable and improper to require them to continue to live together as husband and wife. Now courts really did not care what was really in the Complaint and the only testimony at a final hearing was testimony that the allegations in the Complaint were true. That said, depending on how angry people were, you could get a few short paragraphs, or you could get an Encyclopedia Britannica of allegations.
Since it was largely irrelevant, only served to raise and more costly and time consuming than an irreconcilable differences Complaint, the system is better for us not having to file cruelty complaints in most cases (we may still file them if custody is an issue and/or there is a tort claim being filed too). That said, from a lawyer’s perspective, the cruelty complaints and counterclaims often afforded you, early on, to learn the true dynamic of the relationship in a way that better enabled you to strategize and otherwise help your client. Still and all, divorcing your spouse for not acting out what is in a book is a new one for me.
Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or firstname.lastname@example.org.