IRA S. v. JANICE S. (Supreme Court, New York County)

In this highly contested divorce initiated in October 2007, the Court held that the wife’s conduct during the divorce contributed to the decline in the value of the husband’s business asset – his corporate partnership interest in the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Consequently, the Court only awarded the wife 17%, or about $855,000, of the value of the husband’s partnership interest.

In finding that the wife contributed to the decline of the husband’s business interest, the judge relied on newspaper articles and web articles regarding the divorce including the wife’s regular posting of negative content about her husband on various websites. While the Court did not agree that the wife’s conduct was the sole reason for the decline in the value of the business interest because the law firm was heavily tied to investment banks and mortgage-backed securities which were hit especially hard by the recent recession, the evidence shows that the negative publicity caused the husband’s business to suffer even more. In one case, a client of the husband’s prior to the divorce commencement did not sign another retainer in 2011 because of the negative publicity about the parties’ divorce.