Awhile back, I posted a humorous piece about a couple fighting for possession of a house as part of a divorce. But proving the adage that the truth is stranger than fiction, I found this article in Newsday:
Like two Cold War adversaries, Chana and Simon Taub are separated by a wall built down the middle of their home to keep the bickering spouses apart.
The divorce case, which has been staggering through the courts for nearly two years, has been dubbed Brooklyn‘s "War of the Roses," after the 1989 movie starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a battling couple.
It‘s not as if the Taubs have no place else to go. For one thing, they own a place two doors down. But for reasons that include stubbornness, spite and their love of the home, both insist on staying in this particular house in Borough Park, a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.
Chana, 57, who claims her husband abused her, says she has as much right to stay as he does, if not more. "I need a house to live in and money to live on!" she says. "I worked very hard, like a horse, like a slave for him."
But an actual wall? That‘s a new one, says Barry Berkman, a New York divorce lawyer.
She gets the top floor, where the bedrooms are situated, along with the kitchen on the second floor. He gets the living room on the first floor and the dining room on the second floor. So that they don‘t run into each other on the second floor, the door between the dining room and the kitchen is barricaded on both sides.
Chana says that for two decades she served Simon like a virtual slave, putting up with physical and mental abuse that grew more severe over the years. She says she had to flush the toilet after him, and put on his socks and shoes for him. He became so violent by mid-2005 that she filed for divorce, she says.
Chana says she doesn‘t want much from her husband, mainly just alimony, child support and a fair share of property.
At one point during the transition, someone said Chana had 300 pairs of shoes trapped on Simon‘s side. Chana claims that is a lie Simon cooked up to make her look like the Imelda Marcos of the Orthodox Jewish community.
Simon retorts: "Maybe it was 299. I didn‘t count it."
Chana says that since Simon has returned, he has been monitoring her via video cameras. Simon says the surveillance goes both ways, and points to cameras on her side, though Chana claims she does not control those. Chana says Simon has bugged her phones. Simon says that‘s crazy — he doesn‘t care who she talks to.
Kimberly Flemke, a couples therapist in Philadelphia, says when spouses go so far as to refuse to leave a house while divorcing, it often means neither is ready to move on.
"It‘s clear that if they‘re going to go this length, there‘s still far too much connection," she says. "I would hope they‘d both go to therapy
In the end, the only thing that this couple will succeed in doing is perpetuating the misery.