In a recently published trial decision, a Suffolk County judge took a stand for a victim of domestic violence and her children, by sending a strong message to any matrimonial litigant who tries to use the judicial system to further perpetuate their power and control over their family, the same will not be without consequence.
In Jessica T. v Kieth T., 2020 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2626, (Sup. Ct., 2020), the Court recognized that Defendant-Husband, had dragged the matrimonial litigation out over the course of six years, with the specific intent of harassing and torturing the Plaintiff-Wife Defendant-Husband engaged in frivolous motion practice, took obstinate and obstructionist positions, refused to comply with any Court orders, and most reprehensibly, dragged his children into the middle of the litigation by making baseless and false accusations against Plaintiff-Wife.
After six years, the litigants found themselves self-represented, as Defendant-Husband’s tactics had strangled Plaintiff-Wife, a homemaker of over 17 years, financially. However, after a twenty-one day trial, despite Defendant-Husband’s request for over $300,000 in support and over $100,000 in attorney’s fees from his non-monied spouse, the Court held that Plaintiff was entitled to support and maintenance, and provided no credit to Defendant-Husband for any payments made during the course of the litigation (as would typically be customary). The Court found that due to Defendant-Husband’s horrific and dilatory behavior, which resulted in nine contempt motions, he was not deserving of such credits, as Plaintiff-Wife had to fight him every inch, tooth and nail, for compliance. The Court opined that it could not otherwise redress the Defendant’s misbehavior, as the due process required for the same was not available to the matrimonial court. Instead, the Court found the most ethical way to compensate the Plaintiff-Wife, and to show the Defendant-Husband that he would see any benefit from his “conscience-shocking conduct.”