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Court Decides if Someone Who Commits Adultery is Allowed to Obtain Legal Separation


The Supreme Court located in New York County is overseeing this case involving the plaintiff Joy Silverman and the defendant Jeffrey Silverman. From the beginning, this case has been driven by two different concerns. A New York Family Lawyer said the husband wishes to have a divorce granted immediately without waiting for the final determination of the ancillary financial issues and the wife believes that the husband should not be allowed the divorce until a judgment settles all of the existing financial issues of the case.

Case Background

In August of 1994, the defendant, Jeffery Silverman served the plaintiff wife, Joy Silverman with papers commencing a divorce action in the state of Connecticut. The grounds for the divorce were irreconcilable differences. These grounds were unavailable to him in the state of New York.

A New York Custody Lawyer said Joy Silverman served Jeffrey Silverman with papers that had been filed previously in the present action. She sought injunctive relief to prohibit Mr. Silverman from going forward with his case in Connecticut. This relief was granted.

Next, Mr. Silverman then sought bifurcation of the divorce from the ancillary issues of the case. This relief was denied. However, an expedited discovery schedule was granted. However, little to no discovery took place as both parties spent the time trying to fashion a settlement. Negotiations were completed and Mrs. Silverman executed a formal written stipulation. However Mr. Silverman withdrew his oral consent to the stipulation and it was determined that a trial would be necessary.

A Queens Family Lawyer said a new discovery schedule was issued and a trial was scheduled for the 18th of May, 1995. In April, Mr. Silverman moved for leave to amend his answer to impose counterclaims for the divorce. Mr. Silverman stated that while Mrs. Silverman had assured the grounds for divorce would be agreed upon, he felt that she was now seeking to control the issue of their marital status and this counterclaim would protect his rights for the dissolution of the marriage. This motion was granted.

Mr. Silverman was the only party in this matter that had a cause of action for divorce. During the trial he called Mrs. Silverman to testify and she stated that she had an affair during their marriage. After the trial, Mrs. Silverman obtained a stay of the trial on the grounds that discovery was not completed. The order also stated that prior to a divorce judgment being completed all issues must be resolved in the case.

Course Discussion and Decision

The matter that is before this court is whether a person who commits adultery is allowed to obtain a judgment for separation as a matter of the law. Mrs. Silverman argues that a question of fact is presented in this case for her cause of action to obtain a separation and for this reason a trial is necessary. She wishes to prove that the prior conduct of Mr. Silverman provoked her own adultery.

A Queens Custody Lawyer said there has been a considerable amount of testimony presented to the committee showing that the separation action is being used by wives in order to trap their husband into a legal status that will deny them the benefits of bachelorhood or remarriage. While the defendant suggests that Mrs. Silverman is using this strategy, it is unclear to the court. However, the court does find that a person who has committed adultery is not allowed the right for a cause of action for separation and for this reason the plaintiff’s cause of action for separation is dismissed.

If you are in need of legal advice for a separation, divorce, or any other issue, contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have offices in New York City. You may contact one of our offices and come in for a free consultation at any time.

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