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Plaintiff Seeks Legal Separation


This is a case being heard in the Supreme Court of New York County, the Special, and Trial Term. In this case, the plaintiff, Helena A. Wood is suing the defendant, Walter A. Wood, for a decree of separation. A New York Family Lawyer said the defendant has entered a counterclaim against the plaintiff for an annulment of the marriage or separation if the annulment is not granted. The plaintiff’s argument for separation is dependent on the marriage being valid.

Case Background

The couple was first married in 1959 in France. They were married again the following year in New York. The husband states that neither of these marriages is valid because the wife was previously married in Chihuahua Mexico and the divorce in Mexico was not valid.

The divorce in question was obtained in 1955. The plaintiff had entered a separation agreement with her then husband, both who were residents and living in the state of New York at the time. A New York Custody Lawyer said the couple traveled from New York to Juarez, Chihuahua. The plaintiff appeared in court with her lawyer and lodged a complaint against her then husband and requested a divorce based on incompatibility. This is a recognized ground for divorce in Chihuahua. The defendant husband did not appear before the court, but was represented by a lawyer from Mexico that had been mailed power of attorney by the husband. The answer provided by the husband admitted that the couple was incompatible and no further proof was provided in the case. Under the laws of Chihuahua, this was considered enough evidence and the divorce was granted. The plaintiff then returned to New York.

Plaintiff Argument

The plaintiff states that based on the facts that have been provided the argument that the Chihuahua divorce is valid and there is no basis for the argument that it is void. The plaintiff further states that by her appearance in the court in Mexico and her ex-husband’s appearance through attorney, Chihuahua had jurisdiction over the matter and there is no further inquiry into the divorce necessary.

Defendant Argument

The defendant argues that the nature of the jurisdiction over the divorce must be questioned. He states that as both the plaintiff and her former husband were citizens of New York at the time of the divorce and for this reason the court in Mexico had no power over the divorce proceeding.

Court Discussion and Decision

The plaintiff has asked for a decree of separation based on inhumane and cruel treatment and failure of support. A Bronx Family Lawyer said the failure of support claim is found to be without merit as she occupies the apartment alone and the husband currently pays all of the maintenance charges.

The plaintiff has not made a claim of physical violence. Mental cruelty can be the grounds for a separation decree, but there must be more to the claim to warrant a separation. The plaintiff states that the defendant has been attentive to another woman. However, after gathering information from the couple, there is little to show that the conduct of the defendant was inhumane and cruel.

After reviewing the other issues in the case the court will award the plaintiff the separation. A Bronx Custody Lawyer said she will receive $1600 a month as opposed to the $2500 per month that the husband has previously paid.

If you are struggling with a separation or divorce and are in need of legal advice, contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have offices located throughout New York City for your convenience. You may call us at any time to set up an appointment for a free consultation to discuss your legal matters.


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