House divided case cannot stand, jury rules

/ Source: The Associated Press

Feuding spouses who built a wall through their three-story row house because neither would give it up cannot divorce, a jury ruled.

Jurors on Wednesday shot down the “cruel and inhuman treatment” Chana Taub cites as grounds for divorcing Simon Taub after more than 20 years of marriage and four children.

“I’m dismissing the whole case. That’s it,” Justice Carolyn Demarest said.

To revive the case, Chana Taub would have to file it again, on new grounds.

“I was in total shock,” Chana Taub told the Daily News. “It’s unbelievable.”

The husband’s lawyer, Abe Konstam, called the case an extraordinary waste and said the trial wouldn’t have been necessary if New York changed its divorce laws. The state doesn’t allow the speedy dissolution of a marriage without proof that one spouse is somehow at fault.

The case is one of the strangest divorces New York has seen, mainly because of the wall.

A judge ordered the couple to put it up because neither wanted to move out. She got the top floor and the kitchen on the second floor; he got the living room on the first floor and the dining room on the second floor. The door between the dining room and the kitchen was barricaded on both sides.

The case has been dubbed Brooklyn’s “War of the Roses,” after the 1989 movie starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a fueding couple.

Chana says that for two decades she served Simon like a virtual slave, putting up with physical and mental abuse.

Simon denies ever laying a hand on his wife and says he gave her a luxurious lifestyle. He says she wants the divorce to squeeze what money he has left. His sweater manufacturing company went bankrupt in the late 1990s, and he suffered a second heart attack in 2005 that worsened their financial problems, he says.