New York, July 11 : Though lack of money is not yet deemed to be a 'legitimate reason' for divorce in the US, the credit crunch and economic downturn over the past one year has resulted in the increase of divorce cases here, especially among the super-wealthy in New York's Wall Street area.
The latest trend, noticed over the past one year has been couples with ten million dollars or more in assets suing for divorce due to the credit crunch and depleting bank balances or net worth.
One New York divorce lawyer said that one of clients was worried that his wife would leave him if she found out that his net worth had fallen from 20 million to 8 million dollars after he suffered huge losses on property and other investments. To keep his wife, he was trying to mask his declining fortune by borrowing to pay for her clothes and holidays, The Times quoted him as saying.
Raoul Felder, the New York lawyer who represented Larry Fortensky in his divorce from Elizabeth Taylor, and who exclusively represents the "very rich" class, said that his company's caseload had soared from 250 to 300 in the past year.
This is the biggest jump since 1980, when New York state law was changed, adding four new grounds for divorce to the sole existing one - adultery. Under the revised New York law, couples can sue for divorce on the grounds of - cruel and inhuman treatment; abandonment; prison for three or more years; and separation for at least one year.
Felder, who represented Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York in his recent divorce, and Mike Tyson's former wife Robin Given in hers, said: "Money's really all that it's about, the husbands know it, but the wives will never say it."
Kenneth Mueller, a pyschotherapist in the East Village area of New York, who works with many Wall Street bankers and property magnates, said: "The credit crunch is starting to become a really big issue - especially for the moneyed classes. Once you can't act out with money you start fighting. It's like drinking, or gambling, or sexing your way out of feelings, but with a fabulous family vacation or great clothes or wonderful meals - money can become an addiction that masks the reality. When that goes, reality has to be faced and accusations start flying."
Nancy Chemtob, another New York divorce lawyer, said that since November she has been receiving a couple of inquiries a week relating to divorce cases motivated by the credit crunch, compared with virtually none before.