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Ex-wife gets less in divorce of BigLaw partner because her badmouthing hurt rainmaking, judge says

Posted Apr 9, 2014 10:03 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A woman who complained her BigLaw husband was too cheap to pay for his daughter’s hearing aids may regret her words after a decision last week by a New York judge considering their divorce case.

Janice Schacter’s complaints about Ira Schacter contributed to a decline in his business at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and she will get less in the divorce as a result, the judge said. The New York Daily News, the New York Post and the New York Law Journal (sub. req.) have stories.

Ira Schacter was sarcastically dubbed “Lawyer of the Month” by Above the Law after Janice Schacter claimed the Cadwalader partner refused to pay for his daughter’s $12,000 hearing aids even as he paid $215,000 for an engagement ring for his Playboy model girlfriend.

Janice Schacter’s complaints, along with the bad economy, caused the value of Schacter’s business assets to decline, according to Judge Laura Drager of Manhattan. As a result, she will get 17 percent, or about $855,000, of the partnership value in the divorce, the stories say. "In essence, the wife chose to bite the hand that fed her,” Drager said.

The daughter got the hearing aids, Drager said, but Janice and Ira Schacter were arguing in court over who should pay for them.

The couple separated in 2007 after both were arrested for allegedly assaulting each other. Janice Schacter obtained an order of protection and Ira Schacter filed for divorce two days later, the Daily News says. Criminal charges were later dropped.

Drager said the couple’s divorce was “one of the most contentious litigations this court has ever presided over.”

“Each party at times displayed offensive behavior in court,” Drager wrote. “They each shouted and interrupted court proceedings. They made inappropriate comments and gestures to each other immediately outside the courtroom. They each periodically ran out of the courtroom in the middle of the proceedings.”

Drager said Janice Schacter was within her rights when she raised concerns about domestic violence, but her negative online posts about her husband “went beyond any reasonable discussion of this very serious issue.”

"At a time when work in his field was in decline, any negative publicity, even if not directly related to the husband's legal acumen, could potentially scare away clients," Drager said.

Janice Schacter will also get $15,000 a month in alimony, $3,000 a month in child support, and half of more than $10 million in other marital assets. She worked as an associate at a personal injury law firm before the birth of her children. She also was an unpaid advocate for people with hearing loss.

Janice Schacter objected to the judge’s opinion in an interview with the New York Post. “I bit the hand the hurt me, not fed me,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Ira Schacter, Marcia Horowitz, told the New York Daily News he “has no comment other than to say that he now has a wonderful close relationship with both his daughter and son.” She said his lawyer is “digesting the opinion.”

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