A family lawyer’s guide to turning your divorce into a miserable 10-year ordeal

A family lawyer’s guide to turning your divorce into a miserable 10-year ordeal

Going to court is about as fun as an afternoon pigeon racing with Mike Tyson. Sadly, that isn’t a bizarre metaphor we made up just for this article. No, it’s a real hobby of the former heavyweight champion, and much like divorce court, once the conversation turns toward “the longest duration on record,” you know you’re in trouble.

But for divorces, some places are worse than others (fun fact: everywhere is a terrible place to race pigeons).

On the one hand, you have places like Arkansas, where the minimum wait time for a dissolution of marriage is 540 days. On the other hand, you have states like Washington, which is ranked as one of the top 5 places for a speedy divorce by InsideGov.

But if it’s a long and expensive ordeal you’re looking for, here are some real-world stories to inspire you.

A terrible way to keep busy in retirement

Mr. and Mrs. Rosendale seemed to have it all: health, wealth, and a red Jeep Cherokee. That all changed one summer morning when Carol Rosendale was involved in a head-on collision that left her with lifelong injuries.

Two-and-a-half years after the car accident, Carol’s husband filed for divorce.

The Rosendales had signed a prenuptial agreement, but Carol argued that it was insufficient because her injuries made it impossible to support herself.

At this point in the story, Warren Rosendale isn’t looking too good.

Except...Mrs. Rosendale received $1.2 million from the original divorce settlement and her personal injury lawsuit. And somewhere around the ten-year anniversary of their divorce case, Warren offered his ex another $250k to drop the case.

Her only response? “I want a million.”

Heading into its 13th year, both parties in this case are now in their late 70s. There’s still no word on whether the final division of assets will include nursing-home Jello cups and TV remote privileges.

A house (not yet) divided

Joseph and Malka Yerushalmi married in 1971 and bought their first home together, a modest 10,000-square-foot mansion worth more than $7 million today.

Two decades after their betrothal, the Yerushalmis fooled everyone into thinking they were nice people by putting the home in a joint trust for their granddaughter.

Joseph and Malka split in 2000, but their bitter divorce went on for more than 14 years. Mr. Yerushalmi claimed that his ex hid millions of dollars in joint assets, forcing him to spend more than $3 million on spousal support and legal fees while the two duked it out in court. In fact, the divorce cost him so much money that he filed for bankruptcy with the IRS -- a move that allowed Malka to delay the case even more.

So, what happened to the couple's gift to their granddaughter? She doesn’t live in the mansion, Joseph does. He collects social security to pay the bills and wants nothing more than to sell the home, use the money to settle the case and move on.

But the Yerushalmi property is in a joint trust, and Malka won’t let him put it on the market until Joseph pays for her support. It’s a wonderful bit of circular logic that will probably keep this case going for another 14 years.

A divorce conspiracy theory

Finally, we have the 24-year-long case between Nicholas Purpura and his wife Barbara. Their story began in 1983 when the couple legally separated and Mr. Purpura agreed to pay $3,200 a month in spousal and child support.

The juicy drama started when Nicholas added a few zeroes to his net worth soon after the divorce and Barbara requested that her support payments be recalculated in 1985.

That small request locked the Purpura family into a legal battle that kept them in court for most of the next 20 years. In addition to eight separate cases pertaining to the amended child support and alimony payments, Barbara sued Nick for abandonment, he countersued for cruel and inhumane treatment, and everyone was worse for wear (except the family lawyers charging hourly rates for their ill-advised vendettas).

In 2005, a judge finally ruled that the last of Nick’s assets be sold and split between the couple. Barbara’s lawyer told reporters outside of the courthouse, “He’s run out of moves.”

Apparently, he underestimated just how petty the pissed off patriarch could be.

Mr. Purpura filed a Hail Mary case in 2008 that accused his ex, her lawyers and the New York Supreme Court of using his divorce case as an excuse to exact revenge for his participation in “whistle-blowing activities” that he refuses to admit to.

Although the case was thrown out, Nick says he plans to file more -- once he can find two pennies to rub together.

Thank goodness we live in Washington

Getting divorced in the Seattle area takes as few as 90 days when the case is handled by experienced professionals. The next time you need to visit family court, call the Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams team -- we’ll have your case settled in less time than it takes Mike Tyson to train a Griwuni Tumbler pigeon.