Alice M.’s Justice
Alice M.’s husband was sentenced to serve 40 years in prison for physically and psychologically abusing his wife, but even after he was locked behind bars he continued to harass her. When Alice filed for divorce, he sued her for access to her retirement benefits, as well as her household possessions.
Unable to afford an attorney to protect all that she had worked for, Alice turned to Her Justice. Her Justice Senior Staff Attorney, Anna Ognibene, as well as Stephanie Baez, then a Fried Frank extern at Her Justice, represented Alice in court.
State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine ruled that the acts of violence committed by Alice’s husband exempted him from receiving any share of the marital assets. “If the court has ever been presented with facts and circumstances demonstrating egregious conduct by one spouse against another spouse, it is this case at bar,” he wrote.
This case was a significant victory for Alice and set a precedent that marital rape can be considered ‘egregious conduct.’ It is also the first published case where the abusive conduct of a spouse prevented them from being entitled to any marital assets.