_DSC4851If your boyfriend or girlfriend is a liar or worse, a cheater, you can “out” him or her, just like Stacey Blitsch and Amanda Ryncarz did when they posted their complaints about their former lover, lawyer Matthew Couloute, on

The website is designed to provide a forum for women and men whose wives, husbands or significant others have “done them wrong”, usually by engaging in one or more affairs during what they believed to be a monogamous relationship.

In the case of Matthew Couloute, a former prosecutor and Court TV analyst, when he learned that the LiarsCheaters comments were the first hits for him when anyone googled him, he sued both women for compensation for inflicting harm to his reputation and causing mental anguish and economic loss.

Ms. Blitsch was a professional roller derby skater and the mother of Mr. Couloute’s son, while Ms. Ryncarz reported that Mr. Coulote dumped her and married someone else twelve days later. The online comments from the women included “Lied and cheated his entire 40 years of life”;”He’s scum, run far away” and “Has no longterm friends. He rents or finances everything and owns absolutely nothing”.

The website makes it very clear that the material on the site is someone’s opinion and the owners of Liars Cheaters do not guarantee the truthfulness or accuracy of the posted allegations.

Last week Federal Judge Harold Baer threw out Mr. Couloute’s lawsuit saying that Mr. Couloute could not show he had suffered any professional damage and ruled the comments were not defamatory because they were “clearly hyperbolic”. The Judge said that it would be obvious to anyone that the comments were the “opinions of disappointed lovers”.

Mr. Couloute says he intends to appeal the ruling: “When you look for a lawyer and the first thing that comes up on Google is defamatory, how are you not harmed?”


Karma is a bitch….Mr. Couloute married Lauren Haidon twelve days after dumping Ms. Ryncarz, having dated for two months prior to their wedding. Ms. Haidon stood up and defended her husband when he was cyber-slammed by his ex-girlfriends, but now she says they were absolutely right!

She filed for divorce in 2012 alleging that Mr. Couloute abandoned her and their 7-month-old baby. In an August 2012 family court filing she said “Father is mentally, financially, emotionally unstable. Father is emotionally abusive.”

But it gets worse. It appears the couple may have reconciled as the New York Post this week reports that Mr. Couloute was arrested and charged with third-degree assault. The victim is identified as his wife, but no name is given.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

When Surrogacy and Adoption Goes Wrong

DSC00258_1Several months ago we read about a couple from Australia who hired a Thai surrogate so she could bear the child they always wanted. During month three of the surrogate’s pregnancy the couple were informed that the 21 year-old surrogate was having twins, one of whom tested positive for Down’s syndrome. According to the surrogate, the parents-to-be implored her to have an abortion but she refused.

When the twins were born the agency who arranged the surrogacy delivered the “healthy” twin girl to the couple, leaving behind the baby boy who also had a congenital heart defect. Once the rejection of this little boy went viral, kind people around the world began donating monies, more than $150,000, to the surrogate mother who vowed to keep the baby and was surprised and heartened by the generosity of strangers.

The Australian couple were vilified and attempted to tell their side of the story, which was that they prayed fervently for their baby’s boy health when the twins were born two months premature, but were told the baby boy would not survive more than a day.

The media storm accelerated when it was publicly revealed that the biological father, an Australian, was a convicted pedophile and his Asian wife was aware of his sordid past. At the same time, the media released information that more than 65 babies born of surrogates in Thailand for gay couples from Israel were in the hands of Thai social services, because the Israeli government refused to grant immigration visas to the children.

These stories and others tell of the difficulties experienced by adoptive parents, surrogate mothers, and other players in the world of assisted reproduction and adoption.

A new story out of New York sheds further light on the frailties of international adoption. In the case of Matter of Adoption of Child A and Child C, a Long Island couple adopted two children from Russia in 2008. The children were described as “healthy and socially well-adjusted siblings”, but their adoptive parents had reason to doubt what they had been told when both children began to exhibit serious mental health problems. The couple also learned that the children were not related and both had been victims of sexual abuse. This truth began to explain the children’s bizarre behaviour including their threats to kill the parents.

Nassau County Judge Edward McCarty III will hear the parent’s application to void the adoption which will be heard in open court although the names of the parents and the children will be sealed. Judge McCarty explained that he wanted the proceedings to be public because 18 Russian children who were adopted by American families died violently in the last 20 years, most of them only residing in the US for six months.

The Long Island children, who are 12 and 14 years-old, are presently in state mental health facilities.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Judge Trashes New York Landmark “Carnegie Deli” in Divorce Ruling

49afd8240a58bf0fb97d4a86105572c1I was in New York city last fall and near the top of our agenda was a trip to the Carnegie Deli, a landmark in mid-town since 1937 and run by the Levine family since 1976. Its claim to fame is kosher pastrami, corned beef, and their famous cheesecake, all of which they can ship almost anywhere in the world. It’s a very kitschy little place with uneven floors and plastic table cloths, but there is always a line-up.

I didn’t expect the Carnegie Deli to be featured in a divorce post, but it seems that Marian Harper Levine and her husband Sandy, who now runs the deli with her, were lambasted by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper for their petty squabbles, while litigants with serious problems were put on the back burner. The audacious judge said:

“What I care more about is the fact they’ve made millions of millions of dollars on the backs of dishwashers, cleaners and pastrami slicers who make as much in a year as they’ve made in a day or two.”

This was apparently in reference to a recent $2.65 million dollar settlement reached between the Levine’s and their staff, who were cheated out of proper wages for over a decade.

Mrs. Levine’s application was to reduce the $11,00 per month she has been paying her husband in spousal support, a request that was denied by Judge Cooper. She also complained that her husband, who began an affair with the deli’s former hostess, had helped himself to huge sums of money, an allegation that was called “all smoked meat and mirrors” by Mr. Levine’s witty attorney, Donald Frank. Mrs. Levine took exception to the trivialization of her concerns by opposing counsel, a view that Judge Cooper dismissed saying:

“This is not a case where I lose sleep at night. This is not some case where I have people with disabled children, where I have people who can’t afford to make next-month’s rent”…If I made light of anything, if I joked more than I should have, if I occasionally used a sarcastic tone…it’s not that I’ve lost track of what this case is about…”

No doubt we’ll hear more about the dissolution of the Levine’s 22-year marriage…as for me, I really didn’t like their cheesecake at all!

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Divorce Revenge

_DSC4179 - Version 2A Supreme Court judge in New York recently referred to a divorce litigant as “despicable”. What could possibly garner this strong reaction from an otherwise cool, calm and collected judicial official?

Just before the litigant’s wife filed for divorce, her husband decided to come clean with the tax authorities and filed amended tax returns for 2004 to 2007, disclosing an additional $1.6 million of income from his contracting business.

As a result, he owed the government $1.2 million in taxes, a sum that was coincidentally equivalent to the value of the family home. He also made it very easy for the tax authorities by attaching to his amended tax returns details of the assets he owned, the bank who held the mortgage on the family home, and other pertinent collection information.

The wife was shocked and horrified because the law in New York, as in many other jurisdictions, including British Columbia, provides that a debt incurred during the marriage for the family will be a family debt that is sharable between spouses. Unpaid income tax owed on family income is considered family debt.

The couple had been married for almost fifteen years and had four children.

The New York Supreme Court considered the husband’s evidence of the large family debt and determined that the husband had made the disclosure, not because he was being audited or investigated, but because he wished to cause as much pain as possible to his wife.

The trial judge found that his conduct was malicious and revenge was his motive.

Unfortunately, for this husband, his plan backfired, as the court held that given the egregious circumstances, he would be solely responsible for the debt.

Confucius once said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Divorcee Bites the Hand that Feeds Her

109508593611101CDPWe all know that it is unwise to “bite the hand that feeds you”. What that means in divorce litigation is that it would be foolish to tip off Revenue Canada or the IRS that your spouse is cheating them, at least until you have your share of the family property and your legal relationship is severed.

Unfortunately, Janice Schacter of New York either didn’t get that advice or simply ignored it , which is more likely. Janice and her husband, Ira Schacter’s divorce was far from low-key, in part because Janice, in her anger, posted unflattering stories about her estranged husband on a variety of websites. Eventually, the New York Post and other publications picked up on the acrimonious divorce and Mr. Schacter’s reputation as a wealthy and successful partner of a major New York law firm, went “down the toilet”.

Their divorce litigation began in 2007 after each of them was arrested for assaulting the other. During the course of the proceedings Mr. Schacter filed 40 separate motions, while his wife filed 26. At the end of their divorce wars, Ira Schacter had spent about $2.3 million on legal fees, $500,000 on expert’s reports, and $460,000 on criminal and child protection investigations. Ms. Schacter owes two law firms several hundred thousand dollars, monies they are suing her for.

Part of Janice Schacter’s “defence” were regular calls to the police, who attended at her husband’s home one hundred times. He was also the subject of seven separate child protection investigations.

However, the incident that Mr. Schacter alleged led to a significant downturn in his law practice at Calwalader, Wickersham & Taft, with an accompanying decrease in the value of his law partnership interest, was an article published by the New York Post that he had purchased a $215,000 diamond engagement ring for his fiancé, but refused to pay $12,000 for his hearing impaired daughter’s hearing aids. The New York Post’s source for the story was none other than Janice Schacter!

The story caused popular website “Above the Law” to select Ira Schacter as their “Lawyer of the Month”, an accolade that was anything but
prestigious. As it turned out, by the time the story was published the hearing aids had been purchased and the issue of who should ultimately be responsible for the cost was pending before the court.

At trial, Mr. Schacter argued that his wife’s disparaging comments on the internet and in other publications led to a significant decrease in the value of his partnership interest. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laura Drager agreed that Ms. Schacter’s conduct contributed to the decline in Mr. Schacter’s law practice, but also found that the 2008 economic crisis was integral to his firm’s 94% decrease in revenue, particularly because the firm’s business was tied to investment banks and mortgage-backed securities. During this time-frame the firm had laid off 131 associate lawyers.

However, Ira gave as good as he got as Justice Drager set out in her Reasons:

“They each shouted and interrupted court proceedings. They made inappropriate comments and gestures to each other immediately outside the courtroom.”

She also noted that after an incident between Mr. Schacter and his daughter he was arrested and ordered to enroll in mandatory anger management classes. Justice Drager also found he made vulgar and cruel comments about his wife to the children.

Mr. Schacter called witnesses who confirmed they refused to retain him as counsel due to the negative publicity. Justice Drager remarked:

“His testimony (and others) establishes to this court that the Internet postings have been injurious to the husband’s professional standing and ability to retain clients….The wife was well within her rights to publicly raise her concerns about domestic violence. However, the wife’s incessant postings and discussions about the issue went beyond any reasonable discussion of this very serious issue.”

As a result of her findings, Janice Schacter received only 17% of her husband’s partnership interest, the sum of $855,440, while he retained 83%, amounting to a value of $4.17 million.

But Ms. Schacter has not abandoned her public pulpit. An article about her case was published in the New York Law Journal this week where she took on the trial judge, writing:

“This was about protecting her (the judge’s) career. I stood up to a judge that wouldn’t enforce court orders, follow state laws, ensure my family was safe, give me legal fees, proper discovery, experts, and then created a record to prevent an appeal.”

Methinks we haven’t heard the last from Janice Schacter.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Family Law Nightmare: The Novacks

BarristerIt always amazes me to hear another “stripper marries millionaire” story, but it seems to be one of the favored professions for more than a few millionaires. The story of the Novacks from Florida is just such a case.

Ben Novack Jr. was the son of the owner of the spectacular Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami. After the hotel business went bankrupt, Ben Novack Jr. made most of his money as a convention planner for Amway International.

Mr. Novack met Narcy Novack, a stripper from Ecuador, and they married in 1991. Ms. Novack’s lifestyle went from near-poverty to posh. Mr. Novack treated Narcy’s daughter from a previous relationship as his own. The couple worked together in the convention business and financially flourished.

But the loving relationship they showed the world was not real and that would soon be apparent. In June 2002 Mr. Novack called 911 to report that he had been the victim of a home invasion engineered by his wife, Narcy. She, together with four men, held him hostage with a gun pointed at him, handcuffed him to a chair and looted the safety deposit box, stealing almost $500,000.00 and all the corporate records and personal documents. Narcy left the home with the loot and all of her personal belongings.

The police advised Mr. Novack that a squad car was on its way to their lavish home in Ft. Lauderdale, but an anxious Novack forbid them to come, saying that his life was in danger if the police appeared on the scene.

When the police asked Narcy for her side of the story, she attended at the police department with bags and boxes of bondage paraphernalia, pornography, and stories about violent assaults on her by her husband. She advised the detectives that the alleged home invasion was a part of their usual intimate activities.

Narcy also told the police and her husband that if charges were laid against her, she would release all the damaging evidence contained in the bags and boxes. Mr. Novack implored the police to let the matter go and Narcy and Ben reconciled, for a time.

Marital peace, if it ever existed, lasted only a short time. In 2009, Narcy was alerted to an affair her husband was having and became worried that Ben may dump her, leaving her with only the six figure payout from their prenuptial agreement. She stood to gain much more if he predeceased her.

By this time, the Novack’s net worth was about $10 million, including Ben’s million dollar Batman collection containing the original Batmobile prototype.

The couple’s business was booming and Narcy, Ben and Narcy’s adult daughter, May Abad, jetted off to an Amway convention in New York, checking into a suburban Hilton Hotel. On the first day of the convention, July 12, 2009. Mr. Novack was nowhere to be seen, which was very unusual for the hands-on business owner.

An hour later Novack was found brutally beaten in his hotel room, his face wrapped in duct tape, which also bound his hands and feet. His eyes had been gouged out with a knife.

Narcy feigned shock and horror when she discovered her husband’s body. She told the police that an hour earlier he had been alive and well in their hotel room and the likely suspects were business enemies of Mr. Novack or other Batman collectors.

More lies, of course. Surveillance photos from the hotel cameras captured Narcy’s brother, another relative and two others skulking away from the scene. She also failed a lie detector test. The whole sordid bunch were indicted for murder and on August 10, 2010 Narcy entered a plea of not guilty and was denied bail.

In yet another twist, the police later alleged that Narcy Novack had also murdered her 81 year-old mother-in-law, Bernice Novack in April 2009. Her death was ruled accidental at the time. In order for Narcy to inherit, she first had to get rid of Ben’s mother, which the prosecutors say she did.

Ms. Novack’s previously loyal daughter, May, then took the position that her mother was evil, and as the sole beneficiary of her husband’s estate, she ought to be deprived of the inheritance. Of course, it was May who would inherit if Narcy was convicted of her husband and mother-in-law’s murder.

But there was still more. The prosecutors also disclosed that Narcy was involved in a plot to plant drugs on her daughter May and to have her beaten up, perhaps murdered as well?

After a lengthy trial Narcy Novack was convicted of murdering her husband and his mother and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole. Her brother and several others were also convicted of murder.

Thomas Perry, American mystery author and Edgar award winner summed it up nicely:

“Sociopaths are people who do evil things because they don’t see any reason not to.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Salacious Evidence Allowed in New York Custody Case

DSC01152_2 (2)_2One of the cardinal rules of evidence in trial proceedings is that witnesses may only testify to facts that are relevant to the issues to be decided by the judge.

This same rule applies in family law litigation but is often ignored by lawyers and judges during the heat of battle. The theory goes that in family law cases, particularly where custody is at issue, anything goes, because it may bear on the legal problem before the court, who knows?

In a recent high-conflict custody case in Manhattan, New York, a fiery debate ensued between counsel when the husband’s lawyer, Eleanor Alter, cross-examined her client’s estranged wife, Lisa Mehos, about an abortion she had shortly after the couple separated. Her lawyer objected to the question characterizing it as “scandalous and outrageous” and querying its relevance to the issue of child custody.

To her dismay, opposing counsel convinced trial judge Lori Sattler that the question was proper as the wife’s medical records, disclosed in the proceeding, showed that on the weekend she had the medical procedure, she insisted on having care of the children, who were then dropped off at their grandmother’s home. Hardly a capital offence, but in custody litigation no stone is unturned in the quest to show that one or the other parent is uncaring and hypocritical, preferably both!

But Justice Sattler gave a second reason for allowing evidence of the wife’s abortion. Ms. Mehos had earlier testified that she was under extreme stress, all of which she laid at the feet of her husband, Manuel Mehos.

Justice Sattler accepted that a new relationship and an abortion might be the cause for the added stress, particularly because she had also testified that she never had men at her apartment. Ms. Alter argued:

“If this man was coming in the house, if she’s out of the house to see him, if it was date rape, that’s relevant.”

Certainly, counsel for Ms. Mehos decried the evidentiary links as tenuous at best, suggesting to the court that evidence of this nature “might go over well in Texas and Mississippi, but not here!”

Despite her valiant efforts on behalf of the wife, Emily Goodman’s objections were overruled.

Are there no limits on what a court needs to know to determine a child’s parenting plan? Apparently not.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang