Like two Cold War adversaries, Chana and Simon Taub are separated by a wall built down the middle of their home to keep the bickering spouses apart.
Neither one wanted to move out of their beloved Brooklyn house, and so - in one of the strangest divorce battles the city has ever seen - a white drywall partition was erected a few weeks ago on orders from a judge.
The divorce case, which has been staggering through the courts for almost two years, has been dubbed Brooklyn’s War of the Roses, after the 1989 movie starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a battling couple.
Aside from the wall, the Taub version of the story has some other farcical elements: Chana says her husband of more than 20 years has bugged her phones. Simon says his wife owns too many shoes.
It’s not as if the Taubs have no place else to go. For one thing, they own a place two doors down. But for reasons that include stubbornness, spite and their love of the home, both insist on staying in this particular house in Borough Park, a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.
“It’s my house. And emotionally, in my age, I want to be in my house!” says Simon Taub, 57, who was the one who requested the wall. He calls his wife a gold digger.
Chana Taub, 57, who claims her husband abused her, says she has as much right to stay as he does, if not more. “I need a house to live in and money to live on!” she says. “I worked very hard, like a horse, like a slave for him.”
In New York City, it is not unusual for couples to fight over a house or refuse to move out during divorce proceedings. Judges sometimes ask couples to set boundaries, such as letting a spouse have access to the study during a certain part of the day.
But an actual wall? That’s a new one, says Barry Berkman, a New York divorce lawyer.
The wall divides the living room from the staircase on the bottom floor of the Taubs’ richly decorated, wood-paneled three-story house, whose market value has been put at $923,000 by the city.
She gets the top floor, where the bedrooms are situated, along with the kitchen on the second floor. He gets the living room on the first floor and the dining room on the second floor. So that they don’t run into each other on the second floor, the door between the dining room and the kitchen is barricaded on both sides.
One of the couple’s children is staying with Dad; three others are staying with Mom.
Chana Taub says that for two decades she served her husband as a virtual slave, putting up with physical and mental abuse that grew more severe over the years. She says she had to flush the toilet after him, and put on his socks and shoes for him. He became so violent by mid-2005 that she filed for divorce, she says.
Simon Taub denies ever laying a hand on his wife, and says he gave her a luxurious lifestyle. But he says his sweater manufacturing company went bankrupt in the late ’90s, and he suffered a second heart attack in 2005 that worsened their financial problems. He says she wants a divorce to squeeze what money he has left.
Chana Taub says she doesn’t want much from her husband, mainly just alimony, child support and a fair share of property.
In August 2005, a judge said Simon Taub, whom his wife had forced out of the house, could move back in after building a wall. Chana Taub appealed. An appeals court eventually allowed the wall, calling it a novel concept. It went up in December, and Simon Taub moved back in.
At one point during the transition, someone said Chana Taub had 300 pairs of shoes trapped on her husband’s side. She claims that is a lie he cooked up to make her look like the Imelda Marcos of the Orthodox Jewish community.
“I am not interested in shoes,” she says.
Simon Taub retorts: “Maybe it was 299. I didn’t count it.”
Via - Associated Press292c