Splitting the House
Two years ago Simon and Chana Taub made news headlines when the separated couple literally “split” their New York home when they divided it with a physical wall running right through the middle of it. The wall was the result of millionaire Simon Taub’s effort to avoid having to give it to his estranged wife, Chana. Taub convinced a judge to let him split the couple’s Borough Park brownstone with a wall. The wall divides the first-floor living room from a staircase inside the three-story house. Mrs. Taub lived on the top floor and part of the second floor. Mr. Taub lived on the first floor and part of the second.
The judge’s unusual order to split the home with a sheetrock wall made the feuding couple infamous and the media likened the situation to Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner’s warring spouses in the 1989 film “The War of the Roses.” Chana Taub made claims of “cruel and inhuman treatment” when she requested a divorce last year, but she lost in court and no divorce was granted under New York’s prior divorce laws that did not allow no-fault filings. Chana went back to court most recently when she petitioned to get her husband to pay delinquent mortgage bills on the $5,200 a month property, but was again unsuccessful when the court did not force payment.
Even though Taub is a former sweater-industry mogul and millionaire, he claimed he was insolvent when the past due mortgage debt on the divided property reached $95,000. Taub was quoted in several newspapers as saying “I will pay nothing. I don’t have $100,000. It’s okay if the house goes into foreclosure. We will never agree who will stay in the house. It will be sold.”
Now, it looks like Simon will get his wish. After New York adopted no-fault divorce in 2010, the Taubs when back to court once again to try ending their 24 year marriage. Last week, a Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice granted the couple a divorce and then ordered them to sell the infamous home they had split in half. The court ordered the couple to sell the divided house, plus two other homes, and split the proceeds. This meant Simon Taub was ordered to pay his ex-wife about $1.5 million plus $6,000 a month in support. Mr. Taub was allowed to keep three other buildings he owns though. Simon Taub’s lawyer told reporters that his client was happy and satisfied with the ruling.
Chana Taub however, was not so unhappy with the ruling and announced plans to appeal the decision. Chana Taub told a reporter from the New York Daily News “I’m still living here with my children and my elderly father. My house should not be sold. It’s impossible that the judge should want to throw me out on the street. I’m going to appeal it, definitely.” Chana’s lawyer, Neil Iovino, said his client was very upset to find herself in “a position to be dispossessed.”
The Taub’s divorce and housing battle appears to be slowly drawing to a close as the money is runs out. The protracted affair has already cost Simon Taub several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees and Chana’s attorney Iovino acknowledged that his client had spent over $1 million in attorney’s fees in the last six years. At this point, any further legal actions would appear to be throwing good money after bad since the battle over the divided house has ended up costing each spouse more than the property is worth.