34 Years of Divorce

Aug 8, 2012 by

When people wonder how long a divorce will take to complete, most would never imagine that in some cases a divorce could take over 30 years. However, that is exactly the case for a New York woman who is still seeking a settlement from her 1997 divorce in that state. After three decades of legal maneuvering, Frances Ragusa of Staten Island, New York, is still involved in a courtroom battle with her ex-husband Phillip Ragusa over nearly $100,000 in unpaid child support. Reports in the New York Post newspaper detail the account of the couple’s bitter divorce battle some 34 years ago that resulted in a child-support judgment of $14,393.57 to be paid to Ms. Ragusa. The couple’s current divorce drama is based on the fact that the divorce settlement money was never paid to her. Ms. Ragusa also claims that when the couple’s former Brooklyn home was sold for $350,000 back in 1987, she was due $87,000 from the proceeds of the sale that she never received. Ms. Ragusa says the money she is owed has now swelled to about $100,000 after the 30-plus years of interest are added.

When the couple’s home was sold back in 1987 Ms. Ragusa filed several lawsuits and appeals challenging the transaction. In the process of seeking the money owed to her from the sale of the house Frances also found out that the original child-support judgment was still enforceable. Although most judgments that are over 30 years old are no longer legally enforceable, child-support judgments do not have an expiration date and are still quite valid. That’s when Frances decided to call her former spouse for the first time in 30 years to try to end the feud and ask him to pay up and settle the matter once and for all. According to reports in the Post, Ms. Ragusa begged her ex to settle up and told him “Don’t let this case go to trial, because I’m going to win punitive damages. There is a legal judgment, and if you think I’m going to forget it, you’re stuck on stupid.”

Unfortunately, her pleas fell on deaf ears as Philip hung up the phone upon hearing her voice. The snub only served to renew Frances Ragusa’s determination and now the matter is once again being heard before the Brooklyn Supreme Court. Ms. Ragusa said her hard feelings were partly fueled by the fact that she was forced to go on welfare for a time after the divorce and said “I want justice, that’s all, my family did not deserve what he and the system did to us.” Then she filed a lien on the New York home of her former mother-in-law which is now in the name of her ex-husband, Philip.

Whether or not Frances Ragusa will be successful in finally putting an end to her 34 year old divorce battle depends on what happens in the next round of court hearings. Her attorney John Russo, said the legal fight was one of the most peculiar he had ever seen and added “There’s no doubt that this is an oddball case.” Phillip Ragusa’s lawyer, Robert Androsiglio, had no comment for the media on the case, but it does make you wonder what the former couple’s legal bills might be after 34 years of courtroom maneuvering as keeping an attorney on retainer for nearly four decades has got to be an expensive proposition.


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