The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

May 5, 2013

The case of the cheap husband

You Be the Judge

BEREA — When Sam and Irene arrived in the United States as immigrants, Sam had $2 in his pocket. And, according to Irene, after 20 years of successful farming, he still had his original $2 in his pocket despite the fact that he had amassed a small fortune.

The reason?

Irene complained it was because Sam was too cheap to spend even a penny to improve their standard of living in accordance with his financial success.

In fact, Irene finally became so upset over the situation that she sued Sam to end their marriage on the grounds of intolerable cruelty.

“My husband won’t even put his hand in his pocket to avoid frostbite,” she complained to a judge. “Considering that we’ve been married for 20 years – and considering that he’s loaded – I think it’s monstrous of him not to provide me with some of the comforts of life. As an example, our car is so old, it must have originally been owned by Og, Son of Fire.”

“I’m sorry,” was Sam’s answer. “But, because I may have accumulated some money doesn’t mean that I have to spend it just to show off to the world that I’ve got it. As far as I’m concerned, my refusal to live high and fancy is no reason to end a marriage.”

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you free Irene from her cheap husband?

This is how the judge ruled: NO! The judge held that it is not cruel for a husband to refuse to keep up with the Joneses. While Irene’s situation may have been aggravating, noted the judge, there was no evidence that Sam’s conduct was cruel – or that he intended to be cruel – so as to entitle Irene to  have her marriage terminated.

(Based upon a 1996 Conn. Supreme Court Decision.)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.

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