Fetish Friday: Your Kinky Divorce

Welcome to Fetish Friday on Lawyers & Liquor, where we talk about the world of sexual fetish and, really, anything sexually inclined at all.  I’m your host the BDSM Barrister, inviting all of you to break out the ballgags and sit there like the good little pieces of worthless filth you are as we talk this month about the implications of your kink on your divorce.  That’s right, as we’ve discussed before even if you’re referred to as the slave in the bedroom and the strangely leather-clad basement dungeon, there’s absolutely no reason that you can’t file for a divorce from your dominatrix.  And, despite what some people who abuse their kinks would like you to think, there’s absolutely nothing that they can do to stop you!

However, when we’re talking about groups of people whose inclinations may run from the degrading of themselves all the way up to literally drawing blood for sexual fulfillment, and when the kink isn’t just something that happens in the bedroom but something that is more of a lifestyle, divorce, like scat play, can get pretty goddamn messy.  Of course I’m not going to talk about the cases today where things went well, am I?  Nope.  I’m going to talk about the shit that happens when two kinksters that were once in love decide that they want to seek the ultimate pain fetish and submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the local family court!  So hook up the alligator clips and let’s get this ball rolling!

If you have a disclaimer  fetish, do I have a treat for you!

First, I’m a lawyer.  I’m not your lawyer.  This isn’t legal advice. It’s an esoteric and academic discussion, meant for education and entertainment, into the unique interactions of the law with a specific fetish or sexually related topic presented in an irreverent manner.  If you need legal advice, you need to go to a local attorney and hire them. I don’t represent you, and that’s likely a good thing for both of us.

Second, guys, I joke but honestly this is another one of those fetishes that meets and exceeds my “Big Three” test on the “Do I Give a Fuck” scale.  That scale judges whether I really give a shit that people practice this kink, and it goes like this:

  1. Is the shit it deals with illegal?
  2. Is anyone non-consensually being harmed (seriously harmed) by the kink?
  3. Does the kink involve an express lack of consent by a living creature?

If the answer to all three is “No,” I don’t give a shit. You do you. It doesn’t affect me, and you’re all good.  So remember, while I may joke about stuff on here, if anything I talk about today is your kink and it meets the Big Three Test, it’s all good in the Boozy-hood, and nobody has any right to make you feel bad about it.

Divorces Are Nasty Because You Trust Your Partner.

When you talk to anyone that’s actually into kinks, and especially kinks that push physical and (as we’ve talked about in the past when discussing the nature of consent in BDSM) sometimes legal boundaries, they’ll tell you that kink play and and relationships are relationships that are built on trust.  On a base level that’s sort of a “no shit” statement, because who in their right mind is going to consent to being tied to a bed and mildly tortured for sexual pleasure if they don’t trust the person doing it implicitly and explicitly to respect boundaries?  But even in this world where you trust your partner, that same trust can end up being a double-edged sword sometimes, because while you trust them with your physical and emotional, and in the nature of certain kinks that I’ll talk about next month financial, safety it also means that they know where all of your dirty shit (literally in some cases) is.  The partner that you kink with is the partner that knows the kink!  Amazing, huh?

This isn’t a bad thing in the relationship or the marriage, and is actually a great thing!  I encourage you to talk to your partners about your kinks and trust them!  I also encourage you to be aware that simply by involving yourself in a kink with your partner you’re both giving each other family court ammo.

Take, for instance, the case of Jeffrey Stein,

The Perfect Example of Kink Attacks In Divorce.

Jeffrey Stein, by all accounts, was a responsible and diligent public servant, acting as the District Attorney Supervisor for the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.  For those of you who have been locked in a cage or otherwise restrained willfully and therefore can’t reach a map (how are you on the internet? Frankly, I’m impressed), Nassau County is essentially Long Island.  I mean, it’s not the whole island, but we’re pretty safe in saying “Long Island” at this point, although I’m sure some asshole is going to comb through here looking for something to satisfy his pedantry fetish while jerking off on a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order or something.  For the rest of you, it’s enough to say “Long Island” as in “the people that say they live in New York City but really don’t live in New York City.”  So Stein had a pretty important and big job in the halls of justice.

Stein also had, according to his ex-wife, some fetishes.  Drawing from the court filings, which are now under seal, Stein’s wife alleged that her husband forced her during the course of their 17 year marriage to engage in degrading and traumatizing fetish play, going as far as to classifying that shit as “domestic abuse” on the part of Stein at the time.  And, you know what? That’s not too far from the truth if you’re forcing your spouse to engage in kink that physically or emotionally/mentally degrades them when they’re not on board!  Communication and consent, people!  I mean, looking to the New York Post article on the matter, it appears that Stein, being the sex-depraved, abusive, and uncaring maniac he is, made her…

Made her…

…Wait.  It appears that Stein was the one doing shit to himself.  Among the allegations in the divorce complaint were allegations that Stein “dressed like a sissy maid” and called himself “Janice,” that he “wore an anal plug with a horse tail and pretended to be a horse by galloping around the marital residence,” that he “used [a] litter box…[and] wanted to be walked on a leash,” and that at times he would wear diapers and act like a baby, among other things.  Why, at one point, according to the complaint, Janice/Stein even showed his wife his – the unimaginable horror of this – chastity cage that he would wear to work.  For those of you unfamiliar with this and think it sounds bad, please elucidate yourself on the matter because all that means is he wore a plastic device under his fucking clothes that kept his little soldier from standing up.  It’s a kink.

In fact…I mean…all of those are pretty normal kinks and/or, if not kinks, actual goddamn lifestyles. Role-playing that defies gender norms, pony play, puppy/kitty play, ABDL, forced chastity…these aren’t anything a 14 year old isn’t aware of.  Especially if they have access to Google.  And while, according to the wife’s complaint, these  Stein appeared to be a walking encyclopedia of kinks, that’s absolutely nothing new in the world.  We’re all a little freaky, folks.

But…you know.  According to Stein’s ex-wife’s lawyer:

 “My client has been traumatized for years by the depravity of her husband and by his insistence on reliving the abuse in open court. It is a bedroom nightmare that no one should have to endure.”

Sure.  Sure she was.  I’m certain she had no escape over the 17 year period from the sight of her husband engaging in these kinks at all.  I mean, it’s not like New York has had no fault divorce since 2010 (five years prior to the filing of the complaint).  And if she really wanted to avoid “having to relive them in court,” then why even bring them up, right?

…Well…

New York Is Liberal, Its Divorce Law Isn’t.

There are generally two types of divorce out there:  “At Fault” divorce and “No Fault” divorce.  In a “no fault” state there doesn’t have to be any reason at all for a divorce so long as the parties have met some general criteria.  Normally, this criteria is something like “living separate and apart for X months” or “consent to the divorce in general.”  You file, the court divides property and kids, bing bang boom and you’re off to the nipple clamp room a free person.

In an “At Fault” divorce, one party must have grounds to get a divorce before it can be granted, and then they have to prove those grounds in court.  The problem is that the grounds for an “At Fault” divorce are almost things centered on criminal or abusive tendencies, abandonment, etc.  For example, prior to 2010 New York State recognized, in general, four grounds for an at-fault divorce to be granted:

  1. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment
  2. Abandonment for a year or more
  3. Imprisonment for more than three years after marriage
  4. Adultery

Additionally, there was a ground for separation, which happened when either the court declared the two were separated for a year or where the parties had entered into a separation agreement for a year.

And what, you may ask, served to meet the “cruel and inhuman treatment” ground for divorce?  Well, that was generally defined by New York as being “behavior which rises to the level such that it makes it improper for the parties to reside together as husband and wife.”  It encompasses physical abuse, certainly, but it also encompasses mental cruelty when such actions that cause mental distress would make a court say “Yeah, no, you shouldn’t have to go through all of that.”

Like…I don’t know…”forcing” your spouse to watch you engage in kinks they don’t really agree with and shit, right?

Why Would A Spouse Do That Though?

Well, there are a few factors.  See, New York may have had a “no fault” law since 2010, and this complaint may have been filed in 2015, the attorney for the wife, David Meijas (now a New  York Legislator!) was certainly in practice well before the change of the law in 2010.  And, well, old dogs learn new tricks slowly.  So to some degree, he pled all of these grounds in order to raise the specter of cruel and inhuman treatment and therefore obtain the divorce on fault grounds for his client.  But, again, why?

Equitable Distribution of Property.

Alright, technically the concept of marital fault doesn’t come into the distribution of property.  At the same time, technically a tomato is a fucking fruit and technically, according to Congress, pizza is a vegetable. Courts, while not supposed to consider the matter of marital fault and who shoves what up their ass when and around whom as part of determining which spouse takes what from the marriage, still have in the traditional 14 factors they consider in dividing shit up a catch-all of “and anything else the court deems proper.”  And Meijas, aware of this, was pleading a case that, true or not, paints a picture of Stein as an inhuman monster of sexual depravity who forced his poor wife to watch as he degraded the fuck out of himself over the years in hopes the court would apply that fourteenth factor in dividing up all of the Stein’s shit.

Now…I mean, I don’t know this for a fact, I could be wrong, but…ask yourself logically this question:  If you’re in a marriage in a state where all you have to do is ask for a legal separation for a year before getting a divorce, and for 17 years your husband is a french maid adult baby pony with a chastity-locked cock…and that’s something that traumatizes the shit out of you…why the hell wouldn’t you get the divorce a little sooner?

Why is this important?

Well, because out of the all of the states  only 17 states and Washington D.C.  do not have any version of an at fault divorce.  That means that in fully 33 other states, your spouse can talk about all the kinky shit the two of you did when seeking grounds for an at fault divorce, and may do so even if they could just go and get a no fault divorce.  Why?  Because all of these states do have equitable distribution laws (with the exception of common property states, but I don’t live in one and I know nothing about them so…you know…go fucking talk to a lawyer there).  They’ll want to bring that shit up to either a) influence the court or b) try to shame you into settling in their favor before any of it has to go to the court, because you’ll be so fucking ashamed.

Hell, it could even become a goddamn campaign ad.

The Sad Conclusion of Jeffrey Stein’s Case.

As I said earlier, Jeffrey Stein worked for the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.  His wife filed her divorce complaint in 2015.  Right before the Nassau County DA was up for re-election.

That’s right.

Elections.  Which are always known for being so civil.  And after the New York Post did the apparently totally necessary report on Stein’s wife’s bedroom expose to the divorce court, his boss’s political opponents took notice and started running ads. Let’s let the New York Post, that bastion of yellow journalism, describe the ad:

The narrator of the 30-second attack ad says, “Singas refused to fire a top staffer who is an accused domestic abuser.” It then pans to the Post story and a photo of Stein.

…Fucking seriously.

Anyhow, that’s the point is in addition to your divorce matter, where your spouse may definitely bring it up in a way to bully you into a settlement, if the details of the divorce ever get out then your kinks become common knowledge.  Which, I mean, they shouldn’t because divorce files are generally sealed by the court – unless some asshole leaks them to the press, you know, like what happened here.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

I mean…you can’t.

Seriously, you can’t protect yourself.  Not if you want a happy relationship with your partner where you can both enjoy your healthy kinks with each other and place the trust that such a couple needs in each other.  It’s a shitty thing to say, but it’s the truth: Having a healthy relationship doesn’t happen if you can’t express yourself truthfully with your partner, and really can’t happen unless you and your partner discuss your proclivities.

However, you can have a measure of protection if you’re involved with someone who has the same kink.  When both parties have dirty laundry (not like…as if that’s a bad thing. Some people like the musk), the odds of someone hanging it out in public go down.  But the kink community and their risk in divorce is no different than the risks that other communities and people have in general.

And if you’re dating “non-kink” people, make sure that there’s some record that they’re okay with your kink and are active and willing participants.  An email, a note, things like that – while seemingly unsavory – can go a long way towards knocking back the claims that they were never okay with shit.

Conclusion

And really, should being open and honest with your partner be something you should be worried about? Of course not.  The quickest way to end up divorced is to spend your entire marriage preparing for the divorce.

Just…

…make sure if the worst happens that you’re up front with your lawyer, okay?

-BB

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