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Court Refuses To Get Involved in Getz Divorce Dispute

November 26, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today refused to become involved in a bitter divorce dispute between jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and his wife of 32 years.

The justices, without comment, rejected arguments by Monica Getz that New York’s divorce law violates the rights of women.

Getz, 63, sued for divorce in 1981, after Mrs. Getz, 56, went to court alleging her husband - suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction - abused her. She sought a court order for family support payments and protection against Getz.

The couple later made attempts at reconciliation before the divorce became final in 1987. A state jury ruled in Getz’s favor in granting the divorce. He had accused his wife of infidelity and trying to poison him.

Mrs. Getz said her husband had been repeatedly unfaithful and unpredictably violent, but said she stood by him when drugs and alcohol could have cost him his life.

A state judge ruled that Mrs. Getz is entitled to half her husband’s royalties from the beginning of their marriage in 1956 to 1981. That ruling was not at issue in the case acted on today.

In her appeal to the Supreme Court, Mrs. Getz said the divorce decree against her is unfair. She said the case should have been resolved in New York’s family courts rather than by trial courts that handle corporate disputes and other matters.

She said the state law favors men by permitting them to wage ″legal wars of attrition″ against their wives, who often lack equal financial resources.

Family courts are designed to expedite resolutions of divorce cases and spare the couple excessive legal fees, she said.

Mrs. Getz said she has spent more than $600,000 in legal fees and will be forced to use the proceeds from the couple’s mansion in Irvington, N.Y., where she still lives, to pay off the bills.

In a legal brief in her behalf, Mrs. Getz’s lawyer, Whitney North Seymour Jr., said, ″The wife’s entire life has been left in shambles by this case. She has been branded an adulteress. She has become obligated to pay legal fees of many hundreds of thousands of dollars. She is being forced out of her home and to give up her old-age security.″

The case is Getz vs. Getz, 90-562.

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