Understanding Extortion, Blackmail in Divorce


  • Extortion is defined as the gaining of property or money by almost any kind of force or threatening action.
  • Whether you are a public figure or not, extortion can happen during the divorce process.
  • Coercion is not the answer either.

In the divorce process, negotiation tactics can often find themselves dictated by an individual’s priorities, in what they want most in their divorce settlement. When two soon-to-be ex-spouses are vying for the same assets, it can cause incentive to resort to some ethically-questionable methods.

With the amount of time that two spouses spend together during the course of their marriage, each learns a lot about the other, and some of it is information that the other would like to remain private. During the divorce, this desire to want information to remain private can tempt one soon-to-be ex-spouse to extort the other, for what they want in the divorce settlement.

Understanding extortion

Legally speaking, extortion in most states is defined as the gaining of property or money by almost any kind of force or threat of violence, harm to reputation, property damage, or unfavorable government action. In contrast, blackmail is often defined as when the offender threatens to reveal information about a victim or his family member or members that is potentially embarrassing, incriminating, or socially damaging, unless a demand for property, services or money is met.

For individuals experiencing a divorce, they can find themselves experiencing a situation where a soon-to-be ex-spouse could be hinting at the possibility of alleging wrong-doing against you. Whether it is true or not, these types of allegations can have damaging result in misrepresenting the type of spouse or parent that you actually are.

In addition, divorce cases involving blackmail can paint you in a negative light, especially with wrong-doing actually involved in the case. It can be even worse when you are a divorcing individual already in the limelight.

The case studies

New York Yankees general manager and senior vice president Brian Cashman went through a divorce situation involving blackmail. For him, however, the blackmail was coming from his alleged mistress, Louise Neathway, according to the New York Daily News. She was stalking, harassing, and extorting thousands of dollars from the Yankees general manager.

Cashman allegedly arranged for his lawyer, Eric Creizman, meet with Neathway’s mother, Caroline Meanwell, and convince her that Neathway needed to be committed. Meanwell tried once, but after the operator of the 911 call refused because Neathway is an adult, Creizman tried again to convince Meanwell that her daughter needed help. That’s when Meanwell refused.

Neathway got arrested for extorting money and harassing Cashman. She later struck a plea deal and was sentenced to probation, according to the New York Post.

Cases involving extortion are rarely easy and can often extend beyond the relationship, whether you are in the limelight or not.

In August of 2013, a woman and her brother approached Rabbi Martin Wolmark about obtaining a divorce from her husband, according to NJ Advance Media. Wolmark said that it could be done, possibly by violence. He recommended speaking to a colleague of his, Rabbi Mendel Epstein, who allegedly was involved in forcibly coerced divorces from uncooperative husbands.

Wolmark claimed it would cost $30,000 to make this happen, but when his co-conspirators met at a warehouse where they were to force her husband to grant a get, the FBI agents who posed as the woman and her brother were there to secure the arrest. Nine total individuals were arrested.

Negative light

Coercing an individual to divorce through less than legal means is never the answer. In pursuing a divorce, you are taking an active step in improving your own life, through ending an unhappy marriage. Taking action through the nefarious means of extortion or blackmail will only set your case back and have a negative effect on the court’s perception of your character.

Mischaracterization can be a real issue during the divorce experience. Whether it is due to pending charges or unproven accusations, it can be a damaging distraction in the process. While you are not on trial during the divorce process, negative sentiments regarding one’s character are never something that anyone wants to deal with.

This level of negativity and accusation can set you further back from what you are actually looking for in your divorce settlement. The object of going to those means is to get what you want, but employing them is playing with fire and can result in you getting burned.

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