NYC Judge Rips ‘Vengeful’ Parents Who Made Son’s Divorce A Nightmare

A meddling couple dragged out their son’s divorce case for five years because they were determined to keep ties to their 8-year-old granddaughter.

And their butting in was so over the top that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gesmer hit their lawyers with a $317,000 fine for allowing grandparents Hershel and Ophira Gottlieb to prolong what should have been a cut-and-dried case after their son, Michael, said he had no interest in fighting for custody of his child.

“The paternal grandfather . . . directed [his lawyer] to ‘go after the mother with a vengeance,’ ” the judge’s ruling, released Monday, reveals.

The judge was so incensed by the elder Gottliebs that she also referred their lawyers, Abe Konstam and Madeline Nisonoff, to the state disciplinary committee, finding that they were “evasive,” “uncooperative” and “not credible.”

The lawyers did not return calls to The Post, but Konstam told the New York Law Journal that he is appealing the decision.

The sanctions against the lawyers come two years after Gesmer fined the Edison, NJ, grandparents more than $200,000 for disobeying a court order to divulge information about who was paying their son’s legal fees.

The judge eventually determined that Hershel Gottlieb, a 66-year-old health care exec, paid all the costs of his son’s divorce case.

Michael Gottlieb, 35, married Lauren Appel, 34, in 2005. Their relationship fell apart after Michael was hospitalized for a brain aneurism in 2008 and Appel started having disagreements with her in-laws over her husband’s medical care.

“All they had to do was respect the boundaries that they were married,” Appel’s lawyer, Karen Rosenthal, told The Post.

In 2013, Gesmer awarded primary custody of the couple’s daughter to Appel and gave her the power to “exclude the paternal grandparents and other members of the father’s family” from visits with his daughter.

The grandparents didn’t return messages for comment.


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