Examples of decent, loving dads being manhandled by the anti-father family law system are legion, but this one has to make the Top 10. A recent New Jersey appeals court reaffirmed a decision mandating that a man must pay alimony to his ex-wife–who killed their son. From Legal tussle: Should killer get alimony? (Bergen Record, 11/22/07):

“A state appeals court on Wednesday refused to automatically bar alimony from spouses who kill a child…The decision was issued in the case of Linda Calbi, who is serving a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to beating her son, Matt, on Aug. 17, 2003, during a violent argument at their home. He died hours later from internal bleeding and cardiac arrest…

“Linda Calbi was originally charged with murder, but the charges were later downgraded to aggravated assault, based on expert reports that medical error contributed significantly to the boy’s death. She was sentenced last year to three years in prison and won’t be eligible for parole until November 2008.

“The Calbis were divorced in 2001 after 15 years of marriage. A few months after Matt’s death, Chris Calbi fell behind on his alimony payments and filed papers in court seeking a reduction or termination of his payment obligations.

“‘She took the life of her oldest son, scarred her younger son for the rest of his life, and tore the fabric of my soul from me,’ Chris Calbi wrote in papers filed in Superior Court in Hackensack. ‘To reward this evil and violent woman by allowing her … to derive a financial benefit from the family she destroyed … can only be described as a perversion of our justice system.'”

Chris Calbi had been paying Linda $3,183 a month until her incarceration, and may be saddled with that amount when Linda is paroled. Chris is pictured with his deceased son Matthew and his surviving son Dean above. A few comments:

1) Chris Calbi claimed that Linda abused and assaulted him during their marriage, at times employing a kitchen knife and a hammer. The death of the son is discussed in Typical teen meets a tragic end (Bergen Record, 8/20/03), and Linda Calbi sounds like a real sweetheart:

“As [Christopher Calbi’s] company – Robert Christopher Sales – grew, [Christopher] was increasingly away in Europe on business, Linda Calbi said in divorce papers. Though they shared fine dinners, and Christopher Calbi showered his wife with gifts, a physical and emotional distance developed between Matthew’s parents, her papers say.

“Linda Calbi said in the papers that she felt like ‘a highly paid slave.’

“Christopher Calbi countered that his wife subjected him to ‘profanity-laced tirades and ridicule.'”

2) From the same article:

“The couple split in 1999 and – after 15 years of marriage – divorced in July 2001.

“Meanwhile, Matthew was having problems at school, said a woman who worked in the River Vale school system.

“When Matthew was in the special education program at Holdrum Middle School, he regularly came to class with bruises, said the woman, who declined to be identified. The teen always had an excuse for the marks – he was playing with his younger brother, or he fell, the woman said.

“But in April 2002, the woman noticed a strange bruise on Matthew’s wrist, one she thought looked like a defensive wound. She asked Matt to explain, but he couldn’t, she said, so she called DYFS to report the mark.

“As part of the special education program, Linda Calbi met routinely with educators to review her son’s performance.

“But when Calbi showed up, she often smelled of booze, the woman said. ‘You could light the air on fire, she smelled so badly,’ the woman said.

“Linda could not understand why her son wasn’t more successful in school.

“‘She was very forceful when she spoke. Nothing was ever her fault, and of course she was at her wit’s end,’ the woman said.”

3) The father now has to raise the surviving son, Dean, age 12, on his own. Is Linda being asked to pay child support? Isn’t Chris’ ability to provide for Dean negatively impacted by having to pay alimony to the noncustodial parent?

4) Chris also needs to save his money–Linda may be out of prison in less than a year and will be fighting for visitation rights to Dean. In July, 2006, a judge ordered a supervised visitation between Dean and his mother, contingent on the boy’s acceptance.

5) Linda apparently received a lesser charge and sentence for her crime because supposedly there was medical bungling by the hospital after she assaulted her son which contributed to Matthew’s death. How much of her light sentence is due to the alleged medical bungling and how much is just the standard female sentencing discount is unclear.

6) It’s amazing some of the things that an attorney will say. Linda’s attorney, Ian Hirsch, said:

“‘Mr. Calbi is using his son’s death to take away any obligations he has,’ Hirsch said. ‘I think he’s trying to take advantage of a tragedy and turn it around to his economic benefit.'”

Yup–dad not wanting to pay money to the woman who killed his son is “taking advantage of a tragedy and turning it around to his economic benefit.” Bad dad–how could he be so rotten?

7) Can you imagine a judge ordering a woman to pay alimony to the ex-husband who murdered her child? In fact, California has a recent law which created a presumption that a victim of domestic violence should not be required to pay support to a violent spouse.

The new court decision by the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Appellate Division can be seen here.

A recent CNN report on the case can be viewed here.

www.GlennSacks.com, Glenn Sacks

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