The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

The Price is Right?

By Shannon in News on Jun 5, 2007 9:30PM

What is the value of a marriage? When all is said and done, how do you tally the intangibles that make up everyday life? For the sake of argument, let’s throw some numbers out there. A goodnight kiss: $10. Breaking from work to drive your child to the emergency room: $250, plus wages that would have otherwise been paid. Dinner night after night, factoring in labor: cost untold. Yet in a divorce, these things get boiled down into monetary values by necessity. Settlements can’t be doled out in hugs or spankings (except maybe in R. Kelly’s fantasy world).

divorceHence, in lieu of turning back time, lawyers for Maya Polsky netted her a cool $183+ million on Monday. She filed for divorce from her engineering tycoon husband Michael in 2003 after 31 years of marriage. The couple emigrated to Chicago in 1980 from the Ukraine with just $500. Michael Polsky started his own engineering firm in ’91, sold it and started energy firm Invenergy; his assets are now judged at $370 million. Maya was a stay-at-home mother, raising two sons while her husband worked. She opened a gallery in River North in 1989, but if she were to go on “Jeopardy,” most likely she would have been introduced as a housewife.

Despite Michael doing the heavy lifting, Maya insisted he couldn’t have done it without her help and inspiration. That’s why her lawyers insisted on splitting the Polskys’ assets right down the middle, including homes, jewelry and fine art. Naturally Michael’s attorney, Joseph Tighe, had a major problem with this, saying the 50-50 split was a “fundamental error of law.” An appeal is a no-brainer. But consider what one of Maya’s lawyers, Howard Rosenfeld, queried concerning his client: “If you don’t treat a long-term spouse as a partner, what is she? A servant?” Now that’s a loaded question if we’ve ever heard one. On the one hand, she raised the kids while he went off to the corporate world, striking only after she encouraged him. On the other, he was the one actually bringing home all that bacon. It takes us back to that vague, indefinable logic that makes up all divorce proceedings. Who deserves what, and for what deeds done? And is anything worth $184 million to begin with?

Image via