Deborah Madoff: What can she expect now that she has filed for divorce from Bernie Madoff's son Andrew?

From the looks of things, Deborah Madoff is a discreet homemaker who led a privileged life on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with her multi-millionaire husband. Her only claim to fame is that she happened to marry the son of Bernie Madoff about 17 years ago, setting the stage for her becoming the daughter in law of a man accused of pulling off one of the biggest investment frauds in Wall Street history.
Deborah Madoff, for the most part, is a mystery. Not much is known about her as of yet in the press, but certainly all that is about to change. A limited Google search will reveal that she was prone, along with the rest of the Madoff clan, to make political campaign contributions, she is a homemaker, she lists her address on 66th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and she is about 41 years old. She also had a foundation which she ran along with her husband Andrew called the Deborah and Andrew Madoff Foundation – a tax exempt, non profit organization – commenced about 2004, and into which they deposited millions of tax free dollars.
Do they have kids? That is a bloody good question. I am willing to bet that they do, and that she will be asking for custody.
But what about equitable distribution? It seems Andrew and his brother Mark worked for their father, but quite a bit of their personal money and business money was invested elsewhere, including with Neuberger and Berman (A Lehman outfit). So they and their investors, at least for now, seem to have escaped their father’s gross negligence.
That may or may not be good for Debbie  Madoff.  If the money is clean, (and so far, the SEC is implying that Andrew had nothing to do with the ponzi scheme) then she will more than likely get a nice chunk of whatever is floating around. Since she married at around age 24 (Andrew was about 25), it is highly unlikely she had a prenup.  They probably married for love (so cute!) and the divorce will therefore be very prolific for her if there is no pre or post nuptial agreement to block what she gets. If the money is not clean, Debbie has a big problem. She literally may come out of this thing with nothing. Because the feds will freeze everything: The jewelry, art work, cars, real estate, trust accounts, jets, everything they own. It will be a huge nightmare. And she’s never even worked, it doesn’t seem. Since she’s only 41 she will probably only get temporary maintenance. She is going to probably have to find a job if there’s no equity in the marriage that is distributable. At her middle age, what in the name of God will she do?
What would be her “grounds” for divorce? In New York she needs grounds. It can be one of about six grounds: abandonment, constructive abandonment, cruelty, adultery, imprisonment, separation agreement, judgment of separation. Most people would go with constructive abandonment to avoid airing too much dirty laundry, and to save themselves the agony of a grounds trial. I mean, this is not the time for more Madoff drama, I don’t think, and Andrew is keenly aware of this. Although, from a purely strategic point of view, Deborah may want to allege some other ground such as cruelty or adultery to push Andy to make a better and quicker settlement offer.
The timing of her petition makes me think she wants to get out as quietly and as quickly as possible. Andrew probably will not want a public spectacle. He strikes me as a very classy, quiet type of a guy. They seem to have lived a very quiet and mysterious life so they are not going to have one of those “messy” divorces ( like super models and pop stars tend to have. I think it will be dignified, quick and quiet. So Debbie will go with a constructive abandonment scheme and Andrew will not challenge. They will stip to it.
Deborah Madoff could be looking at some serious tax issues along with her husband. From the investments, philanthropies to the real estate and trusts, depending on what the Feds find out about their investment activities and how things are classified in the end. She is probably going to claim “innocent spouse” though, and if she was just a homemaker, she will probably be able to prove she didn’t know anything about the finances. Not because she was a homemaker. Just because finance probably wasn’t her thing. Men like Andrew tend to marry women like that.
The timing of the divorce is interesting, though. I must say. Why is Deborah filing now? On the very same day that Bernie Madoff was cuffed by the FBI? What do you think? And I don’t want to flatter myself, but could she have read my December 13th post?