NEW YORK: The 10 Best Divorce and Family Law Judges in Brooklyn & Manhattan – NYC

Divorce Saloon Salutes the best judges in New York City – 2014



Perhaps due to the obvious “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” nature of their work, divorce and family law judges are often harshly criticized in society. In researching our TITANS 10 list of judges for 2014  we should concede that it was a challenging task for the simple reason that so many of the judges we considered did not have a strong online (Google) profile. In the end, we selected these 10 judges in New York City (Brooklyn and Manhattan) based on a variety of factors which include their reputation among counsels, reputation with the public at large, the cases they have handled, their judicial reasoning skills, their sense of fairness, and overall, how they are described in the media.
So here is our list of the best Divorce and Family Law Judges in Brooklyn and Manhattan for 2014.
1. Judge Laura Drager – New York County Supreme  Judge Drager seems like a really no nonsense, take no prisoners kind of a judge; and she hates bullies. This year she decided to reduce the maintenance to a wife in a high profile case because the wife had bullied her husband online and caused harm to his reputation and his firm as a result. Judge Drager decided it was only fair that said wife should not profit from her below-the-belt tactics. We applaud Judge Drager for this decision in Schacter v Schacter and for this display of courage, and other deeds, as well as her feistiness on the bench, she is one of our TITANS 10for 2014.
2. Judge Lee Elkins – Kings County – Brooklyn Family Court Judge Elkins seems to be a very compassionate Family Court judge. We like to call him the “second chances” judge because he seems to go out of his way to give the many juvenile delinquents who come before him a second chance to do the right thing. He prefers to send them to residential facilities rather than throw the book at them and lock them away for their adolescent offenses. He often pleads with them to finish their education and make a turn for the better.  He’s a TITANS 10 because he is a judge with a heart and this is not always the case in New York or elsewhere.
3. Judge Deborah Kaplan – New York Country Supreme Judge Kaplan has been called the “Mafia Princess” on account of her father who has been described as a “career criminal” who used “mob money to pay for her wedding.” But no one can deny that her work as a judge is above reproach. She has an excellent reputation for being smart, fair and respectful/respectable – which is why she is one of our  TITANS 10  Moreover, it is inappropriate to hold her accountable for the actions of her father. This is just as ridiculous as calling a man a doctor just because he father was a doctor.
4. Judge Ann O’Shea Kings County Family Court Judge O’Shea makes the list if only because she stood up to ACS (Association for Children’s Services) in the case, In the Matter of William N., Jr. and refused to terminate parental rights for a couple of poor parents who has been caught smoking marijuana. Smoking marijuana is obviously not commendable, but if that was the test for parental unfitness in New York (ACS!) how many parents would lose custody of their kids – outside of the poor neighborhoods of the City? We give Judge O’Shea kudos for not being a hypocrite; and that is why she is on our list of  TITANS 10 for 2014.
5. Judge Matthew Cooper New York Supreme Judge Cooper gets on the TITANS 10 this year because he is such an interesting thinker and writer. We can never forget when he was called upon to decide who  would get custody of the dog in a divorce between a lesbian couple in New York and he literally analyzed what was in the “best interest of the dog.” He is also the judge that identified Manhattan as the “divorce capital of New York State” – which means he is a judge who is really plugged into what is going on  in the trenches.
6. Judge Paul Hendersen Grosvenor Family Court judge gets on the list for a unique reason: we could not find any news about him. So we figured no news had to be good news since folks do not hesitate to excoriate judges for corruption, unfairness and other misdeeds. Judge Grosvenor is a TITANS 10because there was no bad news on record about him that we could find.
7. Judge Paula Hepner is a retired Family Court Judge. But she is consistently described as well respected and thoughtful, fair and smart. For these reasons we award her a TITANS 10 for 2014 in spite of her being officially retired.
8. Judge Eric Prus Kings County Supreme Judge Prus is aTITANS 10 because he is so consistently out of the box in his reasoning. One of our more memorable Prus moments is back in 2010 when a warring Jewish couple could not decide who got the house and Judge Prus pulled a King Solomon: he ordered them to put a wall down the middle and share the house. Brilliant!
9. Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson administrative judge Mendelson gets on  our  TITANS 10 list because even though she is the administrative judge, still, she sits on the bench in the different boroughs and adjudicates cases of every day New Yorkers from time to time. She isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and she also seems like a judge who cares. We applaud her for that.
10. Judge  Jeffrey Sunshine Kings County Supreme is on the list because, in spite of being a very polarizing figure (at least in some circles) he is, in our opinion, not fake. In this business, that counts for a lot. He actually does care about what happens to his litigants it seems.  Does he have missteps on occasion? He probably has had a few in his career. But still, to us, Judge Sunshine is real and he lives up to his name. That is why he is a TITANS 10
Congratulations to all our New York and Kings County Judges! (If your name appears on this list and you would like to be profiled in Divorce Saloon’s  interview series please contact us at
* Each judge on the Titans 10 list has received a T10 rating which is the highest possible score for a judge on the list  Please not that the list is not ranked first to last. All candidates have received the same score.   The Divorce Saloon International T10 rating was created by Divorce Saloon International and is a global rating system for divorce lawyers, solicitors, avocats and judges. This rating system is copyrighted and trademarked by Divorce Saloon International. All Rights Reserved.


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