Heard the one about the woman in head to toe diamonds who couldn’t pay for her own divorce? Thanks to Nicole Noonan, today that woman lives in a penthouse. Spoiler alert: For men actively hiding their marital assets in preparation of leaving a longtime wife, the contents of this story may prove unsettling. Five years ago, Noonan, a matrimonial divorce lawyer by training, brought the largest international divorce facilitating company stateside. Because, when it comes to divorce, girls just want to have funds.
The girls at Nicole and husband Steven Knobel’s Labor Day Party, on the other hand — and their loving husbands — wanted fun. Among them: Colleen and Gary Rein, Jane and Joe Pontarelli, Suzan and Jerry Kremer, Paola and Arnie Rosenshein, Catherine Petree, Rueben Levy, Ruth Miller, Nicole Dicocco, Allen Dalton and Stacey Locker.
Working as a divorce lawyer, Noonan saw once wealthy women who were so cosseted, they didn’t even know what a mortgage was, much less have the credit to get one. “My old law firms would carry the cost until settlement,” she said. “Clients would owe us hundreds of thousands of dollars and we had to pay our own bills. In meetings, everyone was always fighting — literally throwing things — because the accounts receivable were so high. Some attorneys won’t even take the client unless they can pay up front.”
She saw a business model in England and Australia for bankrolling these women and decided, “I need to bring it here.” Today, she helms the American arm of Novitas, the largest divorce funding company in the world. “We provide women and men funding, not only for legal fees, but accountants, private eyes, living expenses — whatever they need.”
Noonan remembers one Hamptons woman who was married to “a very, very, very well-known plastic surgeon. They lived in a beautiful townhouse in New York and estate in the Hamptons. Of course when it came time for divorce, the husband’s million dollar business went to nothing and he cut off her credit cards. He hired a high powered attorney who offered a low settlement. She had no money to hire anybody. She came to me. We got her funding, introduced her to a couple attorneys that I suggested and found one that fit her style. She received a very nice settlement and got herself a degree. Today, she owns her own company.”
Divorce work, on the other hand, bonds Noonan’s marriage. She says her husband Steve Knobel “has his own high powered real estate appraising company and does a lot of divorce work. So we work with many of the same attorneys and go to the same conferences together.” In this case, the family that divorces together, stays together.