Nearly three decades ago, Jane Lowy '52 found out how quickly life can change. Despite the setbacks and obstacles she encountered, Jane found an important role as an educator and advocate to improve divorce law. Today she campaigns tirelessly in Washington, DC to ensure that legislation passes to protect others from the fate that befell her.
To understand Jane's commitment and determination, you need to know her story. Jane, like many women, attended NYU in the early 1950s to get her teaching degree; upon graduation she married her teenage sweetheart, Robert, and after a few years of teaching, she became a full-time mother dedicated to raising her son and daughter. Jane always maintained her connection to teaching through tutoring and volunteering, but her primary focus was her family. Her marriage and life was all together perfect with a thriving business, two growing children, and a lifestyle that could be described as idyllic.
The life that Jane and Robert had been building for more than 30 years completely came unraveled in just the span of a day. Arriving home with her daughter, Jane found her home in a state of disarray that initially led her to believe there was a break-in. After assessing the damage she found a letter and it became clear that this had been done by her husband. Robert was gone and that was just the beginning.
Having emptied the couple's home of all its valuables, Robert had also managed to take control of the joint finances rendering Jane penniless. Rushing quickly to divorce the man who had undeniably betrayed and hurt her, Jane did not realize at the time that her now ex-husband was several steps ahead; rather than pay the settlement specified by the court, he left the state of New York.
What Jane learned in the weeks, months, and years that followed is that there is an undeniably inefficient and negligent process in place to protect both parties in a divorce and to ensure that distribution of property and assets is carried out. Enforcing civil divorce settlements across state lines is currently impossible.
When Jane began her odyssey she had no way to know that she would impact the lives of many; in addition to her efforts to close the loop-holes and amend our laws, Jane has worked to educate about spousal obligation and how men and women facing divorce can protect themselves. As her literature explains, today, Jane is working "to have Jane's Law enacted (HR 610) as part of a bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to strengthen enforcement of spousal court-ordered property distributions and for other purposes." She has rallied support from Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) who introduced the bill, Jane's Law into the 111th Congress. Momentum is building, there are 65 bi-partisan congressional co-sponsors throughout the US within the House - including Rep Nadler (-NY), Rep. McCarthy(D-NY), Rep. Matsui (D-fCA), Rep. Lewis (D-GA), Rep Poe (R-TX), Rep. Costa (D-CA), Rep. Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Hare (D-ILL), Rep. Weiner (D-NY), Rep. Burton (R-IN) Rep. Kennedy (D-RI), Rep. Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Miller (D-CA), Rep. Pierluisi (D-PR), Rep. Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Serrano (D-NY), Rep. Sanchez (D-CA) and Rep. Baldwin (D-WI).