06/11/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT
Lynn Goldstein's days follow a predictable pattern. She goes to work as a design consultant in a Louisville, Ky., furniture store, then heads to the Jefferson County Corrections Center, where she spends the night.
Goldstein, 51, is in the middle of a 30-day contempt-of-court sentence for failing to turn over two cats named Beanie and Kasey to her ex-husband, Tom Nichols. When the couple divorced last July, Louisville family court Judge Jerry Bowles ordered that their pets be divided between them. Nichols was given the cats, while Goldstein got their rabbit (Bobo) and three dogs named Buddy, Annie and Muggsy. But Goldstein balked because she felt that Nichols's schedule—he's a pilot for UPS—would keep him from caring for the cats properly. "I have never had two-legged children," says Goldstein, who wed Nichols in October 1991. "All I have is my animals."
At a May 10 hearing, Nichols—who won't comment on the case—offered a videotape made by a private detective that showed Goldstein stashing the cats at a friend's office. For Bowles, who had issued seven orders concerning the cats' custody, it was the last straw. "To watch her absconding with the property the morning she was coming to court to face final judgment," he says, "was a truly extreme case of contempt of court."
After Goldstein was led away, sheriff's deputies retrieved the cats and turned them over to Nichols. But Goldstein is appealing. "Granted," she says, "I'm being put through hell. But all I keep thinking about is Beanie and Kasey."