Interesting fact: I’m in my mid-40s, and I’ve never needed a lawyer for anything in my life.
Sobering fact: As of April 4th, all that has changed.
Since my wife filed and had me served, I ended up needing to get legal advice. Now, our marital crisis has really been difficult on me financially, and paying thousands of dollars for a retainer really was not on the agenda. I hope that it never will be. (Click this link to see how you can help.) So, being on a limited budget, I had to do quite a bit of research to find legal advice that would not cost me an arm and a leg.
I had a brief phone consult with an attorney who does “low-bono” work. This means that her fee ($200 per hour; sheesh, where do lawyers get off charging that much?) would be cut in half. We set up a complimentary, 30-minute consult for early next week; she assured me that, even though it would happen only a few days before my response needs to be filed and served, there would still be “plenty of time” to do all that. She also recommended that I consult with the county bar association, which runs the largest pro bono legal clinic in the country. I had already contacted them that same morning, and had a consult set up for the same evening.
I went to that consult and waited for about 45 minutes. The attorney who helped me was a very nice young lady, probably about 10 years my junior, who primarily does work for non-profits. She had some experience with family law, but was not terribly experienced. However, there was a family-law “mentor” who would be available by phone, should we need more guidance.
I started by telling her that I simply wanted to drag the process out for as long as possible. We went through my wife’s petition, clause by clause, and figured which parts could be admitted, and which could be denied. In this process, we discovered a real oddity: my wife had failed to file two pages of her petition. This seemed quite random: there were two pages that were just missing. These appeared to deal with custody issues (we have no kids, so it would hardly be relevant) and then “other” issues; without her responses, I was at a loss as to how to respond.
So, the “mentor” was called. This attorney turned out to be a woman who had over 30 years’ experience in practicing family law. She was all business, and her message was mostly business, and not that positive at that. She claimed that there was “no hope” if my wife had been separated for a year. I guess she had never seen a situation like that turn around; I, however, have personal knowledge of many such situations turning around, because one spouse made all the effort in bringing about the changes needed for such a turnaround. She began to advise me about all of the possessions and monetary issues I should state, so that my wife would get this divvied up at a later date. She did not seem to understand that I simply do not care about these material or financial matters. My wife could have everything, really; it would not matter to me. You cannot put a price on a human relationship.
Overall, the session was only moderately productive, and I walked away with a few nuggets of decent information. I was encouraged to go to the county courthouse to check my wife’s original filing to see if those pages were missing from the original as well; they were, in fact, missing. I guess the clerks do not care if you file accurately or completely; they just take your money and put a stamp on the documents. In the end, I was able to craft a rough draft of a response, but I simply would not feel comfortable submitting this without having an experienced attorney vet it. I plan on having that consult next week, and having that (or perhaps some other) attorney produce the final response for me.
What is really critical for me at this phase is that I make my response about the errors and omissions of fact in my wife’s petition, and not at all about any financial issues. I will also be challenging her allegation that our marriage is “irretrievably broken,” which is absolutely ludicrous on its face. Then, the whole dang thing will get kicked back to my wife, and it will be up to her to figure out what to do next.
Basically, it appeared to me that my wife put almost no effort into the actual filling out of these documents, even though she had been sitting on them for over a year. These appeared to be the same documents I had seen in her possession a year ago, and it was visible even from the photocopies that her original responses that she had penciled in at that time had simply been erased and written over in pen. I have the very strong feeling that she really did not want to do this, but was forced into it by the adulterer. And, having been forced into it, I think she made a half-hearted effort, hoping that this would be the magic pill that would make all her problems go away. Moreover, I suspect that the adulterer thought that, by forcing her to file, I’d suddenly “wake up,” or something like that, and then “move on” and “let her go,” or some other nonsense. If he believes that, he’s a fool. What both he and she did through this act was to put an immediate and unceremonious end to the fanatasy. Their situation is now very real. That situation is simple: two adulterers, living together, who believe that they can legitimize the illegitimate through every act of going public, and that that legitimacy could be sealed through this legal action.
Legal action has no impact on immoral behavior. What’s immutable stays immutable. Adultery is wrong, and there is simply nothing either of them can do to make it not wrong. This will become evident in due course.
What remains to be seen is how things will play out once my response is filed and served. I believe that they will both become frustrated and angry. I believe that some of that frustration and anger will be directed at me, but I even more strongly believe that there will be even greater anger and frustration that they will direct at each other. This is a fetid, odious situation that is the perfect breeding grounds for recriminations to fly among the infidels. He will blame her for making mistakes, failure to specify information, and omitting pages from her petition. She will blame him for not providing any help, and for pressuring her into something in which she does not believe. My wife will suddenly experience a marked increase in her stress levels, and her guilt and feelings of bad conscience will be exacerbated. She will likely have trouble eating, will lose weight, and will experience difficulty sleeping. Moreover, the panic attacks that have periodically dogged her since she was a child, and that most certainly have burdened her for the past 17 months, will return with a vengeance, becoming a frequent and most unwelcome visitor. She will have the breakdown of all breakdowns, and a meltdown to end all meltdowns. Yes, this is all speculative, but knowing my wife, most of this is highly likely.
I will conclude again here with an ardent plea for your assistance. As always, your prayers, thoughts, and aspirations are most greatly welcomed and appreciated. I do believe that appealing to the unseen has massive power to effect change.
However, there is the mundane concern of filing this response that is proving to be rather burdensome. My budget for the month was already tight, and this will stretch it even thinner. There were some income shortfalls that resulted from liquidity problems one of my employers was experiencing. Therefore, I would ask you to donate to this blog if you have found yourself moved by anything here, if you have found any of this information helpful, or if you just want to generate some good karma by helping out a fellow passenger on this planet who happens to be in immediate need of a smallish sum that will hopefully provoke my wife’s awakening and movement to reconcile. That sum is modest, and hopefully will not exceed about $200. If you can help, please do. I can assure you that any assistance you might provide will absolutely and immediately be payed forward in some form.