Talking to Lawyers

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.

Please click here to see how you can help.

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7 thoughts on “Talking to Lawyers”

  1. I’m very sorry that you find yourself in this position, but I think you are living in as much of a fantasy-world as you think your wife is. You’re speculating that she was forced to file and that she might not really want to do this. You’re speculating that the affair is imploding. You’re speculating about her state of mind and his.

    You’ve stated on the blog that you *know* your wife. But you haven’t been privy to her internal thought processes for more than a year. When I was separated I thought I could predict what my husband of over 10 years was thinking and doing, because I knew him so well. It was saddening to discover that I could not longer predict even semi-accurately what he would do, because he had changed so much.

    I respect your decision to continue to fight for your marriage – but I hope you do so with your head planted firmly in reality instead of in a world of speculation.

  2. CajunRose, while I thank you for your remarks, and while I appreciate your reading this post, I also feel the necessity to address some of the points you have raised. I do this not to criticize your opinions or what you have said, but rather with a wish to clarify what I have written with the hopes of clearing up possible misconceptions.

    First, I do not equate speculation with fantasy; were this true, then much of human existence, including such things as scientific method, would be nothing more than fantasy. I think these are two totally different things: fantasy is pure imagination that needs no reference to things becoming manifest in our mundane existence, while speculation deals with the very real possibility of things becoming manifest. While some — including, I might add, Mort Fertel himself — might consider this a largely fruitless exercise (he often asks people with speculative questions, “why do you want to know?” i.e. questioning how this knowledge could actually be helpful), I do find it useful to process the various stimuli so that it can be integrated into my ongoing experience.

    Second, I do know my wife, and I have been privy to her internal thought processes even within the last month. Those thought processes, along with the words she spoke, as well as the massive amount of non-verbal information that accompanied them, provided me with insight that was anything but speculative. Intuitive, perhaps, but certainly not speculative. Speculation in this case is nothing more than an effort to integrate these seemingly intangible yet powerfully perceptible cues into a larger framework of experience. This framework does include the totality of experiences I have with my wife that stretch back more than ten years now.

    Third, the reality in which I find myself planted is one in which I have divorce litigation and other mundane matters. Or, said otherwise, life is very real at the moment, and has been for quite a long time now.

    Finally, I recall some exchanges with individuals on a marriage-related forum some monts ago in which there seemed to be resistance to Marriage Fitness and some of the ideas it espouses. I recall being questioned about timelines, and it seemed to me that there was perhaps some sort of unspoken expectation that things would need to turn around within a certain period of time, and that if they did not, the approach was ineffective, or perhaps even bogus. I had the feeling at the time that some of these remarks may have been due to latent frustrations of individuals who did not see their situations turn around for whatever reason, and I can most certainly understand and be empathetic to that. Not all marriages are salvageable, but I do think the figure is much higher than the conventional 50% or so that end in divorce; I’d go so far as to say that it’s quite possible that maybe only 10% of marriages really cannot be saved if proper, diligent, and patient efforts are made.

    So, to end this comment I’d just like to share some insight that I gained over the weekend. One of the main points of resistance that comes up when discussion MF or any similar approach with others — and this includes discussions with marriage counselors as well — is that people change. Or, that people don’t change. Or, that once they change, then they don’t change. This is all utter and complete nonsense. The only certainty we have in life is that of change. If a spouse could not change, then there would never have been a marital crisis in the first place. This is the critical error that is made both conventionally and professionally, e.g. “your spouse has changed, and will not change back.” This is partially true: a spouse who changes will never return to the person he or she was before; we change in a variety of ways all the time, and do not revert to our previous “selves.” This is not change, but rather evolution. I do not want my wife to change back to who she was before our crisis; that would only lead to further crises down the road. What I desire is evolution. I have evolved, and so can she. Right now, she is just stuck.

    So here is that insight: I ended up speaking to a long-term Marriage Fitness practitioner who had beat the odds. This individual had been working the program since February 2011 and had endured separation that initially involved several hundred miles, and that now has the spouses on different continents. Moreover, there was no affair or other situation that might signal significant change once it ended. Nevertheless, this person persevered and reconciliation is now underway. The spouse is going to emigrate so that they can be reunited. It is a truly inspiring story. One thing this person shared with me was that the spouse was, in fact, “stuck” and needed to go through that process of being stuck. But that “stuckness” did, in fact end. Nobody stays “stuck” forever. The key factor in this person’s success at reconciliation was perseverance, and this ensured that person’s presence in the spouse’s life once that “stuckness” ended. The spouse is extremely grateful for this. This is just one of many stories. There have been a number of turnarounds in recent months, and these often seem to come unexpectedly and even at the most unlikely of times. Quite often, the situation degenerates to one that seems like it could not possibly get worse, and then there is a sudden and dramatic shift for the better. It does not always work like this, of course, but it does seem to be very common.

    This brings me back to the speculation cited earlier. There are many things that go on in the hearts and minds of those of us dealing with marital crises. There are many ways we might attempt to deal with them and sort them out. This blog is just one way in which I attempt to deal with my crisis. I do not mean to suggest that my thoughts or ideas in posts like these are applicable to anyone other than myself. They just help me to make sense of what I am experiencing, and that experience is no more a fantasy-land than is the experience of my getting in the car and driving to work. However, it does seem that others have received benefit from reading my words from time to time, and I feel quite strongly that, if others are able to benefit in any way from the adversity I must go through now, that this is the best possible outcome for the moment.

    Thanks again for reading, and I do hope that you will take this comment in the manner in which it was intended; that is, just as points of clarification, and absolutely not of criticism of your opinions or anything you have expressed.

  3. It’s clear that you’re in a tremendous amount of pain, and I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I hope you have excellent support around you and that one day very soon, this pain will end and you can live the life you truly deserve to have — one filled with daily joy.

  4. Rodion
    You know, I have myself going through exactly the same as you have, but I think Cajun is right. They are sick but there is nothing that you can do about. Just surprise her by accepting divorce. The same way that she did not care about marriage wows if she ever gets back to you she old not care less whether you are divorced or not. I believe that after you have been doing you should leave them leave their ” one in a life love story”. The longer you stick to it the longer they will be obstinate. Let them be ‘free” and it will end sooner rather than later. Let them feel free and the problems will arise. In the meantime enjoy your life, try to be as happy as you can!

  5. Mary, it has been very painful for me, but what is even more painful is knowing how much my wife is suffering. At this point, she has brought virtually all of that suffering onto herself, and I am basically powerless to do anything about it. At this point, she continues to commit herself to barreling into a brick wall at 1000 miles per hour, and I’m just going to have to let her do that. There is likely an attitudinal shift that needs to occur on my part: I’ve been trying to redirect that trajectory away from that brick wall, but I’m just going to have to step back and let her hit it head on.

    Sunshine, I appreciate what you have to say, but I think accepting divorce would be wrong, and here’s why. I don’t want it. It’s not that I want to stop her from doing it. She appears committed to that agenda right now, and has taken those steps. I cannot do it because I believe it’s wrong. I think it is wrong to walk away from a marriage without both parties making a real effort. I think it is wrong to walk away from a wayward spouse who insists on having an affair, and who uses that affair as justification for walking away. Or, put another way, if I just accepted this, I would be acting manipulatively, and I cannot do that.

    I think that the realization I’m having at this point is that it is time for me to take a step back from this energetically and to allow her path to reach its fruition, disastrous though that could be for her. I believe she is likely feeling pressured — both by me and the adulterer — and is as a result unfree to make her own choice. He is pressuring her to get rid of me so that he can be in control, and she likely feels that I am pressuring her by whatever actions I might be taking that contradict the pressure she gets from the other man.

    I do not believe in “going dark.” I’m on the other end of that situation, as she’s been going dark on me for quite a while now. Going dark from my side would just allow the trajectory she has established to continue. I just feel it is time to reach out with a much gentler touch somehow. I’m not sure what this means, but I think it has a lot more to do with intention than it does with action.

    1. Rodion, no couple should ever make this divorce decision without having an actual discussion about it. I’m wondering if you could reach out and tell her you’d like to talk to her. You don’t have to mention the “D” word, but it seems like it might be a perfect time to say, “Let’s talk.” You never know what might happen in a face-to-face conversation, especially if handled the right way.

  6. Rodion
    I agree with you that she will only get to her senses when you stop feel being pressured. Let her leave her “passion” and she will get to her senses much faster. Because then the pressure will only be from her and from her lover. Ad that is much worse. Sooner or later she will realize the mistake she has done with her life and as I tell my husband… I feel very sorry for him the day he fells off his cloud. Might be in 2days or 10 years. But he has to live with his conscience. I don’t. And in my case he hurt his children with some bad consequences. But now he thinks that everything he is doing is fine because he is living the love of one in a million.

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