Friday, May 13, 2005

Another day in court

My marriage was dissolved today. Almost. My wife's lawyer said that the Clerk was unlikely to record the divorce because I had failed to submit a "proof of service" on some document a year and a half ago. Nevertheless, the Judge had my wife sworn in, and asked her whether she lived in the county and whether there were irreconcilable differences. I expected him to do the same with me, but he didn't. I guess that is the meaning of no-fault divorce. Only one party has to ask for it.

So I asked the Judge, "Are we divorced now?" No, he said that we won't be officially divorced until I fill out the proof-of-service and I get an order in the mail. He said that my wife's lawyer would give me the form to sign. It seems strange that the only compliance needed from me is some absurd formality.

At the start of the hearing, I hobbled up across the bar on my crutches, and the Judge raised his eyebrows. I said, "If you'll recall, the last time I was here I was being accused of risky behavior. This time I am on crutches." The Judge grinned and asked what happened. "I broke my leg playing ice hockey."

At the end of the hearing, the judge said that he was on crutches from a motorcycle accident. I said, "A-ha! So you do risk things also!". He laughed and said (as he exited), "Yes, I talk a good game and then do something else."

Most of the hearing was a tedious discussion about money. My wife wanted a whole lot more money, but her lawyer really didn't have her paperwork together to justify it. She wanted $40k in attorneys fees; the Judge ended up ordering me to pay $20k.

The Judge tried to rationalize it by saying that I could hire my own attorney. He said that maybe disputes could be more simply and efficiently resolved if I had a lawyer.

I explained that our dispute has been almost entirely about custody, and the Court doesn't seem to pay any attention to legalist lawyer arguments about custody anyway. It seems to be just the Judge's opinion about the best interest of the child. He agreed that an attorney would not have made much difference so far. I guess his point was that he hates financial disputes in family court, and he was hoping that I'll hire a lawyer just to negotiate a financial settlement out of court.

Afterwards, I hobbled over to the jury commissioner office. I had been called for jury duty today. I was supposed to call last night, but they failed to update the message. The clerk admitted that they goofed up with the message, and said that they don't need any jurors today.

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