True Lifetime Movie Network Tales: Juicy Divorce in Spring

Categories: Courts
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Photo by jcoterhals

Here is the inaugural installment of True Lifetime Movie Network Tales, in this case ripped from court papers down at the 1st Court of Appeals. The names are being withheld out of sympathy for the participants.

Put yourself in this man's shoes for a moment...

After your wife of 25 years died of cancer, you've mourned long enough and found a new love. You forgave her the two failed marriages in her past -- who among us would not? You even forgave her when she only later, on practically the eve of your marriage, told you about a third divorce, and then only when she thought you were about to find out on your own. All of that was okay because you loved her, but you still asked her if she had any more skeletons in the marital closet and she told you that she did not.

Six years passed. Everything seemed fine. You'd been having a good run at your job. Through various contests and incentive plans, they'd given you a flat-screen TV, a bonus of tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and a cruise, on which you planned to take your wife. At some point before the ship sailed, though, your wife got cold feet, and told you that the idea of taking to sea was giving her anxiety attacks.

Well, that was a bummer, but nevertheless, you offered to cancel the cruise. What fun would it be without her? Oh no, she didn't want you to do that.

She suggested you go and take along your daughter instead, which is what you did. You called home a few times, and everything seemed a-OK. In fact, it seemed like things were only going to get better when you got home.

Your wife told you she was too sick to pick you up from the airport, but that she had arranged for a car to be there when you arrived, and to call her when you were 30 minutes from home. Since it was around the time of your 60th birthday, you had a hunch you might be walking into a joyful surprise party. Indeed you did walk into a surprise, only hold the joy and the party.

Your house was empty -- your wife was gone along with most of your furniture and household items, including the flat-screen TV you had won at work and the china cabinet you had bought her for your first anniversary. In the coming days, you would also discover that your wife had taken $33,066 from your joint bank account, leaving you with $1,700, and you would get hit with divorce papers claiming that, as the court papers put it, "the marriage had become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities" and that you were "guilty of cruel treatment" toward your wife.

Your wife would claim that she was entitled to a disproportionate share of your mutual property because of your alleged cruelty, her disability, her loss of the benefits of the marriage, and your superior earning capacity, education and separate estate. You fight back. You deny the cruelty allegations. And then you start digging into her background. It is not revealed in the court papers how this was uncovered, but your archaeology does not go unrewarded.

"In response to some interrogatories," the court papers state, your wife starts to crumble. In addition to the three you already knew about, the interrogatories bring to light failed marriage after failed marriage after failed marriage, and then she gives up two more for good measure. If you've lost count, that's a total of eight divorces and the ongoing one is number nine.

You seek an annulment and also seek a disproportionate share of the marital estate based, among other factors, on your wife's fraud about her past marriages and her decision to end the marriage. And at trial, the court mostly agrees with you. They find no evidence of your alleged cruelty. You get the house (it was yours before the marriage anyway) and everything else you had before the marriage. You get to keep that flat-screen TV you won, but you have to let your wife keep the china cabinet and half of whatever was in your joint accounts.

It seems a fair decision; if anything, a little soft on your wife. After all, according to your testimony, your whole marriage was built on the premise that she had been married three times before, not eight, and taking a chance on a woman married three times is a whole different ball of wax from hitching up with a woman with eight divorces under her belt. Some would argue that she shouldn't be entitled to even community property, even the china cabinet you had given her.

But the decision rankled your wife, who filed an appeal. And lost again, though she still got to keep the china cabinet. And so ends this True Lifetime Movie Network Tale.

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