Friday, April 2, 2010

What Divorce Law is Doing to Marriage Part 9

This chapter is a 30 page chapter. I will skip what parts I can but at the same time there is so much important material, I will have no idea how summaries it’s going to take in order to cover this chapter.

Here are the first excerpts of the chapter.

If your wife cannot prove that your presence in the home is jeopardizing the children, she may make a more serious claim. She may charge you with committing an act of physical or emotional “abuse” against her or the children. Under the state’s domestic violence statue, she will not have to prove that you actually abused anyone; she will only have to “make averments sufficient to indicate” that you did. She will not even have to notify you that she accused you. She can simply go to court “ex parte,” Without you or your lawyer to defend you, and get an “emergency” order of protection to evict you.

It will not matter that you’re a joint owner of your home. It will not matter that you’re the sole owner of your home. It will not matter that your home is entirely your non-marital property. You will be summarily evicted from your home without a hearing on your wife’s accusation that you’re an abuser.

After your eviction, you may petition the court for a full, adversarial rehearing. But if, as is common, there are no other witnesses, your case will hinge on whether the court believes you or your wife. If it believes you, it risks being wrong and that you will commit abuse again; if it believes your wife, it risks being wrong and that you will be unjustly deprived of the use of your property. It does not take a judge to know which risk is easier to take.

Having succeeded in one fell swoop to snatch exclusive possession of your home and your children, your wife will control the momentum of the case.

Your life will now cascade into chaos. Your wife will have withdrawn the balances from your joint account. You will be living in a small cheap motel. Your personal belongings will still be in the house. Your friends will stop talking to you when they hear about the abuse charge. You will wonder what your boss will do when he hears about it. You will need a lawyer.

Skipping one page

Here are the next excerpts

The lawyer will tell you he’s handled many cases like yours. He’ll tell you he was able to help his clients. But it cost them money. It’ll cost you money too. He cannot tell you exactly how much because he’ll charge you by the hour: $200 an hour. His retainer will be $7,500, up front. He’ll tell you there are divorce lawyers who charge less, but you only get what you pay for. And how much are your kids worth, anyway?

He will tell you he can negotiate you out of the abuse charge. You’ll have to stay out of the house, give your wife temporary legal custody of the children, and pay her temporary child support, but the abuse charge will be dropped and you’ll be allowed to pick up the children and take them for a visit every other Sunday afternoon for five full hours. This arrangement will be approved by an order of the court.

On the other hand, if you want to fight the abuse charge and try to get back into the house, the retainer will be $15,000 and the court time will be $250 an hour. Then, there are the fees of the other lawyers you may have to hire. Your wife might bring her case to the district attorney, which may result in a criminal indictment against you. She might also file a damage claim in civil court. So you’ll need a criminal lawyer to defend you against the indictment and a personal injury lawyer to defend you against the damage charge.

You may also have to hire a mental health professional as an expert witness on your behalf. Before the hearing, he’ll put your whole family through a battery of psychological tests. He’ll also interview everybody, most like more than once.

You can also expect a petition from your wife for her attorney’s fees. Since your wife is a mother with only a part-time job, and you earn considerably more than she does, the court will grant at least part of her petition. You’ll then be in the position of financing your wife’s abuse charge against you.

More on this chapter on the next summary. There is a lot more to cover; a lot more.