We recently helped a woman with divorce documents in our Oakland office. She told us she’d started the process on her own, figuring, “I’m a smart person, we’re not fighting, and these are just forms–how hard can this be?”
The problem was that her husband filed an answer to her petition. This joined him to the case, so it couldn’t be completed without his direct participation. The problem was that after his answer was filed, he completely stopped participating. As she had stated, he didn’t fight – but he also didn’t help. He did absolutely nothing, so she was totally stuck.
She was desperate to finalize her divorce because the program that was available to help her put her 17-year old daughter through college would only be available if she were single. The parties also have a 19-year old son in college, and our client provides full sole-support for her three-person household and needs all the help she can get.
Her spouse continued to refuse to participate with final divorce papers, so she was still stuck. She filed papers she found on the court’s website that seemed like the right thing to do, but she appeared at hearing after hearing and the court kept telling her to repeat things she had already done. The process made no sense to her. The court clearly didn’t have time for her.
She came to our office and we started by getting her a court date that moved the case along. It established child support and compelled the MIA husband to act and give her information he is required to supply. This jolted him and triggered his participation in the process.
The husband supplied his financial disclosures, was ordered to pay support and began participating in the divorce process. She got her judgment (by agreement!) and the process was finally completed. Best of all—this hardworking single mother was able to take advantage of the program that would help her pay for her daughter’s college education, so she was very, very happy.