In Memory of Allen Wells
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From: allenwe@microsoft.UUCP (Allen WELLS)
Subject: Divorce Post-Mortem (long)
Date: 12 Feb 91 03:20:43 GMT
Reply-To: allenwe@microsoft.UUCP (Allen WELLS)
Organization: Microsoft Corp., Redmond WA
|| I am posting this to both groups because I (at various times)
publicly agreed in both groups to put out a post-mortem when
my divorce finally finished. Probably a bad promise in
retrospect - this posting hasn't been any fun.
Please edit the Newsgroups line to direct followups to
either soc.men or alt.child-support, not both.
||1 son - Steven, age 2 yrs 8 months at filing, age 5 presently
||Marital home, around $10,000 cash and liquid assets, cars,
furnishings, collections, etc
||Mortgage, $3444 in a delayed payment for the central air
conditioning at the house.
||25 (at marriage), master's degree, 2 years work experience. Earnings
of just over $40,000 at time of marriage. Currently near $60,000.
||33 (at marriage), associate's degree, 14 years work experience as a
licensed x-ray technician. Earnings over $30,000 at time of marriage.
Spent most of marriage at home milking a fraudulent workman's
compensation case. Currently working part-time earning $17/hour. (Child
is in full-time daycare - the work is limited to financial need.)
||Husband (ie: me)
||Regular physical abuse over a period of 3.5 years,
financial irresponsibility, mental instability. The timing was
determined by when I finally confronted the fact that I was becoming
||Wife asked me to agree to a filing of simply
irretrievable breakdown and promised the use of mediation if the I
agreed. I so agreed and so filed. She filed that there was no breakdown,
the marriage was healthy, and that I was being irresponsible.
After a year of trial in which she was unwilling to try mediation or
come to an amicable settlement, and after repeated incidents of her
physically assaulting me on visitations and vandalizing my car, I
changed my filing to Cruel and Abusive Treatement. She immediately
changed her plea to the same.
||I voluntarily paid over half my take-home in 'temporary
support' (not expecting how long temporary was). This was codified by
the court 6 months later.
||I took only personal posessions, some things that we
had multiple of (like TVs), and things I owned before the marriage. The
vast bulk of posessions was left with my wife. Cash was split evenly.
||2 years, 6 months
||Around $15,000 (on my side), not including 'extra'
support from the lengthy temporary orders or the payments required by
||After the repeated refusal of the court to consider my
complaints of physical assault, vandalism, harassment, and
obstruction of visitation, I finally moved across-country - essentially
feeling driven out of the area. Anyone who was physically abused and had
no success getting protection from the legal system probably understands
||The move entailed a substantial cut in pay. The court
recognized that I could no longer maintain the previous level of
support, and ordered the house sold. In violation of court orders, and
despite repeated contempt citations, she refused to ever even allow a
broker into the house for an appraisal. I was unable to maintain the
mortgage and it fell in arrears. An arrest warrant was issued against me
in the state of NH, which my lawyer was unable to remove. All visitation
with my son was impossible because of this arrest warrant. Bail was set
at the amount of the outstanding arrearage - which I couldn't pay. This
warrant is still outstanding, and can be prosecuted in the state of WA
at any time she decides.
||I was contesting custody. Originally, this was for two
reasons. First, I was advised that my chance of getting custody changed
in the future was higher if I had a clear record of wanting custody from
the start. Second, I didn't feel that I would be able to ever
look my son in the face if I left him in the same abusive
environment that I couldn't take without at least trying to save
him. In reality, I expected to settle granting my wife custody but
having it clearly on the record that I had contested which I could
use as a tool as my son got older and the abuse became more
obvious. This became moot, since she refused any settlement
conference even with custody being granted to her as a
precondition. She felt she could 'do better' in court.
The Guardian was quite honest about what I had to do to get
custody. I had to 'prove that Steven will be hospitalized' if he was
left with his mother. I came close, but not quite far enough. Her
psychiactric evaluation was probably 'bad' enough that she can get
a 'not guilty by reason of insanity' verdict if she kills me or
Steven, but the Guardian still felt she could 'be an adequate
custodial parent' 'with sufficient professional help'.
||I can tell you very little about the trial. Since I had
the warrant outstanding, my choices were (according to my lawyer):
- 1) Try to attend the trial. I would be put in jail before I
could reach the trial. My lawyer would then petition the court to
request that I be allowed to attend. The court might or might not
agree (you have no right to attend a civil case, unlike a criminal
case). After the trial (if I was allowed to attend), I would most
likely be returned to jail for an indefinite period (given that it
was over a month before the court gave its decree - that would
likely have been the minimum). I would most likely have lost my job,
in addition to any other hardships.
- 2) Let my lawyer try to handle things in my absence. Prepare as
much material as possible in affidavits.
I chose 2). As it turns out, 2) was a much worse choice than I or my
lawyer expected. The judge refused to read any of my affadivits or have
them entered into the record. My side was totally unheard.
||The plaintiff (ie: me) was ruled in default for
non-appearance. All affidavits submitted by me to the court were ruled
||Due to the default of the husband, the wife was granted
the divorce on the grounds of 'extreme cruelty'.
||Joint legal custody, with sole physical custody granted
to the wife. The husband is not allowed any visitation outside of the
state of NH. Phone visitation is allowed up to three times per week by
the wife calling the husband collect. I am not allowed to even call my
||$1356/month - payable to the state of NH.
||None. She had asked for permanent alimony based on her
'permanent disability' (the same fraud she was pushing while we were
married). Luckily, the court found her evidence for the disability not
||The house is granted (in full) to the wife, along with
all contents thereof. Both parties keep their own cars and any personal
possessions currently owned. Both parties keep their pension plans. (Hers
was larger than mine when we filed, so this isn't the obvious win for me
that it might appear.) Wife gets timeshare.
||I got stuck with the central AC bill, all outstanding
bills to the Guardian and Psychiatrist, paying for outstanding medical
bills that my wife refused to properly inform my insurance company
about, a $4500 payment to her for 'adjustment for past accounts' -
apparently to compensate her for taking more than my fair share of
marital assets, the mortgage arrearage of $9875, a payment of $2776 to
compensate my wife for her portion of some CDs that never existed and
which she was never able to document, and arrearage on the maintenance
fee for the timeshare which she has been using for the past three years
and not paying for. All told, a total of around $25,000. This doesn't
include any back fees owed to my lawyer.
||I am required to maintain $250,000 in life insurance
with her as a sole beneficiary. I am required to provide her with proof
of that insurance yearly. I am required to provide full medical and
dental insurance on my son, and two years of insurance for her. All
reasonable uncovered medical expenses on my son are to be divided
||I think this covers the whole thing. It isn't pretty -
but it could
have been worse - if the alimony had been approved I would be paying
over 3/4 of my take-home in support.
I probably suffered from 'inadequate representation', and the
outcome is probably partiall a result of that. When shopping for
lawyers, I made the fatal mistake of looking for a 'reasonable'
lawyer who would try to cut a fair deal. When I finally tried to
get another lawyer to take over my case (I couldn't, no-one would
touch it at that point) I found out that my ex had hired the
'meanest shark' in the state. Lesson learned, though it's too late
for that to be of any use to me.
The child support is distressing. The amount is 40% of my take-home
(before any contributions to things like a retirement plan - wishful
thinking ...). The amount is equal to the size of the mortgage on
the house. The increase in percentage (25% is the guideline for one
child) was apparently due to the clause that allows adjustments to
child support to 'maintain the marital home for the benefit of the
Even more disturbing is the insurance. The amount is far larger
than the total amount of child support she will ever get (even
discounting the time-value of money). Quite literally, I am now
worth more dead that alive to her. To someone who has been
physically abused, this is an incredibly scary thought.
Finally, having to keep health insurance on her is more of an issue
than it might at first appear. To begin with, the current part-time
job she has offers full medical if she works more than 20 hours (which
she doesn't plan to), so this is not a matter of keeping her covered,
it is a matter of keeping her from having to work 20 hours. Second,
in the 2.5 years since I filed for divorce, I've gotten involved
with someone and would like to marry. This marriage is probably
impossible unless I am willing to shell out for COBRA payments on
top of the support. Of course - regardless of whether I remarry -
if I change jobs I will have to pay her COBRA payments anyway unless
I can somehow convince the new employer to cover her. Basically, I
am locked in to my current job for two years. (Luckily, that isn't
something that I currently consider a problem. ;)
The miscellaneous payments hurt less than it might appear. I have
an appointment with a bankruptcy lawyer arranged for Monday.
Unfortunately, it's my only option. At least that should be enough to
get rid of that pesky arrest warrant (which is still current).
Of course, none of the things that I was worried about have been
addressed. In particular, my ex has already held Steven back from
Kindergarten for an extra year to get more support (she told me over
two years ago she was going to do this, and there was nothing I
could do to stop it). What else will she do to him in the same vein?
But the most disturbing thing of all is the visitation. I was
expecting to be denied custody. But I wasn't expecting to not even
be allowed to call my son. Given my current residence (WA), only
allowing visitation in NH is pathetic. What am I supposed to do?
Leave my new family behind, rent a motel room for a week, and spend
the week in the motel room? They could have at least allowed me to
go to VT (where my parents live) or MA (where my SO's parents
live). As it is, it's illegal for me to even bring my son to see
his grandparents. The rationale was extremely insulting, as well as
disturbing. I shouldn't be allowed out of state visitation until I
had established a relationship with my son. WHAT THE FUCK WERE THE
PAST FIVE YEARS??? Forgive my language, but I lived for over three
extra years in hell trying to shelter my son from his mother (she
got pregnant because I told her, after 6 months of marriage, that I
was divorcing her because of the beatings - she faked a
reconciliation, lied about birth control, and my son was born). I
spent the next almost two years begging for whatever time I could
get and being limited to a weekend every other week when I was
lucky. I've spent the last year calling him once per week (all the
court would allow) and having every attempt at a visitation denied.
Now I'm supposed to ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP before I can be allowed
to bring my own son into MY OWN HOME? I'm the guy who would change his
diapers every time I got home and treat the diaper rash that was
there because my ex hated to change him so much. I'm the one stayed
home with him for a week during his worst childhood illness and
cleaned up all of his diarrhea and vomit and comforted him, even though
I was sick for most of it too - while my ex left us. I'm the one
who taught him how not to be scared of lightning and monsters. I'm
the one who taught him how to tell jokes, play games, and feed
himself. And I'm supposed to ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP?
My apologies. I'm clearly not in a good mood to be objective. It
could have been much worse. At least I have enough of my income left
to live. I should be grateful for what I've got, but I'm not in the
mood to feel grateful. I'll sign off now. Sorry for this being so
long and emotional.
Next article by Allen Wells:
Re: Divorce Post-Mortem (long)
Posted 2006 09 04