Divorce In Maryland
Q: I have a neighbor who has problem that seems outrageous to me. Her husband had an affair that resulted in a child for which there was a paternity suit. She believed her husband's claim of complete innocence until the DNA results came in and he acknowledged the affair. She wants a divorce and he is not averse to the divorce. Maryland law permits divorce on the grounds of adultery. However, every Maryland attorney with whom she has spoken (she says 15 of them) tells her to live separate and apart for a year and file for an uncontested divorce. I spoke with two Law Professors at the University. Believe it or not, they give credibility to her version. Do you have any opinion on that case?
A: I experienced a real story about a real-world case -- perhaps worth noting not just in light of recent hand-wringing about perjury in civil cases but as illustrative of apparently wide-spread judicial attitudes: Woman marries man who thereafter refrains from "consummating" their marriage; and though they reside together for more than a year, it takes that long for it to dawn on her that the reason for this otherwise nice guy's lack of interest is that he is gay and had really just been looking for an excuse to have occasions to visit with her brother, with whom he was infatuated and with whom she frequently socialized. And so she (and incidentally because she is Catholic) she commences a lawsuit to annul the marriage. Nor is hubby "averse" to her so doing and, to the contrary, defaults by prearrangement to enable the matter to be determined on an uncontested basis. She appears before a judge for a brief inquest (i.e., for only her to testify very briefly) and he sez, "Oh, my dear, you are much too sexy for any man to resist and so I will reject your request for an annulment; but if you tell me that your husband left you, I will 'convert' this case to a divorce action and grant a divorce on grounds of 'abandonment'" -- and, focused on practicality though with hurt feelings (the facts she had alleged were completely true, the judge's gratuitously sexist remarks were hurtful, and she was uncomfortable doing what she considered lying even if at a judge's express invitation). It is highly probable that your friend misstated the facts about her husband's attitude or that you misunderstood what she told you about his being "averse" or not to a divorce; and, in any event, you make an assumption that is not necessarily correct -- i.e., that the only ground on which she could be granted an "uncontested" divorce is that of "adultery" -- since, as noted, regardless what legal label she invoked as the alleged ground (true or not), it was (and remains) open to her husband simply to default. It is not surprising that some law professors have no clue about what happens in the real world. In this respect, the issue is not whether they give "credibility" to what you reported she said but is instead why you would give them any credibility about such a practical question. Your report that numerous lawyers told your friend that she should wait suggests mostly likely that she gave them reason to believe that her husband might contest a divorce and that they concluded that, if so, a *contested* proceeding very probably would take more than a year to resolve (and in this respect, they may be correct depending on location in the state and some other facts about the court's calendar). Conversely, this report may suggest that unlike the vast majority of matrimonial lawyers countr-ywide, lawyers in her state, Maryland, are especially ethically punctillious -- an issue which presumably Mr. Weiss will address. But in a genuinely uncontested situation, it is also probable that you would not have an occasion for outrage -- except, if you care, about the common practice (in a number of jurisdictions, recently encouraged all the more by implementation for even more expedited procedures for uncontested divorces) of parties to and lawyers in matrimonial litigation not always being especially accurate about what they swear to and certify as correct in in their pleadings.
Most Popular Articles
- General Engineering
- Home Improvement