Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Parting Gift

"How soon can I get divorced?"

I start to give an answer, but then think better of it.  I sense that there's a little bit more to this story.

Most of the time, when I'm asked this question, it's because the next wife-to-be is waiting in the wings, driving the process full throttle.  Other times, the couple can hardly stand to hear each other's names, and they're trying to officially end it before someone goes to jail.

So, instead, I ask, "What's your deadline?"
This is an older man, distinguished-looking, and dressed in a sharp, yet conservative suit. His question is asked with a nervous waver to his voice.  He gives me a look of embarassment, but does not crack a smile.  He's all business.

"Many years ago, I got married up north.  We gave it a go, but at one point decided it was not going to work out.  We talked it over and decided to separate.  After some time, I saved up the money and gave it to her to pay for a lawyer.  That was 15 years ago.  A couple of days ago, I found out that she never filed for divorce.  I made several calls and verified.  Nothing has ever been filed.  I'm still married to her."

I think for a moment, pretty sure that I'm missing something.  I explain the process for divorce in our state and line out the steps.  I can tell none of this is quite registering with him. 

He is impatient and terse, but not rude.  "I need this done as soon as possible.   I don't care what it costs."

I go back to my unanswered question, "By when, exactly, do you need this done?  The more information you give me, the more I can help."

He sighs, and says, "About eight years ago, I remarried.  We have children.  We've made a new life.  I have a good job and hold several high-level leadership positions in several organizations.  If any of this gets out, my family will be affected and I could lose my job, my positions, and let's not even mention the embarassment."

"Does your current wife know?"


I put together a plan for him.  "We can take care of this, but you need to understand that there are two things at play here. First, you have committed the crime of bigamy.  I'm not too worried about them coming after you, but I need to make sure you are aware.  Secondly, once this divorce is final, you will need to officially remarry.  Your second marriage currently has no legal effect."

He looks down at his hands and shakes his head.  "What a mess...I guess it was her parting gift to me."


Ed Skinner said...

Not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

K. Erickson said...

His last name wasn't Clinton, by chance, was it?