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Don’t Mind Us, Just Casually Divorcing Here

, , , , | Legal | June 16, 2022

A few years ago, my ex-husband and I went through a pretty amicable divorce. The initial decision was tough, of course, but after separating, we both agreed it was the right choice. I don’t know about every state, but in ours, you have to be legally separated — living at separate addresses! — for one year and one day in order to proceed with a divorce petition. Don’t even get me started on how hard this makes it for some people, depending on their situation.

So, our year and a day passed and we got a court date. Since we’d already agreed on how we’d split our small list of assets (no children involved, which made the process easier) in our separation agreement, we represented ourselves at the courthouse for the filings and then for the final decree. In total, it was five different visits to different government offices over the course of a few months. Every place we went, we got the strangest looks from the staff because we were doing this together. I’m sure that is rare, but at one office, we had to spell it out several times before the clerk would take the paperwork. She kept assuming we wanted to get married, not divorced.

The funniest encounter, though, was when our “summons” documents were ready to announce our final court date. I was the one who filed for the divorce, so I was the plaintiff and my ex-husband was the defendant. The summons for the defendant had to go out one of two ways: delivery by special messenger and signed for upon receipt, or delivery by an officer of the law. At the time, he worked twelve-hour shifts and couldn’t wait around for a special messenger, not knowing what day it would arrive. I asked if I could just hand it to him and was explicitly told that would be illegal and would force us to start the process over again.

Instead, we went to the summons window, the clerk handed me the summons, and we went to the police department window on the other end of the room. With both of us standing right there, I handed the summons to a cop, who signed that he’d received it and then turned and handed it to my ex-husband. The whole time, we could tell the cop was trying to keep a straight face. We thanked him and managed to make it outside before we lost it. It was one of those situations where we were coming out of the stress of making the decision to divorce and were so frustrated by the red tape that we just had to laugh.

Everything went fine after that, and our divorce was finalized in February of 2020. In March of 2020, our entire state went on lockdown and the government offices closed. If we’d waited just a couple of weeks in our scheduling of everything, we likely wouldn’t have been able to get everything finished for another year. I felt so bad for the people stuck in that process limbo.

How Convenient!

, , , | Legal | April 21, 2022

I used to get this kind of scam call a lot.

Scammer: “If you don’t pay us right now, we are going to issue a warrant for your arrest!”

At the time, I worked at the county courthouse, and the sheriff’s office was literally across the hall from my desk. Man, they got pissed when I’d tell them I was walking across the hall to turn myself in.

Not The Slickest Of Lawyers

, , , , , , | Legal | April 9, 2022

I’m an American ex-pat staying in Germany. When discussing different insurance plans with a financial advisor, she mentioned that it might be worth it to add legal insurance for about €15 more a month because legal fees and attorney fees can stack up nightmarishly high for someone who is sued for any reason and loses — for example, €1,000 in a lost lawsuit with €1,500 total in fees between lawyers from both sides along with administrative costs, interpreter costs, etc. I went ahead and had that added to my insurance package, figuring that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Well, as my luck had it, about four years later, someone actually DID sue me in a contract dispute and, considering the fact that a court interpreter alone was charging €200 PER HOUR for the preliminary hearing, you can imagine how much I thanked myself for listening to that financial advisor!

The lawyer I chose to defend me ironically turned out to be the highlight of the story. When I first brought the case to him:

Lawyer: “Oh, yeah, I can take this one!” *Reading further* “Yeah, I’ll make the plaintiff look like a clown. The judge will laugh him out of the courtroom. I’ll take your case!”

But two days before the court date to give the oral arguments, he sent me an email:

Lawyer: “I’m sorry, I had a second look at your case. There is no way you are going to win this because . Sorry.”

The court date came and he did not show up. It got worse from there.

Judge: “I gave you a deadline to present your full defense in writing. Because you made no response at all, I am entering a default judgment of €400 against you.”

Me: “Nobody told me about needing to submit a defense in writing or about any deadline!”

Judge: “It was sent to your lawyer. You will need to discuss that with him. Please leave the courtroom.”

Obviously, I was now fuming as I had to pay the plaintiff €400. Later, the bills from his attorney and the court came in the mail, and laughably, my attorney mailed me a bill, as well, for €400. I paid them all off and sent copies of the bills to my legal insurance company, which fully reimbursed me (less the €100 deductible).

The following weeks, I thought continuously about how my lawyer had screwed me over by saying he could help me when he apparently knew the case was a no-go, deliberately failing to tell me about the deadline he was given to make a written defense first, ditching me at the last second, and cashing in on it in the end (regardless of whether I was reimbursed). I did some research and found the German version of a lawyers’ bar association, and I wrote to them explaining his unethical behavior.

Weeks later, they sent me a copy of a response letter he sent them after having been presented with my complaint.

Lawyer: *Summarily* “There was a big misunderstanding, blah blah blah, this case was a complete loss. I tried to explain that to him, etc. The €400 I billed was for the time I spent on the case plus the consultation fees. I have records of how I was billing him, blah blah blah, I didn’t try to rip him off, etc.”

And here is where my jaw dropped:

Lawyer: “To settle this amicably before it turns nasty, I would like to offer to settle this by refunding him the full €400 I charged him, as well as paying half of his default judgment for a total of €600 if he agrees to close this complaint.”

My grin was so wide my cheeks hurt. To this day, I still crack up at the thought of the lawyer ultimately paying ALL the money I was out… all because he tried to be slick and make an easy €400 doing nothing.

The Judge Is Not Going To Be Impressed

, , , | Legal Right | April 7, 2022

Back in the 1990s, before online banking was really a thing, we had this customer come in.

Customer: “I need canceled checks from [dates around a year ago]. I’m going to be on [Judge Show] next week.”

Me: “That request will take about two weeks.”

Customer: “But that will be after the taping!”

He began calling us all sorts of colorful names. Then, my manager approached.

Manager: “Sir, when was the suit filed?”

Customer: “Months ago! Back in [Month]!”

Manager: “Your lack of planning isn’t our emergency, sir.”

Not Even Lawyers Like Lawyers

, , , | Legal | March 9, 2022

Years ago, I worked as a court reporter. A deposition was being taken in a civil case. [Attorney #1] was questioning the witness, and [Attorney #2] was representing the witness. The two attorneys had clashed before and were known not to like each other.

At one point, a short break was called for, and [Attorney #2] spoke to the witness privately.

When the deposition resumed…

Attorney #1: “What were you just talking about with [Attorney #2]?”

This is a question you’re not supposed to ask. Attorney-client communications of any kind are privileged.

Attorney #2: “That you’re an a**hole.”