Undefended Divorce with Minor Child

Mary and Jose had been married for over 25 years; their children were all adults.  Jose had taken too much to the bottle and was only working sporadically over the last several years, and he had begun brining other women into his marital bed while Mary was at work.  Despite all of her attempts to help Jose gain control of his excessive drinking and work on their marriage, she was unsuccessful and felt forced to file for divorce and came to me for that purpose.

Jose indicated very early in the process that he wasn’t getting divorced.  We filed the case and had Jose served with process.  Jose did not file an answer.  I requested a Temporary Hearing to resolve the issue of temporary possession of the marital residence, as they both continued living in the home.  Jose did not appear for the Temporary Hearing, so we went forward without him and among other things the court awarded Mary temporary possession of the marital residence and included in the order that if Jose did not leave voluntarily, the Sheriff’s Department was enlisted to assist in the removal. 

When Jose was initially presented with the order, he completely disregarded it.  I informed Mary that she needed to contact the Sheriff for assistance.  Mary did not want to do this, but after 5 or 6 days of him not leaving and being drunk most of the time, she contacted the Sheriff.  The Sheriff arrived and Jose began to realize that he was getting divorced, and in the face of being forcefully removed by the deputies, he voluntarily left the marital residence. 

With the Temporary Order in place, we decided to let things cool down for a couple of weeks after Jose was removed from the house.  At the end of that time, Jose engaged with us in final settlement discussions, and we were able to come to a Final Settlement Agreement resolving all of the issues in the case, including Jose’s agreement to reimburse Mary for a large portion of her fees in the amount of $2,750.00.  Mary’s total spend in the divorce case was approximately $4,000.00.  Had Jose come forward in the beginning, the whole case could have been resolved for around $2,000.00.