Religion and Divorce

Richard had been married to his wife for approximately 9 years, but the two of them had never actually lived together in the same home, or even in the same state. Admittedly, that does not seem like much of a marriage and it would seem to be an easy case to resolve. They had no joint or marital property. They had no joint or marital debt. They had never financially supported each other. They had no children. Thus, there was nothing to fight about.

The first thing I did when Richard hired me was to make an offer to settle the case to his wife’s attorney. The offer was essentially a walk-away-deal, one where they each keep their own property and debt and neither of them owes the other anything, and neither of them admits to being at-fault for the divorce. The wife and her attorney rejected this offer and explained that they believed Richard had committed adultery and was therefore at-fault for the divorce. Richard vehemently denied committing adultery.

After that rejection, I filed a set of discovery requests, requiring her to disclose what evidence if any she had to support her allegation of adultery, as well as to find out why it was so important to her (she was not seeking any property, debt relief or alimony). Her responses revealed that she had absolutely no evidence at all to support her allegation of adultery. Her responses also revealed that her religion required her spouse to be at-fault for the divorce by having committed adultery, if she was to be able to remarry within her religion. After this, I sent a notice regarding frivolous litigation to her attorney and demanded that they cease and desist from asserting Richard had committed adultery and was at-fault for the divorce, or we would pursue sanctions, including attorney’s fees.

As a result of that letter, the wife and her attorney parted ways. I never found out which one “fired” the other. The wife retained another lawyer, one which I have worked with many times in the past and find to be upright and straight forward. We had a brief conversation about giving a deposition of Richard, where she would be limited to making inquiry about adultery allegation. The deposition lasted for about 15 minutes, Richard, under oath, steadfastly denied any adulterous conduct. The day after the deposition we received the signed, walk-away-deal settlement agreement we had originally proposed.

I believe Richard was required to spend more money than he should have, but by using the discovery process to show the other side that they had no case, and applying pressure based on Georgia’s frivolous litigation statute, they eventually caved under the pressure and realization that they could not prevail, and ultimately brining about a resolution of the case without going to trial was a good result for Richard.