By Attorney Howard Iken: Sometimes I get a case that makes me itch to get into court to present the situation to the judge. Today was one of those. I visualized the outrage of the judge upon seeing the situation and I was not disappointed. My client is the Husband, or at least the person that thought he was the Husband. By the tone of my writing you can probably tell there is a rabbit that will appear out of a hat. If you think that – you are absolutely right !
My client’s Wife (same disclaimer as before) filed a petition for divorce several years ago. She filed a special type of case that is required where the whereabouts of the other spouse are unknown – and cannot be discovered with any considerable effort. That type of case uses a process called Constructive Service. Constructive Service requires a statement of what methods were used in the search, and also requires the publication of a legal classified. The Wife filed in court a sworn affidavit claiming an exhaustive effort to find her Husband. And by the paperwork – she apparently knocked herself out. She checked her Husband’s last place of employment, called family, and also called his friends. Nothing seemed to work and the Husband’s address remained a mystery.
The Wife’s case was filed in Tampa even though she lived several counties away. Her address: a strip mall in Tampa. The place her minor children have been living: also a strip mall in Tampa. ** Yes … this gets even better … .
The Wife’s divorce case in Tampa proceeds along the Constructive Service process because that darned, elusive Husband could never be found. At some point the Wife appeared in front of a judge, testified about her situation, and receive a final judgment. Needless to say the final judgment was extremely favorable to the Wife and she received sole custody of the minor child, all rights to the house, all assets, and no parenting time for the Husband.
Fast-forward a couple of years. After a disagreement (fight) with the Husband the Wife pulls out a copy of the final judgment and says “Get Out!” Apparently, the Wife was living with the Husband and their child for years – the same Husband she could not find through a thorough search. The request to “Get Out” was followed by a call to the police to remove him.
Fast-forward till recently. Apparently, the Wife did not do well enough in her final judgment. She filed for a modification, wanting a better deal. Finally, the Husband (actually an ex-Husband) hired an attorney, our office, and decided to fight the case. This is the part we mentioned at first – where we were itching to get to court. It turned out the judge thought the same that we did, and that you are beginning to think. It did not take long for the entire case to be thrown out and the original final judgment dissolved.
The irony of the situation is the couple is now married once again. That will be fixed soon. Meanwhile we are once again itching to go to court.