“My Spouse Said It Was Taken Care Of”

There’s a good exchange on Alabama Divorce Questions this morning about some poor man whose wife filed for divorce and had him served with legal process. Then she told him that she had told her lawyer to call it off, so he didn’t do anything in response to the summons. You can guess the rest of the story, can’t you?

The wife got ticked off later with her husband, went to court, and got her divorce based on his default. The judge had no choice but to take her word for the key assets and liabilities of the marriage, as well as for the husband’s income. Now the husband feels taken advantage of, as well he should, but his legal remedies are extremely limited.

If he’s paying child support or alimony, and if that support is based on an erroneous level of income for him, he can get that corrected. If the wife lied under oath, he can charge her with perjury. But he can’t go back now and ask for a “divorce mulligan.” It just doesn’t work that way.

The lesson is clear, isn’t it? If you’ve been served with a legal document, trust that document and respond to it. Show up for the hearing, answer the complaint, or do whatever the legal document tells you to do. If your spouse or lover (or anybody else, for that matter) tells you not to worry about it, go verify that what they have told you is correct. The worst thing that can happen is that you get a free civics lesson.

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