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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gay Divorce Court

Frequent Readers may know that many years ago (I started practice in 1973) I was an attorney in Arvada, Colorado which is a suburb of Denver.  I worked in a five man law firm where I handled a variety of types of cases.  My first divorce case was a true learning experience. I landed a lulu. I can't recall all of the details which is good since I might get accused of breaching client confidentiality. But I do recall the lessons I learned in dealing with people who are splitting up, namely - get paid up front and make sure to charge enough money; don't get suckered into the bitterness; try to convince the client not to go crazy and end up in jail for hitting the mother-in-law or the new boyfriend (or girlfriend); charge plenty of money - yes, plenty of money. Repeat charge plenty of money. 

In that first case I represented a woman who lived in Adams County, a suburb north of Denver. My practice was in Jefferson County a suburb west of Denver. The county seat was in Golden, Colorado where Coors Beer is made.  I filed the divorce action in the Jefferson County District Court since all District Courts have statewide jurisdiction. The husband hired an attorney who accepted the venue in Jefferson County.  If he had challenged we would have lost.  But that's the only easy thing that happened in this case. My recollection is hazy on whether my client (the wife) or her husband got arrested for assault on the opposite party. That action landed whichever party in the Adam's County jail.  I know I was there but can't recall why I was there. A couple of weeks later I appeared in the El Paso County District Court in Colorado Springs where the husband had been arrested for fighting with or inside the wife's mothers home.  I was involved in three jurisdictions involving two criminal cases and one divorce case.  I vowed to not let something like that happen again.

But it did. Repeatedly. Within a few months I represent a nice looking young guy in his late 20s who was a Casper Milk Toast banker type guy. Clean cut and handsome. He had a beautiful wife and a couple of really cute kids. He owned a nice suburban house. And his world was falling apart.  He stalked the wifey and found some good looking stud hanging around the house when his kids were there. My client barged in and got himself arrested for beating the other guy up.  Even Casper Milk Toast guys can beat up studs if given good cause.  We ended up in criminal court. The wife's attorney was a woman (which was relatively new in those days).  The attorney took a genuine dislike to me which I found odd. I think I am and have always been like able. I do not now nor did I then consider myself to be sneaky or mean or anything other than professional. But that lawyer and I never did get along. Oh and my client got arrested for beating up the studly boyfriend a second time. The stud should have learned not to mess around with the wife when the kids were home. We eventually got the divorce the couple wanted.  It cost the couple a lot of money.  I wonder if the stud ended up with the wife.  I wonder if the kids ended up marrying and divorcing and fighting with their spouses (or boyfriends or girlfriends). I am a believer that people repeat their parents' lives. 

I represented another guy who got arrested for pushing his wife's head down the toilet during the middle of the divorce. That did not look very good. I think we entered into a plea bargain on that. I don't think I would ever let something like that go to trial.

I represent a general contractor on a couple of matters. He and wife had split a few years earlier.  The divorce decree was in place as was the order for monthly child support. He was substantially in arrears.  The District Attorney filed a motion to hold my delinquent client in contempt of court for non payment of child support. This normally results in the man paying arrears rather than being found in contempt and ordered to jail. I warned my client of his pending doom if he did not pay. He hated the ex and said he would take time off work just to mess with her. The hearing was held near Christmas week. My client was found in contempt of court and taken into custody that day and spent the next week in jail.  The jail sentence purged him of contempt but did not free him of the obligation to pay the past due child support payments. The wife would have to wait a long time before she could prosecute a new contempt of court proceeding.

I stopped doing divorces and went into banking. Twenty years ago I moved to Key West.  A couple of years later I got my real estate license and started to sell houses. Key West has a large gay population and every now and then gay couples decide to call their relationships 'quits'.  Since the State of Florida has never legalized same sex marriage, there is no such thing as a gay divorce. But that does not stop legal battles about property splits or spousal abuse.

I remember showing a house a few years ago where two guys were splitting up. One of the partners got to stay with the house while the other moved to another property the pair owned. The men owned a business over which they were quarrelling in court. The local bank that financed that business got involved in the partnership breakup and got a receiver appointed to protect the assets of the business. Both men hired separate lawyers. The bank hired its lawyer and the receiver hired his lawyer.  The four lawyers took substantial fees from the proceeds of the sale of the business and the house which had a special bedroom that was painted black and that had a sling.

A female couple called it quits a couple of years ago. They hired lawyers in the state where they lived to help adjudicate the property split.  They also owned a place in Key West which had to be sold and the money sent to the home state for final distribution. They had lawyers where they lived and lawyers down in Key West just to make sure the other side did not gain a pecuniary advantage.  Justice costs money. Justice makes some lawyers quite wealthy.

Several states have approved legislation that recognizes gay marriages or civil unions. There will inevitably be gay divorces. I expect gays will do divorces like they do parades - with panache.

And that caused me to envision what we might see on a TV show called GAY DIVORCE COURT. I can just envision the drama we could witness.  There would be tales straight folks could not imagine.  It might be hilarious. It might be tragic.  I can envision ribald tales over the splitting marital property and fighting over such things as the collection of clown plates painted by Red Skelton (really!) or anything the pair mutually collected.  Straight couple fight over custody of the children. Gays will inevitably fight over pets.  And since many gay couple are now parents, there will be custody disputes where the real reason for the split will be aired. A former fellow agent who split with his partner of many years told me his ex beat him up. The guy who got beat up is a big man.  I was shocked but sometimes smaller guys can really mess up bigger guys. Another former fellow agent has been arrested for domestic battery by strangulation - twice.  Women beat each other as well.  I expect nothing less than hilarity or tragedy in each episode. 

Watch for GAY DIVORCE COURT. Someone will produce it.  It ought to be a winner.

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.