Primarily servicing the greater New York City metropolitan area



LEONARD M.WEINER, ESQ, Ph.D.
DIVORCE SOLUTIONS
206 East 38th Street
New York, N.Y. 10016
(212) 370-1660

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET A DIVORCE - JURISDICTION, GROUNDS

Question #25:
Thank you for providing this wonderful service. I've been searching for somewhere/someone to address my concerns, which I'll begin to outline as follows:

Briefly about myself, I live in Boston, Massachusetts and I've been dating a really nice gentleman since November 1994 we were setup by mutual family friends). He returned home from the US Army that January after serving for eight years. He started school at the University of U Mass-Boston and is scheduled to graduate this May 1998. Sadly, I learned upon our second or third date, back in November 1994, that he was also married. To make a long story short, I'll summarize his relationship with his wife, to date, as follows:

- He met his wife in her home town of Tuscan, Arizona around September 1990; he lived on base and they dated casually - She became pregnant upon insisting that he 'come' inside of her on her birthday - May 1991 - Although he was not happy about this unplanned pregnancy, he decided he would commit to a relationship with her, after the baby was born (in February 1992) - They got married in September 1992, and he got shipped off to Korea where was stationed for a one year, from December 1992 to December 1993 - Before he left for Korea, he set up a joint bank account; primarily for her to have fund for expenses (she's didn't work and took care of herself before they met, and still today, with state assistance she receives for adopting one of her sisters child (who is about 12 years old now). - About six months after he left for Korea she called to ask for extra money to move to a new apartment, which he sent to her - BUT SHE NEVER WROTE OR CALLED TO LET HIM KNOW WHERE HER NEW RESIDENCE WAS, and he tried his best to find out and then gave up - He lost his hair (he's now bald at the top) over the next next months. Upon returning to Arizona from Korea, he found out that she had been seeing someone (he has letters to prove this) and she strongly stated that she didn't want to be with him anymore. By the way, he found her through a relative he had to look up and find. - So, in January 1994 he returned to Boston to avoid committing any criminal acts by staying with her, if you know what I mean; started school that September, and we met in November. He told me he didn't want to go through the divorce process while in school because he didn't want anything to get in the way of finishing school. He thought that he would be forced to work full-time in order to support his daughter. - So, unsure of what the court findings would be we agreed to wait until now (his final semester). We sent his wife the money she asked for to initiate the process ($150) in January 1998 and she kept making excuses about not having the time to do it because she started to work just before the holidays (for the first time in her life!). But it's not almost the middle of March and she still hasn't' done it. You might ask, what's the rush?

Well, we've been dating now for almost four years and want to commit to a lifelong relationship together by getting married in September (our preferred months). By judging by his wife's behavior this might not happen. My questions are as follows:

Is there any way he could file here (and get it settled as soon as possible) from Massachusetts, but utilizing Arizona's state divorce laws? Simply because MA laws are so extreme in so far as child support, etc. I really don't trust her to do it and they only other way is for him to expense himself by traveling to Arizona to do it himself, if that's possible. She said that she would agree to joint custody (with the kid(s) visiting in the summer) and to no alimony. Would that make it even easier to apply here in MA. Also, would the judge take into consideration that they virtually NEVER lived together as husband and wife? Would they consider her present income as well? She's never let him claim his daughter on income taxes (even though he sends her $150/mo. faithfully.) By-the-way, he's worked part-time throughout his school years and is now working full-time and attending school at night during his final semester. What do you think about all of this? Is there any hope for a September wedding for us? Thank you in advance for your kind advice.

Answer:
Divorce law is determined by the state which has jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings. It appears from what you have mentioned that either Massachusetts or Arizona could possibly have jurisdiction in this case but one could not mix and match states and law.

If he finds it difficult to make an appearance in Arizona, he could have an attorney represent him in court about actually having to be physically present. If his wife consents to the divorce, the entire process could theoretically be done by executing the proper documents and having the attorney submit them to the court for approval without the need for any appearance of either party.

I don't think the fact that they "virtually" never lived together, would carry much weight since they have a child together and the care, custody, and support of the child will be of utmost concern to the court. That being said, the court may very well take into consideration the short duration of the relationship when it considers spousal support and division of assets.

In summary, none of the issues you raise, although important, seem to prevent you from diligently pursuing the issues and concluding the necessary proceedings by September, but a concerted effort on your part must be made to achieve all of your goals.

Good luck!

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions

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