Have you ever known anyone who gotten a divorce on the grounds of desertion? Well, take it from someone who has, it’s a stone cold trip. Try it some time.
Once my husband vanished and left the country, he was essentially untouchable—securely tucked away with his new love on another continent—safely hidden among a billion people in a third world country. I had no known forwarding address or verifiable contact info.
All I knew for certain was that my Runaway Romeo was with ‘her’–hanging out in some small out-of-the-way town called Mumbai. Well that certainly narrowed things down and made it easy, eh?
I sort of knew what to expect; I’d gotten a divorce decades before. It was one of those quickie dissolutions to end a short marriage entered into at the tender age of sixteen. I’d married the first guy who came along just so I could get away from home.
This time when I visited a divorce attorney, I was told that this divorce would be a bit different. Even though he had deserted me, I was going to have to jump through a few hoops and prove that I made sufficient good-faith efforts to try to locate my little runaway.
Woo Hoo! Even more jollies! In addition to all that, I had to send divorce notification to his affair partner at her workplace.
Yay! More humiliation.
It was amazing. When formal notification of our pending divorce arrived at her place of employment, Runaway Romeo called me immediately. Imagine that!
With his ego insulted, he was surprised that I would initiate such drastic measures so soon. After all, he’d only been gone 10 months. Furthermore, poor pumpkin hadn’t yet decided which one of us he wanted—New Floozie or me.
Duh! Call me clairvoyant, but I already knew that answer. And besides, it wasn’t up to him anymore.
Please Approach The Bench
Thankfully, it was a beautiful sunny day in early January when I was arrived to appear in Domestic Relations Court and finalize my divorce—alone.
At my appointed time on the docket, our case called aloud, “Divorce case number 666 … Chumpy (The Dump-ee) vs. Houdini (The Dump-er)”.
Accompanied by my attorney, I walked to the front of the hearing room and stood before the judge’s bench.
The judge lowered her head, furrowed her brows, and quizzically looked around the courtroom. Apparently she was expecting Sir Houdini to step forward. She appeared to be puzzled and annoyed. There were strict rules (and numerous very visible warnings!) posted around the building about being on time for court.
My attorney leaned in and whispered quietly to the judge, “In Absentia … desertion, Your Honor”.
“I see …”, said the judge.
Reviewing The Documentation
As would only happen to me in such circumstances, Murphy showed up at the last minute to join us in the festivities.
After an extended shuffling of paperwork, it was discovered that my attorney’s paralegal had submitted the wrong version of the divorce petition forms(!) to the court.
The judge, sensing my concern, spoke up and advised me not to worry. Then (and I kid you not!), she whipped out a bottle of WhiteOut and began making necessary corrections to the forms in ballpoint pen. In her handwriting, she added the following:
“Said defendant not present due to having absconded to India with his paramour.”
I stood there, not knowing what to think of this keystone-cops-esque kind of legal proceedings. The judge looked sheepishly at me and said, “Sorry. I don’t do these types of divorces very often.”
I replied, “Neither do I, Your Honor.”
The judge paused for a moment and smiled at my use of humor in what was obviously an awkward situation. She then turned on the dictation system and began recorded the “Let the record show …” formalities. With that concluded, she stamped what would then become my very odd-looking, yet still very official, divorce papers.
Okay, So … It’s Me, Right?
I stepped into the empty elevator. As the door closed for my ride back down to the parking garage, I paused for a short moment of reflection, engaging in a bit of self-talk.
“Okay, so you just got handed your second set of divorce papers … What do you suppose the common denominator is here, darlin’?”
“Me!” I said curtly to myself. Just as I said that, the elevator doors opened to welcome a fresh crop of couples rushing upstairs for their appointments with destiny in the Domestic Relations courtrooms.
“The common denominator is ME. And the stupid stops here, today!” I said out loud.
Rolling my set of divorce papers like a scroll in my right hand, I hit the elevator door as to underscore the seriousness of what I’d just said. I stepped out of the elevator and continued with, “Girlfriend, this is proof positive that you have a broken picker!”
Playing Right To The Script
When it was all said and done, I came to realize that even though I had been the plaintiff who initiated the divorce, I was simply staying on script, playing to my husband’s wishes—his grand plan.
He knew that inaction on his part would eventually initiate action on my part. Simply put, he forced me to to do the dirty work and get the divorce. I’d bet good money that to this day he tells people, “Hey, she was the one that divorced me!’
Yeah, right. You keep thinking that if it blows your skirt up. When you got the vocational training you were after, you engineered a way to leave the Marine Corps. You did the same to your commitments and marriage to me.
Abandonment or desertion—same thing. It’s simply a matter of semantics. What remains is that you’re nothing more than a cowardly runaway. A run, run, run, run … runaway.