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An Unusual Divorce Case

I was hired once by a young couple who sought a divorce.

They had 2 little girls, ages 5 and 3. The couple were quite amicable for parties splitting up. That was a rarity in family law.

Wife got custody, father custodian visitation with an obligation to pay child support, which he honored to the letter.

Things went swimmingly for 5 years, with not one disagreement.

Then, ex-wife announced she had a new job offer – in Fairbanks, Alaska. She was moving, and of course was taking the girls.

Even this hurdle was handled amicably. Because the girls were now in school, the parents worked out an agreement whereby 2 weeks after school adjourned, mother would put them on a commercial aircraft bound for DFW Airport. Father would keep them until 2 weeks prior to school convening, then he’d send them back to Alaska. Father paid transportation costs both ways.

The arrangement worked until father called wife to discuss flight information so he could send her airline tickets. She shocked him by saying, “You need to speak with my new husband.” A man came on the line, said, “We’re not sending the girls back to Oklahoma, Robert. You’ve been abusing them.”

Robert, livid, replied, “Hey, this isn’t any of your business, man! Let me talk to my ex-wife!” New husband then disconnected the line.

Robert was in my office within an hour, and I took legal action. I was as mad as he was since I knew him well and knew the charge was groundless.

Wife hired an Oklahoma City lawyer who filed suit in Oklahoma County District Court so it became a duel of lawyers and jurisdiction issues. Time drug on.

Finally, after missing his girls that summer, Robert came into my office. I noticed he was very calm and collected. He said, “Give me your bill, James, I’m going to settle this case my way.”

Knowing my client’s penchant for violence if mistreated, I cautioned him. He said, “I’m not going to do anything stupid, James. But I have a plan.”

“What are you going to do, Robert?”

He smiled, said, “Here’s what I’m going to do: The house next door to my ex-wife is for sale, or it will be when I get there. And if they move to Hawaii, then the house next door will be for sale. Now, give me a bill, I’ve got a plane to catch for Alaska.”

He paid the bill and left. I noticed he was smiling as he went out the door.

Of course, I did just what he knew I’d do: I called the lawyer in Oklahoma City and told him Robert’s plan. He said, “This changes things, James. My clients sure don’t want that guy living next door!”

Within an hour we settled the case on very favorable terms for Robert. I learned later that he didn’t have a plane to catch at all.

I smiled when I closed his file.

-james a clark