Sunday, August 26, 2007

Contentious divorces: Divorce case out of control

One thing about appeals, the appellate courts have even less a sense of humor than do trial courts. Gorman v. Gorman (PDF format) shows just how much of family law gets driven by the parties. Wife goes after ex-husband for money owed and has two appeals out of all that. The Court of Appeals describes what happened next:

Rather than concluding that she had had her proverbial “day in court” after two trial court decisions and two appeals essentially producing the same result, Judith initiated two new trial court actions, escalating the nature of her allegations against her ex-husband, William, to more inflammatory levels, and adding his former counsel, Mark E. Neff, as a party. In those actions, Judith now alleged fraud, criminal conversion, extortion, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, intentional interference with a contract, criminal mischief and the use of threats and violence related to the execution of the August 9, 1999 release of her claims against William. William and Neff filed counterclaims against Judith in both lawsuits. The outcome of these two actions has been appealed to this court under the subject Cause Numbers, 87A05-0705-CV-283 and 26A01-0608-CV-362.
Notice that the former husband got sued also. Perhaps this might give some insight into why we lawyers get gunshy and others leave family law altogether.

Wife lost with large money judgments and also the requirement to post an appeal bond of $50,000.00. Wife appeals the order regarding the appeals bond. From that appeal came the opinion linked to above. The Indiana Court of Appeals spends almost all of two pages discussing why the former Mrs. Gorman must ask first ask the court of Appeals for permission before filing any appeal of any case involving her former husband or his attorneys. I think this summarizes quite nicely all the Court of Appeals saw wrong with this person:
As set forth above, the validity and scope of the release, signed by Judith on August 9, 1999, has been repeatedly litigated and found to have resolved all claims between Judith and William Gorman arising from the dissolution of their marriage and their property settlement, as well as the earlier lawsuits. As found in an earlier Gorman opinion by this Court:
“[Judith], a college-educated adult who is able to read and write, was represented by counsel during the meeting at which she signed the Release. [Judith] acknowledged that she signed the Release and that [William] had performed his obligation under it, paying her $25,500 within ten days. She further acknowledged accepting and using the money. Bates-Gorman, No. 87A01-0010-CV-332, slip op. at 5 (Ind. Ct. App. May 31, 2001), trans. denied.

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