Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Champagne Flowed Freely, or Would Have, Anyway, if We'd Been Anywhere but Utah

I worked as a paralegal this week. I'm not  licensed in any way to be a paralegal, but one is not required by law to have any sort of certification  in order to work as a paralegal.

My PseudoAunt handled a case involving an eighteen-year-old girl who was married on the morning of her eighteenth birthday. She had told her parents she was engaged. They were not in favor of the marriage for a variety of reasons and told her they wouldn't contribute anything substantial for the wedding because they were concerned about the cery real possibility of paying for a divorce in the immediate future, although they did offer to host a small reception in their backyard.

When the girl woke up early on the morning of her birthday, her fiance picked her up. She thought he was merely taking her out for breakfast. She soon learned, however, that she was traveling to her wedding. (The wedding had been planned for four weeks later.) The two of them drove a little less than two hours  to a town in central Utah that begins with the letter M and ends in i. There they went to an LDS temple, where his family was waiting. Someone had temple clothing for her, and in an LDS temple a person doesn't really have to have a standard wedding dress, per se, because it has to be covered with other temple clothing items anyway. She went through the temple ceremony with members of his family acting as her guides, then entered a sealing room, where she was sealed to her fiance for time and all eternity. Her own mother was at home baking a birthday cake for the girl, and thought her daughter was still asleep in her bedroom. Her parents were and are holders of temple recommends, and would have been eligible to attend her wedding.

When the girl's new husband demanded that she use her ATM card to get money out of her meager checking account to pay for their two-day honeymoon, she wondered if what he had told her about working full-time as a paramedic had been an embellishment. Actually, it was an outright lie. The only employment the man had was a paper route that earned him less than two hundred dollars a month, and he had no savings.

Marriage, or so  i've been told, is a difficult institution in which to live under the best and most luxurious of circumstances. The young couple's circumstances were far from luxurious. the best they could do in terms of living arrangements was a tiny bedroom/bathroom combo above her parents' garage. Her parents were hurt by the circumstances surrounding the secret wedding and their omission for the ceremony, but didn't want to leave their daughter homeless.

The girl had secured a part-time job as a teacher's aide at an elementary school not far from her parents' home. The job wouldn't begin until mid-August. She had cleaned out her checking account to pay for the hotel and restaurant meals on their two-day honeymoon. They ate food from her parents' food storage supply (most Mormons maintain a two-year supply of food) heated in a small microwave her parents had put in their tiny quarters.

An argument over the proper way to put a roll of toilet paper on its holder led to an assault. The girl's parents took their daughter back into their home, put ice on her bruised and swollen eye,  and called the police on her husband. He was asked to leave, but claimed squatter's rights. Police forcibly removed him from the bedroom/bathroom combo.

The man's father, who is an LDS bishop, though not their bishop, wanted to provide counseling  to the couple. The girl's parents assumed it was probably advice from him or from people not much smarter than he is that led to the hasty marriage in the first place, so they told him to stay away from their daughter. A temporary restraining order was obtained.

In one phone communication that was illegal because of the restraining order, the guy told the girl that he was fighting any attempt at divorce, and that he would not make it easy. Then my PseudoAunt became involved. As an attorney, she advised the girl and her parents that an divorce could be obtained with or without the guy's consent, and it wouldn't be all that complicated because there were no children and very little community property. She thought there was an outside chance at an annulment, which would invalidate the marriage, or declared that it had never  existed legally in the first place.

Today was the court date. Had a divorce been needed, a ninety-day waiting period would have been in effect because Utah has a mandatory ninety-day waiting period after filing before any divorce is granted. no such waiting period is required when the marriage is declared never to have existed in the first place, which is what happened. The annulment was granted, along with a three-year restraining order.

My job as the paralegal was to keep all documents and papers in order so that I could hand them to my PseudoAunt when she requested them, as well as to type notes of anything PseudoAunt requested that I type. It went without a hitch.

PseudoAunt was phenomenal. If I'm ever accused of a crime, I want her to defend me. if I decide to rue someone, i want her to represent me.

The girl was very happy to have her life back, and her parents were most grateful to my PseudoAunt for the way things worked out.



    This skit came to mind when I read this post. Rosemary Clooney & Gene Puerling - "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off".

  2. Yep, those two should have called the whole thing off before they ever got started. Not all girls are as smart as we are.