November 4, 2006 my husband Mike passed away from pancreatic cancer.March 14, 2007 Mike’s former spouse, Rebecca (their marriage ended well over 14 years before) filed a lis pendens on my house–effectively restraining me from selling the house, refinancing it, giving it away, etc.

April 6, 2007 I received Rebecca’s lawsuit against me for approximately $113,000.

April through May 15th I prepare my response to her pleadings, which contained several errors and “bad” law. Filed it in the court, served the attorney.

May 22, 2007 attorney called me to tell me that they did not have time to prepare a rebuttal to my response so they have continued the hearing scheduled for the next day. I objected to the continuance and they basically said so what. I wrangled with them all day and they did not budge.  I told them I’ll be there anyway.  They told me I’d be wasting my time.

May 23, 2007

I went to the scheduled hearing in spite of what the attorney told me, “you’ll waste your time” And spoke to the judge and asked him for relief. He told me that a week or two continuance wouldn’t make much difference but if I had the house for sale he’d have the attorney there right away. I then told him that they wanted more than 30 days. (I really did not want them to have time to pick apart my response.) That it was their motion they should be ready to go forward. The judge told me he was well aware of whose motion it was. Ultimately, though the judge felt it an unreasonable delay in that I was ready to go forward and I said they should be too. Moreover I told him that I needed relief that they had my house tied up in this litigation since mid-March and they wanted to put this out to the end of June. The judge had the clerk contact the attorney and scheduled the hearing for one week later on May 30, 2007.  I won that round, sort of.


May 30, 2007 hearing

I went to court as ordered from the week before.  It takes approximately 90 minutes to get to the courthouse from my home….lots of time to anticipate and worry and desire to quit and nerves to rear up! I had anticipated that Rebecca might be there and that she would not come alone. After almost 14 years of watching my husband answer lawsuit after lawsuit with this woman I pretty much knew her habits  She never came to court alone, always had someone with her, mommy, stepdad, friend, someone.  I had also slightly anticipated that my husband’s family (whom I actually refer to as the DNA—story there too) would also be in attendance.  I was not wrong.  Rebecca did not come alone; nope she brought Mike’s parents Bob, Theresa and his aunt, Deb—the powerful and angry DNA.  We all have the same last name!  All of us. I imagine it could get quit confusing if the judge addresses a Mrs. That could mean any one of the four of us.

My daughter Gabrielle and my friend Alina came with me to court.   After all Gabrielle does have some interest in this suit as it is her half brother Ryan for which Rebecca CLAIMS to be suing me for. Alina is on the side of justice and cannot understand what motivates family members to be so mean and greedy. After going through the metal detector and climbing three flights of marble stairs to get to the third floor we rounded the corner and I saw all of THEM right away.  Although they were a good 100 – 200 feet away and the corridor was lined with people sitting in those awful hardback benches I could see their pie faces from a distance.  I sat down in the only available spot which was located at the other end of the corridor where they couldn’t see me.

I didn’t know if the DNA had spotted me yet and just sort of sat there.  Gabrielle sat next to me on the same side of the hallway as the DNA, Alina across from me where she had a clear view of the DNA. And they saw her.  The DNA in-laws may have finally recognized Alina from the last time we all saw each other seven months ago at the VA hospital when Bob was so out of control that the police were called.  That’s a whole other story; social workers meeting with me to explain why I should be removed as Mike’s guardian, proving to them that I wasn’t insane as Bob had claimed, etc….I won that battle in the end as the DNA left for home that day, four days before Mike died and I did retain custody of my husband.

Anyway the DNA and Alina glared at each other for sport.  We could all see them laughing and smiling as if they were going to attend a party. It was disgusting and bizarre really given all the circumstances that brought us back to be so physically close to one another again.

We had at least 30 minutes to wait until the courtroom opened so I got a little antsy, bored and rebellious maybe and finally decided to let them know I was there; and not in the least bit intimidated by them.  True or not, I wasn’t going to let them know what I was feeling or thinking.  So I walked that long expanse of dimly lit corridor to Department S10, the courtroom which they had managed to plant themselves in front of.

I wanted to check the listing of the cases on calendar that morning as well as let them know that the element of surprise they may have been hoping for fell short.  As I walked by I cheerily said “Hi!”  I heard the big mouth sister-in-law of the dad, Deb echo me and say hi also.  Good, we’ve all said hello.  I saw our case handwritten in at the very end of the list. We would be the 25th case to be called…out of 25.   I wandered back to my seat at the far end.

However, it occurred to me while I sat there that they are doing everything that Mike had expressly asked them not to. In fact he literally begged them. Their decision to aid and abet Rebecca and even pay for the attorney’s fees while she is gainfully employed to fight me was astoundingly disrespectful to Mike’s feelings about  Rebecca, about me, about all his children and his feelings about all those years of litigation because of Rebecca—all of which they were fully informed.  I began to realize that Mike would be utterly heartbroken to see his parents sitting with the ex, a woman who took us to court on an average of every six weeks for over 14 years…these people who Mike had begged to help me after he was gone, sitting with that woman.

Mike would have not believed his eyes.  I felt my eyes tear up then and the utter lack of love and respect they had for Mike at the thought of what it must have been like for Mike to have a family such as that. My family is by far worse in many ways, but I cut those toxic people out some 20 years before and did not pretend that reality of something it was not. Mike did try to have a relationship with his family…at my urging..but they are cut from a different cloth than Mike was. So I sat there and processed all that for a bit but did manage to put those emotions aside planning an emotional breakdown at the cold hearted harshness and callousness of the DNA’s actions later in the day.

As the bailiff called the sheep to the slaughter…or the litigants to the courtroom however you want to view it, we all filed in and sat down.  The courtroom is extremely small, seats maybe 50 people all crammed together to the point where the wife has to sit right next to her soon to be ex-husband and in our case the DNA sat in the row in front of us.  How fun!

Remember we were number 25 out of 25 so we had to sit and watch all the other litigants get chastised and criticized and instructed by the judge. Which is really ok all in all as it gave me a chance to see what kind of mood the judge was in.  The judge finally called our case and the ex got up and darn near darted to her side of the litigants table.  I guess I neglected to mention that she had strolled by me a few minutes before because her attorney had beckoned for her to come out to the hallway….apparently to sign the declaration the attorney handed me minutes before we were called.  A declaration signed under penalty of perjury no less yet full of lies…but whatever it’s family court and there are no rules to speak of, except don’t talk while court is in session or the bailiff might just shoot you.

I noted then while Rebecca walked past me to go outside that the sands of time had not been especially kind to her.  Was she wearing sweatpants?  I wondered.  No, but it sure seemed as though she was. She is at least three years older than me and it shows.  Rather her nasty personality shows on her face and in her body language. I then looked at all the DNA and noted that Mike’s passing did not appear to hamper their appetites at all and they looked extremely well fed and in dire need of Weight Watchers. I figure if I can’t beat them at this lawsuit I can at least look better than them…which I did; lol.

I approached my side of the litigants table…Respondent.  And the attorney stood between me and Rebecca.  Rather the attorney and I stood while the ex flopped herself down in the chair.  I remained standing as did the attorney while the judge started talking. He was summarizing the issues of the case, where we stood as far as the process of the litigation. He finally looked up at us and then apologized and invited us to sit down, which I did right along with the attorney.

The judge started right off telling the attorney that he did not believe it was a proper remedy to join me personally to the case. They had filed a motion to join me personally however there can only be two party’s to a marriage and thus a divorce they could not join me personally, not matter how liberal California may be, there still cannot be three party’s to a divorce. So the judge told the attorney, nope, not going to join me. Alrighty then I thought…I win on that point.  The attorney started blah, blah, blahing and saying that she’s got the mom, the dad and the sister here…..the sister? I wondered so I took a look around the courtroom to see if that hated Ilene was there. Mike loathed his sister and they had no relationship all their adult life and he had instructed me specifically over and over, that under no terms and conditions was Ilene to be allowed to attend his funeral. Moreover Mike hated her, with good reason I might add, so much so that he told his family months before that he never wanted to see Ilene again….naturally they didn’t respect Mike’s demands…but that’s another story too.  No, Ilene wasn’t there but Deb was.  I wondered if that was the sister the attorney claimed to be in attendance? She was married to Bob’s half brother, a sister-in-law…not a big deal in a general sense, but a big deal when you’re stating that “fact” on the record. Anyway after yapping at the judge trying to convince him why I should be joined the judge was not convinced. You see, I did not want to be joined to this case personally because that would then subject me to the court’s jurisdiction which would then mean the judge could order me to do all kinds of things, sell the house, turn the money over to Rebecca; pay her if I lost this lawsuit out of my personal funds, etc.

It became apparent to me then that the DNA and Rebecca all came ready, willing and able to slay me, that big bad mean wife, that day. Wanting to see a show I guess…expecting a great victory against me…which is really against Mike though they don’t see it that way.

We had the issue of the lis pendens filed against my house.  It was Mike’s and my house and we held it as joint tenants. In California the death of one joint tenant causes the remaining interest in the house to go to the other joint tenant outside of probate..no ifs ands or buts. However the attorney didn’t seem to buy that fact.  The judge seemed  unconvinced too….but it’s the law! Real Estate 101 in fact.

The judge lifted the lis pendens as he knew that they had filed it improperly though he didn’t come out and say so. He had read my response and my case law and reasoning behind why the lis pendens needs to be removed. If he didn’t remove it off the title then the attorney would be subject to stiff penalties for an improper abuse of process….I knew that, the judge knew that and the attorney should have known that. So the judge told the attorney that he will not agree to join me personally to the case but he then asked me if I objected to being joined to the case as Mike’s representative of his estate. I then had to ask for clarification…that it was not me joined, but Mike’s estate which they are holding responsible.  I think I started to annoy the judge; I wasn’t going to just agree to anything for the sake of having the lis pendens removed. I had to sit there for a minute or two and contemplate the consequences….such as I wonder what would happen if now that the judge ordered the lis pendens removed if I said I wouldn’t agree to be joined in any capacity. I remembered that I had given that some thought before the hearing and knew that there really was no way to avoid being joined as Mike’s representative in this matter as I was married to him and he did name me as his executrix of his Last Will and Testament. So I agreed to be joined in that capacity only.

Then the attorney started yapping that they do not have a copy of Mike’s Will that they don’t know if there is an executor of the Will. I had to pip in then as it was a blatant lie. I told the judge, on the record, that Petitioner had been in receipt of a copy of the Will since mid-March, moreover they also have a copy of the Will attached to my responsive pleadings….the judge nodded.  But let us remember they are not entitled to the Will and this is not probate court so the Will is really immaterial regardless of what the DNA thinks.

Ok, so I’m thinking that they are just going to throw anything on the proverbial bench in front of the judge and see what sticks. Which lie would sound reasonable?  The attorney then starts to say that Ryan is Mike’s only biological son and that they have just been informed that there was an account set up for the benefit of the children, listed in the obituary. That poor Ryan has not received any money from that account. I then said, your honor my husband had three children.  And no money was deposited in the account.  The judge then looked straight at the attorney and said, “I don’t have jurisdiction over that.” If Ryan wants to sue for those funds, he’ll have to do it himself.”  Wowie!  That just told me a lot.  That the judge is recognizing Ryan is 18, not a minor child and has all rights and responsibilities that every adult has.  Also that the judge recognized his jurisdiction or authority with regard to my husband’s estate is limited.

I noticed that the attorney never looked at me once though I was maybe a 14 inches to her left. While she was yapping I found myself looking behind me to see how the crowd was reacting to this nonsense…I looked at Gabrielle and Alina and looked at the DNA….everyone was silent and paying rapt attention. Who needs LA Law when you’ve got this family going at it? All because one man died too young and he foolishly married a wicked, cold hearted and selfish woman who saw money as her god.

The attorney said that she wanted the court to order me to maintain the mortgage on the house that I should not be allowed to let the home go into foreclosure. You see, their biggest concern is that there will be an asset large enough to attach to pay this 113k judgment.  There isn’t but that doesn’t stop them from pretending there is.  Of course I was thinking that the lis pendens has been removed off the house, it’s all mine again and I can do whatever the heck I want to do with the stupid house, even if that means burning it to the ground. The judge just responded, “oh I don’t think that’s necessary. I’m sure Rose has been paying the mortgage.” And he looked at me and asked me if that was right. I nodded.Oops….the court reporter can’t record a nod so the judge said, “let the record show that  Rose nodded.” Lol….the rules of the court…so strict and silly.

I then told the judge that I wasn’t about to compromise my credit by not paying the mortgage. He said on the record that he didn’t think I would that he assumed I had been paying the mortgage and saw no reason to think I would suddenly stop. Ok, they didn’t get their court order on that issue either.

The judge then told me that if I listed the house for sale that I would need to put 50% of the net income from the property in a trust account. I then started to argue.  Wait a minute…my husband has no interest in this house according to the law and the holding of the title when he died. The judge then told me, “that’s your theory.”  Uhhh?  Nope, that’s the law idiot! He then said, he didn’t know maybe I had more than 50% interest in the house…ok. I think I said that my husband doesn’t own any property now, he’s in a different realm with no need of property, personal or real estate. Either way, the judge did not order me to sell the house as he had no power to do so. But he started to say “I don’t know” a lot.  He said I don’t know that Mike owes any money to Rebecca. I don’t know that he has any interest in the house. I don’t know if he does have interest in the house how much interest his estate may have. None!  The voice in my head said…stupid judge.

So, if I sell the house, after the real estate agent fees and costs of sale and whatever expense, pay off the mortgage I have to put 50% of that net amount in a trust account so the DNA can get their filthy money grubbing hooks on that money? I don’t think so.

The judge then said that there needs to be a trial to figure “this” all out. He felt that two hours ought to be sufficient but the attorney told him she needed at least half a day. Yikes!  Half a freaking day?  For what?  To parade witness after witness on the stand to testify as to what a mean rotten wife I was?  They’d already started their character assassination that day with the declaration they handed me. Stating that I had prevented Ryan from seeing his dad while he was in the hospital…not true as I had no control over the kid as he was living with his mommy….that I prevented Mike’s parents from attending his funeral…true but not out of viciousness…..I didn’t want Ryan and my kids upset at the funeral any more than they already would be…and seeing Mike’s family would have done them all in.

Moreover that they were not allowed to attend was because of their actions and according to Mike’s wishes. I remained silent on that issue then as the bottom line is that their whining was all irrelevant….no matter how mean and nasty they want to paint me it has no bearing on the facts of the case. Which is– ultimately does Mike or his estate owe her 113k? Now 100k of that is for an insurance policy which names Ryan as sole and irrevocable beneficiary…..not Rebecca. It is my stance that Ryan may have a creditor’s claim against Mike’s estate…as he is 18 and the money should go to him….but there’s no policy for a variety of legitimate reasons which will all come out at trial and which the judge will have to base his final decision on. Such as whether there should have been a policy in effect at the time of Mike’s death. That the fact that Ryan turned 18 before Mike died is significant or not as to the outcome of this trial…moreover Ryan had not been enrolled in any high school and according to all the orders which Rebecca has sued me under…that was a requirement.

So back to the scheduling of a trial.  A half day….the judge wanted to do it on June 20th. I had no problem with that but the attorney stated she had to plan a wedding so couldn’t do it that day. How nice I thought, she’s planning a wedding while I’m fighting for the rights of my dead husband….whatever.  She and the judge and the judge’s clerk discussed available dates. I didn’t participate in any of that.  They all decided on July 12th. I looked at the calendar hanging there…it has three months…before, current and next months. I wondered about that date and entertained just being ornery and saying after they had been yapping for 5 or 10 minutes about the date, that the date wasn’t good for me. There was something about that date that just stuck out in my mind….but I couldn’t put my finger on it. So July 12th it is!  The trial of the first wife against the second wife with DNA and hate and greed and nastiness all in attendance.

We were dismissed.  It was not until the next day when I saw a blanket that someone had given to Mike and me as a wedding present with our wedding date embroidered on it that the significance of the date finally hit me.  And hit me in the stomach.  July 12th is our wedding anniversary.   The first wedding anniversary that I have to somehow manage to get through after Mike’s death. I wondered about the coincidence of that date…there is no way the attorney would know that it was our anniversary, heck I don’t think Rebecca even knows it…but Mike’s parents should as well as the aunt as they attended our wedding.

So now I await the rebuttal from the attorney to my response to their lawsuit.

And I await the wedding anniversary to the man that I love still and I await the trial where the DNA will be in all their glory.

And I wait to see if Ryan, who will not return my calls or my messages will be the surprise witness for the prosecution…..actually the Petitioner.

But it feels the same.

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