Jul 13, 2007
Respondent: Mike– I’m representing his estate.
Claimant: Me—I’ve been representing myself
Ryan—Becky and Mike’s 18 year old son
Rollin R—my old boss and friend who is also an attorney
Mike’s parents Bob and Teresa
Mike’s aunt, Bob’s sister-in-law Deb
Robert-minister, and family friend
The Judge—Hon. Brian S
Gabrielle—my and Mike’s daughter
The Issues before the court:
- In 1996 the court made an order for Mike to maintain a life insurance policy for 100k naming Ryan as sole and irrevocable beneficiary until he reaches age 18, marries, dies, emancipation or 19 and a full time high school student, which ever first occurs. (Mike and I were already together then for almost two years, but not married yet.)
- Mike owed child support because he couldn’t work when he got sick therefore couldn’t pay her from mid-August to November 4th when he died. Though Becky claimed Mike NEVER paid child support….not true.
- $3856 in back child support from a hearing held in January 05 which Becky filed against Mike while I was laying in ICU from a motorcycle accident. Mike didn’t care as he didn’t know if I was going to live or die so he didn’t fight that. Becky claimed Mike NEVER paid on that amount…not true.
- Becky filed a motion of joinder against me. She sought to have the judge personally join me to her divorce case. Mike was dead after all and she wanted to sue somebody and since I was his wife she thought it logical.
- A lis pendens (notice of action pending) Becky filed on my home, a lien in essence which prevents me from selling/refinancing the home, etc as collateral to her 100k policy.
At the May 30th hearing the judge ruled that it was not proper to join me to the divorce case. My argument was though Cali might be liberal she ain’t that liberal yet..if the court joined me personally that would make me indebted to the first wife for any of Mike’s debts to her as well as have a divorce case with a wife, a wife and a husband. Is this Utah? Nope.
The judge told Brenda that it wasn’t appropriate to join me personally.
Ok, I won that one. But I did agree be joined as Mike’ s representative for these issues only.
After ensuring that being joined in that capacity does not put my assets and property at risk or exposed. Being joined to the case as Mike’s representative also affords me every right and defense that Mike would have available to him if he were alive.
Also at that hearing, I had argued that real estate law in Cali states that any property held as joint tenants, when on joint tenant dies, the other gains the remaining 50% in the property with all encumbrances (mortgages, taxes, insurance, etc) but free of probate litigation.
Therefore Becky cannot presume to hold my real property as collateral for Mike’s alleged debt of the insurance policy and child support. Upon Mike’s death he no longer had any interest in the real property. He’d gone to another realm and therefore did not need a house. Those debts Becky seeks to get paid on are Mike’s separate debt, regardless of the fact that we were married.
If Mike and I divorced on November 4th instead of him dying, I wouldn’t owe Becky a thing, but Mike would. Also that a lis pendens is only allowed on real property if there is a meritorious claim to title of the property. Becky sought a money judgment against Mike which the law does not give the remedy of a lis pendens…in other words a money judgment cannot be collected against real property for a debt not owed by the owner. She had no standing to put the lis pendens on our home while Mike was alive, she sure didn’t have the authority to put the lien on after he died. The judge agreed with me and lifted the lis pendens but then told me if I sold the home then I was to put 50% of the net net proceeds in an interest earning account for the court to distribute.
I then argued with him, uh no! that would mean I only own 50% of the home upon sale of the residence and what? That Mike still owned 50%?
I told him that’s contrary to the title holding as well as Real Estate Law….the judge said, “that’s your theory.”
I thought, “no idiot, that’s that law!” oh well. If that’s the way we’re playing it, I’m not even going to think about selling the house until after this is all over. Why give Becky money that she can demand the judge order me to pay her?
Brenda tried to get the court to order me to make the mortgage payments, he wouldn’t and said I presume she has been. I piped in and said, “I’m not going to compromise my credit.” The judge looked at me “I didn’t think you would.”
Ok, so I won, sort of. The lis pendens was lifted, I wasn’t joined personally to the case, Mike now gets all the defenses, rights and privileges afforded to him as if he were still alive. And the attorney didn’t get any orders against me. There were other issues, but those were the biggest ones.
Becky had submitted a declaration with a myspace blog that had been posted on my page in October 2006 wherein there was nasty things posted on my page….but that’s irrelevant. However, that did tell me they were launching a character assassination on me right then and there.
So trial was scheduled for July 12th. Also Mike and my wedding anniversary.
In the meantime I subpoenaed Ryan’s school records..they go directly to the point of the insurance policy, i.e., was Ryan a full time high school student when Mike died? The school records would confirm what Ryan had told me, that he was not even going to school since before Mike died.
Brenda objected to the records….too soon before the trial. Discovery had closed.
Ok, so I can’t get the records. Which tells me there’s something in them they don’t want me to see. However, there’s other methods. I prepared another subpoena, but this time forcing the custodian of records of the school district to show up at trial as a witness and with documents.
Brenda didn’t know they were coming but couldn’t object anyway as I can call any witnesses I want. I had also prepared 3 declarations from my son Austin, Alina and her niece Tina who all had conversations with Ryan about the fact that his mother had evicted him from her home, that he was living with me after his father died as well as the fact that he was not enrolled in school. Ward objected to those too. Claiming the declarations don’t go to the issues before the court, the timing of the issues in the declaration was not relevant and that they were hearsay.
The declarations got filed as I did a rebuttal. Petitioner raised the issues in her moving papers and she had submitted a declaration claiming Ryan was only with me for two weeks and under duress as he was waiting for me to read Mike’s Will and that he only took a break from school. So the declarations were rebuttals to Petitioner’s lies. Also there are exceptions to the hearsay rule…namely a catchall exemption as well as an exemption that anyone can talk about a person’s reactions, statements, mental state while in that person’s presence. The judge denied the attorney’s objections!
Rollin had also agreed to specially appear to try the case, as I felt I was over my head on that one. However, Brenda didn’t know that as I had no obligation to tell her.
So, sitting in the hallway that is at least 400 feet long waiting for Rollin to show up. We got to watch all the people coming to court to duke it out over a kid’s tennis shoes or child support or just divorce.
It was a motley collection of people to be sure.
The hallway is dimly lit also which does not help the oppressiveness of the atmosphere. Tension fills the hallways thick enough to slice. Yet everyone sits on the hard wooden benches as if they’ve got nothing better to do, waiting on a bus to come by and pick them up.
You may think that’s true unless you really study all the people.
Then you see the foot twitching, the one guy pacing, pacing, pacing, the woman biting her bottom lip. And those people stealing glances down the hallway looking for their attorney or their savior and champion.
Occasionally a sheriff comes out of a courtroom with a defendant, puts the defendant up against the wall, handcuffs him and hauls him off for whatever crime he may have committed. Then of course you cannot help but hear the jingle, jingle, jingle of the ankle bracelets of prisoners in their bright orange jumpsuits being brought into the hallway.
Everyone is forced to clear the hallway while those orange suits are hopping by…left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. It isn’t easy to walk with ankles handcuffed together while strung at the waist to a person in front and in back of you. Who needs television when you have a hallway in California in Superior Court?
The court calendar was full so although we were ordered to start at 9:00 a.m. we saw 9 come and go, and then 10 come and go. Rollin wasn’t even there yet as he had a case in another town about 45 minutes away.
Meanwhile, Bob, his wife Teresa and Deb along with Becky had run into the courtroom to sit out of my site. It was much cooler in there too as the hallway didn’t seem to be air-conditioned and the air got hot and stale very fast. BUT! The bailiff cleared the courtroom all of a sudden; don’t know why– so the DNA as I unaffectionally call them got kicked out.
They had nowhere to sit as the benches where all full. They found a room at the end of a hallway where all self serving, mean-spirited, angry individuals store themselves. We continued to wait some more.
(Background: Becky hated Mike’s parents and they hated her. Bob and Teresa told me several times over the past 14 years how they never liked her. And Mike told me that Becky always hated them. They had not had contact with each other in at least 12 years, so it was peculiar to see them all together. But for their being united against me, it was a direct slap to Mike.)
Finally we’re called into the courtroom. So the DNA erupt out of their hidey hole and try to beat us into the courtroom…which is stupid as they can’t get started without me. As Bob strolled by like a gluttonous princely pig that he is, he walked past Robert who was standing to my right. I was sitting on the bench, Gabrielle next to me and Alina next to her.
Bob strolls by as if he’s going into the courtroom but he detours leans down to Aliina, says Hi! Then a really, really nasty comment. He straightens up and goes to stroll into the courtroom as if nothing happened.
I hollered out, “you’re an asshole Bob!” Trust me what Bob said was horrific and of course uncalled for. I won’t say what Bob said as it isn’t important now.
Robert wanted to confront Bob but I figured it would just give Bob what he wanted….a reaction. He didn’t see Alina’s reaction to his comment so Bob never knew that his verbal knife cut Alina to the bone. I knew that they hated me, but to attack Alina who was perfectly innocent in all this was pathetic. Also, they all just ignored Gabrielle. She had been their granddaughter for about 14 years..yet because she doesn’t share their filthy DNA they ignore her as if she’s invisible….another innocent victim of their hatred.
Certainly its contrary to what Mike begged for from his parents while he was dying. They didn’t respect Mike’s wishes while he was alive, not while he was sick so why expect anything different after he died?
The courtroom is not big. Seats maybe 50 people. You can’t even whisper because the bailiff is close enough to you to hear and sssshhhhhh is always hissed at you even if you’re talking as low as possible. So the DNA runs to the other side of the seating gallery while Alina, Gabrielle, Robert and I stroll in.
And we wait some more.
Rollin, Brenda and the judge all went into judge’s chambers, don’t know why except that maybe the judge wanted to eat while they yapped as it was getting close to lunch time.
After about 30 minutes Rollin came out, pointed at me and we walked out of the courtroom. In the hallway he told me that the judge had ruled, according to my argument, that Becky had no standing to sue Mike (me) for the 100k under the divorce case and on behalf of Ryan as Ryan was named as sole and irrevocable beneficiary of the policy and he was an adult who was not handicapped and could sue on his own. Okey dokey! I won that point!
Becky’s attorney did ask Rollin if “your client would agree to put $50,000 in an interest bearing account with Ryan’s name on it exclusively”
Rollin said, “I highly doubt it.”
No kidding. So you don’t get a judgment against Mike’s estate for 100k so I’m going to give you 50K? gee was I born yesterday? Nope, the day before.
Rollin then said they wanted me to pay $5400. In child support including arrears.
I said wait, that’s fuzzy math! nope, not doing it. Understand this…it is Mike’s debt, not mine. They wanted ME to agree to pay it. No can do. So I told Rollin nope.
He then said that they are claiming Mike owes child support from January 05 to Nov 06. I said, lie…there’s a declaration from Mike’s company that he paid child support until and including mid-August. So if there is any support due her it’s only mid-august, sept and October as Ryan started collecting more than twice the amount of support Mike was ordered to pay by way of social security death benefit. I said I thought it was fair, if it would make Becky go away I will pay her about $1300. Cash today for the child support she thinks Mike owes her while he was alive but too sick to work. The arrears, sorry, not my debt, it’s Mike and there’s no money to pay it.
Rollin and I walked back into the courtroom, I sat down, he went back into judges chambers.
Another 30 minutes passed…Rollin comes out again…out we go into the hallway again.
He then tells me well you won’t be writing a check today. He said they didn’t agree to the $1300. Cash and they want me to pay all the arrears as well as the current support. I said, again, nope, not my debt. I have no money, no can do.
But I then offered this…let’s split the difference to this $5400. I will agree to a stipulation that I will pay half….but give me a year with no interest. Then we all go away. I was ready to agree to personally owe Becky $2700 which is more than what she had now. So I went from giving her nothing to $1,300 to $2,700. I just wanted out of this suit….her out of my life!
Rollin goes in to tender my offer. All during this time the DNA along with the non-DNA Becky were huddled in their darkened corner, afraid the light might hit their pale and sickly skin not having a clue what was going on. Which was curious as Brenda never came out to talk to Becky.
Obviously Becky had told Brenda,” I’ve never compromised in 14 years of litigation with Mike I’m not starting now”…..lol..or something like that as the attorney never relayed any of my offers for compromise to Becky.
Gabrielle, Alina and Robert were fully informed as I scribbled notes to them….it was so quiet in the courtroom that I didn’t want to inform the DNA that they had lost on the insurance issue as well as where the negotiations stood….it made them highly nervous. Good.
45 minutes pass…or so it seemed. Rollin comes out of judges chambers again. We walk out…I’m very familiar with the routine of course. The DNA send their laser beams of hatred at me as I take the 4 steps from my seat to the door. I just smile at them. “I know something you don’t….!” hahahaha
Rollin told me that they don’t agree to split the difference on the $5400. That they want me to pay the whole thing.
Rollin lectured me then…”I told you back in August to get to court and modify the support.”
“Rollin” I said, “Mike was dying, Becky told Ryan to save his money because child support had ended because Mike is dying. We had other priorities, moreover Mike relied on Becky’s statement. Besides we really did not give a flying fig about her blood money support as we had much bigger issues to deal with.”
Yes, by the way by the way Bob and Teresa were in our home during that time…they knew clearly what was what..yet they sit there now thinking Becky has every right to this money.
Either way, Rollin said they want you to pay the money. Nope…ok, this is getting repetitive and boring and we’re not getting anywhere.
So I yelled at Rollin then and asked him when is this stupid woman going to be taught the meaning of compromise? When is this court going to force her to come to the middle?
She never ever ever did. Mike complained once to a court mediator why does he always have to compromise to get anything done? T
he mediator responded, “because she won’t.” And that’s ok? Not in my book, but it is family law…the mom’s have all the rights. The mom could be laying in the gutter with a hypodermic needle sticking out of her arm and the idiot family court judge will give her custody of her kids because the dad didn’t pay support for the one month he was out of work. It’s a circus! But that’s a wild tangent….back to the case.
I told Rollin that I will sign a stipulation that says Mike owes Becky $5400. That MIKE owes it, not me. As we already knew she claimed Mike owed it however there’s no money and Mike has no estate so where is she going to get it?
Rollin told me that they can get a writ of attachment against any property that still has Mike’s name on it to collect the $5400. I said, wait a minute it isn’t that easy they need a judgment first then they have to go to court to get a writ before they can attach. Moreover two of those harley’s are mine, one he bequeathed to our kids Gabrielle and Austin and the other has a lien on it. So what can they attach?
Anyway, I told him there’s nothing with Mike’s name on it anymore. He said what about those 4 harley’s you have. I said those don’t go into probate, title was held and/or so they are all mine according to the law.
The house doesn’t go into probate because of the joint tenancy, Mike was insolvent in October due to neither of us working and the VA hospital investigated that and stated that which is in the court record already and there was no life insurance so there’s no estate.
Rollin said they are going to come after you for this $5400. So get everything out of Mike’s name today.
Fine….I think. Our wedding anniversary, the day that most people start thinking about putting the new spouses name on all things I have to erase Mike…as if we were never married. Seemed wrong somehow that the DNA and the Insane first wife could force me to do that..today of all days. But it is what it is and Mike is gone and I have to protect my assets from the wicked witch.
So we go back in for the last time, I hoped. With the offer that I’ll sign a stipulation that Mike owes Becky $5400. And we all go away. I sit down and Rollin went into the judges chamber again. This time Ballew-Ward comes out, with her stupid brown derby hat and cream colored suit (why does that woman wear a hat all the time anyway? Does she not have hair under there?) anyway she motions for Becky to come out to the hallway so she can finally be informed of what has been transpiring for the past 90 minutes or so.
Becky pops her badly bleached head in and motions for my father in-law to come out too. They yap and clap and consider themselves winners and all come back in after about 10 Brenda went into chambers, Rollin came out and we both went out into the hallway again.
He then tells me that Becky is going to hire Mickey L to represent Ryan. I remarked, Mickey is a minor’s counsel….Becky had hired him for Ryan two years before when Ryan pulled his stunt of claiming that I had hit him, bitten him, thrown furniture at him…all in dad’s presence.
Blah, blah, blah….that was the last time I saw ryan for two years by the way until Mike got sick. Anyway, Bob decided that Ryan is now going to sue for the 100k. Of course that’s interesting now. Under the divorce case? He’ll have to be joined and as discussed above there’s only two parties to a divorce. So now the minor child who is an adult according to the law and the judge is going to be joined to his parents divorce? That’s just weird. Does Bob really think he can intimidate Ryan into suing for that money knowing Ryan would then have to face me directly? I don’t see it happening…but who knows with this circus case.
Finally we get ready to actually convene the court, the judge is in his big black robe, intimidating all those present, not me because I’d seen him wearing ugly seersucker pants with a white belt and white shoes earlier so I knew what was going on under that robe.
The judge then said we’re done. Brenda asked for another date.
The judge said “I thought we were entering a stip, why do you want a return date?”
Brenda said to address the issue of enforceablility of the court on the 100k insurance policy.”
Well dayum…haven’t we dealt with that? So, Brenda won’t let it go, or Becky won’t. The judge already ruled that Becky doesn’t have standing to sue for the policy, so what difference does it make if the court can or cannot enforce that provision in the 1996 order?
Except if the court can enforce it and Ryan does manage to get himself joined as an adult child of the divorce THEN Mike’s estate MAY have to pay the 100k….but Mike doesn’t have an estate and it isn’t my debt so I don’t have to pay.
We’re right back to square one! Except that the judge did not see Ryan’s school records as they were only entered in the end when everyone realized that a custodian of records had been sitting there for 3 hours waiting to be called.
She did try to leave but Alina overheard and told the bailiff that the custodian couldn’t leave as she hadn’t been released by the judge.
Remember she was under subpoena to be there.
So the judge didn’t see the proof that Brenda tried so hard to keep out. But he will see it before the next hearing in October…4 days before the minor child turns 19. You are considered an adult with no if’s, and’s or but’s in California at 18. About one week before the year anniversary of Mike’s death.
The lawyers and the judge all get ready to move on, out whatever until they realize that I hadn’t signed the stipulation. The judge asked why not? Looked at me…
Rollin turned and looked at me as did everyone else. I simply stated the truth, “I haven’t seen it.”
So they present it to me to look at…yup it says deceased respondent Mike owes wicked witch Petitioner $5400. But that’s not me!
Back to square one there too. Gee I can’t get rid of these morons. Again there’s no estate so where is she going to get that money from? I don’t owe her. Anyway the form has attorney for petitioner and attorney for respondent then husband and then wife signature blocks. Now I’d seen these forms for 8 years but went brain dead. It’s my anniversary remember? I’m the wife, she isn’t. I forgot that I was Mike for the day. So I signed on the wife signature block representing Mike…then noticed that I’d signed it wrong. As I was up at the litigants table and all parties present I announced. Whoops I signed it under wife….but I AM Mike’s wife so I guess I wasn’t wrong after all…you guys can figure out the rest. Becky reacted as if I’d smacked her..which was my intention of course…reminding her that she hadn’t been Mike’s wife since 1994 and of course reminding Mike’s parents that I was Mike’s wife until the day he died, not Becky.
I went and took Mike’s name off the harley’s yesterday and that’s all there is to do.
I contacted a probate attorney and they said there isn’t an estate I can’t open a probate.
Well, back to square one…back to January when I first was informed there’s nothing to worry about with regard to Becky and creditors as there’s no estate.
Someone needs to tell the family law court that there’s no estate and to tell the DNA to leave the issue alone.
As I left the courthouse and started for home, it occurred to me that Mike’s parents just paid over $8,500 in Becky’s attorney fees to sue their son Mike. They want to sue me, they want to force me into a major cash payment to Becky but I am not Mike. All they got in the end is a piece of paper that isn’t worth anything stating that their son owes their former daughter inlaw $5400. They spent $8500 to get something in writing that already was in writing. What was the point of all this? I wonder if they realize they lost the issue on the support. That’s all done, can’t undo the stipulation now. Mike’s death set the facts of the case upon his death. The facts do not change in this case after November 4th 2006, ever. The fact is I am not obligated to Becky at all, not for any reason, certainly not because I was married to Mike when he died. It’s still considered a separate debt of Mike’s which I am not obligated to pay, unlike say the mortgage or credit cards bills…that’s community property which I am on the hook to pay because I was married to Mike.
So I await to see if Ryan is going to sue me….which is an exercise we’ve already tried as I’m not on the hook for this money, but with the drug using, selfish, manipulative backstabbing spinless 18 year old be strong enough to face me directly? Even with grandparents and mom and aunt pushing him?