Wednesday, September 21, 2016

To the judge who dismissed my divorce over a typo...

Dear New York State Supreme Court Judge [name rescinded],

I recognize that this letter is likely against protocol, and I mean no disrespect. My voice was silenced during the 3 years I spent with Mr. [name rescinded], and throughout my divorce proceedings, I've felt that my voice has been silenced again. My request now is simply to be heard.

On July 28, 2015 I filed for divorce. My lawyer advised me to file "no fault" despite the fact that I learned first via pictures and later via phonecall from the other woman that my husband had been cheating on me for over a year and had also fathered a child outside of our marriage, because proving it would be long and too costly, and I couldn't afford that. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, he is an abusive individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Anti-Social Personality disorder. I married a narcissist and sociopath which only became apparent many months into our marriage.

It has now become clear that my husband married me for a greencard. He is a con man who committed fraud against me and against the United States. Immediately upon receiving his greencard, he abandoned me and returned to his home country "to work." While he was there, and while I was here patiently waiting for him to come back and while I remained committed to the marriage and completely faithful, he betrayed me over the span of 11 months. He impregnated another woman, and had intimate relationships with at least three other individuals, male and female, that I know of. 

I paid for our entire relationship, including his greencard and legal fees. In the entirety of our time together, he never paid a bill, never contributed to rent, and never shared in household expenses in any way. He took all of my money (I willingly gave it because I loved him), exhausted my life savings, and left me with nothing. When I'd finally had enough of waiting for him and being verbally and emotionally abused, I told him I wanted a divorce. Because I couldn't afford proper legal representation for a full court battle, I filed "no fault." I asked for nothing. I just wanted out. I wanted my life back.

Coming to terms with the fact that I was an abused wife was incredibly difficult. I'm smart. I do the right things. This wasn't supposed to happen! But I was smart enough to kick him out and file for divorce once I realized what was going on. I tried to do the right thing. I spent $3,000 on a lawyer and on international service to end the marriage. I was told that once I served him, it should be straight-forward, and because he didn't contest and didn't respond, it would be a default judgement in my favor. But over the course of the past year and a few months, I've been met with obstacle after obstacle that has prevented the divorce from actually becoming final. 

I'm still legally married to my abuser because I couldn't financially afford to file on grounds, and because of two clerical errors--the process server in his country failed to provide a physical description of him (which is understandable, since my husband is famous in his country--it's likely that the server didn't think it was necessary given that fact). You dismissed my papers then, and said that I could resubmit if I got my husband to sign an affidavit stating that he was, indeed served. So after many months, and much effort on my part and on the part of my lawyer, my ex finally signed the affidavit and got it notarized at the consulate. He had been holding on to control, and he finally relented. I was thrilled and thought that it was finally going to be over. However, when you got the affidavit, you dismissed it AGAIN, saying that the notary failed to date page three. Despite the fact that his signature was consistent. Despite the fact that his signature was notarized and dated on other pages. You dismissed it. And my case is now essentially dead in the water as my ex refuses to appear for an inquest, and I can't afford trial fees, anyway. So that's it. 

My lawyer explained that your ruling was "for my protection" because my ex could claim down the line that he "didn't know" I wanted a divorce. He's given numerous interviews to the press about how "he filed" for divorce (he didn't). About how it was a "mutual decision" (it wasn't). We have discussed it over email and in text messages. He has a new girlfriend who he is parading around on red carpets and posting plentiful pictures of on social media. There is more than enough proof to show that he, indeed, knows very well, that I want a divorce. You, for whatever reason, will not allow it.  

I'll likely never know your reasoning for dismissing my case. Maybe you were having a bad day. Maybe it's just a number to you, and you've lost sight of the fact that there are real people with real lives behind the case filings. Maybe you hate immigrants or women, and this is your way of sticking it to them passively. But let me remind you what your dismissal of my case has done, in real life:

I am still tied to my abuser, legally. Mentally and emotionally, it feels like a dark cloud that I can't get rid of. I have no closure on the relationship whatsoever, as he abruptly blocked me and stopped talking to me when I caught him in his affair. I never got an apology or acknowledgement from him of what he did, and now I can't get a legal end to the marriage. The process has brought back PTSD nightmares, as I've had to text him and communicate with him. My therapist advised me to stop communicating with him immediately, for my own mental health, yet my lawyer's retainer has been exhausted, so understandably, any more work she does on my behalf is essentially pro-bono. If I am to proceed in any way, it will be on my own, and I will have to be in contact with him and his lawyer. I am still financially responsible for him, should he choose to come back to the United States. 

I knew that marriage is a big deal, and it was one I was fully ready for at the time when I married him. But I was conned. He was a fraud, and not who he presented himself to be. I knew that a divorce wouldn't be easy, emotionally, but I didn't think it would be virtually impossible logistically. I had no idea that there would be no lenience on typos and innocent omissions, especially given the language barrier and the fact that the case crosses international lines. I had no idea that I would spend thousands more (in addition to the tens of thousands I spent throughout my marriage) trying to get rid of my abuser while getting nothing back and asking for nothing. I had no idea it would be this difficult, and I don't understand why it is. 

So here I am, over a year later, thousands of dollars poorer, and with absolutely nothing to show for it. I'm back at square one. I now either have to refile here and start a new case (and thus, spend more money do that) or allow him to file in his country, on his terms, in a language I do not speak. If I do the latter, I have to sign my power of attorney over to his lawyer, who will "represent us both." I lose all of my rights, and lose my voice. Allowing him to have that power is exactly what he wanted, and he thrives on that. It re-victimizes me, and continues the exact patterns I was trying to get out of in filing for divorce in the first place.

While this may have been just another case number to you, this is my life. I feel unable to move on. It feels like the biggest mistake of my life that I just cannot erase, no matter how hard I try. It's exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and financially. And all over a notary at a consulate in a foreign country who forgot to date one page of a document. 

Judge, I know you will not read this, and I know that this letter changes nothing. If you had wanted to grant me a divorce, you would have. But, for whatever reason, you didn't. I just hope that you understand the life behind the case number, and understand that your dismissal is allowing spousal abuse, even from afar, to continue. 

Sincerely,

The Plaintiff