Ever known anyone whose gotten a divorce on the grounds of desertion? Well, take it from someone whose been there, it’s a stone cold trip. You should try it some time.

Where’s Waldo?

Once my husband vanished and left the country with his new lover, he was essentially untouchable—securely tucked away on another continent—safely hidden among a billion people in a third world country. As he intentionally planned it, I had no known forwarding address or verifiable contact info. Lovely.

All I knew for certain was that my Runaway Romeo was with ‘her’–hanging out in some small out-of-the-way town in India named Mumbai. Well, that certainly narrowed things  down and made it easy.

A Somewhat Different Approach This Time ….

I’d gotten a divorce decades before, so I sort of knew what to expect. My first divorce was one of those quickie dissolutions to end a marriage entered into at the tender age of sixteen. In short, I’d married the first guy who came along just so I could get away from home. No surprise that it didn’t last.

This time [at age 55] when I visited a divorce attorney, I was told to expect that this divorce would be a bit different. Even though he had deserted me, I was the one who was going to have to jump through hoops and prove that I made sufficient good-faith efforts to try to locate My Little Runaway and serve him with the papers. This meant:

    • Putting public notices in local newspapers where he was known to have resided last
    • Publishing notices where I thought he may be currently residing
    • Sending notices to his family members and last known acquaintances.

Woo Hoo!

Even more jollies! In addition to all that, I had to send divorce notification to his affair partner at her workplace. Yay! More humiliation. It was amazing though. When formal notification of our pending divorce arrived at his new Schmoopie’s place of employment, My Little Runaway called me immediately. Imagine that! Who knew?

It was rich! With his ego insulted, he told me that he was blindsided and surprised that I would initiate such drastic measures—at least so soon. [He’d only been MIA for 10 months]. You know, it was premature … in other words, before he’d had ample time to fully ‘try out’ his life with this [not even divorced yet] woman he left me for—and make the final determination as to which one of us wanted. Poor Pumpkin never liked to be rushed. 

Duh! Call me clairvoyant, but I already knew that answer. And besides, it wasn’t up to him anymore.

Please Approach The Bench

Thankfully, it was a beautiful sunny day in early January when I was arrived to appear in Domestic Relations Court and finalize my divorce—alone.

At my appointed time on the docket, our case called aloud, “Divorce case number 666 … Chumpy (The Dump-ee) vs. Houdini (The Dump-er)”. 

Accompanied by my attorney, I walked to the front of the hearing room and stood before the judge’s bench. The judge lowered her head, furrowed her brows, and quizzically looked around the courtroom. Apparently she was expecting Sir Houdini to be there as well and step forward. She appeared to be puzzled and annoyed. There were strict rules (and numerous very visible warnings!) posted around the building about being on time for court. 

My attorney leaned in and whispered quietly to the judge, “In Absentia … Desertion, Your Honor”.  “I see …”, said the judge.

Reviewing The Documentation

As would only happen to me in such circumstances, Murphy showed up at the last minute to join us in the courtroom festivities. After an extended period of awkward silence and shuffling and reshuffling of paperwork, it was discovered that my attorney’s paralegal had submitted the wrong version of the divorce petition forms(!) to the court.

The judge, sensing my concern, spoke up and advised me not to worry. Then … (and I kid you not!) … she whipped out a bottle of WhiteOut and began making necessary corrections to the forms in ballpoint pen. In her handwriting, she added the following:“Said defendant not present due to having absconded to India with his paramour.”

Apology Accepted

I stood there, not knowing what to think of this Keystone-Cops-esque kind of legal proceedings. After a couple of minutes, the judge looked sheepishly at me and said, “Sorry. I don’t do these types of divorces very often.” I replied, “Neither do I, Your Honor.” 

The judge paused for a moment and smiled at my use of humor in what was obviously a  very awkward and stressful situation. She then pushed he glasses back up on the bridge of her nose, turned on the dictation system, and began recording the “Let the record show …” formalities.

With that concluded, she stamped what would then  become my very odd-looking, yet still very official, divorce papers.

Okay, So … It’s Me, Right?

I stepped into the empty elevator. As the door closed for my ride back down to the parking garage, I paused for a short moment of reflection, engaging in a bit of self-talk. “Okay, so you just got handed your second set of divorce papers … What do you suppose the common denominator is here, darlin’?”

Me!” I curtly replied to myself. Just as I finished saying that, the elevator doors opened to welcome a fresh crop of couples rushing upstairs for their appointments with their destiny in the Domestic Relations courtrooms. 

“The common denominator is ME. And the stupid stops here, today!” I said out loud. Rolling my set of divorce papers in my right hand like a scroll, I hit the elevator door sharply with them as if to underscore the seriousness of the statement I’d just made. As I stepped out of the elevator, I continued my conversation with myself by saying, “Girlfriend, this is proof positive that you have a broken picker!”

Playing Right To The Script

So, when it was all said and done, I came to realize that even though I had been the plaintiff who initiated the divorce, I was simply staying on script, playing right into my husband’s wishes—all a part of his grand plan. He knew for certain his delay and inaction on his part would initiate the desired action on my part.

In other words, staying true to his pattern of being a runaway coward, he by default forced me to to do his dirty work and get the divorce. I’d bet a good sum of money that to this day he still tells people, “Hey, she was the one that divorced me!’ 

Yeah, right. he can keep thinking that if it blows his skirt up and makes him feel better. It’s nothing new. When he was finished with his vocational training in the military, he engineered a way to get himself out of the service—not even serving a portion of his commitment. In the case of our divorce, he simply recycled a time tested tactic that had worked for him in the past—but this time it was not to desert the military, but a way to abandon his legal commitments and marriage to me. Abandonment … desertion … it’s simply a matter of semantics.

What remains is that he’s nothing more than a cowardly runaway. A run, run, run, run … runaway who will never be sorry for anything.