Divorce Trial by Combat?

Posted on May 29, 2020 by Katie Carter

I read an article the other day where, believe it or not, there was a divorce case where a husband challenged the wife (or, really, the wife’s lawyer) to trial by combat.  (If you don’t believe me, click that hyperlink for the article on it!)

Now, I’ve seen a lot of things, but trial by combat is a new one.

As you can probably imagine, the pleadings he filed with the court (yes, he literally asked a judge to allow this!) didn’t sound crazy at all. (In case you don’t know me, or am having any trouble interpreting my tone, this is definitely sarcasm.)

For context, he apparently asked a court in Iowa to grant his motion for a trial by combat (using Japanese swords) “on the field of battle where (he) will rend their souls from their corporal bodies.” (Crazy — right?) It goes on and on, but, the gist is that the husband here believed that his wife and his wife’s lawyer (in his own words) destroyed him legally. For his part, the wife’s lawyer filed a response, asking that the court not allow this — and also asked that the husband’s visitation rights be suspended and a court ordered psychological evaluation be ordered.

Obviously. Feel free to read an entire article on this case by clicking here. It’s definitely worth a read!

In fact, crazy behavior like this is one of the chief things that I see clients doing (that they often don’t even realize they’re doing!) that can seriously jeopardize the outcome of their cases. While I’ve never met a client who believes that trial by combat is the obvious solution (thank goodness for that, at least!), I have seen my fair share of irrational behavior.

I say irrational, rather than crazy, because, in many cases, i can see where the reaction is coming from. After years in a bad relationship — sometimes even an abusive one — it’s hard to think logically. It’s hard to put aside your feelings, too. And, after being in a relationship that has shaken your foundations, it’s hard to even know what is and isn’t reasonable.

That’s part of the reason why an open, honest relationship with a lawyer you trust is so important. Not only can your lawyer help you with the legal aspects of the case (what your rights and entitlements are, what a reasonable settlement might look like, what a judge might order, providing a summary of pertinent issues in the law that might affect your case, etc), but she can also help provide some clarity of thought.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve logged onto Facebook to see a divorcing friend making really poor decisions. And, while I get it, I cringe thinking about what might happen if that picture or that status update makes it into a court case. If I were that friend’s lawyer, I’d tell them to monitor what they put on Facebook, and, in general, how they behave and express themselves in general.

Good advice? I’ll give you some.

ALWAYS behave like there’s a private investigator following you. It’s not just a matter of what you put on social media for the whole world to see (although, of course, social media is a concern — for more information about how to behave online during a divorce or custody case, click here), it’s also how you’re acting in your circle of friends or just out in public.

Is a private investigator following you? Probably not, although I’ve seen it happen!

It’s a matter of the choices you make, both during your case (like this guy, asking a judge to allow trial by combat) and outside of it.

Divorce and custody cases are a big deal. They often involve tens, or hundreds, or even, sometimes, millions of dollars worth of hard earned assets. They involve your children. They involve your own mental well being, too. All important things worthy of safeguarding!

Keep in mind your role here, and do what you can to pave the way to a successful, productive case. Not sure where to start? Talking with a lawyer is always a good idea, but it’s also wise to get a handle on the law in Virginia, so you go in with a healthy dose of perspective. (I think if I had to put it in one word, perspective is what the trial by combat guy was missing.) Request a free copy of one of our free books today  to get started.