American Injustice Failure of the Court System By Larry Vargas Divorce is not she should go back to coordinated with my uncommon. In this work if only to interact wife’s counsel. I wanted world, things change, with other people (she to be able to resolve couples grow apart. had become rather everything with When the time comes reclusive). She mediation, rather than for two people to go continued to express no going to court. My wife their separate ways, it desire to go back to and her lawyer said the should be an easy legal work, or to make same thing. In order to process as the parties are friends, but chose to stay resolve everything already suffering home. fairly, I had to consider emotional pain. Of my wife’s financial course, there will be Considering the situation. Her mother animosity and household finances, I had died in January of vengefulness, but these was able to pay all the 2003, leaving her and feelings should not be bills related to our living her brother substantial supported and reinforced expenses. We had no property in trust. I by the court system. children, so the costs needed information When this happens, the were only for 2 adults regarding the estate and pendulum of justice living well within their the trust, in order to swings far out of means. There was no assess what would be a balance. This is what outstanding debt other fair financial settlement. happened to me. than the mortgage. When we separated, I My attempts to get that My eighteen-year divided equally the cash information from my marriage came to an in the joint accounts. wife proved to be far end. The reasons are not (She has more than more difficult than so important, but suffice $100,000 of personal anticipated. In fact, her it to say that we simply funds inherited from her first lawyer quit, grew apart. After years father). I moved out in because she was so of living like roommates April of 2003 and frustrated with my wife's rather than husband and continued to give money refusal to cooperate and wife, I filed for divorce to my wife to maintain provide the information. in May 2003 citing the household while also We tried to contact (and irretrievable breakdown. maintaining an then subpoena) my I wanted to be fair about apartment for myself. wife’s brother and the the divorce with respect estate attorneys, but both to marital property. My In preparation for the refused to answer their wife had not worked for divorce, I filed all of the phones and ducked our the last 10 years. Over necessary paperwork, subpoena. the last few years, I had and my lawyer worked After several motions suggested that maybe to get everything filed in court by my lawyer, we were finally done. The vocational plans taking her out of able to obtain the said examiner, had to be the country. It was now information at the very accepted by both parties. December 2003, and she last minute. My wife's This took some time, as hadn’t anticipated that after tax-half share of LaBuda took objection things would take so the estate (three to nearly every long. The normal course Southern California vocational expert put of events would have fourplexes) was worth in forth. Finally one was had everything done by the neighborhood of agreed upon. As the September, but delays $770,000. time for the assessment prevented timely Those properties, based neared, things changed. resolution. The delays on the estates 2002 and Since the expert was in were due to my wife and 2003 tax returns, Denver, my wife (who her lawyer’s tactics, the generated a net income was still not working) failure of the trust to of about $95,000. My did not want to drive provide the needed wife’s share of that from our home near information in a timely would be $47,500. This Boulder, to Denver. manner, my wife’s income, along with any Instead, she wanted that refusal to go to other income she could he come to her. I was mediation any sooner make by returning to already paying for the than necessary, and work, would have evaluation, and the extra other stalling ploys. bearing on how much, if travel costs charged by any, maintenance should the evaluator for coming We finally met for be paid. to Boulder, would be an mediation in February. additional cost to me. I As expected, my wife By now, my wife had suggested to my wife and her lawyer had no retained a new attorney, and her counsel, that intention to negotiate. Judy Labuda, notorious perhaps she should pay Instead they made for overstating the that portion. That unreasonable demands obvious and being suggestion was promptly and refused to difficult to deal with. dismissed. compromise. The value She took what should Consequently, we ended of the marital home in have been a simple up with each of us Niwot, was one point of divorce into the “trial of supplying an evaluation contention. The home the century”. This was provided by our own was purchased in July quite an unfortunate turn expert witnesses. 2000 for $368,000. By of events for me in my 2004, it could be sold efforts to make a fair Next, came the subject for at least $415,000. settlement. of mediation. Again, the The mortgage on the mediator had to be home is for about In order to determine agreed upon…no small $205,000. Other homes how much my wife feat. A mediator was in the neighborhood, could potentially earn in finally chosen. By this built by the same the workplace, it was time, my lawyer had to builder, were selling in a necessary to have a excuse herself from my range between $410,000 vocational assessment case, as she had other and $435,000. I had a local realtor give a plans to go to court in taxes, because she market analysis of March. hadn’t had a chance to $445,000. Another check the document by realtor quoted me During the month of speaking with someone $425,000 (the home is in January, I had been from my company a high priced market.) informed that my job regarding the transfer, My wife found a realtor position was being monetary data, etc. (I who stated that the home transferred overseas. I know for a fact she was worth no more than would be assigned either made no attempt to $390,000…far below to Sweden or Finland. contact anyone in the the known market value. The complete transfer Finland office). The information was not yet judge, Morris Sandstead, The “offer” proposed by available, but I knew agreed with that my wife and LaBuda, that the comparable job objection and disallowed was the following: position in Europe the evidence presented. 1. Buy me out of represented a cut in pay, Sandstead seemed to the house for due to differences in pay have already made his $50,000 scales. I also knew that decision, as he tended to 2. I keep the 401K the European tax rate support LaBuda’s from my work and the cost of living is objections throughout 3. She keeps the far higher than in the the trial and beyond. remainder of the U.S. impacting my marital funds ability to pay any During the lunch break, (interest earned maintenance. I was able to contact on CD’s, a someone from the retirement The court date arrived. company office in annuity, etc.) My lawyer and I had Finland. Although it was 4. I pay her $3000 a expected the trial to last 9-hour time difference, month…forever, only one day, however, they were willing to with the amount true to form…Ms. testify by phone. After modifiable on an LaBuda came equipped lunch, my lawyer told annual basis. with about 79 multi page the judge he had 5. I carry a life exhibits (likely to someone from Finland insurance policy overwhelm the judge willing to testify on the on myself so that with reading). From the evidence we submitted should I die, she start, she was on the surrounding my would be attack. I had been impending job transfer. guaranteed the informed a few days Both the judge and income stream. before the trial that the opposing counsel had (bear in mind, job transfer decision was wanted a witness and we there are no complete…that I would offered one. children) be working in Finland. Immediately, LaBuda LaBuda objected to my objected, stating that Obviously, I did not evidence of the draft experts needed to be agree to such outrageous contract, and to the named prior to the trial, demands. So we made amount of estimated and that this was trial by ambush. She obviously That night, I was in opportunities to reduce had no desire to hear the contact again with the your tax burden. true facts, and neither Finland office. I was did Sandstead as he told that the contract for Well, Sandstead agreed supported her objection. the job transfer was he would prefer to see finalized, and an an actual pay stub, but I The rest of the day fared officially signed contract would not get a pay stub no better. As you recall, was being faxed to me, from Finland until the the tax returns for the along with the salary end of June…more than estate showed net figures (as calculated by 3 months away. So, the income of $95,000. the office controller). judge decided to grant However, the estate the divorce, but deferred attorney and CPA The next morning, my the property and testified that all my wife lawyer attempted to maintenance settlement could expect to receive present this new until sometime in May from the trust was evidence in court. Of to allow LaBuda time to $22,000 a year, her half course, LaBuda find her “expert”. In the of the $44,000 the strenuously objected. meantime, I was to properties could expect She said that such continue paying my wife to net! Of course, my information could not be $2600 a month. This lawyer questioned where entered into court was the amount I had the other $50,000 went. without her having the been voluntarily giving They contended that opportunity to find since moving out. It was there were many someone who could not “court-ordered” deferred repairs and that “dispute” or advise her maintenance. But he my wife’s brother was on Finnish taxes, and stated I should continue entitled to a $50,000 laws. She said it was to pay until he rendered trustee fee. My own difficult to find someone his final decision. property expert, who I in Boulder who could do had to hire at my own so. Duh! Who would Evidently, he believed expense, estimated that know better Finnish tax my wife’s “crocodile while the net income laws, than the Finland tears” and her attorney’s was $95,000 the last 2 tax authority. We had calculated twisting of years, the properties presented the data from words, to come to the could easily net more the tax authority, and conclusion my wife was than $120,000 a year if also provided the in need of funds. the rents were raised to internet address for the market rates. tax authority online The truth of the matter is calculator. This that she has plenty of By the end of the day, calculator computes the money. I already we were nowhere near taxes based on the input. mentioned the more than done with the trial, and There is no “fudging” or $100,000 cash she has had to continue the deductions as there is in her personal accounts. following day. All this with the U.S. system, We proved many for what should be a the tax is what it is. examples of obvious simple divorce case! There are little, if any, collusion between her and her brother to not equity and maybe work as a hotel dispense funds from the should quit claim receptionist. This for a trust in order to show the home woman who used to monetary need. For immediately. work as a department example, when her first 2. I was to retain secretary for such lawyer suggested she the 401K. companies as Hughes hire an attorney in 3. The furnishings Aircraft, and Beckman California to manage her in the household Instruments? My share of the trust, my were deemed “of vocational expert wife refused to do so. insignificant testified that with some Any other person would value” and short retraining, she be on the next plane to therefore all could earn $25,000 to Los Angeles to see given to my ex- $35,000 a year. The about their money. In wife (the judge also seemed to 2003 the rental furnishings were accept her monthly properties generated estimated to be expense needs (in excess $95,000 net and she has worth between of $5000 a month). I had made no attempt to $6000-$7000 by been giving her $2600 receive any of those both myself and because I carefully kept funds for an entire year my wife.) track of all finances on and a half. Her mother’s 4. I was to pay my the computer with condo in Orange County wife $2600 a Quicken. I knew, based could be sold or rented month until the on Quicken reports, that out. Instead, they end of the year, it required $2400 a deliberately let it sit then $2000 a month to run the Niwot vacant for more than a month for the home. This includes: year. Does this seem to next 8 years. mortgage, utilities, be the behavior of 5. I was to obtain a gardener, groceries, etc. someone who claims to life insurance Of course, she had to be in financial straits? policy on myself estimate and account for so that should I other costs such as In May, Sandstead die, my ex-wife clothes purchases, finally came back with a would be restaurant meals, etc. but decision. He decided to guaranteed the $5000 a month? There simply quote LaBuda, revenue stream. are families with kids word for word. His who spend less than decision? She is to Sandstead’s decision, that. receive 2/3 of the showed that he believed marital assets and the “tall-tale” about the The reasonable expenses burdens me with rental property income I claimed were based on oppressive maintenance. potential being $50,000 costs associated with 1. My wife was a year less than the living in Finland, where awarded the previous 2 years. It the cost of living is entire house. I showed he believed their much higher. Groceries was to receive no vocational expert who are much higher in share of the stated my ex-wife could Finland than in Colorado. And of course as no Quit-claim of Now that Sandstead has gasoline is more than $4 home until appeal is chosen to stand firm on a gallon. Due to my over). We also his decision, I have to reduced salary and tax submitted my pay stubs hope an appeals court differences, my net pay from Finland. Here at will rectify the situation. is now $2200 a month last, was the factual less then when I was evidence attesting to the In the meantime, I am living in Colorado. It true net pay I could paying money to my ex- seems that Sandstead expect each month. wife, but it’s only what I doesn’t know how to can afford to pay out of add or subtract. After Naturally, LaBuda filed my monthly salary. It is subtracting my monthly her obligatory not the amount ordered expenses from my objectional responses to by the judge for salary, I am left with these motions. She also maintenance. Because it $900. How am I conveniently drafted is not the required supposed to pay $2600 a judicial orders to amount, I now face month, let alone $2000? support her responses contempt charges. I had How am I supposed to and deny all of my asked my lawyer that if I live? The judge and motions. Well, had to quit-claim the LaBuda seem to think Sandstead must be far home to my ex-wife, I it’s all right for me to too busy to take the wanted written live in some small time necessary to guarantee showing she apartment while my ex- properly oversee a case had assumed the loan wife lives alone in a 4 as he blindly signed all and removed me from bedroom house. How of the draft judicial any financial can I pay off my debt, orders, penned by responsibility for the and save toward a LaBuda. He steadfastly house. I said I would residence of my own? refused to review any sign the quit-claim once Apparently, I am not motion, he didn’t I received proof of entitled to live my life, express any desire to see assumption of debt. while she is free to my actual pay stub Well, I didn’t receive enjoy the standard of showing the true pay I any, and, in my absence, living on a permanent was receiving. He Sandstead ordered the vacation as she has been refused to reassess the court clerk to sign the for 10 years, I haven’t maintenance award, etc. quit-claim in my name!! worked so hard for 18 From the outside How can he just do that? years just so I could looking in, anyone My lawyer has filed continue to fund her life. would wonder has this motions with the court world gone crazy? asking Sandstead to Naturally, my lawyer Where is the justice? If I rescind the quit-claim and I regrouped and am forced to pay $2600 order or force my ex- tried to find a way to a month, I won’t be able wife to remove me from amend this injustice. We to even afford an financial responsibility filed motions to delay apartment. Where am I for the marital home. certain aspects of the supposed to live? LaBuda of course, judge’s decision (such objected saying it isn’t fair to expect my wife to but I’m not getting my was awarded. Well do so, since she can’t hopes up as he seems to LaBuda is trying to get qualify for the loan and have a personal grudge at it to pay the we should have against me. To date, no maintenance, and requested such action response has been Sandstead has once from the beginning. We received. again signed orders would have had I known In the meantime, as I allowing her to file that Sandstead’s stated I am only paying orders to freeze the decision would be so what maintenance I can assets. confiscatory. As I afford to pay. LaBuda mentioned, he granted and my ex-wife seem to I have been trying to get the divorce in March, continue to use the court my life on track again, but didn’t do the as their own personal but it is difficult with property settlement until weapon of revenge. such uncertainty. It’s not May. LaBuda never did LaBuda has continued to easy to start life over in produce her “so-called” harass me at my place of another country, where I expert on Finnish taxes. business in Finland. She don’t yet understand the And if you look at has no concept of language or the culture. Sandstead’s ruling it confidentiality and has Now this life transition reads almost word for stated she has no is being complicated word like LaBuda’s intention of keeping my further by a court system offer presented at privacy intact. She has that has failed to mediation. also gone after my represent justice, and Well we are still waiting 401K. Now Sandstead equality. to hear from Sandstead had given me the 401K. on these new motions, It was the only thing I UPDATE I lost my appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals. LaBuda has been trying to get me to face contempt charges and be thrown in jail for failure to comply with Sandstead’s ruling. I managed to extricate my 401K funds, though I lost some of that as penalty for early withdrawl and taxes. I have spent more than $100,000 dollars trying to fight this. I made one last attempt to ask for a maintenance reduction. However, LaBuda made this difficult and was demanding that I pay all of the back-maintenance and spend an appropriate amount of time in jail. I tried to appeal and reason with my ex-wife. I said I would pay the back-maintenance if it all stops there. She refused to negotiate. In fact, she is funding all of her legal costs with her estate income ($42K a year based on her tax return). This is the money she claimed she didn’t have when we went to trial in the beginning. After conferring with my lawyer, I decided it was useless to continue hemorraging financially and opted to stay out of the county. It is shameful that I am forced to live overseas to escape the injustices of the American court system.
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