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									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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