Let Them Eat Paper

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Divorce case recently appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, sent back for more fact-finding on this question: were the parties even married? The Court of Appeals’ reasoning infuriates me.

When you fled to Thailand in 1975 to escape the Communists after the Americans abandoned Southeast Asia, and you got “married” to this guy that you met in a refugee camp, did you file a marriage certificate with the Thailand government? No? Well, then, the fact you’ve lived together for 40 years, had six kids together, filed married tax returns and owned real estate in Minnesota is interesting trivia but really, lady, if you can’t be bothered to fill out the proper forms, we have no sympathy for you at all. Shacking up with a guy – even with the tribal elders’ blessing – doesn’t give you the privilege to use the Minnesota divorce court. You can’t get divorced if you were never legally married.

Dude. It’s a refugee camp. There IS no government. And if there were, you’d be a fool to bring attention to yourself. No self-respecting government would issue a marriage certificate without a birth certificate, proof of residency, passport stamps showing legal entry, resident alien visa and payment of appropriate fees to every bureaucrat . . . none of which is possible in a war zone. You couldn’t get “legally” married even if you wanted to. It’s a REFUGEE camp.

Oh, and your husband claims you were already married to another guy when he married you. Well, yes, the guy who stayed behind to cover our escape. No, I don’t have a death certificate but I strongly suspect he was captured by the Pathet Lao so what do you think happened to him? No, I didn’t serve him with a Divorce Summons; there was nobody crazy enough to go back to serve it so I could get divorced while I was struggling to survive IN THE REFUGEE CAMP.

It’s as if these judges lived all their lives in safe, comfortable First World suburbs where the biggest disruption in life is weak Wi-Fi signal; they literally cannot conceive of a place where there are no forms to complete, no pens to complete them, no office to file them in.


Joe Doakes

What happened to official Minnesota’s vaunted “cultural sensitivity?”

4 thoughts on “Let Them Eat Paper

  1. No paperwork would have been required if plaintiff had disclosed their newfound gayness.

  2. Does the wife have a drivers’ license? I know that Minnesota can be crazy picky about issuing drivers licenses to women who have changed their name since they were girls, even women who have previously had a Minnesota drivers’ license. I had a friend who had a previous MN license, had done the work to earn a German license while there, and was put off on getting a new MN license because they (after all this time) needed an original assertion of marriage license.

    Count me as a result all in favor of recognizing common law marriage. I wouldn’t encourage it, especially for my own children, but isn’t the whole point of government being involved in family law to help people sort things out when things go wrong or otherwise end?

  3. OK, so when my great-great grandfather died during the 1864 Northwest Expedition led by General Sully, his wife (my great-great grandmother obviously) applied for a service related death pension. They had been married by a justice of the peace in the rough & tumble river town of Anoka in 1857. There was no record of their marriage anywhere. They had 3 children together, worked a farm together, etc.

    In order to prove that they were married, the federal government pension rules allowed her to get notarized statements from two upstanding citizens that they knew the couple “to have lived together as husband and wife since the year eighteen hundred and fifty-seven, as aforesaid, and deponents further say in the community that they lived these parties were known and reported to live in the relation as husband and wife…” There was quite a lot of bureaucracy but she eventually did get a pension.

    Not sure why there is not this kind of a rule in the State of MN today.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.