A friend in need (of a hitman?)

A rare bit of seriousness: a friend is in a bit of a fix and I thought I’d ask for advice – apparently my “hire a hitman!” suggestion isn’t very helpful.

John (not his real name) married young and against the advice of pretty much everyone he knew. Before long the marriage was on the rocks, and his wife was seeing other people behind his back. Eventually she kicked him out, kept the kids and left him to pay off their (considerable) joint debts. It nearly ruined him.

Fast forward seven or eight years. For the last two years, John has been trying to get a divorce. He’s ready to remarry (his fiancee, who he’s been with for three years, is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet), but obviously he can’t until the divorce is through. The problem is that every time it looks like things will finally be sorted out, his ex deliberately throws a spanner in the works.

John was due to go to court next week, and the hearing’s still scheduled. Unfortunately, his ex’s lawyer has resigned out of utter frustration, and the result will be that neither John’s ex or a legal representative will be there at the hearing. According to John’s lawyer, that doesn’t mean he’ll get any kind of judgement – because there’s a risk (from the Sheriff’s perspective) that John might have intimidated his ex and forced her not to appear, the best he can expect is for a new date to be set, probably in the new year.

John’s been here before. Here’s the pattern:

  • John’s ex hires a lawyer, explaining that John owes her thousands of pounds and demanding that she gets it in a divorce settlement.
  • The lawyer schedules a hearing and contacts John’s lawyer for the relevant financial details.
  • John’s lawyer provides the details, which show that John’s ex – to use a legal term – is entitled to fuck-all.
  • The lawyer explains this to John’s ex, who storms out and then ignores every further communication until her lawyer quits. The hearing goes ahead and because neither John’s ex or her lawyer are present, the sheriff schedules another hearing.

Ad infinitum.

I genuinely don’t understand this, because I was under the impression that in Scots law you can still force a divorce through even if one party has buggered off. John’s lawyer says that’s not the case, perhaps because there are kids (11 and 9, or thereabouts) involved, which makes things more complicated.

I do understand the need to protect vulnerable women, but in this situation John’s the victim – he’s paying lawyers for every stage of this farce, while his ex gets legal aid, doesn’t suffer financially and seems determined to stretch the sorry situation out for as long as possible. It’s entirely malicious, because John pays considerably more maintenance than the CSA would mandate and she has absolutely no interest in him beyond doing her damndest to ruin his life. And it’s working.

I know it’s a long shot, but do any of you know people who’ve been in similar situations? Is there anything, other than hiring a hitman, that John can do?