Comments

2

What kind of leverage does one get in a divorce? Maybe some of the details are changed here, because ultimately it sounds like the soon-to-be ex-wife is alleging a kind of assault (I'm reminded of Jeri Ryan's claims that her governor-husband forced her to attend sex parties). I think, as a primary witness, you kind of have an obligation to speak up when asked - you aren't secondhand.

Keep in mind, you don't need to allege that the ex-wife is lying, per se, but you can communicate that she was an active and enthusiastic participant and you had no reason to believe that anything you did wasn't 100% consensual. If the wife hated it or not, at the end of the day we have to take people at their word and if they say they're willing and the act willing, then they float like a duck and can't be burned at the stake.

3

If LAWS is local to the soon-to-be-ex husband, he can subpoena her AND her phone. If he has a lawyer, he should know that. But it is far preferable to get someone to come and speak voluntarily. @1 has a good point, though. It could result in her folding once HER lawyer sees the evidence.

4

What is your obligation here LW? To be a decent human being and help this man keep access to his children.

5

Excellent advice, and I really hope LAWS and her husband jointly agree to make a statement.

I second the recommendation to speak with a lawyer, who can negotiate with the parties’ counsel and directly seek a court order to file their declaration under seal. While obtaining a lawyer could run two or three thousand if they are deposed, a good lawyer may be able to quickly dissuade the divorcing wife to drop a meritless allegation, without their ever having to make any formal statement. Their lawyer could also work to limit the scope of discovery the divorcing wife’s lawyer could obtain from LAWS and her husband.

The divorcing wife did not count on her husband being able to contact any of their former play partners, and she will be loath to have LAWS provide a statement that could undermine her credibility as to other contested issues. LAWS would be in particularly good position if she or her husband retained any of the texts or photos the divorcing wife sent.

There are no guarantees here, but LAWS has a very compelling story to tell, and it will not be one that the divorcing wife will be eager to have heard in her divorce proceeding.

6

Bummer dude!! Hell, people don't want to be a part of their own relationship drama, let alone someone else's. That said, yeah, Dan's golden rule is pretty applicable here. It just sucks. Good luck!!

7

Stay out of it. You say that you only played a couple of times and didn't know them well.

Most marriages/divorces aren't a "Sleeping with the Enemy" case with an obvious bad guy and victim. They may both be telling their truths with the objective truth is a sliver of overlap in that sad Venn diagram. You're simply not privy to that.

8

This is good advice from, Dan. It's worth reiterating, that LAWS doubts about what else might have gone on in their relationship are not a reason to not make the statement. He's spot on when he says that LAWS will be asked only for a factual account of what she witnessed. Asking a witness to speculate or draw conclusions is some basic Perry Mason "Objections" stuff, and it shouldn't be a concern to her.

9

Talk to your husband - did he receive a text too with the same story? Get a lawyer. Wait until this man's lawyer contacts your lawyer and proceed from there. Don't do anything until then and don't volunteer any pictures or texts if you saved them.

If you get deposed, you can't speak to her motivations, only her actions and what she said to you directly, and about text messages that you were led to believe she was sending. For all you know, she didn't want an open relationship, was indeed pressured into it, wasn't happy about the situation. So she consented and had a good time, even though she'd rather not have been ding it at all.

I don't understand how "he could lose everything". Are you implying that the wife will take the children to another country and he'll never see them again? Unlikely.

10

I'm not a lawyer just to be clear. I work in a law firm and see many of the family law cases that come through the firm. (Also not in the USA) ... People go to terrible lengths to punish each other when relationships break up, children often bare the brunt of that. Also we see abuse cases that are just heartbreaking and scary. Dan's advice is spot on I think. Definitely talk to a lawyer yourself about your privacy. Give your statement, it is in this case important to do so. If you still have the texts that will be even better. I assume they can as they are here be used as evidence. It's then up to the lawyers to argue what it all means and for judges to make the decision.

11

@9 i'm glad you or your friends have never had to travel these contentious roads.

there are still many states where the default primary custody parent is mom. most of the others are left to the court to determine the split, and there's a bias to place with the mom. a 50/50 split is only assumed as the starting point in negotiations in a very few states. the laws are incredibly varied and different state to state on divorce and privacy.

in contentious divorces, it's actually quite easy for a parent to be screwed with false charges. very expensive and stressful process. LW is a good person for considering these possible effects of her decision. Dan is right - no better money spent than a good lawyer

12

@2, "at the end of the day we have to take people at their word and if they say they're willing and the act willing, then they float like a duck and can't be burned at the stake."

She turned me into a newt!

13

doing the deposition seems the right advice if there's a fine otherwise, but why spend the travel and time to be involved in a situation where you're helping lawyers decide who the lesser narcissist/manipulator is, just because you touched one/both for a few hours (minutes?)? like why not send a note saying "we did stuff but we cannot (will not) speak to the underlying mental state of either party, any more than if we played them at candyland or tennis"?

14

Yet another not-a-lawyer here: I think you should hire one. Your own lawyer, not the one representing the person who contacted you.
Make sure they are familiar with that specific court district procedure and can answer all your questions.

Admittedly a paranoid, I think Dan may have been too reassuring about maintaining your privacy. The wife’s lawyers may try and intimidate you by requesting a court appearance, sensational media could award you unwanted publicity.
Public documents are much easier to obtain nowadays, and you never know who and when may be looking for something about you.

That said, I would probably agree to speak up as I live on my own, the kids have all grown up, and no plans of running for public office any time soon.

15

The fact that you're writing to Dan about this situation tells me that you know what the right thing to do is. Just do it.

16

This is, without a doubt, the worst advice I've ever seen in SL. As a lawyer who does exclusively family law and domestic violence cases, there are several red flags here. You know very little about this couple or their marriage. People ask me all the time, hey, my ex co-worker (or whoever) asked me to write a statement for him to use in his divorce case, should I do it? My advice is always this: unless the person asking you to vouch for them is someone you are extremely close to and can truly vouch for, stay out of it. Here are the red flags I see: 1) saying the woman is threatening to use the open relationship as "leverage" in the divorce case-no, if it's coming up at all it's very likely because she's claiming he's abusive and this was one piece of the abuse. You don't know the whole story and there may be a lot of other evidence of abusive behavior. 2) "I guess she's saying" she wasn't a willing participant-actually, you have no idea what she's saying, you only know what he's saying she saying. Also, even if that is what she's saying, the fact that she appeared willing tells you absolutely nothing about whether there was violence or coercion in their relationship outside of the very narrow view you had. 3) he wants you to make a statement to his lawyer-for all you know, she hasn't even raised this issue and he wants a statement from you to make her look like a slut and to embarrass and shame her. 4) you only met them in person twice and this was years ago. Again, this shows how little you know about either of these people, especially about what has happened recently. 5) he texted you-really? If he's truly in trouble and truly being wronged he should meet with you in person and tell you what's going on and provide some proof to back-up his story, like court documents showing you exactly what his wife is claiming. 6) "she's originally from another country"-oh really? where's she from? Is English her second language? Was she depending on him to get immigration status so she can stay in this country? Do you see how that might give him leverage over her? Any chance she's from Asia and he has a creepy Asian fetish where he overly sexualized her and pushed her to do stuff she wasn't comfortable with? I mean, for all I know, this woman could be from Australia and that's not what's going on here, but that's a fairly common dynamic in DV cases and one I've seen many times. I mean, with all the stuff you don't know, there is no way you should get even remotely involved in this. Your letter made very clear that you didn't want to get involved and I suggest you listen to your gut instincts on that. To say you have an obligation to give a statement here is just so misguided and irresponsible. And to say you should hire your own lawyer to advise you about this? Pay a lawyer for something that is truly not your problem? You know what would be easier and cheaper? Staying completely out of this. Either say no or don't respond. If this dude wants to subpoena you to testify, he probably can, but that's not very common in divorce cases and seems unlikely here. This guy isn't going to "lose everything" because a guy he and his wife swung with twice years ago won't write a statement for him. No. Just no. A thousand times no. Dan, please consider rethinking this.

17

I had a friend who asked me to write a statement for his divorce...basically saying I had never seen him drink to excess or be abusive to his wife or kids. That was true, I never did. What I didn’t know was that after hanging with me he would go home and pound a liter of vodka at 2AM. The truth came out but I felt like an idiot and was/am pissed at him for putting me in that position. Point is, you know nothing about this couple other than a few encounters. I get the “help your fellow man thing” but if you you DO offer a statement, emphasize that. She SEEMED willing those few times, but I really don’t know either of them. & ditto the protect your anonymity if you can sentiments...chances are PROBABLY low that the whole swinging story goes public, but remember Murphy and his Law.

18

I realize I can sometimes be a smartass horsin' around here, Dan, but seriously: Good work. Nice analysis, solid advice.

19

A woman afraid of abuse (physical or emotional) can be a very convincing actress... I hope you stay out of this as you really don’t know these people.

20

What a lot of cynics. All the guy wants is a statement of the truth. Which is that his soon to be ex presented as enthusiastic before and during the swinging. Not any statement of any behaviour past this. I agree with TE @18, good response Dan.

21

Actually, I changed my mind. Or at least, it's 50/50 to me. Who knows what kind of shitshow you could be stepping into?

22

"Maybe a lawyer or two will jump into the comments thread."

Ask, and ye shall receive. I am a lawyer that has worked many family law cases.

Dan is exactly right. You don't need to know the whole story. That's the court's job. The court can only get an accurate picture if they have all the pieces to put together. Your testimony is one of those pieces.

The only testimony from you that is admissible is what you directly witnessed. You will not be required--or even allowed--to speculate about what went on when you weren't present or why someone might have done what they did.

In your shoes, I would decline to "make a statement." I would offer up the texts and photos/videos sent by the wife to the lawyer, understanding that I might be subpoenaed to put them in context by deposition or testimony.

But beware, actual testimony will deflect general assessments like "She seemed enthusiastic." The court will expect that you explain what led to that conclusion. You will likely be asked to give a blow-by-blow (sorry!) account of stage direction and dialogue. So keep in mind, it might dig into some graphic details.

False allegations of abuse are sadly common in divorces.

My personal experience might color my take on this. I swang at my ex's behest. My ex had a cuckold fetish, and I didn't want him to miss an opportunity due to my cold feet.

I felt the need to put on a brave face. My show of enthusiasm convinced the other couple. But underneath my porny acting, I was quite uncomfortable. The unpleasant experience spurred me to call off our engagement.

Although I disliked it, and I regretted it, I was not "coerced." I was just a painfully self-effacing person by nature. I was tempted, for many years, to blame him and hold a grudge. But ultimately, I had to take responsibility for my own actions.

I have no idea what the circumstances are in this case. Nonetheless, I think one should err on the side of disclosure. When all the evidence is out in the open, the picture is clearer. Truth will out, and justice prevail.

23

Once lawyers are involved the reality of the situation isn't as important as how the perception of the situation can be manipulated.

24

I'm worried he's just trying to shame her. He's basically asking for intimate stuff from his wife's sex life that he will then be showing to people she did not consent for it to be shown to.

25

I agree with those who post (interesting thread!) it could be (when isn't it?) more complicated than one knows, but I agree with Dan's advice, and particularly thank @22 XiaoGui17 for the depth of her contribution.

26

The Golden Fucking Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

Scenario 1: Husband and Wife both enjoy swinging. They break up. W falsely accuses H of abuse by forcing her to have sex with others. H risks losing access to the kids. H needs proof that W participated in swinging willingly rather than being coerced. H asks LW to testify that W appeared 100% into it.

What would the GFR say? If I was in H's position, I would most certainly want the LW to make a statement to a lawyer (Dan's advice).

Scenario 2. Husband and Wife both enjoy swinging. H is abusive. W wants out, and wants to keep the kids away from abusive H. H wants to keep control of her and to do so is working on destroying her reputation in court. H is compiling evidence that W is a Slut who engages in sex with strangers.

What would the GFR say? If I was in W's position, I would most certainly want the LW to stay out of this (@16 Terrible advice's advice). I would most certainly not want the LW to send explicit texts and photos of me to my abusive H that I am trying to get away from.

Which scenario is most likely? I have no clue. As @7 Mirea points out, they may even both be true. And there are many other possible scenarios...

The difficulty with the practical application of the GFR is understanding the exact circumstances of a situation, so that we can do unto others as you would have them do unto us in those same circumstances.

The LW does not know the circumstances, only what H said. I would say either stay out of it, or else - and for fairness - also contact the W and ask for her version of the story before making up her mind of what the circumstances actually are.

27

Also: what @27 b07ias said...

28

@7 @13 @16 - you guys are assuming that this woman is being asked to evaluate the motivations and back story of the wife seeking a divorce.

No.

She's not being asked to do anything but give evidence of concrete facts. She can and should do that. No speculation about what was going on behind the scenes, no speculation about the divorcing woman's motives - just, "she texted me this, she sent me these pictures, she never acted in a way which I thought was hesitant or forced." Those are all facts - she can talk about what SHE saw and heard, and how she understood them at the time, but of course can't testify about what the divorcing wife thought, or the back story. She's not being asked to testify about those unknowable things, though.

Yes, she should testify to the facts as she saw them. It's definitely a golden rule situation. "Staying out of it" is impossible here - whether she likes it or not, her actions will affect this divorce, if she testifies or if she refuses to testify. It's better to testify and tell the truth.

29

@26: Scenario 2 is possible. But if they were both participants (and LW can testify to that), the husband is going to come out looking much worse if he tries to smear the wife for what he also did (and she takes the high road). Most judges despise little more in family law than some douchecanoe wasting their time by making a mountain out of a molehill or slinging mud hypocritically.

30

@26 LAWS is not being asked to be a judge or jury. The judge and jury have to be interested in all the possibilities you talk about, but not LAWS.

LAWS is just being asked to testify about some facts. Facts which she knows. What was texted to her, what was said to her, what she thought about that at the time.

She doesn't have to be a detective, judge and jury and investigate all that stuff before deciding whether or not to testify - she just needs to go to court and say what she knows to be true. The judge and jury will listen to her evidence, all the other evidence, and come to a conclusion.

You're making something extremely complicated which is not complicated at all.

31

@26: "H is compiling evidence that W is a Slut who engages in sex with strangers." Except this doesn't fly because they were swingers who were BOTH having sex with other people, and H would be outing himself as a slutty slut just as much as W. Now, H could well be an idiot who doesn't recognize this or less of an idiot and more of a misogynist who is counting on the court to judge his wife but not himself poorly for the same behavior, but I think this both tips the balance toward scenario 1 and means that scenario 2 isn't as damaging as it might otherwise be - and if H IS trying to compile manipulated evidence to only cast W in a bad light, testimony that they both fucked other people would undercut that effort. So in every scenario I see, more information for the court is better for the less-wronged party, whomever that may be, per XiaoGui17's comment.

32

Ecarpenter @28, no, I wasn't assuming LW was being asked or offering to speculate on the couple's motivations. I believe LW wants to do the right thing and help if possible, especially if it helps prevent a terrible injustice.

What I'm saying is there is no way of knowing where justice may lie here. Maybe H is looking for help because he's genuinely afraid of what he could lose and needs someone to corroborate his side. Maybe he's a manipulative snake who's gathering his own leverage for nefarious reasons. LAWS is already speculating ( "this guy could lose everything") and needs to stop. Wanting to help us not enough to get involved if you don't know if you're actually doing harm - even if LAWS sticks to being nothing but factual. They've got no business supplying either party with potential ammo.

33

DonnyKliciousz @17. You were asked whether you had ever seen your friend drink to excess or be abusive to his wife or kids. You'd never seen that, and you said so. That was the right thing to do. Maybe he did so constantly when he wasn't in your presence; you didn't know, you're not expected to know, and you weren't asked.

34

Read the letter again, she clearly doesn't want to get involved here but is still considering doing it. Why? Because this guy has made her feel like if she doesn't help him, he could lose everything. That kind of subtle manipulation is characteristic of an abuser. Abusers are very good at getting people worked-up and aligned with their interests, these are almost always good people who mean well and don't realize they are being manipulated. I promise you, this guy has asked dozens of other people (including other prior swinging partners) to give him statements in his favor. Even if the content of any statement you give is limited, the cumulative effect of all these statements will be to show her that everyone is on his side and no one is on hers. It's an intimidation tactic as well as an attempt to humiliate her by revealing private details of their sex life. Again, there is zero evidence that the writer has seen that the wife has made this an issue! Also, there are still double standards in most family courts in terms of sexuality. Allegations of a racy sex life could absolutely damage her more than they would damage him because a lot of judges out there still believe that a woman who's a slut can't be a good mom. This guy is making the writer feel like the weight of this is on her shoulders, but it truly isn't. She doesn't really know these people. If the only thing the wife is saying is that her husband coerced her into swinging several years ago and nothing has happened since then, that is no where near serious enough to cut-off or even limit the husband's access to the kids. Even in cases where there is irrefutable evidence of severe physical abuse, it is not at all uncommon for the dad to get every-other-weekend with the kids. Do not get sucked into this. You will feel angry at yourself and stupid if you unwittingly help an abuser destroy his wife's reputation in court and you may actually end up hurting the kids.

35

Huh. I don't know if any lawyer has yet to chime in, but I can use my amazing powers of deduction to predict what any lawyer is legally bound to say in this forum:

You cannot, under any circumstances, get legal advice over the internet. You should turn down all legal advice you get over the internet. You should immediately hire a lawyer and actually pay them if you want to get legal advice.

Someone asked here "why would she do this?" The answer: because she can. Because she (and just as likely, her lawyer) knows full well that the political climate, combined with any given judge's asshat judgemental attitude, combined with Good Ol' Christian Values(tm) will almost certainly guarantee that she wins this divorce, and that's all she (and most especially her lawyer) cares about. Maybe her husband was the kind of douchebag to deserve this, but she sounds like the kind of lying asshat that gives divorce and women involved in divorce a bad name, and she ought to be called out on it.

Simultaneously, that same Judge could just consider this to be evidence in her favour (regardless of how consensual she was about the whole affair) and hand her the case anyway, because he can, and Gool Ol Christian Values.

So... yeah. Personally I'd stick this to her (and especially her lawyer). You're probably not even the only witness against her, so add your evidence to the pile, and that will certainly help. And the fact that it's all recorded in your phone, is all the better. I'd do this purely to promote a more sex-positive culture in America, but you can do it for your own reasons.

Like sticking it to her fink lawyer.

36

@27: Here's a another possibility - your first scenario is correct, he's not abusive but she's a terrible shit and she feels she's more entitled to the kids and stuff because she's brimming with priviledge and entitlement and is basically using her resentment, anger, and the court process as battering ram - knowing that there's a very good likelihood that the court system will tend to favor mommy and screw over daddy, because her narrative more neatly fits conventional gender assumptions.

37

Honestly, I'd stay out of it. Even if he's 100% telling you the truth, your testimony means nothing. All she has to say is "once I backed out and he was so angry! He [insert whatever nasty detail you like here] and told me if I ever did that again, he would [insert more nasty things here]. So I'd put a smile on and do the awful, awful things that he asked - and cry so hard after!"

It's not even that far-fetched. Remember that one letter some guy sent to Dan where he was all pissed off at his wife for backing out of the swinger sex he'd arranged, and how awful and not GGG was that?

If she wants to get even nastier and wants to discredit you, it's easy to say that actually she was very visibly uncomfortable during sex with you, you're just the sort of person who doesn't care about that.

On the other hand, if this is something messed up on his end, you have no reason to help him with that. So, your participation is at best sorta-useless, and at worst, harmful. I'd stay out.

38

@Terrible advice: Without any evidence you’re now arguing that the husband is an abuser. You wouldn’t happen to be the divorcing wife’s lawyer. And some of your red flags drift into the bizarre.

In any event, LAWS doesn’t need to guess at what’s being alleged in court, if the pleadings are unsealed, she can be given copies.

@22/XiaoGui17: In the personal experience you related, did you take the lead in setting that experience up, or did you simply go through the motions in a scene set up by your partner, or did this encounter just happen by chance and you seized it however unwillingly. According to LAWS, the divorcing wife appeared to take the lead in sexting and making arrangements for their play dates.

39

Esperan@33 ~ “...you didn't know, you're not expected to know, and you weren't asked...”

Technically true, except in my case I was asked to provide a document which my friend KNEW was a lie. Same could well be true for this LW’s swing partner.

40

The suggestion that the letter writer hire a lawyer to advise her about how best to meddle in the legal affairs of people she barely knows is, frankly, pretty crazy. Most people don't want to spend their time (not to mention their money) talking to a lawyer unless absolutely necessary. Here, she does not have a legal problem. She doesn't even have a non-legal problem. She has a former acquaintance who is trying to involve her in his legal problem. I would describe this as a non-legal non-problem. The guy who clearly does have a legal problem also has a lawyer, so fine. The only way this really becomes her problem (legal or non-legal) is if she follows Dan's advice. The easiest thing in the world to do is not get involved in other peoples' problems. I haven't seen any comments giving actual legal advice (which has a pretty specific meaning) especially since, again, this person doesn't have a legal problem.

41

@37 Exactly.

@ Everyone claiming fake abuse allegations are common, I sincerely hope you never have to experience the horror of being victimized by someone you trusted or the subsequent horror of being called a liar for speaking up about it. Maybe the guy is the victim in this scenario, but I would still err on the side of not getting involved for all the reasons Traffic Spiral said.

42

DonnyKlicious @39. I really don't understand why you say your statement was a lie. Did you ever see your friend drink to excess or be abusive to his wife or kids? No? Then you said so, and you told the truth.

Whether or not your answer means that your friend never ever did this is a matter for the judge to decide. Everybody knows you don't see your friend 24 hours a day; you also weren't asked that question. Say what you do know; let the judge do his job and decide what to deduce from your evidence.

43

@40, terrible advice, which is what you are giving. Yes, easiest thing in the world is to not get involved in other people's problems. Turn a blind eye to it all and just worry about oneself.
Do the guy a favour LW and give him the statement he's asking for.

44

@40: "The easiest thing in the world to do is not get involved in other peoples' problems."

Agreed. This is why, if I see a man helping an obviously drunk woman out of a bar, I assume that they're partners and don't butt in. Life is much easier when you don't involve yourself with other people's problems.

45

@42. Because the husband knew he was a lush. He obtained donkeylious’s affidavit for the purpose of supporting a lie. Donkey didn’t lie, but that doesn’t mean his friend didn’t use Donkey to mislead.

46

OMG, DO NOT get involved. Jesus, it is like people here have never been through a messy divorce. I have. One of my ex's delightful "friends," accused me of being border-line. The basis of her oh so educated opinion? She worked as a secretary in for a psychologist. All she knew about me was what my ex said. Had she inserted her nose into our actual divorce proceedings, oh my. And, no, not borderline. My ex liked to tell stories.

Of course, this doesn't mean that this husband "likes" to tell stories. But, most people go off the deep end during divorce, even the most rational people. This LW doesn't KNOW these people. She doesn't know who is sane and who isn't. She crossed their paths YEARS ago. Even all those years ago, it sounds like LW had limited involvement with these people. So why did this guy text LW as versus any of the more current players? And what happens if she gives an affidavit? What can she really say? Just the facts? What are the facts? Yeah, we had sex and swung. She seemed into it. But SEEMED is the operative word, and her information is well out of date. LW cannot judge who is telling the truth, why she is being sucked in, and YES, this could have serious negative results on her. In my state, divorces are tried to a jury. Does this drag in LW's husband? Will she have to testify? What does the husband expect?

This isn't a clear case. And don't waggle fingers saying, "good people standing beside." Bushwalla. I've been the one who has called the cops when my downstairs neighbor beat his wife. I've been the one who's stepped forward after accidents to be the eye witness. But this isn't "intervening" in a clear cut case of abuse. This is a stranger texting her to invite her into the La Brea Tar Pits. She has NO idea what she is walking into. She has NO idea what is going on. And giving "just the facts," isn't as simple as it appears. See Donkey's story. He GAVE the facts, which enabled his friend to use his truthful statement to support a falsehood.

If LW can do some independent digging, see what is going on, talk to third parties who know these people who are in the lifestyle, maybe she can do this. But it would take a lot of legwork on her part, to at least understand the landscape before she decides to take the trip. Otherwise, LW is merely proving the cliche - a fool rushing to where angels fear to tread.

47

Projection Projection.
LW, if you suspect fowl play from this guy it's easy to test his motivation. Reach out to the woman telling her he has asked you to do this and why would that be? If she's playing some nasty hand she'll know he maybe has you up his sleeve, see her game won't win and pull out of using the swinging as some tool to get full custody.
If he is playing a nasty hand, then she will let you know, if her position is innocent.

48

It is interesting to see all the projections this letter has brought forth. I think it's worthwhile to defend my "stay the fuck out of it" position.

If my divorce had been contentious, my ex could have enlisted a number of friends to state with all honesty that I was unstable, crazy, whatever. To people who knew us intimately and casually, I was uptight, anxious, angry, just not ok. None of them knew how bad things were behind closed doors. No one knew this charming, likable man was capable of the damage he inflicted. Any of them could have said, with honesty, he's cool, she's nuts.

I'm fortunate. We agreed to mediation. I wanted nothing but his absence. Our kids were older. If he'd fought for custody or whatever and tapped our friends to make statements on his behalf, he'd have won. And it would have been a grave injustice. No one knew. No one could have. Sometimes I wish I had fought harder and had to struggle less but I had no one to back me up.

This is where I'm coming from. Friends who might have thought they were supporting a friend would have been unwittingly validating years-long abuse. I don't know if that's the case here but neither does LAWS and that, in my mind, is the gravest reason to stay the fuck out.

49

@28 "she never acted in a way which I thought was hesitant or forced" - this is the nonsense lawyers love, and is a value judgement from someone who doesn't know them at all, not their personalities, ticks, cues, peeves etc, not the power dynamics of the relationship, just what they look like naked and perhaps how they taste, but the lawyer--paid to bullshit--is going to make like intimate relations = intimacy. the only concrete fact here that is divorce can make people into their worst selves, and the lw should stay away if they can help it.

50

Let us not forget our own dear LavaGirl has repeatedly told the LW, in no uncertain terms, to make a statement.

That is the clearest possible proof that LW should not make a statement.

51

Why is that tensor, and my opinion coincides with Dan's.. so what's your point buddy?
Just countering what some mean and scared people are saying on this thread. Trickle down effect from your dictator in chief I suspect.

52

As I've mentioned here before, I've been involved in a custody battle in which one guardian was dishonest and manipulative. That person did turn her accusations on everyone who opposed her and even those who attempted just to clarify situations honestly. Dan mentions public records, but a scheming and manipulative person can do more than that. In our case, this person spread rumors mixed with half truths - she put out a ton of energy to do that, personally, within the family, in our city, in our various jobs, etc. In the end, she was the one that came across looking like she was- manipulative, scheming, dishonest. But in the process, loads of personal things were revealed that we'd have rather kept private and as they were mixed with accusations that were very nasty and harmful, we found ourselves in the extremely unpleasant situation of having to clarify the truth about private things in order to defend ourselves against terrible things.

In short, as with the advice I gave to the person considering seeking custody of an adolescent in their extended family, I'll say that in a perfect world, we'd all be altruistic with no harm done as a result. In the very shitty real world we inhabit, I only advise getting involved in other people's public legal affairs when either you have no consequences from doing so or else you dearly love the person for whose sake you are involving yourself. It's nice to say you have a moral responsibility to provide witness testimony for others' custody battles, but I wonder how much you can live your life that way. You have a moral responsibility to other humans in all sorts of ways. Someone is dying right now from lack of health care or because they need an organ. Can you go out to dinner and a movie when you could be paying their bills and giving your kidney? You have a neighbor that can't pay their mortgage. Your kids are at school with kids whose parents can't afford childcare or who will go hungry tonight. Etc etc etc. Where we apply the golden rule varies depending on value systems and life circumstances.

Should the LW offer a witness statement? That doesn't depend on the golden rule any more than if the LW should offer his kidney to someone in need. In both cases, it depends on what harm the action could do to the LW's life, what harm the inaction could do to the other person's life, the balance between the two, and how much the LW's feelings for the other person and current life circumstances affects his feelings about that balance. It's not about the golden rule or Christianity- that two paragraph diversion sounded like Dan grinding an axe.

53

You don't know these people, you have nothing to do with their divorce battle, you have no idea who the "bad guy" is, so it's not clear how to apply the "do unto others" rule here: who are you supposed to help? Stay out of it.

54

Projection. Perhaps. Or perhaps I am advising the LW from lived experience. All LAWS can be sure is that she is walking into a landmine field. How do we know? Well if the husband is telling the truth, this divorce battle is already messy. If he’s lying, same answer - the divorce battle is about to get messy. What I am projecting is the knowledge that divorces are often very ugly and bystanders get smeared.

@53 and @ 49 are dead right. LW doesn’t really know ANYTHING. She knew these people from years ago and played with them a few times.

55

@47 And Lava, god no, don’t reach out to the ex wife. Hooo boy. Boom!!!! I think your heart is in the right place.

56

Omg, Donny. For some reason I always read tour name as Donkey. I apologize.

57

Gee thanks DarkHorse, glad to hear you think my heart's in the right place. And why can't the LW reach out to the wife, if she fears like a lot of you here seem to be telling her she should, that she's being used by the husband to plot against his wife. You can all tell what a nasty person he really is because you are all clairvoyant? Just a simple statement of truth, that's all he's asking for and so many of you have made it so complicated, and shown so little generosity.

58

@51 @57 LavaGirl
I want to please join the LavaGirl Fan Club. Seriously.

59

@51: Because your unsolicited advice in these threads has always been (at best) competely worthless.

I hope LW has gotten better advice than Dan gave. For all of Dan’s huffing and puffing about the golden rule, would he invite trouble upon his family at the request of some guy he’d banged a couple of times? Of course not.

Thanks to commenters Terrible Advice, Dark Horse Rising, and not-a-Donkey ;-) for pointing out why LW should ignore all communications from these former players.

60

Wow, how tricky. Either way seems like you'd be damning someone, and you don't know them well enough to know which of those someones is lying. I'd talk to my own lawyer first before doing anything else.

61

Gee thanks lava for being a jerk. See what happens when you try and treat strangers with kindness? Exhibit A for why LAWS shouldn’t reach out blind to an unknown person and throw a goddamn bomb. Tell me Lava, if the husband is telling the truth what exactly do you think will happen if she calls the wife? You think she will tell the truth? You think she will up the ante on her husband? If the wife denies it? Do you believe her or not? I mean who’s lying.

And l “ungenerous.” Cute. I’d say you are being very cavalier with LAWS and HER life. Getting involved as witness in a disputed custody divorce case is not pretty. On top of it, LAWS doesn’t know anything.

But go ahead, Lava, shoot from the hip, don’t think consequences through, just roll in like a bull in a china shop. And don’t be shocked when it all blows up around you. Jees.

62

Btw, this was now 14 years go, and honestly i had mostly forgotten it, but my ex tried to weaponize the swinging we did as a couple against me. We didnt have kids (thank goodness). He made sure to out me to my family. He also tried to blow up my dating relationship with my now husband. Luckily, i had already told my now husband and tefused to be ashamed before my family. Publish and be damned works, but there is absolutley a double standard between men and women here, and J didnt care about wrecking his own reputation. As he famously said to me: “no decent man would want you,” because i had swung.

63

Dark Horse@ 56
I thought I missed a big fight or something.

Lava- you are dealing with a case you have no clue as to what is going on and who to side with. Meddling in divorce matters under such circumstances, especially when there are lawyers involved, often doesn’t help despite best intentions. Both sides will try and manipulate you to be on their side, and eventually you are likely to get caught between the two fighting camps, bullets flying from both directions.

tensor @ 59
The first sentence is a good description of yours and other pseudo-libertarians’ posts on this thread and beyond.

FWIW, my earlier official wannabe “probably agree to speak up” position has been amended, and is currently summed up as, “Not getting involved in any of this.

In other news: Those bearded dudes from Iceland…

64

@63: The contrast between the third paragraph of your comment and the two on either side was most amusing. Do you always personally insult someone with whom you completely agree, and whose point of view you have come round to see is correct? Hilarious!

65

There is disagreement, and there is assholism.

66

@65: Maybe someday you’ll appear on the right side of that divide. Good luck with that.

67

I take it “your unsolicited advice in these threads has always been (at best) comp[l]etely worthless" is indeed the one and only “right side of the divide.”

68

Isn't tensor the one who was defending the LW who had sex with his mother a few months ago? Curiouser and curiouser.

69

Thanks CMD for your take. I notice a lawyer above did agree with Dan did agree with me so I'll just stay on the kind hearted side while the rest of you can just walk on by. Nothing to see here. The pressure the effort!!

70

DarkHorse@56 ~ Donny or Donkey... I think you’re just “horsing” around...

Congrats to you, LavaGirl... slid right in for the 69!

71

Aw naw don't do this, not based on what you've been told.

Let me offer an analogy. When I see somebody who seems to need money help, I'll often help if there's a way, if they want help. When somebody comes to me with a plea, so if I want to feel like a good person I need to give them money, I rarely play along. This is a setup like the second one.

If a person you don't particularly trust controls the interaction and the information, take that into account. You don't know what he's got going. It's naive to think that "just telling your honest impressions" is inherently neutral when you're telling your truth to a question one person frames about a time when he may have been presenting a false impression. I don't know that but if you want to be fair and do this, you need to know more. Or just don't.

Trust your gut sense, and question just what you really know about the guilt he's trying to push past your gut sense with.

72

LavaGirl @68: “Isn’t tensor the one who was defending the LW who had sex with his mother a few months ago?”

No no, that was me. I was trying to defend the young man’s right to not be labelled a victim.

I’m so glad you brought this up actually. I was just reading an interview with the director Jennifer Fox, who has made The Tale, a fictionalized account of her own sexual abuse as a young teenager. And she said something that made me think, “That’s exactly what I was trying to say in that incest discussion.” And it was this, a propos of the sexual relationship with a coach that, at the time, she had seen as consensual: “When I realized in my mid-40s that this relationship was sexual abuse, the word “victim” was abhorrent to me. If I’d been forced to see myself as a victim, that would have destroyed me more than the events themselves. What I clung to was the concept that I made choices, and I had agency. For me, being a “victim” takes away agency and without agency, we’re a puddle on the floor crying.”

That’s all. We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast already in progress.

73

The interview is in The Globe and Mail if anyone is interested.

74

Funny Late. I know you were there, and tensor too if I remember. Trying to equate any lover with the abusive mother who seduced her underage son.

75

I remember you being there Late, pretty sure tensor was as well.

76

Now the missing comment comes up

77

Terrible Advice @16: You win the misnomer award, thank you for your thoughts. Also XiaoGui @22, though you are far more certain than I that no one will be able to successfully twist the truth here.

John Horstman @31: "@26: "H is compiling evidence that W is a Slut who engages in sex with strangers." Except this doesn't fly because they were swingers who were BOTH having sex with other people, and H would be outing himself as a slutty slut just as much as W."

Except that it may fly because of, drum roll, double standards! LW mentioned that Wife "and I texted for days before our second date and she live-texted her masturbating and sent me nudes." Not that husband did this. The evidence shows that SHE is the slutty slut, and not just that, but a non-heterosexual slut. Now husband wants this evidence and is going to claim that either she led the swinging or that he had nothing to do with her "affairs." Bitter people are in fact capable of twisting things like this and LAWS should be aware of that.

CTMcMull @36: Um, that was the first possibility.

Lava @57: LAWS can reach out to the wife, if she really wants to be drawn into the middle of a nasty divorce involving people she barely knows. Most of us would demur on that, but maybe LAWS's life is exceptionally dull...

Tensor @59: Lava's advice is no more or less solicited than anyone else's on this forum. LWs, if they choose to read it, can take it with as many grains of salt as they deem appropriate. In this case, I do agree with DarkHorse @46 that even sane and honest people are at their worst in a contentious divorce. I would wait to be subpoena'd and then give a statement in the presence of lawyers from both sides, if it comes to that.

Lava is right about one thing: Tensor did in fact describe a woman who'd serially sexually abused her teenage son as "an ex-lover" and the relationship as "harmless", and called anyone who disagreed a "judgmental scold":
https://www.thestranger.com/savage-love/2018/01/24/25741451/savage-love/comments

78

“Tensor @59: Lava's advice is no more or less solicited than anyone else's on this forum. ”

I didn’t say otherwise. I merely noted that LavaGirl’s advice is so bad, doing the opposite is almost always the right thing to do.

(I note with amusement how many persons remain triggered by that incest thread from a few months back. Lavagirl’s comments there are an excellent set of examples for why any LW should simply ignore her.)

79

No, Tensor @78, you attempted to insult LavaGirl by describing her advice as "unsolicited," ironically forgetting that your advice is equally unsolicited. In fact, the only person whose advice is solicited is Dan.

And you're noting that how many people, in your mind, "remain triggered" (lol)? Looks like one from where I'm sitting. Even LateBloomer remembered his own comments, not yours. (I used Google.) If anyone on that thread is presenting themselves as a loony tune whose advice can be summarily rejected, it's you.

80

I think it's time to accept that tensor is either a troll or stupidly obnoxious enough to be the functional equivalent, and ignore him.

81

it is an assumption that those here saying they are lawyers are being truthful, because there is no way to verify it, same that these comments are not solicited; verily god sayeth unto us, "thou shalt comment and/or inhale diesel fumes". similarly, the lw's take on how willing the would-be divorcee was then, or how controlling her ex-to-be was during their times together (which somehow isn't brought up), is pure speculation.

83

@22 Xiao - In your opinion, is that even a "crime" (or whatever you want to call it in relationship to divorce/custody cases)? Even though you were internally unwilling, if you give your partner affirmative consent (and take no actions to rescind that consent), does it matter how you feel internally?

85

Dan is right. LW has important facts that need to be before the court if the claim of duress is being made. The husband’s attorney can most likely offer documentary evidence that the claim is being made. The evidence can be offered under seal, and it’s likely the court would grant the request, at least in my jurisdiction. This is a matter of basic ethics and humanity.

Angry litigants lie frequently in family law matters to vindictively gain an unfair advantage. That seems likely what is happening here, and it would be wrong for LW, through silence, to perpetuate an injustice.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy.

I too wondered if terrible advice is the wife’s attorney. The advice given by him/her seems so speculative and unwarranted as to rais serious questions about their professional judgment. 22 has the right of it.

86

@38 SublimeAfterglow
"@Terrible advice...You wouldn’t happen to be the divorcing wife’s lawyer."

terribleadvice's account /is/ new (2018) and has never commented on any other thread per https://www.thestranger.com/users/27685573/terribleadvice

but how would the wife's lawyer have known about the LW's thread?

87

@79: Reading comprehension works better if you read all of the words. @59, I wrote of “your [LavaGirl’s] unsolicited advice” as being worthless. Hers. As opposed to other unsolicited advice here. See how that works?

Your mention of LateBloomer is highly ironic. Here he is, in that incest thread, quoting me at length, to defend me against attacks made by my having been quoted out of context — you know, exactly like the one you made @77:

https://www.thestranger.com/savage-love/2018/01/24/25741451/savage-love/comments/351

Next time try actually reading for yourself, instead of just using Google.

88

@77 thanks BDF! I've read many of your thoughtful comments as a SL reader so if you think my take was not terrible, I'll consider that high praise :)
@85 & @86: I mean, the thought of the wife's lawyer spending his free time trolling the SL comments section in the hopes of dissuading an unknown/anonymous person (who probably isn't even reading) from giving a statement against one of his clients in a divorce case is cute but also depressing. I care about my clients but like, I'm not personally invested in their cases. And, at least where I practice, contingency fee arrangements are prohibited in divorce cases, so it's hard to imagine how a financial incentive would be possible. SL gets letters from all over the country (the world?) and there isn't a lot of detail here. That said, I am reasonably sure I am not the wife's attorney. I've read SL and the stranger for many years and this was the first time I read something that I thought was really off the mark about something non-trivial. So I decided to weigh in. My take on it was of course speculative and based on limited information. It may seem unwarranted to someone who doesn't have much experience with domestic violence. I assume Dan has connections to well-respected DV organizations; it would be great if he reached out to one to get an official on-the-record opinion! It's fascinating to me how many people (including Dan) are viewing this as innocent husband vs. manipulative, lying wife as opposed to LW (not wife) living her life and minding her business vs. some dude she barely knows who's trying to involve her in something that has nothing to do with her. The people who are really pushing for the LW to give a statement are clearly advocating for the husband's interests, not the LW's. Interesting discussion though!

89

I know a lot is often at stake when we're trying, and disagreeing about how, to help people with tricky real life challenges.

It's unfortunate that when writing comments online, it's at least a challenge to convey the kindness one can hear in someone's tone of voice in person.

Somewhere upthread someone (please never mind who, I'm not trying to point a finger at anyone) asked "See what happens when you try and treat strangers with kindness?".

I often fail, but I do try (to "treat strangers with kindness"). (I'm grateful that recently when I wasn't suceeding at that in another thread, one of our wise members spoke up with "Boys, this is not some competition.")

When we succeed it does make our interactions not just more constructive, but also more pleasant for everyone.


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