Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog

Ex-Wife So Bad She's Unconstitutional, and Court Doesn't Care

We've all been there before -- with an ex that makes you so miserable, it has to be a crime, right? Or at least a violation of the state constitution? Well, brave Iowan Tim Le finally had the courage to bring that claim to court, and his claim was roundly rejected.

So what was Tim's ex doing that was unconstitutionally awful?

Bill of Wrongs

The Iowa Court of Appeals' review of Le's divorce proceedings is a little light on the details, at least when it comes to the alleged bad behavior of Le's ex, Annie. Though he claims "Annie violated the Iowa Constitution by trying to make his life miserable," Tim offers little in the way of facts, at least any that made an impression on the court. Instead, Judge J. Mullins focused on Tim's contributions (or lack thereof) to the marriage:

Tim owned some property but had considerable debt. He filed for bankruptcy in 2005. After he filed for bankruptcy, he obtained $10,000 in proceeds from the sale of property [and] contributed that $10,000 toward a $28,000 down payment on a new home with Annie. Annie also contributed money toward the down payment. For approximately one year during the marriage, Annie served as the sole financial provider while Tim was unemployed.

Annie asserts that she suffered years of physical abuse from Tim. The episodes of domestic abuse culminated in criminal charges against Tim and a civil protective order in favor of Annie in 2010. The temporary protective order granted Annie physical care of the children and exclusive possession of the marital home.

After Tim moved out of the marital home, he made no child support payments and did not otherwise financially support the children. Annie subsequently learned that Tim had taken out several credit cards in her name without her knowledge and accumulated over $13,000 in debt. Meanwhile, Annie continued to pay the mortgage and care for the children.

Perhaps Tim's arguments are grounded in what he believes was an unfair split of the marital property following the divorce. After all, the Iowa Constitution states:

All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights--among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

And, as Tim asserts, "The Petitioner is trying to make my life miserable taking away my rights of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness. She's basically violating the Iowa Constitution."

Random Mentions

The only problem for Tim, though, is that he failed to make this argument during the trial for the dissolution of his and Annie's marriage. "Generally," Judge Mullins ruled, "the appellant's random mention of an issue, without analysis, argument or supporting authority is insufficient to prompt an appellate court's consideration. Tim did not present this issue to the district court. Thus, we find the issue of whether Annie is violating the Iowa Constitution by trying to make Tim's life miserable is not properly before this court."

We may never know to what lengths Annie really went to in order to make Tim's life miserable, or whether they violated the Iowa Constitution. But if it really was so bad, Tim should've said something from the start.

Related Resources: