A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a San Francisco courtroom, watching a trial about marriage, and the attorney representing the plaintiff’s ex-wife was asking questions about the procedure.
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard her say that.
The problem was that, to me, that was all a bit much.
My ex-husband had asked to be represented by an attorney and was being granted that right.
But for me, the question was more personal.
I wanted to know what would happen if he were to take the stand and speak out on his own behalf.
I’d been hearing about a new class of court-appointed attorneys who would represent the couple’s children, who are now in foster care.
The state of California is now seeking to require these attorneys to become certified as marriage attorneys.
As we sat in the courtroom, the attorneys’ questions were directed toward the issue of what happens when someone who has lost custody of their children does decide to come forward.
I was intrigued, and asked: How would the court’s rulings impact my ex-lover?
The attorney’s question was a bit different, though.
I felt that I could help my ex because, to my mind, I had no choice.
After all, we had two young children, and I was worried about them.
But the attorney also asked about whether I had done anything wrong, and she was trying to gauge my emotional state.
She wanted to make sure I wasn’t upset.
I was, and that’s when I realized that, at this point, my ex was the one asking these questions.
I started to cry.
I didn’t know how to react.
The legal system, it seemed, is designed to keep me in a box.
It’s designed to be very clear, and to not let me get too comfortable.
I’d seen the videos of the men in court, the men who were arrested for having sex with their children, the children who had been forced into marriages.
My heart sank.
My ex was not the only one in the court room that day.
The women in the room were crying, too.
The attorneys asked questions about how to make it look like my ex had been abusing my children, about what to do if I ever wanted to file a lawsuit, about how much time I had left to file for custody.
But I was the only woman in the group who had a lawyer.
My ex didn’t have a lawyer and didn’t want one.
I did, and so did my two other children.
The attorney told me to wait for my husband.
I sat and watched as my ex and the other women discussed what would come next.
My husband had a plan, the attorney told them.
They would go into court and ask the court to approve a declaration that the children were in the parents’ care and that the couple had married.
The declaration would be an acknowledgment of paternity and be binding on the children.
This would be my way to clear my name.
I asked them if I could get the judge to make the declaration, but the attorney refused.
The judge said he couldn’t.
The lawyers argued that I should have a judge sign the declaration because I was my husband’s legal guardian.
I told them that I would not have the court approve the declaration if I didn ‘t have a court-certified attorney.
That meant that I had to file an application to have a birth certificate signed by the judge, and get a court order to do that.
The lawyer then turned to me and said, “If you want to be a lawyer, you should file a motion to have the judge order that the birth certificate is not a marriage certificate.”
I told him I didn t have time to prepare my filing because I had a lot of work to do.
I also said that if my ex wanted to go to court, I would be happy to assist him.
I said that I was very happy to be an attorney.
But my ex still wasn’t convinced.
At the end of the meeting, he said, I have no right to represent him.
He said, You don’t have to go into this.
You can just wait here.
I asked the lawyers why they were telling me to leave.
They said that they had been trying to find a lawyer who would be open to representing him.
They had an application in hand.
My husband had never been to court.
He had no court-issued ID and was only able to use a court issued ID card.
So they said, We can’t afford to go in to court with him.
When I told the lawyers that I didn “have a lawyer,” one of them said, What about you?
We don’t know what you’re talking about.
You have no lawyer, right?
That’s what I said.
After the meeting with my ex, I started getting messages from other women who were having similar issues