home what'snew resources ask amy news activism antiviolence events marketplace aboutus
Ask a Question!
Meet Amy!
Amy's Resource Guide
Ask Amy Main
Most Asked Questions
Reproductive Rights
Sexual Harassment
Violence Against Women
Women's History

Dear Amy,

I have a friend who needs some help. This woman lives in West Virginia and has had some legal troubles and I wanted to know if there was anyone out there who could help her out. She was in the middle of getting a divorce from her husband when she got in a terrible car accident. She had brain damage as a result, and to this day still has problems remembering the details of her past. While she was incapacitated, her husband somehow continued with the proceedings and signed away her alimony.

He has a $6,000a week contracting business and is currently paying only $200 a month for the child support of her 4 kids, one of which has a heart condition. He got away with this by bribing the judge, who told him to get an $8 an hour job for a few weeks and claim that as his income and that his contracting business was only on the side. She has problems landing a job because of the accident she was in, and currently the only thing supporting her and her children is her boyfriend.

My question is whether there is anything that can be done .She lives in a very rural area that may cause some problems as far as accessibility is concerned, so that may cause some problems. If you or anyone else has any ideas, please contact me.

Thank you,


Jen -

I hear about many unjust divorce situations at Ask Amy, so sadly, this isn't coming as a total surprise. What it usually comes down to is the judge -- and what decision he/she makes -- and the primary concern is suppose to be what is in the best interest of the children, which I'm not sure how that was argued in this instance. I think that she certainly has grounds to revisit this decision/divorce decree. Does she have a lawyer? Getting a responsible lawyer is obviously the first step -- then she needs to challenge this decision - for instance looking at his back taxes, not just what he was earning at the time of divorce.

They will also look at their lifestyle and make sure that she isn't being robbed of that with this divorce. Additionally, there is probably something she can pursue in terms of how this decision was made in the first place -- if she was diagnosed as incapacitated in any way, the entire decision should be thrown out on those grounds -- and it sounds like she might have medical records to prove it.

There are groups like Equality in Marriage and Divorced from Justice which can help her if she wants to pursue this without a lawyer. Good luck and it certainly means a lot that you are helping her navigate this

- Amy