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Woman seeks to toss divorce she never knew happened

When it comes to divorce, most settlement terms can be modified according to a change in life circumstance. This is true of issues from child custody and support arrangements to spousal support. In a recent divorce case however, the post-divorce modification necessary to ensure that a spouse received her rightful share of her ex-husband's assets required her to go to court to have divorce tossed out entirely.

The case comes to us from another state, but could have occurred in Colorado. What happened is that a grieving widow discovered that her recently deceased husband of 30 years had divorced her secretly eight years before his death in February 2011. It apparently was a bid to prevent her from collecting his pension and life insurance benefits. Instead, the money was destined for his children by a prior marriage.

According to reports about the case, the widow came across the 2002 divorce papers while going through her dead husband's things. In them, the man had claimed abandonment as the reason for his uncontested divorce. What they didn't reflect was that the couple had continued living together right up until his death.

With the papers in hand and help from a legal aid attorney, the woman sought to have the divorce declared fraudulent. She was able to prove that the address she supposedly had moved to after the alleged abandonment didn't even exist and that process service papers notifying her of the divorce were forged. Last month, the judge ruled the divorce fraudulent. Because of the dismissal, the 75-year-old woman was able to collect life insurance benefits of $44,000 and will be able to receive his pension money.

While this case is an unusual one, it demonstrates the powers courts have to perform post-divorce modifications. Residents in the state of Colorado have a right to petition the courts for modifications of terms they deem unfair based on new life situations or information concerning marital assets.

Source: Fox News, "New York woman reportedly learns husband divorced her eight years before his death," Nov. 19, 2012

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