It's a divorce case. Estranged partners after a marriage of ten years, with an eight-year-old daughter. It's pretty typical.
What's less typical is that Julie was diagnosed with MS about a year into the marriage. She had her baby after the initial diagnosis, and in the way of Multiple Sclerosis, she started losing physical control of her body, bit by bit. But she was a mother to their daughter, Eva, and her daughter relies on her as her mother.
Julie has deteriorated more over the years. And her family, her mother, brother and sister-in-law, visited her and loved her and took her out on trips. Then her husband had her committed, last year, to a nursing home, citing that she needed the medical support, when, from all evidence, she only needs assisted living. The worse part of it is that the nursing home he committed her to was only paid for by Medicare and about $200 a month from his pocket and, as the sister-in-law put it: "I cry every time I go there. It smells bad, there is no way to have a quiet conversation. There are people moaning and groaning all around her."
Both lawyers had a fun time trying to figure out how much Mr. Sandoval was worth. But it looks like it was anywhere from $150,000 a year to nearly a quarter million a year. Even the lowest estimate had it at $14,000 a *month* and the best was up around $17,850 a month. Neither disputed that the assets of the married couple were nearly half a million, but Frank's lawyer was sure that all of that belongs to him as he earned it. (Which confuses the hell out of me as there are so many publicized divorce cases that seem to award huge amounts of monetary assets to the wife just because... how do they think they'll get out of it just because she is disabled?)
The first witness, Mrs. Kathleen Post, the sister-in-law also said that Frank had threatened Julie with cutting off all contact with Eva for her, her mother, brother, and sister-in-law, if everyone didn't support keeping Julie in the nursing home.
Then came a bit of the other side of the story. As Julie's mother then took Julie and Eva to California. She didn't hide Eva from Frank, but she did tell Frank that if he wanted his daughter back, he would have to arrange transportation. I can understand the frustration that went behind the act, but, of course, from that point on Frank didn't trust any of Julie's relatives anymore, especially for parental visitations. So Frank has refused all visitation rights to Julie since the beginning of the year.
So the best part of it all is that Frank wants to keep things just as they are. No access to the child for Julie or any of her relatives, and he wants to maintain her on nothing more than the $200 a month. And he wants to keep all the assets under his control so that she can't live any better unless someone gives her charity or something.
Julie wants nearly $8000 a month to live in an assisted living facility and to spend in support of herself and her time with her daughter, half the assets, and access to her daughter.
Both seem to be too extreme to me, but, to me at least, there could be something done that was between the two positions that could give Julie more of a life and not burden Frank quite so much.
Problem is that enough people are worried about the attitudes and previous decisions of the Hon. Gwynth Whalen to have church groups, people with MS and their supporters, and even a group of wheelchair folks from ADAPT and from The Center for People with Disabilities here in Denver. ADAPT is mostly about keeping people out of nursing homes and living real lives with some assistance instead of being locked away. I'm personally not familiar with the Hon. Whalen's past decisions, but there was a lot of concern in that courtroom today and a lot of happiness that there were a lot of people there. There were rumors that the Hon. Whalen had spoken of Julie as, basically, a non-person, not deserving more than the care already provided and incapable of being a mother to her child anyway. So...
Folks are worried, and they wanted folks to see what it was that was going on and what the judge is going to decide tomorrow.
I may pass the gist of this onto a couple of news agencies here. I should have gotten the name and number of the defending attorney. Now that I've thought about it, I can ask for it.