Some Pro Se Litigants Are Not As Divorced As They Thought They Were

From the LA Times: Do-it-yourself divorce doesn’t always sever ties.
“When Yanic Chan and Vanessa Van split up in 1995, they couldn’t afford a lawyer. So, like thousands of other people without money, they filled out the divorce paperwork themselves, with help from a friend.
In November 1997, Van went to the Riverside County Courthouse to enter a final judgment. ‘The clerk put the stamp on it,’ Van said. ‘I asked, ‘Everything finished?’ She said ‘Yes.’

From the LA Times: Do-it-yourself divorce doesn’t always sever ties.
“When Yanic Chan and Vanessa Van split up in 1995, they couldn’t afford a lawyer. So, like thousands of other people without money, they filled out the divorce paperwork themselves, with help from a friend.
In November 1997, Van went to the Riverside County Courthouse to enter a final judgment. ‘The clerk put the stamp on it,’ Van said. ‘I asked, ‘Everything finished?’ She said ‘Yes.’
Chan returned to his native Cambodia and married again. Then, in 2006, he tried to bring his new wife to this country. And that’s when Van and Chan got a nasty surprise, one that court officials fear could be awaiting thousands of other former California couples: Their divorce had not been finalized.
Driven by rising legal fees, a shortage of legal aid lawyers and a do-it-yourself philosophy, about 80% of people in California handle their own divorces, according to court officials.
Many of them are not quite as divorced as they think they are. Some of them, like Chan, are even accidental bigamists, carrying not only hopes and dreams but also an earlier marriage to their new one…Many people think divorce is like a traffic ticket and if they fail to take care of it properly, the court will track them down and notify them.”
It is not just a California problem, as local efforts at tackling the problem have been reported here and here and here.

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