January 22, 2005
A Victory Over No-Fault Divorce
For the first time in decades, a divorce order was
reversed last week.
The Texas Appeals Court concluded, "The judgment of the
trial court is reversed" and
ordered a new trial. This was a victory for attorney David Moody, one of a
handful of lawyers fighting to preserve marriage, on behalf of his client,
This is a stunning development. Since "No-Fault
Divorce" or unilateral divorce became
the norm in the 1970s, those who file for divorce always win. Divorce law is
a scandal. There is no "due process" in divorce cases that is
supposedly guaranteed by the U.S.
There have been 38 million divorces granted since 1970. Lawyers are hired by both
sides. Some argue that the divorce should be granted, usually on
grounds of irreconcilable
differences." Other attorneys are hired by defendants who opposes a divorce,
differences ARE reconcilable.
How many cases have been won by the defendant? NONE until this case. The defendant in a divorce case ALWAYS loses.
How can that be justice?
Thirty-five million innocent children experienced their
parents divorce. While many do
well, children of divorce are three times as likely as those from intact
homes to be expelled from school or to have a baby as an unwed teenager and
are ten times as apt to live in poverty.
Yet according to a recent poll by George Barna, 39
percent of all Protestants have
divorced vs. only 38 percent of atheists/agnostics and 35 percent of "born
again" Americans. (Only Catholics divorce at a lower rate of 25 percent.)
Moody notes that no-fault divorce was begun by Russian
Communists who wanted to
destroy the family because traditional values are transmitted through
families. He wrote an article for the Lubbock, TX newspaper saying that
divorce lawyers have a conflict of
interest. In 55 percent of their cases, they take the plaintiff's side who
files for divorce,
and in 45 percent of the cases, they represent defendants who don't want a
By contrast, in health care, attorneys work for one
side OR the other. Some represent
insurance companies and are loyal to the defense side. Others (like John
Edwards) represent plaintiffs and are paid on a contingency basis when they
win cases. But if a
defense attorney took a case of someone injured in an accident, he would be
fired by insurance companies as untrustworthy.
Doak Runberg read Moody's article and hired him to
fight a divorce filed by his wife,
Lisa Ann Runberg, on March 20, 2003.
Moody took a Biblical stand to seek "peace first,
before you go to war." He wrote her
attorney, Douglas Woodburn, "This precious family has five kids. What
we ought to do is work together to reconcile this marriage. Let's keep our
legal fees down as much as possible. I am charging only $50 an hour,"
when he usually charges $150.
Woodburn, who earns $250 an hour, had no interest in
peace. Six days later Woodburn had Doak and Lisa Ann appear before a judge
and Doak agreed to a temporary order to give $2,500 a month in child support
and $500 a month in spousal support plus insurance and health care for the
Texas allows a divorce to be granted in 60 days, if it
is uncontested. On May 22, 2003
Woodburn got the court to hold a secret trial, which granted the divorce in
a "default judgment" against Doak. At the time of trial, Doak had not
filed an answer. However, he
was not given notice of the trial, and did not appear at it.
On June 20, Doak asked for a new trial, since he had
been uninformed about the trial.
That was denied by the court six days later without a hearing. With Moody's
help, he appealed on grounds that since he had "appeared" in the case
agreeing to the temporary
order, the court should have informed him of the May 22 trial. "His right to
due process of law was violated," Moody argued.
Appeals Chief Justice Phil Johnson concurred, that the
"trial court abused its discretion in failing to grant a new trial because
Doak's failure to attend the final hearing could not have been
intentional...The judgment of divorce is reversed..."
Lisa Ann remarried last September, so the divorce will
probably be granted ultimately.
However, the case demonstrates divorce defendants DO
have the right to due process of law. Those who want to save a
marriage should ask prospective attorneys, "What side are you on?" If
they take cases from both sides, ignore them and hire an attorney like
Moody ([email protected])
who fights exclusively for defendants.
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