Mary nervously twisted a white handkerchief in her hands on the witness stand at her uncontested divorce hearing.
“What was the date of separation?” asked her lawyer, Ned.
“April 1, 2010,” Mary said.
“Was the separation mutual and voluntary on the part of both of you?”
“No, he just left. He didn’t ask me.”
“Counsel approach the bench,” the Judge ordered.
“Hmmm,” said the Judge, “mere acquiescence in what you could not prevent is not a voluntary separation. And a separation cannot, at the moment of its occurrence, constitute both an abandonment of one party by the other and a separation by mutual agreement.”
“I think I can fix it, Judge,” Ned said, “if you’ll let me ask a few more questions.
“Go ahead,” said the Judge.
Ned looked at Mary and said, “Now you testified that the separation on April 1 began with the abandonment of your husband, right?”
“Yes, that’s right,” she said.
“And was there a time when you decided to agree to the separation?”
“When was that?” asked Ned.
“About two weeks after he left,” answered Mary.
The rest of the case went smoothly and the Judge granted Mary her divorce.