A working woman from New Jersey who must pay her ex-husband alimony each week usually sends him a demeaning note to let him know that she doesn’t respect him. Now, the woman’s ex-husband is suing her for writing the words “loser” and “bum” and other similar sentiments in the message line of her alimony checks.
On the surface, this might amuse us, but a closer look at the situation bespeaks a lot of suffering, between 61-year-old Francis Wagner and 57-year-old Diane Wagner. Diane explains that she survived a 10-year marriage that was punctuated by episodes of intoxication; because she couldn’t afford a divorce battle, she agreed to pay her non-working husband $774 in spousal support each month.
But later, she developed lung cancer that spread to her bones. She struggles to pay for her alimony because of her cancer treatment. She filed for a reduction but a judge in a Superior Court family division refused to lower it. That’s why she religiously fills in the memo line of the weekly checks with notes such as “bum,” “loser,” and “alimony/adult child support.” Francis Wagner, apparently unamused and fragile, is suing her for harassment and infliction of emotional distress.
“As far as I’m concerned I can write anything I want on the memo line because it’s a note to myself. I was the victim in that marriage. What more blood does he want from me? I pay him religiously,” Diane said in a phone interview, didn’t care if her ex-husband doesn’t like what she writes in her check memos.
But later admitted that she was emotionally distressed when her ex-husband’s law firm put a snapshot of her check (with personal information redacted), displaying the memo line, “Alimony for the man!” the caption read, next to a photo of one of Diane’s checks.
“What’s funny is that the now ex-wife so hated paying our client — the husband — $800 per month for the next six years as alimony and she had written Alimony/Adult Child Support in the memo of the weekly checks — until we put a stop to that harassment,” the law firm wrote.
“When I found out my personal business was on the Facebook page, that caused me distress,” Diane said.
However, Diane said she never got a letter. That was quickly followed by a letter from the law firm. “Please be advised that your writings are causing my client severe emotional distress and have led to him having sustained heart attacks in recent weeks,” said a letter from the ex-husband’s lawyer to Diane. “If you send a single check in the future with any writing upon it other than what is required to process the alimony payment a complaint will be filed against you for intentionally inflicting emotional distress upon my client.”
Diane then wrote instead “FOAD” which the complaint alleges stands for “F*** off and die.” Diane claimed it was just a personal note to herself.
As she is suffering from terminal cancer, and he cancer and heart attacks, their mutual hate for each other is not much of a balm on the sufferings of life.
It’s no surprise that divorce can leave people bitter and angry. And when one person has to give the other person money, for either child support or alimony, it can make that bitterness and rage grow even more. Still, it’s best for people to remain civil — taking cheap shots can end with a lawsuit, as this ex-wife learned the hard way.