Handwritten Divorce Petition Shows Fine Line Between Love and Hate

A judge friend sent me this handwritten Texas divorce petition, apparently filed back in 1985 by a Texas lawyer proceeding pro se.  It’s one of those hand-scrawled pleadings that, at first blush, looks like it was written by an inmate or perhaps a crazy person; however, closer examination shows the writing to be quite clever and amusing in places.  And the drawings are priceless.

The petitioner seems uncertain of where his heart lies, as he alternates between insulting the wife and telling the court how much he loves her.

Read the original to appreciate it, but here are some re-typed uncorrected highlights (the respondent’s name and petitioner’s address are redacted on both the copy of the original pleading and below):

I.

            This suit is brought by PAUL FRANK HENSLER, Petitioner who is Forty Six (46) years of age and who resides at XXXX.

             Respondent, XXXX, is a “Transient Person,” having her residence in a 1970 Chrysler. …

IV.

             These parties were joined together in Holy Matrimony by the Very Honorable Frances Porter, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE in Lampasus, Lampasas County, Texas on the 29th Day of March, in the year of our Lord, A.D. 1983.  They ceased living together as husband and wife on Monday January 21, 1984, when she got pissed off and hauled ass with the car, the Mastercard, $365.00 cash, her FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS NINE YEAR OLD EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION CASE …, to which she is WELCOME, having BORED ME STIFF for 2 years about just how everybody picks on XXXX.

IV.

            This marriage has become very insupportable because of, ho-hum, conflict of personalities  between Petitioner and Respondent, but chiefly because of conflict of personalities between Respondent and Respondent that destroyed the legitimate ends of the marriage (good sex!) and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation (unless she consents to having her mouth surgically closed).

 V.

             There is no child born or adopted of this marriage although Petitioner swears on oath that he did everything he could to KNOCK HER UP, but she isn’t pregnant and won’t have another CHILD, although Petitioner LOVES HER DEARLY and wants her to have his children, but she is LIBERATED now and “Feminists” don’t have children by “male chauvinist pig lawyers,” she so swears.

VI.

             Petitioner requests the Court to divide the estate of the parties by awarding their property to the party having POSSESION (in a legal sense, not the kind of “possession” by spirits you see in movies, although XXXX could pass muster for a stand-in for “Syble” or the girl in “The Exorcist.”)

VII.

             Petitioner, Paul Frank Hensler prays that CITATION and NOTICE issue as required by LAW and that the Court GRANT A DIVORCE and decree such other and further relief as requested herein, including changing Respondent’s name to BELLA ABZUG, JR. for costs of suit and for (see drawings of trumpet and drum roll).

             Stand back, its almost here – Ed McMahon on stage now — HEEEER’ES General Relief (see drawing of Rolaids man).

–Petition for Divorce, Hensler v. [Name redacted], Case No. 85-04521, Dist. Ct., Harris Cty, TX, Jan. 23, 1985.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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