Paying alimony to an ex-spouse can be one of those grin-and-bear-it obligations for some, but it’s an especially galling burden for a Utah woman whose ex-husband stands accused of killing her new husband.
Joy Sidwell, from Lindon, Utah, asked a judge on Monday to allow her to halt the $500 a month alimony payments to her ex, Fred Lee, who allegedly killed her new husband, Mike Sidwell, in July.
Lee, 59, is in the Utah County Jail and set to face aggravated murder charges, among others, authorities said.
On July 3, he told police that he was searching for Sidwell “to kill her,” according to court documents. Lee entered a home in search of his ex-wife, but shot and killed her current husband, police said.
“My grandson called me and said, ‘Call [Mike] and tell him we saw grandpa [Fred] hiding behind the van.’ But it was too late, he had already been shot. It’s been a nightmare,” Joy Sidwell told ABC News.
Sidwell filed for protective orders and stalking complaints against Lee in 2005 and 2007, but said this alimony issue is another obstacle in the legal system.
“It should be a simple thing. I shouldn’t even have to go to court to do it,” Sidwell said. “They should just see that.”
Sidwell said Utah State Court Commissioner Thomas Patton told her she is over-reaching. “But I’m like, ‘You don’t know how this guy thinks,’” she said, referring to her ex.
A spokesperson for Patton told ABC News that commissioners and judges are not allowed to comment on pending cases.
Lee was awarded alimony because of a head injury that prevented him from working, Sidwell said.
Though the Utah government website does not address an unusual situation like this case, it does reference the role of material changes in modifying alimony payments.
According to Utah state law, “if there are substantial material changes in circumstances not foreseeable at the time of divorce, either party may petition the court for an order modifying alimony. However, the court may not modify alimony to address needs of the recipient that did not exist at the time the decree was entered, unless there are special reasons for doing so.”
“The court system needs to listen to women more and take us seriously,” Sidwell said. “I know there are women who abuse the system, but I was not doing that. When someone has a protective order against somebody, the judge should never make them pay money to that person.”
Sidwell said she plans to return to court Sept. 15 to once again request a stop to alimony payments, and Lee will have the legal right to contest her petition.
Lee’s attorney could not be reached for comment.