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Man seeks ‘trial by combat’ with ex-wife

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A Kansas man seeks a court-ordered sword fight to settle a dispute with his ex-wife in Harlan over his ability to communicate with their two children, according to court records.

David Zachary Ostrom, 40, of Paola, Kansas, asked for a “trial by combat” early this month to help settle an ongoing spat about what constitutes “reasonable telephone and electronic communication” with the children.

Ostrom also seeks money from his ex-wife to pay for property taxes of their former house in eastern Iowa.

“Trial by combat was still regarded as a legitimate method for dispute resolution when the Constitution was ratified by the United States and by the original 13 colonies,” Ostrom wrote in his request. “To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States.”

Ostrom further seeks a delay of about three months so that he can obtain two samurai swords for the fight. He said the woman’s attorney is allowed to fight instead as her “champion.”

Because the two have “indicated they have destroyed me legally, I now wish to give them the chance to meet me on the field of battle, where I will REND THEIR SOULS from their ... bodies,” Ostrom wrote.

Ostrom and his ex-wife have been separated for nearly two years after having been together for 10. At the time a judge granted their divorce, he noted that both of them “are very bright and articulate.”

District court records since their separation are replete with assertions by Ostrom that his communication with the children is lacking when the children are with his ex-wife, who has primary physical care of them in Harlan, where she lives with her parents. Ostrom “now RARELY speaks with the children when they are not in his care,” he wrote.

Ostrom cites a 2016 ruling by a New York Supreme Court justice in which the justice agreed he had the power to order a trial by combat but chose another option.

In a response to Ostrom’s request, the ex-wife’s attorney — Matthew Hudson, of Harlan, who refers to himself in the response as “potential combatant” — argued: “Although the respondent and potential combatant do have souls to be rended, they respectfully request that the court not order this done. We humbly request the court deny this motion, as the potentially life-ending ramifications surely outweigh the severity of the petitioner’s proposed legal remedy of trying to avoid responsibility for property taxes and to acquire additional telephonic communication.”

Hudson has also asked a judge to suspend Ostrom’s visitation rights and order a psychological evaluation of Ostrom.

It’s unclear when a judge will rule on the requests.

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