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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 21 1/2 years old and was married when I was 20. I thought at the time I was doing the right thing, but now, after a year and a half of marriage, I realize it was a mistake. I was too young to get married.

My husband and I disagreed on too many things, so now we are getting a divorce. He doesn't want it, but he says if I pay for it, he will sign all the required papers. We have nothing to divide. No house, no car, no money and no kids. Nothing to fight over.

Now for my problem: I went to a legal clinic and they told me there wasn't any "no-fault divorce" in Cook County, Ill., which is where we live. This means I will have to go to court and claim "mental cruelty."

Abby, there was no mental cruelty, so why do I have to go to court and lie -- especially since my husband agreed to cooperate? Isn't there someplace that we could go and just sign some papers and be divorced? Why must I point a finger of blame at a perfectly nice man? The marriage was MY mistake.

Also, I would like to know why a divorce should cost so much? I was quoted a figure of $970. There is nothing to divide up, and my husband is not going to contest the divorce. Isn't there a cheaper and easier way? -- NOBODY'S FAULT

DEAR NOBODY'S FAULT: A cheaper divorce would be available through your legal aid society -- only if you are unemployed.

According to Dorothy B. Johnson, attorney at law and chairperson of the Chicago Bar Association Matrimonial Law Committee:

"Since July 1, 1984, there has been another ground for dissolution of marriage in Illinois, which you and your spouse may find more suitable: 'irreconcilable differences.'

"As for the cost of your divorce, the rate you were quoted is not out of line for the greater Chicago area."

DEAR ABBY: The letter from a woman who had witnessed a father abusing his young son in a department store, and she didn't know what to do or say, bothered me. You seemed to be sympathetic with the abuser and suggested that she could have said, "I know how you must feel -- shopping with children isn't easy," which would seem to give approval to the father's actions.

The other day, I witnessed a similar situation involving a young mother in a checkout line in a supermarket. Her child had obviously misbehaved and the mother was berating him with some harsh words that can hurt a child more than physical blows!

A woman in line in front of them turned around and delivered what I thought was the perfect remark: "I'll give you a dollar for him!"

That one sentence reminded the young mother of the value of her child.

I wish I had said it. -- SYLVIA E., LOS ANGELES

DEAR ABBY: I have never written to you before, but after reading about the old gentleman who is still making love often at the age of 85, I took the newspaper out of the trash can three times to make sure I had read it correctly.

I would sure like to hear his wife's side of this story. I'll bet she is sick to death of it. Or maybe she is like me, going through the motions and faking it.

I am a 65-year-old woman married to the most wonderful man in the world, and I have been faking it for years. How many letters have you gotten on this one? I would love to know. -- "B" IN DALLAS

DEAR "B": Thus far, only a few, but I would welcome letters or postcards (unsigned, of course) from other females who have been "faking it" for years.

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