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Divorce is nearly final for Marine wounded in Iraq
By COLLEEN JENKINS
Published June 27, 2007
TAMPA - On July 5, 2005, a roadside bomb in Iraq left Cpl. Josh Cooley unable to walk, talk or write.
Now, nearly two years later, there is concrete proof of his physical progress: Cooley's shaky signature on divorce papers.
Citing "irreconcilable differences, " the Marine reservist and former Pasco County sheriff's deputy filed for divorce April 30 from Christina Cooley, his wife of 21/2 years and a fellow deputy.
In an accompanying letter, his social worker said he had requested a divorce in an interview with her two months before, leaving her with "no doubt that these are Joshua's independent thoughts."
"Divorce. Divorce. Divorce, " he responded when asked what he would like to do about his relationship with his wife, according to the social worker.
The papers were filed in Los Angeles County, Calif., where he has lived since December at a rehabilitative center for people with traumatic brain injuries.
A week ago, he received a default judgment because Christina Cooley had not filed a response to the divorce petition within the required 30 days.
A judge should finalize the divorce in the next couple of weeks, said Kathy Dorough, the paralegal who prepared Cooley's divorce paperwork.
"She is out of his life, " said Christopher Cooley, Josh's older brother. He said Christina Cooley had not called or visited her husband in six months.
Christina Cooley declined to comment Tuesday. Her attorney could not be reached.
The divorce would cap a costly legal battle over who should care for the 30-year-old Marine.
Last year, in Hillsborough County court, Cooley's brother and mother sought to wrest control of his financial and medical decisions from his wife. He was being treated at Tampa's James A. Haley VA Medical Center.
Christina Cooley - who married Josh in December 2004, two months before he shipped off to war - countered with a request to be named her husband's guardian, disputing his family's claims that she misspent money and didn't properly care for him.
Court records show that she relented in March, withdrawing her guardianship request.
Experts found Josh mentally competent but in need of help with finances. His brother Christopher was appointed as guardian for that limited purpose.
Ed Cooley, Josh's father, said Tuesday that the divorce will let his son continue recovering without distraction.
His son is walking with a walker, he said. He speaks softly, bathes and shaves and will probably go to an outpatient program soon.
A therapist supported his arm as he signed the divorce papers.
"His handwriting is better now than it was before he got injured, " Ed Cooley said.
Times staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report. Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 813 226-3337 or firstname.lastname@example.org