Long before I filed for divorce, I started searching the Internet for advice and information on the process. Information is sometimes difficult to attain because divorce laws and procedures vary from state to state, locale to locale. When I visited various message boards, I found very angry people, who were so bitter that often they gave some really bad advice.
It got me thinking, who are the best people to ask about the process? The best people would be friends and acquaintances that have gone through a divorce, they could give me details on the process they went through, after all, they already did all the leg work. They could give me sage advice on things that worked for them, or what did not work for them. I got great information such as in my area one could file a divorce without a lawyer, one could hire a mediator for less than a lawyer or just see a lawyer. Other great advice is try to agree to terms prior to filing for divorce. If you don’t agree to terms, it is only going to make the process longer and more difficult.
Since my wife and I agreed to all terms, I decided to see if I could fill out all the paperwork myself but I soon found the legal questions and distribution of assets to be quiet a challenge. Because we both had 401k’s that we were splitting up, we would need the judge to sign off on a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relationship Order). This was way more complicated than I imagined. I also figured it best that she just stay in the house as the small mortgage payment she made each month would be much less than her renting an apartment. I figured if she was to sell the house, we can split the proceeds in the future.
So back to my friends and acquaintances to see what Lawyer or Mediator they went with. Before I saw a lawyer, I followed up with my wife to consult her again to make sure we were on the same page on terms of the divorce. It makes it so much easier when you can agree. I decided on a lawyer who actually did my friends divorce and they offered a reasonable rate. The lawyer actually gave me great advice on the house, that my wife would need to refinance it to remove me from the mortgage loan. – If my wife ever defaulted on the mortgage and I was still listed on the mortgage, that would adversely effect my credit. It was a small complication that I did not consider but I am glad I didn’t try to do it myself.
As part of the divorce decree, we had to attend two co-parenting classes since we had a minor under 18. These classes were actually common sense. The basic premise: Don’t use your children in a tug of war against the other parent. Do not speak badly of the other parent in front of the child and do not allow other people to do it either. Make sure the child understands that they are not at fault. I say this is common sense since we had already talked to our son about the divorce, we made sure to tell him that the divorce is in no way, a reflection on him. He will still have to parents! I have been pleasantly surprised that my ex-wife and I have been able to remain on friendly terms under the circumstance but I’d rather us go through the divorce as friends, rather than enemies.
But not all people go through a divorce on good terms. I guess this is where my Story4Today starts…
I’ve known a “Sara” since college. She was always guy crazy and very manipulative. If there was an evil soap opera character, it would be Sara. We probably only crossed paths during a 3 year stretch and then we lost touch. Other friends interacted with her from time to time, so I was surprised to hear the vindictive, guy crazy person actually got married. Fast forward to the Facebook era… I got a friend request one day from Sara. Before accepting, I had to ask myself if I wanted my life to be a soap opera but then I know she got married, she had a kid, maybe she has matured. I hit Accept.
We initially made small talk and I often didn’t interact with her much. She would tell me how her husband didn’t make enough money and wouldn’t better himself or get another job. That they often had to borrow money from her parents to make ends meet. She did not work and was a stay at home mom for her daughter, who at that point was 16. I suggested that instead of having to borrow money from her parents, why doesn’t she get a job to help support the household. Her excuse was that her and her husband agreed she would be a stay at home mom and then said “Who will take care of cleaning the house, doing the laundry and getting meals on the table”. I thought that was kind of strange in this day and age. Why can’t the daughter or husband pitch in to do all those chores while she went back to work, even part time, to help with the household expenses.
Anytime I heard from her, she was constantly badgering her husband about him not making enough money, how her daughter hates him and needs to go to therapy. Her husband worked and when he got home, he was actually studying to pass a test so that he could move up in the company. He struggled with a cancer scare a few years prior. The more I heard of the story, the more I felt for the man. I would always encourage Sara to find something part time, maybe she would feel better about the situation if they both worked together towards a common goal. And I warned her not to speak badly about her husband to their child.
She found out I was going through a divorce and that’s kind of when things got weird. She was still married but telling me how she thinks the family auto mechanic was cute. I warned her that it was a very bad idea to get involved with someone the entire family deals with. She continued her pursuit of the mechanic to the point he wouldn’t respond to her. One day I get a text and she asks me if she should send the attached picture of her in a bikini sitting next to the pool to the mechanic… I ignored it. An hour later she lashed out at me for not telling her not to send the picture because she was now embarrassed for having sent it.
Time and time again, I was receiving messages from her complaining about her husband to the point I had to ask her to stop texting me. I suspected that she got it in her head that she was unhappy and blamed everyone else for her unhappiness. She was unwilling to do anything to improve her situation and I can guarantee you that the only reason why her daughter doesn’t like her father is the constant bad mouthing the mother had been doing. No wonder the girl is in therapy.
So, Sara decided she was going to get a divorce and she asked me for advice. With the knowledge I had, I gave her the most sane advice I could give her. She had it mapped out, she wanted the house, in leu of getting the house, she would forgo spousal support. I told her that as long as you two agree on the terms, the lawyers can make that part of the divorce decree. I did mention to her the importance of getting a job because along with the house, she will need to pay utility bills, taxes, food and other necessities. I also relayed to her the co-parenting classes I took and reminded her to stop speaking badly about her husband in front of their child. She was all set to consult a lawyer when…….
Her husband had a re-occurrence of his cancer. She had no empathy for him, just a complaint that now she will have to put off seeing the lawyer for that week. I felt empathy for the husband, it seems like he works hard, he is trying to better himself but he gets nothing but flack from Sara and the daughter. Luckily for the husband, he just has to get a small procedure done and he is cancer free.
The next thing I hear is how Sara went to the therapist and how her husband needs to move out of the house because the daughter is suffering. Over the next two weeks, that’s all I hear from her. I finally have to ask her to stop texting me about her issues with her husband. If she is getting a divorce, there really is no need to continuously bash him over the head. Perhaps she was seeking approval from me for her divorce. I ask her again, has she even looked for a job so she can support herself when they get divorced.
Next text… the husband moved out. I ask her again if she had been looking for work? She has not. She thought it more important to tell me that she has a new love interest on one of the Facebook Divorce groups. I ask her if her parents are supporting her and she tells me “It’s complicated”, her parents aren’t doing well. Which tells me her parents are paying her way but she doesn’t want to admit that she is taking money from her parents even though she berated her husband because they had to borrow money from the parents.
She ignored my early advice to get a part time job just to have something on her resume so it would help her find a full time job in the future. She didn’t listen to my advice to not badger or talk badly about her father… so we didn’t communicate very often. BUT THEN… I get a text one day that her daughter is very hurt. (I’m not sure if they are divorced already but…) The father has found a girlfriend. So I ask Sara how she found out. Apparently, Sara and her friend were looking at the fathers Facebook profile and he had a few pictures posted of him and his new girlfriend. So I ask how her daughter found out. Sara tells me, the daughter was looking over their shoulder while they were looking at his Facebook profile. So I asked why they would be doing that in front of the daughter, her excuse was that they didn’t know she was looking over their shoulder. Apparently the daughter was hurt because her father didn’t tell her. I’m not sure about you, but in a time of divorce, it’s probably best not to complicate things by announcing new relationships. I waited to tell my son and waited a year before I introduced him to my girlfriend. I wasn’t trying to hide it but I was waiting for the time was right, I didn’t want the relationship to be confusing for my son. But again, why do this type of stuff when the daughter is around. For the husband, why post it at all for the public to see?
Obviously I know this person well enough to give an honest appraisal. She is more concerned about men than she is about getting a job. I’m not sure she is looking for someone who will support her but she is doing nothing to support herself. That’s a shame.
The moral of the story is, if you are unhappy, looking at separation or divorce, it’s time to evaluate everything. The first thing I would evaluate is the issue in the relationship and if there is anything YOU can improve. Take a close look at what your parter is doing and see if you can make their life easier. If you don’t have a job, get one! This will likely lift your self esteem and may elevate the pressure your partner is going through. Know that if you do separate or split up, that you will need to manage your own household. What is it going to take to manage your own household and support yourself? Start making a list, start looking around at the cost of rent. I’ll be honest, My wife and I both had decent jobs and managed the house together but doing it on my own for the first time in 20 years was actually very stressful for me to think about.
It’s probably great that you can rely on the kindness of others but it will help you more if you plan ahead and figure out how to do it on your own….. but, I guess if you can find yourself a sugar-momma or sugar-daddy.. yeah, that works too, lol. Don’t count on that happening though, count on yourself. Nothing is greater than your own independence!