Sometimes happiness comes under the most unexpected of circumstances.

Our Day in Court

Posted: September 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: challenges | Tags: , | 51 Comments »

Oh God he´s drinking again!

You know if I leave you now,

It doesn’t mean that I love you any less.

Sarah McLachlan (and Warren Zevon)

My ex and I split up 6 years ago and have handled all of our arrangements on our own, yet we hadn’t dealt with the legal formalities. Today, we went to court to finalize the dissolution of our marriage, and frankly, I was quite shaken by how combative and painful it was. There were motions to have the children assigned their own legal representation, quarrels over unpaid medical expenses, and questions about the fairness of the separation agreement. I had no idea that it would come to this.

Thankfully, those unpleasant moments had nothing to do with our divorce. Instead, we were forced to sit in on two other proceedings that happened before ours. It was like being dumped into someone’s private soap operas, and unfortunately, we learned their names, addresses, and much more unsavory personal information about them. We sat there together in shock, as I put my hand on his leg and he grabbed it and held it. Not only were we horrified by the nasty disagreements between a couple that had been divorced for years, but we were also instantly grateful for the cooperation that exists between us.

The next couple was much sweeter. The wife teared up in the beginning and was concerned that her hard of hearing husband couldn’t understand the judge’s questions. Nevertheless, the judge started asking them tough questions about their legal agreement, and we started to worry about the details of our own. Personally, I hadn’t expected to be grilled about our decisions. They were personal ones that made sense to us.

When she finally called us up there, we were the only couple left in the courtroom. She said, “Well, you’ve had a chance to see how this works.” We both laughed nervously. Luckily for us, she smiled kindly and sailed smoothly through our agreement. She seemed to be convinced that we had made sensible arrangements, partly due to the way that we had interacted in the courtroom, plus our long term separation and our use of a legal mediator to write up the agreement. We were quite relieved.

When she came to our agreement to share the children’s medical expenses, I told her that we didn’t plan to come back to court to fight over that. My ex chimed in and said that we could make decisions about braces without the help of a judge (unlike the first couple). She laughed and said, “It all comes down to communication.” When she approved our agreement, my ex asked me for a hug. She smiled widely and said “Keep up that attitude.”

What we saw in that courtroom had quite an impact on us. I was really sad, but not because I was divorcing, but because I had seen such animosity between divorced parents. Yet, of course, there was also a sense of lament at the formal end of our marriage. We looked at each other tearfully, hugged again, and I said, “We just officially saw that we did a good job.” He replied, “We’re still doing a good job.”  I couldn’t agree with him more.

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51 Comments on “Our Day in Court”

  1. 1 Adrienne said at 5:43 pm on September 3rd, 2013:

    My parents divorced after my brother and I were both out of the house – they had stayed together “for our sake” for quite a while…another subject for a different day. It took them 7 (seven!!) years to settle the financial matters between them. And by financial matters, I just mean who is taking on most of the debt. To this day it’s impossible to get into a long conversation of any substance with my mother that something negative about my dad is not shared…so here we are 30 (yes, I said thirty!) years later…it’s insane. I’m always moved by your heart…and the determination and honesty with which you and your ex navigate these tricky waters.
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  2. 2 T said at 6:07 pm on September 3rd, 2013:

    That just makes me sad too. Sad for the children of these parents.

    Y’all keep doing what you’re doing.

    Love.
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  3. 3 Denise said at 7:32 pm on September 3rd, 2013:

    Wow…how very different, but altogether similar to my “official” divorce. Like you two, we had been separated for 6 years, had agreed on everything in our separation agreement and it was simply about the paperwork. A few months before the official divorce, my ex called me to say he was moving forward with it. That was my heads up. Ours was so amicable that I got a served with paperwork, signed the paperwork and about a month later got a notice in the mail with the official divorce papers. We decided it was so “uneventful” that we didn’t even tell our teen daughter until 2 years later when it came up in conversation. While it was probably wrong not to tell her, we felt her life hadn’t changed since we separated and didn’t want to make it a big deal. And it really wasn’t for her. After the initial shock of “my parents are divorced and no longer separated” she adjusted fine. Lines of communication have always been open.

    So very different from others I know, who fight it out in court for years and what you witnessed is so much more painful.

    I prefer your way and mine. Best of luck. Miss your blog.

  4. 4 Molly Monet said at 8:13 pm on September 3rd, 2013:

    Thanks, gals. I realize that it was a great learning moment for us both, as we now have witnessed what happens when communication does break down. It’s a reminder for us to keep working together!

  5. 5 Family Law West Palm Beach said at 1:45 pm on October 22nd, 2013:

    Thanks for the great and insightful post Molly. The more a couple can work on a level-headed manner during the divorce the less the emotional damage occurs to everyone involved. Showing respect for your ex is also showing respect for yourself, and everyone including your kids, notice and appreciate that.

  6. 6 Sam said at 10:18 am on October 30th, 2013:

    Maybe they should have had you two go first so you could set a good example!
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  7. 7 Bibika@Fixed Price Divorces said at 4:45 pm on December 3rd, 2013:

    The thing that made most impact in your divorce is probably the fact that you have had a legal mediator in your communication. I believe engaging a mediator in the whole divorce process make a hell of a difference. People just have the time sit down and talk before they actually go their separate ways.
    Or maybe it is that you are a different kind of people, divorcing under different circumstances…
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    That’s it, i agree with the previous comment. You have had the time and all the help you could get to go through your divorce the better way. The divorce practice should be managed by rules and not to allow people to rush into divorce just like that.
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