I just read Danielle LaPorte’s latest piece entitled “Break the law, bag the contract, ignore your lawyer, be yourself.” I came away thinking I had definitely done something right over the past almost year.
Almost a year ago, I got an email from my soon-to-be ex. You’ll notice that there is a new phrase out there in front of ex. Yes, for those of you who do not now, my ex and I separated back in January 1997. We have been separated since then. Last year, for some reason, he wanted to discuss a divorce. I had said all along that I was amiable to that but was not going to pay for a divorce so he would have to initiate it if he so desired. What peaked his desire is unknown to me but I was okay with it.
The real nitty, gritty started in February when he visited his lawyer. I tried to encourage a mediator but realized it probably didn’t really matter. He was still going to get legal advice from the lawyer and I was still going to go it on my own. Many people would say that is not what I should do. I should not try to maneuver the tricky legal system on my own. Guess what? We went into marriage without legal help. My guess is I, at least, can get out of it without legal help. Of course, it does help that I have next to no assets while he has a few. I am not saying he is loaded but he, in the past two or three years, bought a house and has a car he is purchasing so he has some assets. Biggest shock of the entire process was filling out my net worth forms – I can only say it is a good thing I do not judge myself by material value as my net worth – due to Parent PLUS loans for my kids to go to college – is a negative in a mighty way.
Now, let’s move on.
I did not like the first correspondence from his attorney. My problems ranged from an incorrect address – I live on a rural delivery route so that can get your mail not delivered – to a less than stellar split on his retirement funds (we were married for 12.5 years and had 6 children together) to a lack of spousal maintenance. I was also taken aback by how antiquated NYS law is in that it says he only has to keep the children on his insurance until they are 21. Needless to say, I called the lawyer and discussed my concerns and made a counter-offer in writing.
This back and forth between his lawyer and myself went on until I sent the final papers over – signed and notarized with one minor correction that I was amazed I hadn’t caught on the first round – near the end of June. Friends who work in matrimony law in the state could not believe this was moving so quickly.
Now comes limbo. For two months – evidently, the paperwork sat on his lawyer’s desk. At the end of August, he let me know that the forms were finally heading for court with one of three outcomes – based on the luck of the draw as to which judge we drew – (1) a cursory glance by the judge and a signing of the divorce decree, (2) a little bit more scrutiny but a signing of the divorce decree in a month or so or (3) up to six to eight months wait as the judge pours over the details and decides if he/she likes the settlement we have agreed upon and then the signing of a divorce decree with adjustments.
It has been about two months. We have had our youngest daughter get married. I have done preliminary shopping on the NYS Health Care Exchange as when the divorce is final I will lose health insurance coverage. We have had no word. My guess is, but I am not uncomfortable enough with limbo to try to find out, we drew the judge who wants to look everything over with a fine toothed comb.
Have you been through divorce? Did you go through lawyers or mediation? Did either of you represent yourself? When would you give up the fight on items you feel are important?