Avoid Divorce Drama & Choose Mediation

Relief swept over me when the final documents for the divorce arrived in the mail.  It was over.  Finally.  No more court dates, witnesses and paperwork submissions.  Going to court puts stress on everyone involved.  Little did I know, I would be summoned to court almost a year later after it was finalized. If you have an ounce of good in you, go to mediation if you decide to be the petitioner in your divorce.  Settle everything in less than a year.  Divorce court is grueling and there is no end!  If you are in an abusive situation, court is the only choice unfortunately.  My heart goes out to you.  Here’s the plea, if you are set on divorcing your spouse for any reason and you have some love for them, go to counseling first and if divorce is still the only answer go to mediation.  If you are heartless and there is no abuse involved you will choose court; hardhearted or ill-informed always do.

Although I have no personal experience with mediation, an acquaintance of mine was the respondent in his mediation divorce.  He cheated on his wife with someone in his office.  They had one child under the age of 5.  After listening to his experience and how merciful his ex-wife was in the whole ordeal, mediation sounds so much better for the following reasons:

  1. Mediation is less stressful.  If you find the right mediation group, they will walk you through the divorce process and counsel you on your decisions for both parties.
  2. Mediation is less costly.  A court case has no end in sight if one spouse cannot handle stress.  Court becomes costly quickly and the judge does not hold the attorneys accountable even though the parties involved are under such emotional stress from their lives being ripped apart. Every minute counts towards your invoice.  EVERY MINUTE.
  3. Mediation is more fair.  Both sides are heard equally.  In court, there is no guarantee of fairness or equality.  The judge must listen to many court cases a day and depending on the judge’s mood your court case could go one way or another.
  4. Mediation is more private.  Court is a public affair.  Anyone can sit in on the hearings.  The documents submitted can be accessed by anyone with a driver license.
  5. Mediation is more family friendly.  All court documents are signed in an office and no one must go to court.  This is helpful especially if you have young children, because there are no delays.  No delays mean, you do not have to take advantage of your child care options thereby burning bridges because you could not set appropriate expectations with your family, friends, babysitter, or nanny.  Also mediation is more flexible with the custody schedule.  The court will give standard options; however, these options have not been monitored nor tested to find out whether the schedule was good for the children.  There is absolutely NO ACCOUNTABILITY.  Parents, you know what is best.  If one parent is more active in the children’s lives, let that parent decide or come to a happy compromise.

Mediation is less stressful, less costly, more fair, more private and more family friendly than court; therefore mediation in theory is so much better than court.  Do not take your spouse to court if you do not have to.  If you do not have children and you do not have assets, you don’t even need an attorney.  Many states will allow you to divorce online.  Divorce is so difficult.  Do not make it more difficult than it needs to be.  Follow your agreements with your co-parent and always do what’s best for the children.

Finalize your divorce through mediation, it is better for everyone.

First Step to Healing Emotions After Divorce: Letter to self, Refuse to Be with People like Version 1.0

Your memories of your former spouse and the divorce are not a figment of your imagination.  Refuse to be with people like Version 1.0.  The person you married evolved into a stranger.  A stranger seriously troubled by his past which is evident in his actions, words and deeds.  A stranger who tried to destroy your sanity while under the same roof (either learned military tactics or another personality altogether).  A stranger who can’t recite your favorite color, dislikes, hopes and dreams and someone who never saw you perform your passion even though there was tape after tape from the past recording it.  The person he pretended to be before marriage and before children was a perfect example of behavior modification.  God never changed him, he was changing himself to better suite your ideal image of him to capture you.  You were very accepting of his advances.  He seemed like the soulmate you daydreamed about.  He showered you with attention.  He surprised you at work.  He insisted on holding your hand in public.  He would not let a side-by-side opportunity go by if located in the same room.  He sent you flowers.  He took your laundry to the cleaners.  He raved about you to his mom and dad. He planned trips, bought practical gifts and even insisted that he drive and open your car door. He wrote you love letters, made you music compilations and ran half-marathons with you. He even signed a purity contract before marriage (amazing self-control).  He attended church with you every Sunday for 6 years straight after the nuptials without fail (sickness and travel being the exception). He was your running partner, sexual partner and best friend wrapped up in one husbandry package.  There was really no way you could avoid a marriage proposal or turn him down.  He made himself irresistible.  You were his prey and he knew exactly what to do to capture you in this throng.  You succumbed to Version 1.0 bait.  Your marriage reality didn’t sink in until the first pregnancy.

The first time you noticed something was off was when the pregnancy indicator showed up red the night before your wine tasting party and you shared the information with him.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise, you were not taking birth control pills or using other contraceptives.  He seemed excited about the news.  The night of the party, lots of friends came to explore the different wine flavors.  While you were extremely conscientious to spit out all the tastings, he used the tastings to get belligerently drunk. He was jovial all evening and interacting with mutual friends.  However, this was the first evening he could have died in your presence.  He drank so much he started vomiting and you found him upstairs.  Everyone went home after the tasting, no one saw him like this but you. He could have suffocated on his vomit.  He could have died right then and there. That’s how awful it was.  At that moment, you knew you something was terribly wrong.  The gradual change started that night.  He avoided all discussion of the drunken mess.  He said he felt comfortable to let go around friends (so, for 6 years he didn’t feel comfortable letting go?).  He wasn’t telling you everything.   You were sad but after giving yourself a pep talk you quickly brushed it off in place of baby preparations the following days, weeks and months.  After the baby arrived, you were thrilled even though caring for another human being seemed like a huge undertaking.  After going back to work, things began to spiral downhill with all the added stress.  To be real, some stress was self-induced; however, other stress was externally inflicted both at work and at home.  Thankfully he did not drink like that around you again, but saved the alcohol consumption for outside the home.

You started to change too, but only after the baby arrived and he started to mistreat you. You were not yourself. You were a ghost of a person you used to know especially after working so much with an infant at home, losing hours and hours of sleep.  His caring self, evaporated. His curious self became static. His friendship with you dwindled to roommate status.  Occasionally, there would be makeup sessions, but he couldn’t shake his new found self.  This new found self made him a horrible husband according to his own analysis.  You felt like you were in prison, but on the outside holding it together for friends and family and praying on your knees that something would give.  Amazingly enough, he kept his social commitments to friends and family (that part of him was the same).  Layers upon layers of hurt were inflicted each year after your first child.  Then came forgiveness from you, but not from him.  He could do no wrong.  You were to blame. He kept inflicting hurt the same way and rarely apologized.  The atheist year was the most difficult and it was the last year.

You were in a living nightmare, suffering quietly and prayed desperately for relief.  It came.  It came during the day. A stranger knocked on the door, you opened it and he handed you an envelope with divorce papers.  The divorce saga began.

Please stay away from people like Version 1.0.  You want people in your life that are rich in love, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  You need to be around people that can laugh at a clean joke but are also deep thought-provoking conversationalists who know the art of listening.  If you can’t find these qualities in one person, surround yourself with a variety of friendships.  You need people in your life who love God more than anything, die to pride daily and encourage you on your spiritual journey while you encourage them too.  Do not settle.  You have children that need good examples.  You are not enough.  Do not believe in yourself but believe in the one who made you.  Do not rely on the next version…  Rely on the only version that matters, Jesus.

Dating After Divorce – Traditional Methods Still Apply

Dating after divorce is difficult enough; however, now almost half of dating Americans are finding their soulmates online instead of in person according to eHarmony.  There are many websites and phone applications dedicated to finding you the perfect match, but traditional methods and courtesies still apply.  For some people, online dating is an opportunity full of surprises; however, the reality is the more people you date the less enthusiastic you become about real prospects.  Relationships do not develop overnight like online dating suggests.  If you’re looking for the one, you are not going to find him or her by dating multiple people at once. Additionally, if people date multiple people at the same time there is a split connection because some people have chemistry in some areas more than others; therefore, when the relationship need arises instead of reaching out to your potential true match to develop the bond you reach out to the person that has the strongest connection in that area of need you have for the moment at least that’s been my experience with others who date more than one person at a time (same problem occurs in marriages with affairs).

If its been awhile since you have hit the dating scene, you must know the traditional methods of dating before jumping into online dating.

  1. Keep conversation light and generally informative. Do not share too much information when you first meet online or in person. It is very tempting to divulge everything about yourself from the start; however, by doing this you are setting yourself up for failure because a connection has not been established.  Without a connection, the person receiving the information will make rash judgments which could result in instant rejection.
  2. Date with integrity. Do not use a burner phone number. Giving someone a burner phone number is disingenuous especially if you like the person you gave it to.  It indicates you lack trust and trust is a cornerstone to every relationship. If you are not looking for anything serious mention it abstractly, directly or creatively – mention it somehow.
  3. Set proper expectations. If you are constantly on the go and are not ready for a weekly dating relationship, say that up front or let the other person know your schedule.  Communication is important especially when there are two working individuals.  Even married people have a hard time managing communication and expectations and they live together.  If you cannot properly manage expectations you may not be ready for a serious relationship.
  4. Keep a lid on your divorce woes. Dating is not a therapy session. The person hanging out with you doesn’t need to hear the latest scenario that you confronted with your past partner (new scenarios surface especially if there are children).
  5. Practice the gentle letdown. If you’ve had 3 or more dates and there is no chemistry, gently tell the other person your feelings.  By prolonging the relationship you are setting up the person to get hurt and/or stringing them along, because you refuse to be an adult about the situation.

Online dating does not absolve traditional dating methods or common courtesies that should be utilized while dating.  If you want to get to know someone you must meet them face to face and you cannot ignore the top 5 courtesies.  Keep conversation light, date with integrity, set expectations, avoid past relationship discussions and practice the gentle letdown.  Dating was difficult before marriage and it is still difficult after divorce.  Ease the discomfort by remembering traditional dating methods.

Considering Divorce? Read this first!

Circling back through the divorce memories, reveals how unbelievable it truly is.  Divorce is an unknown entity by practically half the population.  Every divorce is unique and every divorce shatters relationships like removing a glass card from the glass house of cards.  If people knew better, they would divorce online, or they would use mediationLitigation requires deep pockets and although it looks official to the untrained eye; it is a theatrical play of attorneys playing puppeteer.  In fact, it could be described as the ultimate revenge tool.  Not only is it a revenge tool used by angry spouses, but it most likely is a revenge tool used by rich people as well, people who are not even directly involved in the relationship (this trajectory could develop into a story all on its own).  Oh, the tangled web just keeps getting more complicated.  Only certain people decide to litigate.

People who file for divorce and choose the litigation route can be defined as the following:

1. They have no idea what they are doing or they know the system intimately and choose to use the system for its many pain inflicting levers

2. They want their way no matter what

3. They are impulsive

4. They lack compassion

5. They have secrets they want to protect

6. They are not communicators

7. They do not care about the best interests of the children

8. They will be manipulated by the system whether they know it or not

9. They will use the system to punish their spouse

10. They will try to use every tactic they can to screw over the other spouse, to the extent of submitting false coerced testimony

Understanding divorce is somewhat corrupting in nature.  Innocence and ignorance is a blissful state that has long since died by going through the divorce process (which actually starts the moment the petitioner starts talking with attorneys) – consumers beware.  It is disheartening that the American government does not value its citizens enough to modify and/or do away with the litigation system that is in place.

If you have a heart, do not litigate.

If you have a soul, go to counseling consistently for at least 6 months (don’t settle on a counselor that only one of you likes, find one that is a good fit for both of you).

If you must divorce, do your research and put your broken family first as much as possible.

Financial Discovery in Divorce – 5 Questions to Ask

It’s been so long since discovering evidence that the petitioner had at least one hidden account; almost a year ago now.  After being forced to sell my home with an affordable mortgage (more affordable than rent), I lost my footing.  Everything had a place, and everything was in its place before the move.  After the move, not so much. Because I had to figure things out in 15 days, while caring for two young children and trying to achieve some form of normalcy during the holidays I inadvertently selected movers from a sponsored search ad on Google.  The movers were good at first; however, as the day wore on it became very evident I chose the wrong company.  The end result was chaos and important things went missing.

One important thing that went missing was financial documentation; several bank statements from 4 years ago show transfers between unidentified accounts, accounts the petitioner never identified in his financial disclosure to the court and myself.  (It was no easy task obtaining those statements!  Navy Federal shows partiality to the person who served in the military, so I went to several different branches).  I asked and I asked and I asked for the account numbers to no avail from the bank and petitioner.  Petitioner gave me every excuse in the book of excuses and the bank played dumb.  Once again, having to deal with this lying person that I loved once and other people enabling him in his lying.  Exasperating to say the least! In multiple declarations the mystery account was spoken of; however, going Pro Se or Pro Per means no one cares for the truth if you are unrepresented.  No financial discovery was made at the time.

Before the divorce, our family income was stable and high compared to Census Bureau numbers.  After reflecting on the possible balance of that account today after finding good information on how to perform financial discovery, this is the first time admitting defeat sounds good.  Letting it go must be the best decision.  Over 2 years of petitioner siphoning money there is no possible way the balance of that mystery account is more than $50,000.  Asking these questions helped the decision process:

1. Will opposing counsel or petitioner cooperate without litigation?

2. Do I want further litigation in my case?

3. Is this mystery account worth all the stress that comes from contacting opposing counsel?

4. Will recovering the money give me any satisfaction?

5. Do I need the money to survive?

The answer to all the above questions in my situation is a resounding “NO!”

Decision made.

White flag raised.

It is finished.

No financial discovery needed.

Marrying A Military Man Is A Risk

Something needs to be done about family education in society and the military.  Every immediate family member that is exposed to military personnel with traumatic experiences in their history is at risk for abuse.  The government is taking no responsibility, the military branch is taking no responsibility and schools are taking no responsibility.  This is not only a PTSD issue, this is a human issue.  It is a lack of concern for another human being from the start of their military service.  It begins when young men/women are recruited, it continues when they are serving their country and it continues still when they come home and try to integrate back into civilian life.  Family law profits off this discord that military service cultivates in families.  It is a chain reaction and I wish I knew about it before I got married.

Before you start a relationship know the history of the person you are marrying, because as I have experienced, it can come back to haunt you especially if abuse was not acknowledged and/or identified in the nuclear family that served in the military.  Even a person who wasn’t in the military, but exposed to military parents can suffer in adulthood.  Be fully aware of the indicators by asking a few questions:

1. Did siblings have any developmental issues growing up or unusual behavior?

2. Has the family faced any government authority before?

3. What is the history of the parents and their experiences?

Only recently have people become more acquainted with PTSD.  I have heard that admitting any mental flaw or struggle in the military can set the person up for failure instead of success, this was especially true I assume in the 1970s after the Vietnam war which lasted from 1955 to 1975.  See History.com for more on the Vietnam War timeline.  Soldiers who served in Iraq from 2003 – 2011 will hopefully have a better chance now that counseling is becoming more accepted.

Counseling should be mandatory for every military person that has served during wartime or who has been exposed to someone who has served during wartime.  When these courageous men and women come home they need support and their families need emotional support, not for a year for the life of the retired soldier.  Every person is impacted by their overseas and wartime experiences whether it is acknowledged or not.

Signs to look out for if your spouse is triggered:

1. Nightmares

2. Sudden change in character

3. Sudden change in friends

4. Withdrawing and/or stonewalling

5. Increase in alcohol consumption or marijuana use

6. Strange behavior with children and/or defensiveness

7. Absent and/or not coming home

8. Mood swings

9. Depression

10. Gas-lighting

Note: I am not a psychologist or therapist.  Signs are purely from experience and online research.

The person who divorced me did not want to own up to the trigger list.  He preferred to keep everything buried and locked away (similar to his parents who are still married to this day).  He divorced me, because I was not afraid to point out the abuse that was festering and for some reason he couldn’t make it stop.  He would try on his own, but then fall right back into the same patterns. The abuse to this day remains cyclical.  He divorced me to save face and protect himself from jail, so far his strategy has worked.

Confronting a jaded past is difficult for anyone, confronting the past when there is abuse is almost impossible unless the person who was abused is strong enough to face it and heal; however, if you have children you must stand up for what is right and stop the crazy cycle.  I made the mistake of confronting him before recording the behavior on tape or video.  Do not make my same mistake if there is abuse in your home get it on video. Turning a blind eye is not what is best for your family.  Do what you can to educate yourself on abuse and raising a family with the right parenting style, an authoritative approach from both parents.  Remember, marrying into a military family is a risk especially if someone served during wartime; please understand the possible consequences.

The Depression Cloud of Divorce – Coping During the Holidays

When you have been the one to create holiday traditions in your family and then all the sudden you are forced to be without your children, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are not met with the same enthusiasm as previous years.  It is just a fact of life, especially if you are newly divorced.  Difficulty dealing with the situation does not end, but becomes increasingly challenging when the other parent decides to violate the custody arrangement or even worse decides to take the kids during the holidays for an extended period despite communicating that you have plans.  Forget jungle emotions, be ready for an entirely new emotional shift.

This shift is called the depression cloud of divorce and it settles in as you near the end of your divorce case.  There has been so much hurt and pain leading up to finalization, by the time you reach the end you are completely numb from head to toe (which occurs from a high conflict divorce like mine).  Suffering is hard.  Suffering without cause is even harder.  The person that you once treasured has squandered your love and treated you like garbage for a lengthy period.  It happened many times before the divorce; however, when you are a forgiving person you bounce back, and the marriage commitment keeps you grounded.  If that’s you, you have a high tolerance for pain like me.  When you have a hard heart, you file for divorce which was said in scripture way before my time.  God’s word is the only book that acts as a remedy to the human condition.

There is no way to cope during the holidays, that’s the hard truth.

You must face the pain and endure.

You must recognize the cloud of divorce, so it doesn’t consume you.

You must persevere.

The only way that you can keep things straight is relying on the truth of God’s word.

People are going to disappoint.  All people are flawed. You cannot rely on people.  People are just a vapor.  Accomplishments by people die with them.  Inventions by people get used and possibly warped by others after you’re gone.  Every hurt inflicted by people on others reflects their heart condition and it is imperative that you do not give them control over you by accepting the blame, because they need a scapegoat.

Take one day at a time.

* Breathe in and out.

* Be ready for the next wave.

The depression cloud of divorce during the holidays is unavoidable and different for every person.  There is nothing that you can tell someone that will suddenly lift the depression cloud.  Some will not recognize they are in the cloud until it is too late.  Others will see it for what it is and still others may keep the cloud around for a very long time, because that is what they are comfortable with.  Change is difficult in either direction.  Feigned optimism during depression is also an option – DON’T DO THIS – YOU’LL MISS THE POINT OF YOUR PAIN.  Coping during the holidays is something that people will say to gloss over the grave situation that is faced by split, separated or divorced people during a time that should be filled with happy memories.  Do not cope.  Face the pain and endure.  Recognize the cloud of divorce, so it doesn’t consume you.  Persevere.  Take one day at a time.  Breathe.  Life is a vapor and the divorce cloud is not forever, be ready for the next wave.  The holidays are almost over.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

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