I’m Unhappy About [INSERT PROBLEM], I Want A Divorce

Full disclosure, this is not an expert article or legal advice; it is an opinion article founded on great convictions of the heart and the reality of what divorce actually is.  Yes, what you think divorce is and what it will do for you is not the truth.  It feels like the perfect escape route to your dreams that seem to be held captive by marriage.  Divorce is not an escape.  It is purgatory and I’m not Catholic.  It is wicked.  It is vile.  It is the worst option imaginable.  How can divorce be so horrible in a country that prides itself on an impeccable justice system?  There is no one watching.  Family Law operates on an island floating between politics and corruption.  There are a few decent human beings sprinkled here and there in the industry; however, the whole system is terribly and utterly broken.

If you find yourself contemplating divorce.  Think again!  The only justifiable reason for divorce is abuse; however, many courts do not care what reason you use (this is a no-fault philosophy).  You must consult an attorney to understand whether or not your court is following a fault or no-fault stance (fault is rare these days even if there is evidence). In fact, if you are in an abusive situation it could get worse whether you are filing or responding.  At this point you must be scratching your head.  That’s exactly what you should be doing.  Please think long and hard about your [INSERT PROBLEM] before you consider divorce.  Divorce use to be taboo; it use to be a matter that was kept as private as possible; it use to be avoided.

NEWSFLASH, the system was designed to punish those who enter it.

Once one person in the relationship decides to file divorce papers with the court or with an attorney, both people are stuck with litigation.  You found this content, so this article is for you. If you file for divorce from your spouse you will be called the petitioner.  The almighty one who cannot stand being united to a person that creates [INSERT PROBLEM]. Some people take this opportunity to make the problem spouse look completely unbearable and attorneys for the petitioner take this opportunity to embellish every crooked detail with their own prose.  The theory, if the story is more grand, the better off everyone is (at least that is the initial agreement by everyone involved for the first 6 months of your divorce).

Unless you are experiencing the four quadrants of abuse (physical, emotional, neglectful and psychological abuse) divorce may not be worth it for you.  Note: financial abuse falls under both emotional and psychological abuse and sexual abuse falls into every quadrant (in my opinion)Note: please call the authorities if you feel you are in physical danger at any point in your relationship.  Do not hesitate. 

It is very possible you have several things in each quadrant or only one thing in one quadrant.  Please list everything that your spouse is doing in each quadrant.  Get it all down on paper.  Then go see a therapist!  It will probably take you at least 3 months to find a good therapist that is a good fit for you.  Imagine how long it takes to find a good attorney!  There is no time to waste get started.  You may have to have several before you find the right one.

After you have been in therapy and you still decide divorce is your only option, please evaluate if litigation is what you really want.  Some people have no choice, but without evaluating your situation you could be stuck litigating when you could have done something entirely less stressful and less expensive.

Here is your checklist if you have too many things in each quadrant:

1. Is your marriage less than 5 years?

2. Do you have any assets (property, retirement, etc.)?

3. Do you have any children?

If your marriage is less than 5 years and you do not have any assets or children, you do not have to litigate!  You can file for divorce online.

If your marriage is less than 5 years and you have assets and no children, you should consider mediation.

If your answer is “yes” to all, you should consider mediation.

If your answer is “no” to #1 and “yes” for the rest OR “yes” to #2 OR #3, mediation and litigation are the only options (if you know of more options please be so kind and leave me a comment).

Hopefully your problem is not so big that you cannot reconcile it with your spouse and work through it to have a better and stronger relationship in the end.  Divorce is not for the unhappy, it is for the those that need to save their lives or protect their sanity.  Happiness is fixable.  Abuse unfortunately does not have a sustainable remedy.  Additionally, even after divorce the person who endured abuse can still be at risk.  Do not go back to your abuser or your abuser’s family at anytime.

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.

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.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

The Ex Parte – 3 Lessons Learned from Divorce Court

In the beginning of the divorce, there were many incidents that triggered a fight or flight response in me which made me think it was an emergency.  For example, there was a temporary restraining order in place for a real emergency and a few days after (I don’t even know what to call him – Nameless) came knocking on my door and threatened to come in.  One day after church, Nameless broke into the residence by locksmith and took valuable items.  I called the police and filed an Ex Parte, because I felt violated.  Even though Nameless defied the restraining order, nothing happened for his violation.  It was an out of body experience.  All this was unfolding before my eyes and I just watched in disbelief.  Nameless attempted to break in several times after the theft by using a locksmith again, the court did nothing about it.  Nameless still had his license with the home address clearly displayed, so the locksmith had no idea that Nameless had no right to enter the home (one time I was home and opened the door on them – I was shielded by the storm door).  Both Nameless and the locksmith scampered away in embarrassment.  Nameless is really good at covering up his emotions when others are present.  I was really glad the locksmith was there to act as a witness.

In my naivety, I did not file a contempt hearing because I thought the violation was self-explanatory, there was a police report and if orders are broken I thought it was in direct rebellion against the court.  DUMB.  I did not have an attorney, so it did not matter.  In hindsight, if I had filed contempt it probably would not have mattered anyway, because I did not have an attorney.

1st Family Law Lesson: Divorce court does not operate according to what is right and wrong.  They assume everyone is lying and the court processes are leveraged to lengthen decisions as much as possible.

I did not hire an attorney, because I do not make enough money to hire an attorney.  Did I want an attorney?  Yes.  Did I interview attorneys to find one that I could afford?  Yes.  Did I find a great attorney?  Yes.  Did I hire her? No, because her retainer started at $10k upfront.  Did I eventually hire an attorney?  Yes.  Could I afford the cheap attorney that I hired? No.

2nd Family Law Lesson: Good attorneys like to win, if they cannot win they will not accept your case if they are ethical attorneys.  What is an attorney’s definition of winning?  Best asset division, best custody arrangement and deep pockets.

When I hired an attorney, there were zero Ex Parte hearings, mostly because my attorney advised against it, not because there was not a valid reason.  Luckily the attorney I did hire was somewhat ethical and he understood from reading the paperwork my position in the case.  Did I have to eventually self-represent anyway? Resounding YES!

3rd Family Law Lesson:  Once you have an attorney, you must use your attorney – NO EXCEPTIONS.  This rule makes it difficult for the average person to keep an attorney for very long, because the attorney must attend every hearing ($$$).  Plus, if you think the judge needs to hear or be alerted to something important, the attorney must file the paperwork for you (if the attorney doesn’t want to file the paperwork or has another pressing case the attorney will advise against it).

Nameless recently had his attorney file an Ex Parte.  It was not a valid Ex Parte reason; however, Nameless somehow got the ‘Granted’ checkbox checked.  I did not take my own advice from 6 Things A Divorce Attorney Won’t Tell You.  The Ex Parte is full of lessons for the one going pro se.  Remember, Lesson #1 Right & wrong do not matter in divorce court; Lesson #2 Good attorneys like to win; and, Lesson #3 Once you hire an attorney you must use your attorney.  Family law is the Wild West, do not expect anything from a broken system without checks & balances in place.

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.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com