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.

Rethinking Petitioner versus Respondent in Divorce

The Divorce is not always a drawn-out costly process like the documentary Divorce Corp explains.  However, in some cases when you have a Jekyll Hyde estranged spouse a long divorce is inevitable especially if the petitioner selects litigation over mediation, this is my situation.  Whoever files for divorce has more control over the process. In a previous post, Petitioner or Respondent?, respondent is the ultimate choice from my perspective because there’s a personal hedge of protection mentally and you relinquish control to the controlling spouse minimizing potential abuse (the respondent is more optimistic and thinks counseling could solve the issues); however, if the marriage involves a Jekyll Hyde spouse, the divorce is going to take a very long time and the court system becomes the abuse tool (the court does not come close to the actual abuse, but it is abuse nonetheless).  Jekyll Hyde people cannot decide because of their dual mental state.  Divorce requires a decision maker, which is why I’m rethinking petitioner versus respondent.  Consider the following points when deciding to be the petitioner or respondent:

  1. Identify the pitfalls of your marriage that have led you down the divorce thought path. Are they situations that you can recover from?  Have you had consistent counseling?  Do you still have good memories from the past?  Did a major life event change your love for your spouse?
  2. Identify your pressure level (use a scale 1 – 10). Do you work great under pressure?  How do you know you work great under pressure, have you been tested at work or in your family?  Can you rise above the reactions of your spouse if they respond with venom from the action of divorce or the process?
  3. Identify your spouse. How is your spouse going to handle the pressure?  Do they understand their emotions or ignore them?  If they ignore them, filing before they do by mediation could be your answer.  Is the divorce feeling mutual?  Do you have children together that will be impacted by the divorce?  How will your spouse handle co-parenting?  Has your love for your spouse changed because of an outside factor that’s been impacting your spouse making your spouse behave differently?

Assets and children make divorce extremely difficult, sprinkle the relationship with major adversity such as abuse and it is 10x more difficult.  Abuse can include anything from verbal, emotional, financial, physical, sexual and neglectful actions toward each other or one spouse during the marriage and during the divorce.  If one of the pitfalls of your marriage is: we are just not communicating.  It is probably not a pitfall, but a challenge area that can be worked on and eliminated.  If one of the pitfalls is infidelity: this is a difficult pitfall to recover from, because the one that cheated for whatever reason destroyed trust and must be invested in rebuilding trust for the relationship to survive.  Rebuilding trust takes work.  If your spouse is remorseful and ended the affair immediately after you discovered it, you may want to wait to divorce to figure out if forgiveness could improve your relationship.  Do not be hasty with a divorce decision.

Another factor to consider is your pressure level.  Do you buckle when the going gets tough or do you gain strength from facing challenge?  Divorce will test everything about your personality and it will also measure how you cope with the emotional roller-coaster that accompanies divorce especially if you go the litigation route which I highly dissuade you of pursuing.

People who petition for divorce are usually the former rather than the latter.  Deciding to divorce eliminates ALL responsibility immediately.  The initial pressure of the relationship is lifted.  Divorce appears to be the easy-way out instead of facing the problems that started the conflict in the first place.  If you are a decision maker and the other person is challenged in the decision department, you should probably consider being the petitioner; however, only if you are high functioning under pressure.  Try to limit attorney involvement as much as possible.

Attorneys add to the pressure, they do not relieve it.  Financial strain increases when you have an attorney and an attorney is skilled at rhetoric, so if they need the business they will keep the tab open and file frivolous motions which adds more stress to an already stressful situation, another drawback of litigation.  A divorce will test your pressure level.  If you have little tolerance when it comes to pressure respondent; try to salvage your marriage as much as possible, and do not divorce!  Divorce is ugly and grueling.  If there’s no abuse, I am a huge proponent of salvaging your marriage and working out the kinks.  It is possible.  I have seen it happen.  Be sure to identify the pitfalls of your marriage by asking if it is salvageable, identify your pressure level and carefully assess how the other person will function in the divorce environment before you file and become the petitioner.

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

Getting Divorced? Avoid Court or Wear a Gas Mask.

Family Law is truly the black eye of America.  It is a system created by lawyers to leverage domestic disputes for their advantage.  There is no one to hold the judge accountable for the judgments.  If both sides have lawyers or attorneys, they will consume all marital assets.  Their tactics, rhetoric and treatment requires a gas mask.  If you go pro se while the other person is abusive in nature, that person will use up almost all marital assets.  No matter what is done, if the relationship ends because one person is abusive and that person has enough funds to hire an attorney – that person will get their way no matter what.  When one person will not compromise and it is the same person that has filed and/or paid the most money while the other person is responsible by not spending beyond their means, one mistake going pro se will ALWAYS benefit the other person if there is no criminal record or criminal activity.

It is uncertain if things would be different if attorney representation was equal on both sides for my case.

Having an attorney secured financial support in my situation; however, that same attorney allowed the judge to impute income and administer below guideline child support.  Going pro se, the financial support may have been even less.  Shocked?!  It does not faze me anymore.

The only benefit of my current situation is that the abuser is in no way going to be awarded the marital home.

Through all this utter turmoil experienced, there is a silver lining.  There is no way that I will be forced to live under the same roof as the abuser.  Usually the abuser does not file for divorce, in my case the abuser did.  The abuser likes to maintain control and control is impossible without the victim under their watch usually; however, in my case, the abuser was a white-collar male who feared going to jail, because I would not turn a blind eye to his actions behind closed doors.  One time the abuser said to me, if you do not send out the Christmas cards, I will divorce you.  The following year he filed for divorce, but it was not over Christmas cards.

Hindsight is 20/20.  As a person who witnessed abuse and was subject to the abuse myself, videotaping the incidents would have been better than confronting the abuser hoping that the guilt would lead to changed behavior.  Confronting the abuser increased tension and pushed the abuser away preventing any real evidence collection while under the same roof.

Here’s the epiphany, someone who abuses another person either blames the victim or pardons their own guilt as justified.

An abuser cannot change.  They cannot change by extrinsic motivation or intrinsic motivation.  They will repeat the same mistakes, rituals and behavior in other relationships.  Some lessons are learned the hard way.  Do not learn the hard way like me.  If there is no abuse in your relationship go through mediation.  If there is no abuse in your relationship and you hire an attorney, by the end of it you will have a list of abusive interactions to add to the broken relationship as well.  Avoid going to court by filing for divorce first before your spouse (if divorce is truly your only option and your spouse is unpredictable).  Filing for divorce is one serious advantage of being the petitioner (see Divorce Strategy, Petitioner or Respondent).

If you are the respondent, convince the divorce filing spouse to seek mediation.  If you wait too long, the court attorney toxic gas will have already infiltrated all orifices of your spouse and there’s no way of reversing the contamination.

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