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