Submitted by Delaine
I’m no divorce expert; there’s no law degree or special accreditation following my name. But now that I’m two years into my divorce, there’s one golden nugget of advice I’d like to pass onto those newly divorcing: Get EVERYTHING down in writing – signed, sealed and wrapped up – otherwise, there’s a good chance you’ll be postponing the inevitable.
There are many valid reasons why we don’t hammer it all down properly right away. We’re grieving, we’re coping, we’re scared, we don’t want our lives to into a nasty episode of Law & Order. We don’t want to expose our kids to any drama or nastiness…and God knows, we don’t want our exes coming after us with fire in their eyes. It all just seems like too much.
But the two things I’ve finally come realize are that 1) having EVERYTHING laid out plainly and clearly HELPS both parties understand expectations/responsibilities. And 2) the unresolved issues will not only chase you, they will worsen and continually upset your and your kids lives. You can ‘hope for the best’ as much as you want, but the bottom line is that many people require a lengthy legal contract in front of them in order to do what is, in fact, ‘fair’ and in the best interest of their children.
Yes, I’m speaking from personal experience; only now, two years in, have I been pushed to realize it’s time to get it all down properly. And I know I’m not the only one – a friend of mine, also two years in, is in the same position. I also receive letters from other readers who keep ‘hoping’ that time will smoothen things out, whether it’s around custody, parenting schedules, or child/spousal support.
My best friend Hali told me all throughout my divorce that I was being too nice, too complacent, too idealistic, too much of a doormat, and so on. This opinion came from a woman who hashed through her legalities swiftly, meticulously, and with fairness to both her ex AND her and her kids. But I thought her approach too aggressive; I instead chose to let time slip away, and held onto hope, to my belief that all would turn around if I worked hard, stayed tough and remained kind. And where am I now? Back at the starting gate, spending all the money I once feared spending on lawyers, as I prepare for court.
I guess I needed these past two years…to find my courage.