More divorce thoughts 10

Now that the cat is out of the bag, there are some more kind of nitty-gritty things about divorce that I want to talk about, because I think they’re dumb or annoying or just kind of funny.

It’s okay that we’re okay.

While we were going through the whole process, we kept having these weird conversations, just randomly. Mostly in the car, since thats when our housemate isn’t around. Where one of us would just say something like, “We’re not arguing about anything. I feel like there’s something wrong with us.”

Mike and I never did much arguing before, but there is this mental image you get of divorce, where there is shouting and tears and throwing things perhaps. There was a little crying while we were figuring things out. There’s always crying when something ends, just because endings are always sad even when they lead into new beginnings. But there weren’t hard feelings. There wasn’t shouting. And it felt… kind of weird that there weren’t, in a way. Like we were somehow doing it wrong.

We had a lot of conversations that started like this, going in both directions:

“Are you still okay?” “I’m okay.” “Why does it feel weird that we’re both okay?”

It’s okay that we didn’t want to argue. It’s okay that there are no hard feelings. (In fact, it’s better that there are no hard feelings!) It’s okay that we’re okay. I figure not a lot of people get to be in this position, but it’s a place that exists. And if you find yourself in that place, don’t feel weird about it.

And everyone, I know it’s super weird when someone tells you they’ve gotten divorced, and you’re not sure how to respond. And it’s probably even weirder when the people in question are both happy and okay with everything. It feels weird to congratulate people on something society in general says is a terrible thing.

But hey, you can always congratulate us on the fact that we’re still BFFs. We don’t feel like us getting divorced was a bad thing. We don’t want anyone else to feel that way either.

It’s way easier to get married than divorced

The more I think about this, the more it annoys me, to be honest. Like, I get that there are certain things that make getting divorced way more complicated than getting married; the division of property, and heaven help you if you have kids. (And I’m glad we didn’t have kids, because that’s a whole other set of people who you really have to put first… but anyway.) But it is just materially much more difficult to get divorced than married.

When Mike and I got married, we went to the DMV to get the license, didn’t have to wait at all, paid $30 and answered a few questions (eg: are you brother and sister?) and that was it. Then all we had to do was sign the thing with witnesses and there you go. Married. If you don’t count the big party we threw for signing our piece of paper, getting married was cheaper than dinner and a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. We also didn’t even have to even be residents of Colorado.

Filing for divorce was exponentially harder. And I mean that in a literal sense as well; we had to pay nearly ten times as much just to file the paperwork. (Now if we’d gotten married in Houston, we would have had to bay $71 for the license, which is around 1/4 of the divorce filing fee.) We had to have lived in Texas for at least six months and Houston for at least three, thankfully not a problem for us. And then there was a sixty day waiting period, between when we filed the original petition and when we could even go before the judge to get the final decree approved.

Like I said, I get that a lot of that has to do with just the legal messiness of untangling property, which is why you need to drag a judge into things. I even get keeping the judge in the uncontested divorce loop and wanting their approval on the final decree, because they’re there to make sure someone doesn’t get totally fucked because of a mistake or malicious design.

But a sixty day waiting period? Why isn’t there a sixty day waiting period for marriages? Even states that have “cooling off” periods for wedding licenses, they’re nothing like sixty freaking days.

This is not to say my marriage to Mike was some kind of mistake and we wouldn’t have done it if we’d had to wait two months. At that point, we’d been living together for over five years. I’m just saying that making people wait the same amount for a marriage as they have to wait for a divorce just seems a lot more fair. And it also feels really wrong to me, to make it super easy to get married, to the point that you can quite literally get married on a whim in many states, and then make it difficult and much more expensive and humiliating to end a marriage.

Anyone who is against no-fault divorce is either severely misguided or downright evil.

Considering Texas’s hyper conservative reputation, it might come as a surprise that it’s a no-fault divorce state. (Actually, according to Wikipedia, the whole US has been no fault since 2010, which is cool.) But that meant when I went before the judge and asked for a divorce, the reason I provided was quite literally:

My marriage to my spouse has become insupportable because of a discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship.

Which basically means “this marriage isn’t working out for reasons that aren’t anyone’s fault, please let us out.” And that is so. Incredibly. Important. For Mike and I, this was precisely the reason for our divorce. We’d grown to a place where we just didn’t feel that way about each other any more and no longer wanted to be married.

I don’t want to get too melodramatic here, but this is important. We’re  still incredibly good friends because we were able to decide that we didn’t want to be married any more, and then the state accepted that as a reason. This meant that neither of us felt trapped. Neither of us got put in a position where we could resent the other person. This allowed us to end that part of our relationship on incredibly good, cooperative, friendly terms.

If no-fault divorce wasn’t allowed, we would have needed a reason like abuse (not gonna happen) or adultery. And even when you’re both on the same side, being legally forced to blame someone for something that really requires no blame… I don’t think that would have felt very good for either of us. It wouldn’t have been fair. Sometimes things happen that aren’t anyone’s fault. There’s enough baggage on the entire word of divorce without the state forcing you to point the finger at someone and legally shame them.

I want to point this out because I remember in Colorado, political ads for certain candidates expounding upon the evils of no-fault divorce. There’s ongoing backlash and a definite sector of people in this country who would like to get rid of this kind of divorce, and their reasoning is total bullshit. Divorce is already difficult enough. Legally forcing Mike and I to remain married would not have caused us to somehow start loving each other in that way again. But it would have been a great way to destroy our friendship.

Everyone expects you to want to have nothing to do with each other any more.

I guess maybe because that’s the way it most commonly goes? But it’s been kind of weird in that respect. We actually ended up paying a lawyer to write up our final decree for us even just because if you download the form and want to fill it out yourself, there’s an assumption that everything is going to belong to either one person or the other. We wanted to keep one of our bank accounts jointly owned (so we could pay rent and bills out of it since we’re still housemates) and also keep the house we own at 50/50 while not having to just sell it and split it. They don’t make that easy to figure out.

And yes, we’re still housemates. We’re BFFs. We’re just really relieved to be sleeping in separate rooms. I know it’s kind of weird considering how these things normally go, but it’s worked for us.

My ties are incredibly powerful.

They tell you to dress nice for court. So I did, which included one of my power ties. I needed the confidence boost, man. Going in front of a judge is a nerve-wracking thing even if you have no-fault on your side. During my time at court, I got mistaken for a lawyer countless times (I guess only lawyers wear ties?) and caused several people some severe gender confusion.

It kind of made my day.

(Bonus: I was on crutches the entire time.)

Cake

Because yes, there was divorce cake. It was not as awesome as the wedding cake.

Like we murdered a fairy on top.

Yes. A funfetti cake. That’s right.

wpid-wp-1409675529754.jpegBut it was our divorce cake, and it was good.

 

 

10 thoughts on “More divorce thoughts

  1. Reply Lynn Yates Sep 3,2014 11:21

    Hey, y’all are doing it the right way — as responsible, caring adults. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

  2. Reply Paul Weimer Sep 3,2014 11:29

    The only divorce cake I ever heard of was in a Larry Niven short story.

  3. Reply Priscilla Martin Sep 3,2014 13:02

    I really like that you guys celebrated your divorce with a divorce cake and that you’re still friends. You don’t hear things like that any more, and I think we need to hear more stories like that.

  4. Reply The Goldfish Sep 3,2014 18:16

    I’m so glad this is going so smoothly. For one thing, it sets a really excellent example – not that it’s always possible, but that it’s good you’re demonstrating that needn’t be the abject nightmare it often becomes (although again, sometimes it is a necessary nightmare).

    In the UK, there are no no-fault divorces. The closest thing we have is divorce on the grounds of separation, which is possible after two years apart – so it’s very commonplace for a person to start dating or even move in with a new partner while still technically married to someone else. Otherwise, there’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Unreasonable behaviour is fairly open to interpretation, but it still requires apportioning blame. I’ve known amicable divorcing couples to mutually make up an affair to speed things up (and it still takes at least six months for the process to occur).

    We do have a cooling off period for marriage though – 14 days!

    I believe in marriage and sincerely believe that the institution is strengthened by allowing folk to get out of it smoothly (together with allowing all loving couples the opportunity to do it in the first place). Having people feeling trapped in unhappy marriages, or technically married but not living as such, undermines all the good stuff about marriage far more than the fact that not all marriages last a lifetime.

    All the best for the coming weeks and months, as folks respond and the two of you move forward.

  5. Reply JohnD Sep 3,2014 19:05

    “But a sixty day waiting period? Why isn’t there a sixty day waiting period for marriages? Even states that have “cooling off” periods for wedding licenses, they’re nothing like sixty freaking days.”

    It is my understanding that part of the reason for the waiting period on divorces is so that you have an opportunity to build a list of all the property and debts (some of which come in every month or more rarely).

    As for a waiting period on marriages, isn’t that what an engagement is for? You have said that you’ll be married but haven’t filed the final paperwork yet, sort of like the divorce.

    In any case, your grace under pressure (and this is pressure, even if it is of an unusual sort) is admirable.

  6. Reply John Pugh Sep 5,2014 10:24

    A Divorce Haiku:

    Two friends with great love
    lost that je ne sais quoi, now
    free to look elsewhere.

    I am sorry that you have lost something in your relationship that once made you happy, but so glad that you were able to get out of it without letting it become a source of growing pain and unhappiness. I wish both of you the best. And also, now I want cake. I like Funfetti. :)

  7. Reply Tasha Turner Sep 5,2014 16:55

    I did a divorce where we spent more time fighting and firing mediators and finally getting an attorney who got “us” than we did fighting with each other. We didn’t remain friends but kept in touch for years as I’d helped raise his son (8 when we met, 14 when he moved in with us, 18 and 3 months shy of graduating HS when divorce requested).

    His son and I recently reconnected. His dad fell off the grid for a few years and boys in there 20s aren’t the greatest at keeping in touch with parents & he lost my number with cell phone changes.

    People did find our lack of fighting weird. I was very hurt by the unexpected request for divorce and had a bad few weeks. Then I got myself together and as long as he wasn’t going to sabotage my relationship with his son & not leave me high & dry financially I saw no reason to make it a long drama thing.

    I think it took us 2 weeks to come to an agreement on how to split household goods (only assets we owned) and come up with an alimony plan that was really a “pay off our combined debt” (all in my name) plan.

    I got back on my feet fairly quickly after the divorce.

    I suspect those like you and me are more common than we know we just don’t make interesting stories and are less likely to talk about the divorce. People remember drama but amicable isn’t as memorable.

    In my circles staying friends/in touch with exes is unusual. Among my husbands circle it’s totally normal. I know his ex-wife and we invite her to crash in our room at cons. I was in-touch with my last ex-boyfriend for 15 years but he found it too weird to meet my husband so they never met.

    Divorce cakes, divorce parties, are all good. May you remain friends for a long time and may you each find someone else when the time is right.

  8. Reply emily Sep 9,2014 13:52

    the 60 day waiting period was in response to changing to no-fault. in CO, it’s a 90 day waiting period. part of that, actually, was instituted for the safety of women and children, because it allows women to GTFO of abusive relationships, allows them to manage their money and assets, and allows them to find places for children and themselves. during that time, restraining orders are easier to get, there’s a lot more services available, etc. it’s also during that period that all assets are frozen, and you can go to the courts if one of the partners starts fucking with things.

    i think that when couples have no assets, no children, and the divorce is amicable, it should be like 2 weeks, but that can also be hard to judge. i’ve seen a lot of abusive husbands bully their wives into divorce, hide money, hide children, etc., and not having that cushion of 90 days where assets are frozen, would really fuck them over.

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