Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Divorce Papers

i started working on my divorce papers several months ago, less than a month after i ran away from my abusive former husband. Even though from my perspective (and probably from his, too) he stopped being my husband long ago, i still have to go through this horrible state divorce because i foolishly obtained a state marriage license when i married him.

i could not afford an attorney, but i did qualify for legal aid, which in my county (poor and short-staffed) means i was able to attend a 2-hour class to learn how to fill out the divorce papers. i did start filling them out, but i didn't get very far before life as a single mom intruded.

The series of crises seemed never ending. The house and the appliances and the car and the weather all seemed determined to make our lives miserable and extremely costly. When the washer died, we had to spend $20 a week washing clothes (just for washing, not drying!) at the nearest laundromat an hour away. We endured months without hot water before the broken water heater could be replaced. When the car broke down, the cost to repair it was half of its Kelly Blue Book value. We went through two blizzards and the rest of the winter without being able to heat the house. It seemed i was always having to take care of some emergency, so the divorce papers kept getting set aside while more urgent things were dealt with.

One of the things A has brought into my life is structure (did i mention i am crazy about Him?). He helped me to focus on the divorce papers, break the project down into manageable parts and address each step that needed to be done. As a result, in a couple of weeks the papers were finally ready to be filed.

i need to insert here that in addition to all the other pressing matters that made getting the divorce papers finished so difficult, there was also a procrastination and aversion factor. i was so happy to be free from my former husband that i just could not stand the thought of having to engage or interact with him in any way, much less have to be in the same room with him at the courthouse. But ultimately my desire to get the whole mess over with and my desire to do a good job on the tasks that A set for me so he would be proud of me overcame the aversion.

So, down to the courthouse i went, so excited to finally be filing for the divorce, only to discover that the case could not yet be filed because i was submitting an application to defer the court fees, which the judge had to rule on first. While this was disappointing, i could see that it was a necessary step in the procedure, so i went home and waited for them to call me and let me know when the judge had ruled on my application.

When i went back, i was told that my application was denied because i hadn't included the former husband's income on the application. i felt myself starting to tear up at this news, but i remembered what A told me when i was disappointed on the first trip to the courthouse--that as long as i handled myself well, represented Him well and my actions and responses reflected well on Him, then He was proud of me--and then i was able to take a deep breath and not cry. i still thought i might cry when i got back to the car, though, but i didn't.

Now, i must state here that on that line of the application, it says, "Spouse's income (if available to me)", and i have had no access to the former husband's income since the separation months ago. i showed this to the clerk, but it didn't make any difference, so i had to pay court fees of over $300 to get the case filed.

my third disappointment came when the clerk told me that there would be no hearing scheduled until after we have been to mediation, so it looks like this state divorce is going to take longer than i thought, plus i still hate the thought of being in the same room with him. i tried very hard to make my petition as equitable as possible so that hopefully he will not contest. Before i filed, i even wrote to him and asked him if he wanted to file for an uncontested divorce together, but he just sent a nasty letter back and didn't even answer the question. It was his usual raging, except it was on paper.

So, now i wait to see if he accepts service of the papers before anything else can happen on the case.

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