If there is one tip I’d like to offer up it’s this: be honest during your divorce process! I know it can be incredibly hard not embellish facts and events or, dare I say, even make them up entirely in order to bolster your side. And especially when your ex might be telling lies about you, well, it’s hard not to do the same. But don’t! It will not bode well in the end, I promise you. Lies haunt you forever—especially when they’re written or spoken under oath.
When my ex, Rob, and I split, I got pleadings, filings and letters that were outrageous and false. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Truth and alcoholism are not friends, after all. Nonetheless, I sometimes wondered if Rob’s attorney was confusing me with someone else because what they sent over had nothing to do with truth.
Especially fun was Rob’s statement that he didn’t drink and that alcohol had not been a problem in our marriage. He said that he had been a calm and loving husband throughout our marriage. He denied dating anyone on Match, though he had been with the same woman since a few days after I had left him in order to seek cancer treatments. When Rob allowed a stranger to move into our vacation rental without telling me and then tried to get me to foot half the bill for this guy’s failure to pay any rent, I almost choked on my dinner. It was comical, ridiculous, and bizarre. Wow, I thought, how drunk was Rob when he wrote most of this stuff?
I would talk to my attorney, Rhonda, and ask, “Can he do this? Why would Rob’s attorney even put this in writing?” Rhonda too often had to calm me down because I was so incredibly upset. She assured me that all of those statements would hurt him in the end. Staying silent and not responding to every absurd filing and letter he sent over was really hard. It’s one of the reasons I started blogging—I had to have an outlet somewhere to voice my side even if no one ever read it but me. Writing was cathartic.
Several months into the process, I had a huge change in mindset. I realized that Rob was actually doing me a huge favor. I couldn’t wait to go to court and be in front of a judge. Rob on the stand being confronted with facts and evidence? Vindication. Because Rob told me that when we eventually went to court, he would fill it up with all of his many supporters, I thought that was a great idea. If they actually did show up, they could all hear what a fraud and liar he really is. Another reason to go to court!
I spent many hours going over every document Rob submitted to the court and my attorney and I compiled a file with evidence and rebuttal. I was confident and ready.
Rob, as one might expect, wasn’t quite as ready as I was. I think he knew that keeping all of his stories straight and trying to explain to a judge why his statements were in direct contradiction to evidence would be impossible. Several weeks prior to our hearing, Rob’s attorney began contacting mine wanting to settle. I didn’t even want to respond.
“Rhonda, the answer is no. I want my day in court,” I said.
When Rob’s proposal began getting better and better, I still wasn’t swayed. I came up with a list of everything I felt was fair and I wouldn’t budge. “They thing is,” I said to Rhonda, “I don’t care about settling at all. He’s a liar and I want to prove it.”
At the end of the day, logic and reason prevailed and we settled. But had Rob been truthful throughout our divorce process, things would have gone far better for him. While our marriage was horrific, our divorce didn’t need to be that bad. I was fighting cancer, I was in the midst of chemo and I really wanted and needed to focus on my health and children. I was not in a fighting mood. I wanted it all to go away so I could fight my one true enemy: cancer. But Rob took my physical and emotional weakness as an opportunity to kick me as hard as he could while I was already down. Insults, lies, financial manipulation—it didn’t stop. So by the time came, I was ready for battle, not something that Rob anticipated or intended. Oops (for him).
A little honesty and silence would have gone a long way and, I believe, it will for you, too.