I’m a 57-year-old lesbian I never thought I would be married much less divorced. I didn’t get into a monogamous relationship until I was 38 years old. Yesterday I was served with divorce papers and my estranged wife asked for sole custody of our two children. We had agreed informally after our separation to have joint custody, split expenses for the children and not demand spousal support from one another nor enforce community property.
My ex did not work outside of the home or bring in income for five years. During that time I was the sole support of the family. I assumed that our divorce would be amicable and that she would do what is in the best interest of the children, joint custody as we agreed.
I made a decision to be public about this divorce, I have nothing to hide and I think it is cathartic to talk about it as we go through our process. A little background, my ex and I met in July 1995 and like typical lesbians did the u-haul thing and connected immediately.
We first got married in San Francisco when then Mayor Newsome made marriage legal for same-sex couples. That marriage was nullified by the courts. Then we got married on October 18, 2008 before Prop 8 was passed in California. That marriage has been upheld.
So now even though I am a lesbian and never thought I’d be married, I am married and on the throes of divorce. One of the things that I have done in this process to educate myself was to purchase a book: “Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce” written by attorney Emily Doskow.
Nolo press is based out of Berkeley, California and their mission is “Nolo is passionate about making the law accessible to everyone. Our high-quality books, software, legal forms and online lawyer directory have helped millions of people find answers in their every day legal and business questions.”
So I’ve got lots of questions: my ex has a lawyer do I need to lawyer up too? I’ve been told that to go in family court when the other party has a lawyer and you don’t is a mistake as the judge will act more favorably toward the party with a lawyer. I am concerned about money, lawyers are expensive it seems that this money would be better spent on my children as opposed to as one friend counseled me “paying for your lawyers children to go to college.”
But it’s clear that my ex has somewhat set up expectations that I would become a “weekend parent” or every other week end parent.
I left the home on in June 2013. We ended our relationship approximately in April 2012 but like many folks, in particular lesbians, because of economics we stayed under the same roof. My ex was not working at that time had not been working for four years prior. I didn’t think that she would ever be working outside the home.
We postponed our decision about what to do about housing until after she got a job. She got a job in May 2013. During our discussions about what to do I suggested that my first choice was that she move out and perhaps stay with friends to save money until we could decide what we wanted to do since I had been supporting us for five years.
My second solution was that we both move out and find places that were less expensive than the rent we had been paying and each take one child and switch off. We couldn’t agree to either these proposals. So I reluctantly moved out and found a place nearby.
Initially we were able to work out a schedule where I saw the children frequently, it was over the summer and at that time I would say I had the children with me approximately 40% of the time.
The academic year of 2013 2014 was chaotic in particular for my son and but I still kept the children about 30% of the time and my ex had a couple of trips and I was able to keep them full time.
We shared nannies and paid for those nannies in alternating weeks regardless of who had the children the majority of the time. The nannies had keys to both of our homes. We shared expenses relating to the children. I asked my ex how much she made since she knew how much I made. She refused to tell me.
I suggested that a fair way of dealing with expenses was to split the expenses proportionately according to income, she did not agree.
At some point right before the academic year of 2013-2014 I reluctantly agreed to a schedule of her having the kids the first and third weekend of the month and me having the kids the second and fourth weekend of the month and if there was a fifth weekend I would have the kids. There was always time during the week when I would have the children even if it was for one night. I would also have contact with them via phone or text.
It became more difficult to schedule things during the week this current academic year. There was always an excuse unless my ex had something else to do. Upon receiving the papers for divorce I note that one of the things that she asked for in terms of visitation for me was to keep the schedule that we currently have.
Of course there was no acknowledgment of my numerous requests to spend more time with the children nor their desire to spend more time with me.
As this process continues I have been told that in the state of California, this is probably true universally, that sole custody is not granted unless one parent is shown to be unfit. in the documentation there is no such allegations. However there is information about both of our children and their special needs.
As his process unfolds I will continue to blog about it. I simply want what is in the best interest of my children and I think that is spending half the time with them.
Peace, love, compassion and blessings