Marriage is not easy. Neither is divorce. I have chronicled my same-sex divorce, which is subject to the same laws as opposite-sex divorce. Never did I think I would be married, much less divorced.
To recap, I was married in 2008 and separated in 2012. My partner filed for divorce as the petitioner in 2013. So here is where we are since I last wrote about it.
We finally had a court ordered mandatory child custody mediation. It went well, sans lawyers, and we agreed to joint custody and agreed to a schedule with flexibility.
We next had a court date entitled “long cause” to discuss money. Previously we had decided to split the expenses for the children 50/50. My three issues with that were (1) My ex makes more money than me; (2) She did not work outside the home for 5 years and did not contribute to the expenses; and (3) We have different sensibilities about what the expenses should be.
Only the first point was resolved by the judge. The judge ordered a pro-rata split for the expenses. So now we are in the home-stretch and the divorce should be final soon.
I had been represented by an attorney but she got another job so at the end I represented myself.
Here are my takeaways:
- It is an adversarial system and emotions run high on both sides. For my part I was focused on my kids who like most kids wanted the status quo and for their parents to live together and their lives to remain the same.
- The scheduling is the hardest and most challenging for the kids who are being shuttled between homes. Both children have special needs and one in particular has difficulties with transitions so that had to be factored in to the scheduling.
- Despite the fact that I am the respondent and my ex is the petitioner, I was resolved to keep in mind the “best interests of the children” given that we would no longer live under the same roof. So getting back together was not an option.
- We worked out a schedule and also allowed each kid some one-on-one time with each parent so we could focus on them and their needs.
- As for our respective financial responsibilities, the judge ordered a pro-rata split based on income.
So now it is a waiting game until the divorce is final. I decided to keep my married name that is the same as my kids. My ex is going back to her birth name.
Other than the legal issues of divorce and child custody, I made an important shift emotionally. I moved from the notion of parallel-parenting to co-parenting. This was an important shift for me and is in the best interest of the children.
It means communication and primarily face-to-face and not in front of the children. Texting and phone calls are not as effective for finalizing planning and discussing concerns particularly around money. It also means checking in about the children around school, extracurricular activities, health, both physical and emotional, their social interactions, homework, and their relationships with me and the other parent.
And finally it means working on the relationship with the other parent as a human being who was your spouse, friend, and partner and forging a new relationship and leaving the past behind. For example, it may mean spending time in the home of the other parent if that is easier for the kids. It is a process and we are still family.
Peace, love, compassion and blessings.