Adventures in Divorce

I always wondered why people who murdered their spouses didn't just get a divorce.... I now understand why

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Location: Nap Town, Indie-anne-ahhhhhh!, United States

No, I'm not a prophetess. Cassandra, according to Greek mythology, spurned the advances of the Greek god Apollo and her gift of prophecy was cursed so that her predictions would never be believed. Such is my life. I tend not to think like most people, which is a gift... but also a curse. So step into my mind, take off your shoes and stay for awhile... you're always welcome, loved ones.

October 29, 2008

"As the parties may agree....."

"...as the parties may agree." ~ Page 6, Line 4 of my divorce settlement agreement.

This one little phrase is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to divorce decrees, particularly as it relates to child custody and support arrangements. First, I must say that negotiating a divorce settlement agreement is one of the most stressful, frustrating, and emotionally draining endeavors in life. There's a lot of quibbling just for the sake of quibbling, a lot of leveraging, many threats (both real and totally bogus) and it just wears you out. Even if you feel like you are competent and intelligent, I highly recommend having someone else do the heavy lifting for you (I'm an attorney and it was even a bit much for me, more so from an emotional standpoint than an intellectual one.... it's like writing your own eulogy. Not fun).

There is much debate over whether the State Parenting Guidelines are fair and reasonable, and whether it would just be better to work it out between the two parents and forget all the court involvement. Yea, that SOUNDS like a good idea, until you try and put it into practice. The phrase "as the parties may agree" only works when that last little word actually occurs.... AGREE. I'm sorry to tell you, loved ones, there's not much of this going on when you are newly divorced. I'm not even talking about things that are or are not in the best interests of the child(ren)..... even assuming that both parents do what's best for their kids, there's a whole lot of other room to make things difficult on the parents.

Example: The State Parenting Guidelines state that whichever parent is receiving the child to begin their parenting time is responsible for pick up, and such pick up is to occur at 6:00pm. So that means when The Ex is to have my daughter for the weekend, he is supposed to pick her up at 6pm on Friday, and I pick her up from him at 6pm on Sunday. Now throw "as the parties may agree" into the mix. Now it becomes "Can you drop Daughter off to me at 7:36 pm over in the Target parking lot? I can't come pick her up" or "I'm not sure what time I'm going to be there, probably around 6:45" and he shows up at 7:45 because I told him I have to be somewhere at 7:00 and he assumes that it's for a date (when that wasn't even the case at all.... not that it should have even mattered). So then I'm less inclined to stick to the 6pm guideline and make him work around whatever I've got going on..... you see what a mess this becomes? And I go through this every single weekend on both Friday AND Sunday (because my son stays with him and my daughter stays with me, we each get both kids every other weekend). And I don't even want to THINK about how we are going to divvy up the holidays, though I need to start having that convo with The Ex ASAP.......

Contrast this with my friend who gets his son every other weekend. He and his son's mother meet at the same place at the same time every other Friday and Sunday. He knows which holidays are his and which holidays are hers. I'm quite sure it has it's drawbacks, but the key appealing factor from my perspective is PREDICTABILITY. When you know what is to occur when, you can plan around it.... you're not constantly trying to hit a moving target suspended from the emotional whims of the other person. If he or she gets mad at you, the rules and guidelines don't change. They're all there in black and white, no debate over interpretation, follow the court order and go on with life.

In hindsight, I wish I would have been more specific in my divorce settlement agreement and left that troublesome little phrase out. I think I took off my contract attorney hat and pushed it a little too far away (plus I was just trying to get things over with). Contracts aren't for when things are going well, they are for when things go WRONG, and there is SO much that can go wrong when dealing with co-parenting arrangements and divorce. The less gray area you leave, the better. Even if you don't like the State Parenting Guidelines, it's best to go ahead and spell out your own just as specifically and detailed as the State Guidelines are..... pick up and drop off dates, holiday schedules, school break schedules, etc. Because just leaving it to "as the parties may agree" leaves you stuck with no recourse when you aren't able to agree.

Do it by the book, loved ones...... do it by the book.



**NOTE** After I wrote this, I went to go pick up Son from The Ex, 2 days early because he's on fall break (which he didn't tell me about until, um, yesterday afternoon.... luckily I hadn't taken an assignment that would have had me working through the weekend). The Ex told me he'd be ready at 9:00pm. Ex calls around 8 and asks me if I've made dinner because he hasn't fed Son yet (????) and was debating on whether to start dinner.... I tell him I already have dinner ready and waiting. I get out to The Ex's girlfriend's house (again, where he lives) at the appointed time (9pm) and send my daughter up to the door.... she comes back and says "[Son] is eating." DAMMIT IF YOU SAY YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE HIM READY AT 9, HAVE HIM READY AT 9!!! Needless to say, I was a little PO'd for having to sit out in front of this woman's house waiting for this child to finish dinner when I'd already discussed the issue an hour before. And I was hungry, which makes me cranky. But this is EXACTLY the mess I'm talking about......

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Jaded said...

Hi. So I'm just going to jump right in. I'm doing some volunteer work at the family court in my town (basically helping pro se clients- is that the right term?- get divorces). And one thing I noticed is how they just want to "get it over with". All of it. Originally, I had thought it'd be a lot more drama (I want to practice family law- divorce- after I graduate and everyone keeps saying how emotionally taxing it is) so of course that's what I was expecting.

But apparently it's the lawyers who make things more "drama-ful" (I guess I could have said dramatic)...anyway I'm rambling and have lost my point.

Oh, yes. Is there anyway you can modify the terms of the custody? Or is that too dramtic?

October 29, 2008 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anesidora said...

Well, a lawyer's job (generally) is to spot issues and problems BEFORE they arise and plan for all the SNAFUs that may come up later. It's not that they (we) are trying to complicate things, its that we see the writing on the wall and want to prevent/minimize problems before they start. It's a lot easier to prevent a problem than try to clean up the mess after the fact.....

.... which brings me to my situation. Modifying the terms of the custody arrangement is the second item on my agenda. Today was filing a Motion for Contempt (doing it pro se) for his failure to pay the debts that he is supposed to be responsible for and that are now falling all on ME. And you think it's over when the papers are signed.....it's only the beginning.

October 29, 2008 at 10:19 PM  
Anonymous DatNUPE said...

This is a GREAT post! With all the drama in the United States and relationships you would think that parents would try and get along for the sake of the kid(s)...WRONG!

It seems parents are more concerned with being as evil and vendictive as possible to the opposing parent. Just because! This is usually one-sided but after a while becomes two-sided. This is not intentional but happens on a regular basis throughout the whole world!

So this is why the courts are always busy and stay crowded! Because simply, THE COURTS KNOW!!...PARENTS cannot AGREE! PERIOD! Unless its convenient for one of the parents! So they have rules and regulations set forth for those parents who cant come to a sound decision..VISITATION RIGHTS!...But in all honestly I think/say that makes the parents look even dumber, to say that, hey we as a state will DECIDE when you can see your kid(s), since you dumb ass grown ADULTS cant AGREE! SAD! but TRUE! But on the flip side there cant be any argument really after its in white and black on paper..unless You wanna be in CONTEMPT! I gaurantee you dont want to be in CONTEMPT!

October 30, 2008 at 10:33 AM  

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Adventures in Divorce: "As the parties may agree....."

"As the parties may agree....."

"...as the parties may agree." ~ Page 6, Line 4 of my divorce settlement agreement.

This one little phrase is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to divorce decrees, particularly as it relates to child custody and support arrangements. First, I must say that negotiating a divorce settlement agreement is one of the most stressful, frustrating, and emotionally draining endeavors in life. There's a lot of quibbling just for the sake of quibbling, a lot of leveraging, many threats (both real and totally bogus) and it just wears you out. Even if you feel like you are competent and intelligent, I highly recommend having someone else do the heavy lifting for you (I'm an attorney and it was even a bit much for me, more so from an emotional standpoint than an intellectual one.... it's like writing your own eulogy. Not fun).

There is much debate over whether the State Parenting Guidelines are fair and reasonable, and whether it would just be better to work it out between the two parents and forget all the court involvement. Yea, that SOUNDS like a good idea, until you try and put it into practice. The phrase "as the parties may agree" only works when that last little word actually occurs.... AGREE. I'm sorry to tell you, loved ones, there's not much of this going on when you are newly divorced. I'm not even talking about things that are or are not in the best interests of the child(ren)..... even assuming that both parents do what's best for their kids, there's a whole lot of other room to make things difficult on the parents.

Example: The State Parenting Guidelines state that whichever parent is receiving the child to begin their parenting time is responsible for pick up, and such pick up is to occur at 6:00pm. So that means when The Ex is to have my daughter for the weekend, he is supposed to pick her up at 6pm on Friday, and I pick her up from him at 6pm on Sunday. Now throw "as the parties may agree" into the mix. Now it becomes "Can you drop Daughter off to me at 7:36 pm over in the Target parking lot? I can't come pick her up" or "I'm not sure what time I'm going to be there, probably around 6:45" and he shows up at 7:45 because I told him I have to be somewhere at 7:00 and he assumes that it's for a date (when that wasn't even the case at all.... not that it should have even mattered). So then I'm less inclined to stick to the 6pm guideline and make him work around whatever I've got going on..... you see what a mess this becomes? And I go through this every single weekend on both Friday AND Sunday (because my son stays with him and my daughter stays with me, we each get both kids every other weekend). And I don't even want to THINK about how we are going to divvy up the holidays, though I need to start having that convo with The Ex ASAP.......

Contrast this with my friend who gets his son every other weekend. He and his son's mother meet at the same place at the same time every other Friday and Sunday. He knows which holidays are his and which holidays are hers. I'm quite sure it has it's drawbacks, but the key appealing factor from my perspective is PREDICTABILITY. When you know what is to occur when, you can plan around it.... you're not constantly trying to hit a moving target suspended from the emotional whims of the other person. If he or she gets mad at you, the rules and guidelines don't change. They're all there in black and white, no debate over interpretation, follow the court order and go on with life.

In hindsight, I wish I would have been more specific in my divorce settlement agreement and left that troublesome little phrase out. I think I took off my contract attorney hat and pushed it a little too far away (plus I was just trying to get things over with). Contracts aren't for when things are going well, they are for when things go WRONG, and there is SO much that can go wrong when dealing with co-parenting arrangements and divorce. The less gray area you leave, the better. Even if you don't like the State Parenting Guidelines, it's best to go ahead and spell out your own just as specifically and detailed as the State Guidelines are..... pick up and drop off dates, holiday schedules, school break schedules, etc. Because just leaving it to "as the parties may agree" leaves you stuck with no recourse when you aren't able to agree.

Do it by the book, loved ones...... do it by the book.



**NOTE** After I wrote this, I went to go pick up Son from The Ex, 2 days early because he's on fall break (which he didn't tell me about until, um, yesterday afternoon.... luckily I hadn't taken an assignment that would have had me working through the weekend). The Ex told me he'd be ready at 9:00pm. Ex calls around 8 and asks me if I've made dinner because he hasn't fed Son yet (????) and was debating on whether to start dinner.... I tell him I already have dinner ready and waiting. I get out to The Ex's girlfriend's house (again, where he lives) at the appointed time (9pm) and send my daughter up to the door.... she comes back and says "[Son] is eating." DAMMIT IF YOU SAY YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE HIM READY AT 9, HAVE HIM READY AT 9!!! Needless to say, I was a little PO'd for having to sit out in front of this woman's house waiting for this child to finish dinner when I'd already discussed the issue an hour before. And I was hungry, which makes me cranky. But this is EXACTLY the mess I'm talking about......

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