When Every Dollar Was a Hand Grenade

Hand grenade 002
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I finalized a matter this month between two of the most civilized and gentle people I have ever divorced.  As we went through the final papers and documents that needed to be reviewed and signed, they were patient and kind with each other.  The wife’s older brother drove 6 hours to be at the court with us by 9 am, to be a support for his sister.  During a break the husband and the big brother sat in the courthouse coffee shop together chatting about football and children.

No animosity or malcontent at all.

The judge interviewed both parties from the bench after I had presented my case-in-chief because the Judge wanted to make sure that the parties understood what they were signing.  The Judge even had us leave the courtroom at one point, to make sure the parties each really wanted to be that generous with each other.  They did.  We returned with a basically unmodified agreement.

So, is the secret that they never fought?  Do these two parties still secretly want to be married, and therefore can be so considerate of each other’s needs?  No. Not at all.  The secret is that they have been separated for almost three years.

When the husband first moved out, to hear the stories, there was nothing but animosity between the parties – both towards each other, and from their 3 minor children towards each of them.  The father refused to pay for things he thought were frivolous; and the mother was constantly running out of money for things she believed were necessities. The children were caught in the middle and furious at everyone.

Once when their youngest child got sick, the mother took her to the doctor and then found out that the father had canceled their medical insurance to save money.   The father took it upon himself to sign the son up for an expensive football camp; but refused to pay the fees when the invoices arrived.

For years, every time either party needed to discuss money, their entire world blew up – like tossing hand grenades into their lives.  A question of who is going to camp this summer turned into a fight about money, and priorities, and parenting.  A utility bill could lead to a dispute ending in the children refusing to speak to their father for weeks.

They fought until they separated.  And then they fought until they had fought their way through every possible fight.  In the meantime, both parties got jobs, and the father rented a house where the kids could comfortably spend a night with him.  Over time, the overnight visits became a weekend here and there, until the current situation in which all three children love equally in both parent’s houses.

AND THEN – they filed for divorce.  When there are no more fights left to have, no one has to pay lawyers to do their fighting.  There is now only mutual respect and relief that those days are over. The parties each look forward to moving on with their lives. Since neither of them spent a fortune to have lawyers fight their battles, they each have a decent nest egg with which to begin their new lives.

What We Love:  Doctors call it the “Tincture of Time.”  Some lawyers call it fewer billable hours.  I call it civilized adults having an amicable divorce.

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Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

Sharon Oberst DeFala has practiced low-impact safe divorce since 1992.

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