It’s been a while since I wrote anything, mostly because of the Divorce. I really didn’t want to put anything out in public that could possibly cause me problems. The good news is, the divorce is over, and sooner than expected.
Here’s how it happened: The biggest delay was that the ex could not think of anything except staying on my insurance. I am pretty sure that fact, along with her lawyers trying to run up a big bill and get me to pay it, were the major causes of the huge delays. A Temporary Orders hearing at the end of January did not compel me to pay for her legal fees, which caused her attorneys to quit. At that time, there were several deadlines for turning in paperwork, as well as a date for the final hearing. The final hearing was scheduled for September, with a backup hearing date in June. My attorneys kept filing paperwork as ordered, and since a good attorney costs a lot of money, I was running up a huge debt. This caused my attorneys to also file a motion to quit.
At this time, I decided that something HAD to be done. There was no way I could get another attorney, since the first thing a good attorney does is check the case history and see what has happened before. They would also contact my previous attorney and ask why they quit. A lawyer generally doesn’t take a case when there is a history of non payment. So I bit the bullet, and called the ex-to-be. I explained what was going on, and that if we did not reach a settlement before the hearing for my attorneys to quit, neither of us would have representation and neither of us knew how to finish the damn thing. We would be standing before a judge, effectively saying, “What do we do now?” Generally speaking, Judges would rather judge than teach people how to get a divorce.
I finally got the ex to agree, in writing via email, to terms for the divorce. But the hearing date was rapidly approaching. I was a mess. My attorney was not returning calls, the ex was avoiding me, and things were just taking too long. I finally got the attorney to agree to draw up the Final Decree of Divorce and I got it to the ex via email. All she had to do was print it out and sign it in front of a Notary. There was only a week left, and she has a history of NOT doing things she needs to do in a timely manner. Since she had to sign the papers and also get the original to my attorney, PLUS show up in Court on the day of the Withdrawal Hearing in order to finalize everything, there were just too many variables, a failure of any single one of them would be disastrous. Since I was 1300 miles away, all I could do was send emails and make phone calls. But if I was there, I could actually make sure shit got done. I knew that I could eliminate all of the variables if I was there. So, I drove to Texas.
I made good time, and left a voice mail with the ex the night before I would arrive telling her that I would be there around mid-day Thursday. She still had not done the things she needed to do, and the hearing was on Tuesday. My attorney needed the original paperwork on Friday to prepare for the hearing. I drove straight to the house where she still was living with her parents. No cars in the driveway, no answer at the door, no dog barking. I walked around to the back of the house, I thought she might be out on the back porch smoking. No such luck. I was pissed. I thought that she had gotten my voice mail and had gone somewhere to avoid me. I called her cell phone, no answer. I called her Dad’s cell, then her Mom’s with the same result. I thought about driving to where her mom worked, then just called there instead. Her mom gave me permission to go around and pound on the back door since the ex was probably still asleep and her room is closer to the back door than the front. I finally got her up by pounding on the door that led from the porch to her room.
She still had not gone over her copy of the Decree. She wasn’t even sure if she knew where it was. Keep in mind, this is all taking place at about one in the afternoon. For me, the clock is ticking down rapidly. I had four hours to go over the paperwork, get her dressed (she was still in her nightgown while talking to me) get her to a bank to have the paperwork notarized, and then drive to my attorneys office to deliver the original signed document. After that, I could head to Houston to see my friends and have a great weekend before going back to Fort Worth for the hearing on Tuesday.
For an hour, page by page, we go over every single line item in the decree, which was the same as what she had already agreed to, except now it was in legal terms. That was what I was doing. Explaining legal terms. Finally, we get to the end and I ask her if she still agrees, and she says she does, but… She still wants to go over it with her Dad instead of just me. “Not that I don’t trust you, but I just want someone else to look at it,” she said. “So when will that be?” I asked. “This evening.”
I did NOT want to do that. If I could get it signed and to the lawyer, I wouldn’t have to spend the money on another night in a hotel. I asked if there was any way we could go to where her Dad was working and they could go over it. She started texting, and finally got an answer that yes, he could take a break and go over the papers with her. A half hour later, she was dressed (an all time record) and we were on the way down the highway. We meet up with her dad, and they leave me in the parking lot to go inside to review the papers. I sent an email to the attorneys telling them what was going on and telling them that I should have the papers signed, but I may be later than 5 o’clock getting them to their office. I knew that they often worked late, and was hoping that would be the case that night. I got a couple of phone calls from the X2B for clarification about things, sent a couple of text messages asking how much longer, and the clock continued to move forward.
My phone rang, and the caller ID said that it was my attorneys office. It was the secondary, cheaper attorney. She asked me if I would be willing to stay the night in Fort Worth, since she had called the Court and could get me in at 8:30 the next morning to “prove up” the divorce and it would be over, the Tuesday hearing would not be necessary. I emphatically told her yes. I believe it was a HELL YES! The only thing was that X2B wanted to attend the hearing, and I didn’t know if she would agree. Technically, only one of us had to be there, but I still am not a big enough asshole to just do it without telling her. I told the lawyer I would call back shortly, and sent another text to X2B. We were running out of time. She finally came back with her dad, who said that he only had one suggestion, and it was really minor. An ass-covering clause that he thought should be inserted over a very unlikely possible event. I told them both about the hearing the next morning, and her dad said he could take her to the court house. I offered to give her a ride home afterward so he could go straight to work. So it was agreed.
As we were driving off, I called the attorney back and told her to get us on the schedule, and that we were on the way to the bank to get the papers signed and notarized and I should be at their office just before five. We go to my bank, since X2B doesn’t have an account anywhere, and wait for ten minutes for someone to notarize the decree. The kid (probably only about 20) wouldn’t notarize the papers because X2B’s only ID is an out of state ID only (not a drivers license) that expired 2 years ago. I called the attorney back, and asked if they had someone on staff that could do the job without a current ID. She told me yes, and she asked someone to stick around until we got there.
The drive over was weird. For some reason, X2B decided that it would be a good time to talk about the good times we had in the marriage. OK, so maybe that isn’t so weird, but the good times she wanted to discuss were the good times we had in bed. We got to the attorneys office, and everything went as smooth as possible. Oh, and my backup attorney, the very nice lady who took it upon herself to get everything over with sooner than scheduled, was absolutely positively smokin’ hot.
Papers signed, notarized, copies made, hearing scheduled. After MONTHS, I start to relax. I am in a good mood. The weight of the world has been lifted from the shoulders of this puny Atlas. Also, we are hungry. I had promised to feed X2B in return for making the drive to Dallas with me to get all this done. She asks me if there is anyplace in particular I want to go, since there is a lot of good food in Texas that I just cant get up north. I am trying to decide between the Mongolian Grill, the Deli that has a great muffaletta, or some decent Mexican food. X2B tells me about a great place that they went on her birthday a couple of weeks prior, but cant remember the name of it. So she calls her mom, who kind of invites herself along and says that she will call her husband to meet us there. In other words, the night before the divorce will be final, I am having dinner with my ex-to-be in laws. And it was weird. We were all talking and joking and telling funny stories like the past two years never happened. Just another family dinner. There was one point when I felt sorry for X2B. We were sitting across from each other, and the cute little waitress seemed to take a liking to me. Every time she came to the table, she stood by me, resting her hand on my shoulder as she talked, joking with me and even giving me a hug. I noticed that X2B kept staring at her dinner when that happened. Finally, dinner was over, and I paid for X2B, and we parted ways.
Twelve hours later, I was at the courthouse. The attorney showed up soon after, and then X2B. I only had one concern left: that X2B would say something stupid, thinking it was clever, and the judge wouldn’t grant the divorce. This was a real possibility. The night before, when we were signing the papers at the attorneys office, the lawyer had asked a standard question: “Are you signing these papers of your own free will, and state that you have not been coerced in any way?” X2B answered, “Well, it’s not like I have any choice in the matter.” The lawyer had to ask her to clarify, and X2b said that she only meant that it was going to happen one way or another, so she may as well sign. I told her on the way to dinner that she couldn’t answer questions like that in front of the judge, since we had not attended the court ordered mediation the judge may not grant the divorce and we would be back to square one. I told the attorney that if it was possible, not to give X2B a chance to talk to or be questioned by the judge. She agreed with my reasoning.
Our case was called, and my attorney and I approached the bench. My lawyer asked me standard questions, which were easy to answer since she had written them down on a piece of paper along with the answers and we were both following along. We finally got to the end, and the lawyer had to ask, according to the rules, if my wife was present. I answered and was asked to point her out. The Judge said “Oh! She’s here? Come on up!” X2B came up and was sworn in. My heart was pounding, since my lawyer had told the Judge that X2B was pro se, meaning she had no lawyer, and I was afraid that the judge would kind of act on her behalf. The judge just asked two questions: “Have you heard all of the testimony your husband has given?” and “If you were asked the same questions, would you answer the same way?” She answered yes to the first, and after a slight hesitation that my heart stopped for, answered yes to the second. The Judge said very well, I hereby grant this divorce and good luck to both of you.
My attorney went and got the official signature and an official copy for both of us, and we left the court house. It was finally over, I was divorced. I gave THE EX a ride home, buying her breakfast from the McDonald’s drive-thru before dropping her off. I just now realized, that the day we got married, we got food from a McDonald’s drive-thru right after that, too. It seems fitting, somehow.
I went back to the hotel, changed clothes and drove to Houston a free man. There was much celebration for the next two days before I left for home.