Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Has your marriage irretrievably broken down?"

Today, a judge asked Max and me, "Has your marriage irretrievably broken down?"

The response? "Yes, Your Honor."

Ugh. What a loaded, complicated question, and what a quick, simple response.

For those of you who have never had to go through a divorce (but might be curious), allow me to describe what I've been calling D Day.

We had worked with a mediator (which I'd highly recommend) to navigate the process and draw up the papers. Legally, in our state, I was suing Max, so that made me the plaintiff and him the defendant. (Sounds kinda scary, right?) Our court date was established back in November, and then a few weeks ago we received a summons in the mail informing us to appear in court at 9:30 a.m. on February 19, 2013.

Initially, I wanted my parents to come to court with me (I am 33 years old, which is not too old to hold my parents' hands when I need them). After discussing the matter with my therapist (something else I highly recommend, but more on that later), I decided that I wanted to face this with Max alone. Just us in the car, just us in the courtroom. I noticed that most of the 30+ other couples in the courtroom couldn't even sit on the same side of the courtroom as the other. Meanwhile, Max and I not only sat together, but I grabbed his hand a few times. We were both hurting, and no one understood the pain like the other. I needed Max to get me through this moment.

D Day toast (through tears)
We arrived in court at 9:30 a.m., but we weren't called until 11:45 a.m. We listened to cases of couples dealing with parenting plans and houses in just one spouse's name and so on. Oh and there was the guy who said that his wife's check to the court was bounced so she was at an ATM getting $350 in cash and would be right back. When it was finally our turn, I had to sit in that chair next to the judge and get sworn in, just like on TV. The judge looked through the paperwork and then asked a few simple questions, like if this was my signature and that was Max's, and were we married in my hometown on October 24, 2009? And then, in judge-speak, the judge asked us if the marriage was over, for serious, did we mean it for really real? I thought I was going to puke when I confirmed that yes, it was over.

When we stepped out of the courtroom, we embraced. We couldn't let go of each other. He told me that this didn't change that he'll always love me. And we cried. Then we walked back to to his car, and we cried more. It sucked!

Then, my parents took me to lunch. I had two glasses of prosecco. And an Irish coffee. (Don't judge, it was a tough day!!)

It was right to have the time I did with Max, but then to have my parents' support.

If you've walked this road, what was your day in court like? Do you have any regrets about how you handled yourself that fateful day?


  1. Walking into the court house after a coffee break, my soon-to-be-ex and I saw a group of smiling people taking their picture near the door: They'd just gotten married, it seemed. After we were finally declared divorced, we walked out and, near the door, we took our picture with our phones, thumbs up and smiling. I was so incredibly relieved to be done with the whole process.

    My church kindly posted that photo for me on our "life changes" bulletin board along with the births, memorials, and marriage announcements.

  2. What an inspiring story! Everyone's situation is different, but I think it's such a blessing that despite the sadness of the end of your marriage that you and your ex were able to have a such a positive attitude. And how awesome about your church supporting your divorce as a life change!

  3. My story is different in that, in Minnesota, you can fill out and file the paperwork yourself and there is no court appearance unless you're contesting something which we did not. It's also a 50/50 state so it didn't matter that there was infidelity on his part and the court didn't care "who's fault". I created the paperwork and had it notarized here then mailed it to him and damn near had a 2-week anxiety attack while he received them and then sat on them until we both got paid and could afford the $394 filing fee. I was to the point where I would have driven 5 hours to file it all myself because I felt like he would F it up. But, thankfully, he didn't. The paperwork was submitted 2/15/13, signed by a judge 2/28/13 and received via mail in my hands 3/4/13. I was speechless when I pulled the documents out of the envelope. I couldn't believe we were done ((except selling the damn house but that's another thorn in my side)). First thing I did was call my friend Kelli, who is in the very early stages of filing for divorce, and shared her my good news.

    1. Funny that our divorce timing was so similar.
      Much as it was kind of scary to have to go to court, it also sort of felt right to have some dramatic event to end our marriage. I can't imagine just getting a piece of paper in the mail saying it was over!

  4. My divorce was final 12/15/09. In Texas only one person needs to go to court unless of course, it is contested. Since I was the one to file, I went to court. It was just me and my attorney in front of the judge. I had texted my ex when I got to the courthouse and told the judge that when he asked about the ex. It was very surreal. At the time the divorce became final we have been living apart for 14 months and had gone through many painful months of back and forth with the divorce decree. After the court appearance I texted the ex to tell him it was done and went on to work.

    1. It was actually really good closure for me that we both had to go to court (I guess that is Connecticut law). You texted him and went back to work... wild! I definitely couldn't go back to work. I needed some booze and tears first.

  5. I had no idea that states had such different rules until I had to go through this myself. Some states sound more like what you describe, in which no one goes to court. It was a little traumatic to have to go to court!