Sunday, December 25, 2011

Whose Divorce is it ANYWAY?

This blog has been niggling at the edge of my mind since the beginning of the month.  On Dec 7th we had the hearing for my estranged husband’s 2nd bifurcation motion.  He was a no show (again) so it was an expensive non-event.  The motion was denied without prejudice.

The next day I received a copy of my attorney’s letter to my spouse’s attorney.  Standard follow up to the previous day’s proceedings, however, the last line left me feeling unsettled in my soul.  The last sentence read “….so we may try to move the case forward.”

Pretty innocuous, right?  However, the reference to the ‘case’ reminded me of how the humanity of the spouses is eliminated from the process.  It’s just a ‘case’ where both attorneys seeking to win (even completely trounce) the opposition.  Gladiators at battle in the conference and court room.  And when it is over – they move on to the next case with scarcely a look back at the collateral damage –the collateral damage being the lives of the spouses living in the aftermath.  It also made me very aware that my spouse and I are simply reduced to litigants with short-term relevance to our attorneys.  Their own lives unchanged by the signing of our decree.  Even more odd, the attorneys are positioned by their role in the divorce to ‘judge’ your marriage and the other spouse – someone they do not know and in many cases have never met other than under these circumstances.  Supporting the dehumanization of the spouses.

I am also struck by the idea that the court or attorneys are tasked to “Move it along”….if 
the spouses are stuck and not moving forward and it is neither a legal or tactical problem….what’s the point of the attorneys moving it along?  They do not in most cases have the needed skillset to help the stuck spouses move of their own accord.  I give credit to the mediators we started out with – they recognized that neither of us were emotionally ready or committed to completing the divorce – so after 2 sessions THEY dropped us as clients.  Their team included a lawyer and an MFT.  The goal was to facilitate an amicable and fair dissolution of our marriage.  Divorce does not settle a fight – it facilitates permanent avoidance and launches another fight.

Now I have been very clear with my attorney that his role is advisor, and that he is no way authorized to pursue or encourage an adversarial relationship with my estranged spouse or my spouse’s attorney.  I am sure I frustrate him a bit, but I am committed to no one but my estranged spouse and I making the decisions about the dissolution of our marriage.  Because at the end of the day – the only people living with the life-long effect of the divorce are the spouses and their children. 

If you know me you know that I am perfectly capable of speaking up and standing up for myself.  I engaged an attorney because I am not a subject matter expert on family law.  But not for one minute did I or do I plan to abdicate my responsibility for working through this in the manner that is healthiest and financially sane for me.  I will not get caught up by all the chatter or false fight energy that seems to spring up and out once the word divorce is uttered.