Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Divorce Finality: Part 1

There is no joy in terminating a marriage, even one which love failed years ago and the expectation of finality has been anticipated during months of a long separation. The loss of what once was and what could have been is a burden that all must endure who travel this unfortunate path. Of course the joys of a long lasting marriage probably never could have been because one party, or both, was unwilling to yield their pride to allow true happiness to flourish. However, no matter what happens in the future or what joy may come the realization of that holistic family where the joys of parenthood are shared equitably between both parents is forever lost. New joys will come, but they will be different. The future will have challenges. The simplicity and innocence of one’s first marriage can never return.
The statistic of divorce is somewhat misleading because it is more than 25% of American’s choose this path, an equivalent 25% of the population have this decision imposed upon them, and the remaining 50% maintain their marriage. I am of the camp where divorce was imposed upon me. The mediation settlement was last month in which my former spouse and I reached an accord. My frustration was mixed; one was towards my former spouse for some of her actions during the divorce and the other was towards my attorney. In regards to my attorney, before the mediation my ex submitted a proposal for settlement. After review I thought the amount was a bit high, however I forwarded the proposal to my attorney for assessment. He agreed and sent back a quick calculation of what he thought it should be. At the mediation our mediator, who was a former Judge and Commissioner, exclaimed that my ex’s initial offer was fair. My attorney instantly agreed, but it was too late and the amount I will need to pay exceeds my ex’s original proposal. My attorney’s poor counsel will cost me an extra $200 per month for 3.5 years in addition to the thousands for legal costs during the mediation. Thanks buddy!
The finality of the divorce: Rebuilding
In the end I do feel that the initial decision to get an attorney was a faulty one. Something that could have been mediated peacefully was turned into something quite ugly. To be sure I will need to live on about 50% of my income. With this I will need to pay down our joint debts, find an establishment in which to reside, provide for some level of interaction with my children, establish new relationships, and provide for my various living expenses. This will be a challenge to be sure, one which will place me in very modest living conditions. But I see this to be healthy. I will bind myself to the law of fiscal discipline. I am debating on whether I should consider pay tithing in the future. The lessons of frugality that I will learn during these next 3.5 years while I pay for spousal maintenance will be with me for the rest of my life. My patterns and habits will change and I will need to learn to enjoy life on significantly less than I earn. I will also need to have faith that I will not have too many unexpected expenses. Likewise, mentally, I cannot lose the ambition which brought me to this point in my life. I seek to regain the financial losses that I incurred. Within the next 3.5 years if I can learn to live frugally, pay off all debt, and increase my income so that my monthly take home is what it was prior to the divorce then I will be in a wonderful financial position at the end of such time. This, therefore, is an opportunity to have an incentive to do more without having too much stress…such as being out of employment.
In contrast, my ex will avoid such discomfort in her life. She is living with her parents which is helpful and alleviates her from many of the responsibilities which she ardently tried to avoid while we were married. While the help is wonderful the downside is the very help that they offer. It is a two edged sword. Parents are in such difficult positions; on the one had they want to help their children succeed by offering help to get them on their feet, yet on the other sometimes the help the children need is the opportunity to struggle. So, my ex-wife has the help that she wants and plans on going to college during this next 3.5 years. Her parents will watch my children as needed when she goes to class or when she goes on a date. Her parents will continue to purchase groceries for everyone living in their household and my ex will not compensate them adequately for their expenses. At the end of the day, however, she will have learned to spend money freely because her survival does not depend on her fiscal responsibility, but instead that of her parents. Likewise, she will not have learned to work and be responsible in the home. She will drive her car into the ground and immediately purchase a new or quite newer vehicle that she really does not have the money to afford. At the end of the day when spousal maintenance ends she will still be living at her parents and she will not have learned responsibility. Her focus during our marriage was one of enjoying life. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying life, it needs to be in balance with responsibility. One who values responsibility too much finds it difficult to enjoy life, yet those who enjoy life too early eventually find themselves drunk with it and in despair. We must maintain balance.

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