I’ve recently read that blogging is more successful when you share personal stories. So, ok, buckle up because here it comes.
6 years ago when I found out my husband of 16 years was having an affair, I thought my arms and legs had been torn from my body and rammed down my esophagus where they settled in my chest creating the most excruciating pain and I was sure it would never go away (thankfully it did). Despite this reeling emotional betrayal, when the time came to file for divorce, I was determined to complete the process with honor and respect. I was grateful for the years we had spent together, the children we raised together, the growing up that we had both done together. I later, much later, recognized that I had changed dramatically throughout our marriage and his affair was only a symptom of the distance that had grown between us. But that’s a different blog. It was best for both of us to move on.
He was consumed with guilt over the affair and had not yet really let go of our marriage and was proposing ridiculous things like “gee, you should get a house right next door to me so we can still feel like a family!” Yeah, right. I’ll just come over and make cookies with your mistress. NOT! Still, he was being cooperative so we decided that we would do a Do-It-Yourself divorce where I would put together all of the paperwork and file a consent decree, meaning we agreed on everything. Sounded simple, respectful. This could work!
Sigh…I was so ignorant.
So I put together a basic decree with the help of the Arizona Superior Court Self-Service website. It was a decree that didn’t really have any firm rules in it. We had committed to “work together for the best for the kids”. Ok, cool. We had 2 investment properties and our family home. He kept the home, paid me my share of the equity, and one rental and I took the other rental with the agreement that we would both refinance our respective properties before the end of the year. Yeah. That was spring of 2007. I refinanced mine, he didn’t. The housing market collapses, he ultimately lets BOTH properties fall into foreclosure trashing my credit and there was not one single thing I could do about it because there was nothing in the decree stating the agreement.
About 4 weeks after the divorce was final, his guilt turned to anger, as guilt often does. So now the overriding emotion is anger and he starts dictating when I can and can’t see my children. He demands that they switch schools to be closer to him so he doesn’t have to drive and if I try to fight him, he’ll just go down and enroll them in the new school. I now realize the huge error I made in not having a divorce decree with agreements that I can enforce. So- back to court.
$5,000 later and pages and pages of angry, venomous emails to me, I finally had a court-ordered parenting plan that was enforceable. It didn’t help at all with the properties. All I could do was force him to sell once they were worth the appraised value. Gosh, that shouldn’t take long at all! Sigh…. He stopped paying on them the following month.
For crying out loud, I’m a financial advisor! How did I let this happen? Simple. I was trying to be NICE!! This is one of the biggest mistakes that women will make in their divorces. Ok, some men make it too but it’s not as common. You have ONE CHANCE to do it right!! So now I am a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and I help others avoid similar mistakes. Don’t go it alone. Help is here, so contact our team to learn more about a smarter divorce solution.