Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | May 28, 2011

Divorce: Thoughts on D-Day, Part I

So, it’s official. According to a commissioner of the King County Superior Court, I’m no longer married.

“How do you feel? Did you do anything special?” I’ve been asked this more than a few times since D-Day.

I’ll get to that.

But let me start with how my divorce event took place:

Having received conflicting advice from our mediator and from the lawyer I had asked to review the documents, Penny and I decided that it would make sense for both of us to go to the courthouse even though, technically speaking, only one of us (me, because I was the one who filed) truly needed to be there. We went together to the bank to have our Separation Agreement notarized, we went through and both signed three copies of the paperwork (keeping a fourth, unsigned copy as a spare), and then she took one of the signed copies and I took the rest. We traveled in separate cars, as Penny needed to retrieve a separate document from her home just in case we needed it at the courthouse. (Again, one professional told us we wouldn’t need it, but another said we might).

We had made arrangements for the kids to stay late at their schools, except for the youngest, who is too young for school and for whom we could not find a babysitter during the afternoon. So, the youngest traveled with Penny while I drove directly to the courthouse.

I texted Penny the play-by-play:

“Arrived downtown.”

“Through security.”

“Followed instructions, went to 6th floor. Unnecessary. Back to 3rd floor, waiting for them to open.”

Penny texted me, likewise:

“Looking for parking. [Child] asleep.”

“Found street parking. Five blocks away. Do I need to come in?”

Funny thing; I found my lawyer sitting and waiting outside the third floor doors of the family law courtrooms. She was there to handle a situation for another client of hers. She was the one who had advised me that maybe Penny should be there, in case we needed to make changes to the documents or whathaveyou.

“How necessary do you think it is that Penny come down here? She’s nearby, but our youngest is sleeping in her car, and it’s a bit of a walk….”

“She probably doesn’t have to come in, but you can ask the clerk once they open the doors.”

We made small talk. Readers may recall that I had neighbors who were also in the throes of a divorce: the Dunns. I had found this lawyer through Mrs. Dunn, who coincidentally had mentioned to me the previous day (I’d phoned to ask if she could babysit our youngest) that I might be bumping into Mr. Dunn while I was at the courthouse.

Yes, the Dunns were likely to be finalizing their divorce on the same day that Penny and I were finalizing ours. How bizarre.

Lunchtime for the court staff ended and they opened the doors. By this time, there was quite a long line of people waiting to get in. We filed in, so to speak, and those of us without lawyers representing us (remember, all my lawyer did was review the documents for me) were handed a form to fill out regarding what we were there for and our status of this and that. We then had to clip this form to our stack of paperwork so that one of the two clerks there could review and make sure we had everything we needed and that everything appeared to be in order. Ah, but we had to also pay $30 (in cash or check) for them to do this. Yet another fee/tax/whateveryouwanttocallit. Lovely.

I asked if Penny needed to come down. They said that it was unlikely.

I texted Penny each step of the way. “Filling out another form.” And, “Paying another fee.” And, “Waiting.”

She likewise gave me her play-by-play. “[Child] still sleeping.” “There’s a mounted police officer up the street.” And so on.

One of the clerks called me up. She seemed impressed that our paperwork was as orderly and complete as it was. She directed me to one of the four courtrooms that fed off of the main waiting area. I went in, and here handed the paperwork to yet another clerk, and sat down.

It was a short wait this time. I was called up to the front of the room.

“Raise your hand,” said the commissioner. I did so.

“Do you promise to tell the truth?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are you INRIS?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Does this paperwork contain the complete agreement between you and Mrs. INRIS?”

“Well, that plus a Separation Contract, which is referenced there.” I gestured at the stack of papers.

He looked down again. “Are you filing the Separation Contract with the court?”

“No, sir. But we did have it notarized and I have a copy with me.”

“No need.” He looked down at the papers again. “Is your marriage irretrievably broken?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I see you have children. Is this parenting plan in the best interest of your children?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And how has it been going so far?”

“It’s actually been working out quite well. We live just a few blocks apart, both within walking distance of the same school, and the kids are adjusting very well.”

He nodded approvingly and started stamping each of the pages of the stack of paperwork while he continued talking. “Well, I see that your marriage is irretrievably broken and I am satisfied that you have prepared a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children. Your petition for dissolution is approved. Will you need official copies of the decree today?”

I texted the question to Penny (yes, I told them that’s what I was doing) while I asked the commissioner why I would need one. He and the clerk, who was sitting next to him, looked over the room. Nobody had come in behind me, and I sensed a wall coming down between us. The clerk answered, “People like to have them for name changes, or they might be necessary for various financial or legal transactions.”

Penny’s reply came, and I read it to them: “Only if it’s quick and cheap.”

They chuckled. The clerk said he’d have a runner come down to take me up to the sixth floor, where I could get the official copy.

(It was about $8, by the way.)

So, in the end, Penny didn’t have to interrupt [Child]’s nap, and I left the courtroom with the rest of the day — and the rest of my life — ahead of me.

Oh, but there was one other thing that happened.

As I sat waiting in the large waiting room for the runner to bring me upstairs, Mr. Dunn walked in with his lawyer. My former neighbor and friend sat down next to me. “You here for the thing?”

“Yeah.”

“You finalizing the thing?”

“Yep. You?”

He sighed. “Yeah.” A pause. “So, how you doing?”

I shrugged. “I didn’t want it to go this way, but since it went this way, I’m glad to be done with this part of it and to move on.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I think I’m definitely ready to move on. Yeah. Definitely. It’s good.”

We chatted a little bit. We talked about how we would have to get together for a play date. He insisted he was good. His words were very positive. Very upbeat. His face was… not so much.

The runner came to get me (and the pile of paperwork from the clerk in the courtroom), so Mr. Dunn and I said my farewells.

I texted the soon-to-be-former Mrs. Dunn on my way out. “Just saw Mr. Dunn. Looks like you and we are getting divorced on the same day, after all. But I still beat you by at least ten minutes.” She texted back an LOL and Congratulations.

I texted Penny that I was picking up her official copy. She texted me that she was glad she didn’t have to come in, and that she was heading home.

It was a sunny day. I left the courthouse and walked to my car, enjoying the fresh, summery, seaside air. In a couple of hours, it would be time for me to pick up the kids; the boys would be staying with me this particular weekend, and therefore I wouldn’t be going out right away to mark the occasion. It seemed like I should do something. There should be some recognition that something significant had happened. 

Instead, I simply enjoyed a leisurely drive home and a few moments to chat with some friends before resuming my role as a single daddy — this time, officially single, but really, it was the same as it ever was.

And I continued along the new path that my life has taken since realizing that our marriage couldn’t continue, curious as to how the scenery along the path might soon change….

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Responses

  1. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s been a long road to get to that day, I’m glad you’re past it now. Cheers to a bright future ahead. 😉

  2. that file folder full of signed and notarized documents, in my mind, was the admission ticket for the rest of my life. i hope it feels the same to you. welcome to the next chapter; i hope it’s as grand and exciting for you as it has been for me so far. 🙂

  3. I know we have talked about this but holy cow. Can’t believe I’ve basically been there since the beginning. So happy for you!

  4. Congratulations!

    Make sure you have a safe place to store the originals and keep copies handy. You just never known when you are going to need to refer to them.

    You’ve won the war. Now it’s time to win the peace.

  5. I agree with Magnolia…it’s your adminssions ticket!! Congratulations, my friend, on coming this far, on having a pretty decent co-parenting relationship with your (now) ex, and making it. You have only good things in store, I can already see it. Cheers to that.

  6. I know I’ve already said it, but congratulations! Far better things are ahead, my friend!

  7. Wow! What a great play by play on a very significant day. I’m glad it all went well. I will be walking the halls of our local courthouse at the end of the month to do the exact same thing. This gives me hope that it won’t be that bad. Congrats!


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