Now don’t think I’m going around advocating divorce, but life is complicated. Even if you had the dream to be married to your partner forever as I did, s*#t happens!
When my husband and I separated, the kids were two, five, and eight. The divorce was final two years later. That first year was emotionally exhausting and conflictual, so we did not start the legal part of the divorce process immediately. However, we did come up with a workable ‘co-parenting agreement’. To accomplish this we worked through a ‘DIY’ workbook, allowing us to come up with a plan individually and then come together once we had our thoughts straight.
It’s funny – I recently came across that workbook and looked at some of our earlier notes about our hopes and dreams for our kids. It was an important exercise to help us identify what we wanted for our children even if we weren’t going to be raising them together. I highly recommend it – heck, do it even if you aren’t getting divorced! In addition to the co-parenting plan, we looked at our state’s mandated child support calculations and put that into place right away.
About a year later we decided to move forward with the legal and financial aspects of the divorce and each of us got our own lawyer – in our area this equated to $450 per hour – YOWZERS!. After a bit of research into ‘collaborative divorce’ and using medication to arrive at a divorce agreement, I discovered that the local county courthouse offered mediation services through their Division of Family Law. For $150 each, we had the right to as many mediation sessions as we needed to work through a legal and financial plan – the choice was obvious.
It took us four long, frustrating, but ultimately successful mediation sessions to come up with our detailed divorce decree. The court took care of filing the proper papers to present to the magistrate for the final judgment. We never went before a judge, and even though we each used our individual lawyers to go through the final agreement (paying them an hourly wage rate), my divorce cost less than $2000 in total.
In the FIRE community, many uphold the idea that the journey to FI is as important as the end result of financial freedom. The same held true for my divorce. The process was more respectful and has lead to a better relationship between my ex-husband and me – not to mention a positive environment in which we are raising our kids. There are still things that drive me crazy about him and I’m sure he would say the same about me, but we’ve kept that conflict away from the kids – and that is priceless.
Any thoughts? Please join the discussion below…