How can I prepare for the uncertain outcome of my own divorce trial?
October 10, 2010 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Soon I will be giving testimony in my own divorce trial. How can I prepare for the judgment, whatever it is?

We were together for 14 years. The split was ugly, and the Ex behaved dishonestly all the way through. (I was the last to know.) There are no kids. The only shared asset is a house in an affluent locale.

The intent of the lawsuit, which I did not initiate, seems to have been (quite apart from finalizing the split) to intimidate me into either giving up the house, or going broke in self-defense. I made the latter choice.

Now, several years have passed. For a long time, I looked forward to a third party rendering judgment, but I’ve only recently understood that the entire ruling is at the judge’s discretion, rather than legal precedent, say, or common sense fairness.
My lawyer’s colleague knows the judge, and does not think the ruling will be in my favor. My lawyer is taking that seriously, so I must as well.

Had my various attempts at a “new life” succeeded, finding peace would be easier. But they have not. I was laid off. My new partner turned out to be bad news. Unemployment and legal bills have emptied my savings account. I am not in an ideal job-hunting age group, either….

I can’t honestly say I’ve lost everything …
I still have family, some excellent friends … but ….

Wisely or not, I have long been hoping to cash out my share of the house, so I could pay for some serious retraining or a more radical relocation. But that may not be what happens. The only certainty is that the trial will probably be traumatic.

How do I prevent that? How do I make peace no matter what happens?

Thus far, I have sought peace not only through remaking my life, even if these efforts didn’t succeed, but also through behaving ethically throughout the process. I think I can honestly say I have achieved the latter.

But that’s only so comforting. Certainly, I share responsibility for what went wrong in the marriage. But not all of it was fault-driven; some of it was just growing apart. Even so, things seem to have gone more wrong for me than I can easily explain. It’s hard to know what, precisely, was my fault. I only know what I did not do since the split.

Oddly, however, I think I have made peace with the Ex. But I’m not so sure I have with all of Ex’s accomplices (e.g. I was the last to know) or, for that matter, my own life choices. Lately, I’ve been exhibiting extreme signs of stress.

Any insight you can offer will be gladly accepted. My throw-away email is Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The more you lose, the fresher your fresh start will be. It's hard, starting from nothing, but also strangely exhilarating. You won't have the pain of being in a house filled with bad memories. You won't have any money tainted by coming from that time of bad times. Everything you do, and everything you earn from now on, will be wholly and truly yours, earned by your skill and work and time. When you sit in your own place and look at your own things and know that it is all only yours and you don't owe any of it to him, you'll find a pride you thought he'd taken from you.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:06 AM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why is this case going to trial? The vast majority of divorce cases end in settlement. What was the sticking point that has led you to trial and placing the matter in the hands of the judge? Knowing a bit more about what has brought you to this point will help us offer advice, I think. MeFi Mail me if you like -- I'm a lawyer but am not offering legal advice, maybe just some perspective.
posted by jayder at 11:09 AM on October 10, 2010

Yeah, ask your lawyer about settling.
posted by yarly at 1:00 PM on October 10, 2010

Maybe work out your feelings about the divorce after it is finalized and focus now on the testimony because I would think it is important not to slip and use the court as a forum to work out your feelings about your ex or to make amends. Sometimes in stressful situations it is easy to forget the stakes. Be sure you and your lawyer are on the same page.

I'm not a lawyer.
posted by vincele at 1:30 PM on October 10, 2010

Maybe try looking at it this way: the outcome really isn't uncertain; whatever happens, at the end of the trial, you will be divorced! You can finally close this chapter of your life and move on. You'll be done with your ex, done with her friends and relations, done with your lawyer, done with the court, done with everything to do with the matter. The court can decide what to do with your stuff, but that's just stuff. I'd try to enjoy the certainty of it all being over, regardless of the details of the judgement.
posted by zachlipton at 3:10 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

You're already well on your way by focusing on behaving ethically and being able to live with yourself. Maybe you can start preparing for your next steps if you don't get that value out of the house, and look at what your options are. At this point it's all about doing the best you can at testimony, and living with the results that you otherwise have no control over.

When all is said and done, work on forgiving the accomplices, too, as the anger will only hurt you. As zachlipton points out, you have a world of fresh new stuff ahead to focus on, instead.
posted by ldthomps at 6:06 PM on October 10, 2010

As zachlipton points out, what's uncertain? The divorce, or the material side of things? You can always get more stuff, if you need it. I would not let thoughts about this get in the way of you getting on with your life.

tl;dr: Old joke: Q: Why are divorces so expensive? A: Because they're worth it.
posted by carter at 6:10 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wow, it took 8 answers to reach the old Me-Fi standard: therapy! Lately, I’ve been exhibiting extreme signs of stress. Having someone non-judgemental to confide in, to help you sort through all of your conflicting feelings, and to help you set some goals for yourself could be really helpful. Find someone willing to work with you on a sliding scale to keep from adding to the financial stresses you're facing.
posted by alygator at 6:28 AM on October 11, 2010

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