Since my ex-hubs and I agreed on the majority of the matters included in our divorce - child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, and marital asset distribution - we decided to come to a marital settlement agreement. This meant that we would present the court (via legal papers and not a trial) with our joint wishes for our divorce, and wait for their approval.
Though I went to law school, I had never drafted a marital settlement agreement before. Moreover, because this would become a legally enforceable document, I wanted it to be precise and accurate. But I also didn’t have money for a lawyer. So I reached out to friends from law school, and one agreed to help me. He gave me a sample marital settlement agreement that I could use as a guide. Then he answered each and every one of my questions along the way, no matter what day or time, nor how obvious the answer seemed to be. He also didn’t charge me. Talk about another little angel God gave me on this journey!
It took me two weeks to fully draft the agreement. Then I presented it to my ex to review. Once he reviewed it, I went down to the courthouse for the fourth time and submitted it. I was told I’d hear whether the agreement was approved in a few months. So I didn’t think twice about it. I was so happy to be finished with all that paperwork and deliberation that I was more than relieved to hand it over.
A little over three months later, I went to check my mail after a long day of work and there was a large manila envelope stuffed in the mailbox. Since I had to submit a self-addressed envelope when I submitted the settlement agreement, I recognized my handwriting on the envelope and knew it had to be about my divorce. I walked calmly upstairs to my home, a little nervous to open the envelope. What if our agreement had been rejected? I walked straight to my kitchen counter, dropped my purse down on the floor, and opened the envelope. On the very first sheet, I saw that our settlement agreement was approved and that as of May 23rd, we were divorced. A little over a year since those first papers were filed, it was all done.
I stared at the document for a few moments. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that it was all finally over. I also couldn’t believe that I didn’t feel sad. In fact, I felt relieved. That chapter of my life was finished. I didn’t have to go to court anymore. I didn’t have to fight for what I needed with my ex anymore. I didn’t have to go through an elaborate explanation of my marital status anymore. It was done. And I had navigated it as well as I could reasonably have been expected to.
I called my ex to see if he had gotten his papers. He hadn’t checked his mail yet, which meant I was bearing the news. He didn’t take it so well. Unlike me, he didn’t feel relieved. He was quiet on the phone, and I could tell he was rather sad. He stayed this way for a few days.
I then told my family and friends. Most of them expected me to be either sad or happy. When they realized I was neither, they were content and maybe even relieved.
I was also asked if I was going to celebrate or commemorate the finalization of my divorce in any way. There are all kinds of ways to do this - divorce parties, registries, tattoos, and vacations. Divorce parties tend to include friends to celebrate the fact that their divorce is final. Divorce registries are created so that friends and family wanting to support or celebrate can do so by helping the new divorcee furnish her new life post-divorce. Divorce tattoos tend to run the gamut from dates to symbols to inspirational words. And divorce vacations are taken with friends to party in celebration or relax in commemoration. I didn’t do any of them. While I wasn’t sad that my divorce was final, I wasn’t excited about it either. It was a weighty moment. It didn’t feel quite right for me to do something to celebrate or commemorate the day. I was content just knowing it was over.
However, now that its a year later, I do feel like I’m ready to do something to mark the occasion. I’ve grown a lot since my separation and even my divorce. It feels only right to celebrate my growth sparked by this event in some way.
What should I do??