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Who knew spending my day off in law library would mean one step closer to divorce. As I look back on hiring an attorney for my divorce, I realize I made so many mistakes due to lack of knowledge. I filed for divorce in the Fall of 2008 and moved out of my home in 2010. It was far too long. I had no idea that every segment of the time with my attorney was timed and billed. This meant every email, phone calls, mailings, time in court, and filing documents. In addition, to my divorce, she handled all the paperwork for child custody. The custody agreement was a waste of time as it was in effect for one year. As two years passed and there was deliberate defiance with trying to sell the property -I wanted out of being married any longer. It was senseless to go back to court and spend more money to sell a property. I started thinking about my insurance policy and the fact I was still legally bound to this person. As a spouse, I was responsible to some extent for the other party and vice versa. The worst thing imagined is having this individual make any decisions related to my health. I made the decision to be completely honest with my attorney on the need to save on my legal costs. My costs were quickly inching up to 5 digits and counting and she suggested her paralegal assist me with filing the remaining paperwork moving forward. I scheduled a day off from work and spent my entire day in the law library in the municipal building in Chester County.
I made the decision to be completely honest with my attorney on the need to save on my legal costs. My costs were quickly inching up to 5 digits and counting and she suggested her paralegal assist me with filing the remaining paperwork moving forward. I scheduled a day off from work and spent my entire day in the law library. My plan B was to tackle filing the remaining paperwork on my own. I scheduled a day and spent the entire day in the law library. Shortly, after I arrived in the library I learned none of the paperwork was available electronically. I had to look for the forms in the respective law book and manually type each form. This was extremely time-consuming but necessary to close that chapter.
After typing the forms, making copies, going to the prothonotary for a time stamp and mailing- the clock begins. I did not expect to receive a counter to the divorce. When I received a call from the paralegal to let me know I was missing a form, I thought I had to start all over again. The paralegal was concerned the judge would not accept paperwork with different filing dates. She filed all of the paperwork and the judge signed off on the divorce in December of 2012. I received my divorce decree in the mail in January of 2013.
I applaud my attorney for trying to settle with the property. In amicable settlements, this is standard. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me. After two failed attempts in court to get the house sold, I gave up. It was more important for me to get the divorce finalized even if I missed the opportunity to sell the house. The one lesson I learned is that the will to get something accomplished far exceeds holding out for material goods. A divorce is tricky but time is of the essence and the least amount of time spent the better mentally and financially. The wedding is less than an hour but a divorce can last for years. My issue is the hold it puts on moving forward. You are legally bound to a person you want to sever ties with permanently. This was a bone of contention for me as I wanted to rename my emergency contact, list my children as beneficiaries for investments and insurance. I wanted to know all of these areas were covered by individuals with a vested interest in my well-being.
In some cases, there is a struggle with settling finances, property, investments, pensions, 401K, etc. For me, I had to forgo the fight to properly sell my marital property, which ended up going into foreclosure. The seven-year mark on my credit far exceeds still being legally married. If the time is dragging, be proactive with your attorney and discuss options. It is difficult to move forward if you are still married. When you say “I’m divorced” it is a true sign the past is behind you legally.
New relationships after divorce are not a competition. It should be a thought provoking decision based on reality, not fiction. After divorcing I feel like the amount of advice was overwhelming and on occasion, filled with utter stupidity. I had an unnamed person tell me I should get married(remarried)! My first thought was for what reason? Is this a competition of some sort? The statement was so irrelevant to the conversation. I also must point out the statement was filled with contempt. It made me realize being happy and content after divorce is obviously an issue for some people. One thing I do know is that any decisions I make that impact my happiness will never be made in haste or to compete with another person.
One of the best lessons after divorce is to be very strategic in all decisions that impact my well being. A relationship sounds like a good idea, however, finding a suitable partner who shares the same values, goals, and lifestyle is challenging. While the choice to settle for less is very easy this brings so much unnecessary stress. One of the best advantages to being single is the ability to enjoy life independently and to be in charge of my well being. Personally, I know the worst mistake I made was thinking a relationship(s) was a replacement for a failed marriage. A failed marriage has you questioning a lot of things. I needed to take the time to evaluate what is needed in my life before including another person to share my time and space. This was eye opening because what I thought was necessary was more work than I need right now.
I believe it is important to stop trying to make up for the time spent in a failed marriage. The best thing I can do is focus on making better choices and living my best life. I am enjoying my time alone and being in charge of my decisions. One of the best parts is taking my time to make the right choices when it comes to the right person and a relationship. The art of weeding out the wrong one to find the right one becomes easier and easier. I am not phased with attention especially if it is not the right attention. After many lessons, the best advice I can offer is to discover you again, use the time to make yourself better, learn to enjoy you, love your self every day no matter how small or large, do not look for someone else to save you, make a conscious effort to try something new, take care of your temple, travel, start a things I want to do list (not a fan of bucket list).
I hope to continue to live the best life possible on my terms and if it is meant to share with someone else it will happen. It feels damn good to look forward to planning things I put on the back burner for so many years. As someone told me, it will happen because I refuse to settle. The words to live by are never settle and no regrets!
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Single motherhood is a challenging journey that requires perseverance and commitment. Every year on Father’s Day I notice a surge of posts on women celebrating Father’s Day. The fact that Hallmark found it necessary to add a card to its Mahogany line is even more ridiculous. We are in some way to celebrate a woman being a mother on Father’s Day because there is no way, in my opinion, you can hold down both roles. I believe only a mother can teach her children how to love and nurture which is entirely different than what a father teaches. Before I became a mother, I lived with both parents and I remember my father’s role in our home. Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was 19. The one thing I know I missed out on is having my father’s perspective on life and all the lessons that go along with challenges. Fathers who are engaged with their children shed a different light on the many facets involved with living.
As a divorced mom of two, becoming a single parent is by circumstance, not by choice. Motherhood encompasses so many levels and does not warrant acknowledgment other than on the third Sunday in May. For me, Mother’s Day feels like another day to some degree in terms of what is expected and required. I feel like I am always on the clock every day, week, month and year. There are so many hats to wear no matter the season. It is my one job that is without breaks, sick time, and vacation. Please do not feel compelled to acknowledge me on a day that was never meant for me. The blessing of giving birth is the role I was destined to have and all the responsibility that comes along with the role. This is not to negate the role of a father but I am good staying in my lane.
The blessing of being a mother is one of intent and purpose and I am fine in that seat.
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Reconciliation is not an option for all divorces. After a conversation with an unnamed individual, I was caught off guard when she said she was hoping for a reconciliation. Although this may apply for some couples it was not an option for me. This conversation really made me think about the mindset of certain people especially those who grow up with dysfunctional family dynamics. I am convinced that anyone who would encourage reconciling to go back to a dysfunctional relationship is not concerned about my well-being. It is so easy to live a facade for the purpose of trying to look happy on the outside while you’re crumbling physically and emotionally. I am so glad I had the wherewithal to walk away from a dysfunctional relationship with no regrets.
It is easy for some to live according to the rules of others and not stay true to themselves. I am so glad I had the wherewithal to walk away from a dysfunctional marriage. Her comments were unnerving in light of the fact infidelity impacts so many marriages. It feels like it is a cycle of unacceptable behavior in some families and it is continuously brushed under the rug.
I have learned it is far more important to stay true to my values and choose the life I deserve. This is why is it important for me to surround myself with a village who wants the best for me. In the process, it means not allowing people who do not have my best interest at heart in my life. It feels great to embrace positivity and those who want the very best for me.
Dear Diary, When you divorce, why is that you are no longer treated the same by others or extended invitations because you are now single? It never dawned on me until I was in the midst of being separated and then divorced. I witnessed how the dynamics of personal relationships change. Personally, it feels like the word “divorce” is the proverbial elephant in the room or the bug no one wants to catch. I have never received so much unwarranted advice from people who have absolutely no experience on the matter.
Single and Never Married: It is interesting for single people to attempt to give a once married person advice on marriage. I crossed my eyes on a number of occasions. One comment that still sticks to this day is one person telling me “that’s who you chose”. You definitely learn to developed thick skin and count to 5 multiple times to avoid having an out of body experience. If you need to vent or seek advice avoid sharing any of it with a single person, who was never married. There is more judgment rendered than support offered.
Married Once, Absolute Expert: One conversation I vividly remember was from one of my brother’s female friends telling me I “was angry”. This was mind boggling and definitely out of order! I felt like who are you to assess what I’m feeling when you don’t know my story. During one conversation I vividly remember one of my brother’s friends telling me I “was angry”. This was mind boggling and definitely out of order! I felt like who are you to assess what I’m feeling when you don’t know me or my story. Yes, I will admit in the initial phase of any experience your emotions are turned upside down and inside out. I think some people assume the role of expert because they have a specific experience. Let me tell you; never ASSUME anything about another person’s life. Although our experiences are similar, our lives are not woven from the same cloth. The last thing I needed was a psychological assessment from someone you have just met. If you want an expert, consult the nearest mental health professional for an appointment.
Married and Understand Dynamics of Marriage: It would only make sense that someone who is currently married with a clear understanding it is an absolute journey that requires work. I think this is your reality check of advice. They will offer a listening ear and provide a positive perspective on their lessons learned.
Separated/Divorce: I have found the greatest support from those who are separated/divorcing or divorced. They will understand how you are feeling and thinking as you navigate the same journey. It is important to surround yourself with true champions who seek the positive out of unpleasant circumstances. This is not the support circle to constantly focus on the negative but it is a tribe of encouragement, faith, and motivation. You may need to laugh, cry, vent and yell and still feel like you’re whole when the dust settles. It is important to establish this tribe as you will rely on advice, constructive feedback, and direction from a place of genuine love and support. My journey is a lot easier because I have this support network to
My JOURNEY is a lot easier because I have a support network to rely on when I need a POSITIVE perspective.
“When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade”
My divorce was finalized in January 2013. As I reflect on the process it dawned on me how much valuable time and energy is wasted mainly due to STUPIDITY! The bigger question is WHY? what do inidividuals hope to GAIN? why be DIFFICULT? It is so much more advantageous to speed up the process and go off peacefully. Here are my clear cut reasons why an AMICABLE DIVORCE is a matter of COMMON SENSE, I know I know this does not grow in everyone’s garden!!!! Bare with me HERE!
Why an Amicable Divorce is Necessary?
- Both parties can start to rebuild their lives sooner than later.
- Reduce the financial burden, lawyers are not inexpensive!!! Trust me I still owe 3 years later!
- Reducing stress is beneficial to your MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING.
- Establish stability for child(ren) involved. They have the right to live in a STRESS-FREE ZONE as well!
Parenting: CoParenting In My Words
Every time I hear the word parenting, I feel like it is a psychology buzz word. In the five years of being separated and now DIVORCED, it has been challenging to parent while living separately. However, I have learned that in order to maintain my sanity, I have to function with what works for me, POINT BLANK! I also realized my kids can morph into master MANIPULATORS! for their personal gain. They try to play both sides until someone says NO! All I can say is PUMP THE BRAKES! on this behavior and set some ground rules.
It is so important to me and it actually feels good to say NO to my kids. I have witnessed on multiple occasions how my kids have a false sense of entitlement. I know I am guilty of not setting limitations for them on so many levels. As a single parent, I find myself having very honest conversations with my kids on the reality of our new life. I feel it is important for them to understand my perspective on planning for our future even if they may not agree with my decisions. Now with that said I will say my teen has been the biggest opponent of most of my decisions in the past five years. Honestly, I feel no guilt because I realize he has a lot more maturing to do before he can fully understand this journey. On this journey, you will find that there will be a lot of agreeing to disagree moments and this is OK. Again this journey is about our physical and mental well-being as well for our children. I have found that while parents may share the same expectations for their children, it can be difficult to instill the same boundaries and limitations. My single parenting is a daily journey as I see the good, the bad and the ugly of having to diffuse every feeling and emotion that is warranted and unwarranted with my children. I wish it was as simple as sending my children to a time out chair but this is not reality.
There are days when I feel cheated because I get to experience the defiant side of my children on a daily basis. While the other parent gets to reap the benefits of bringing the fun. This can be a hard pill to swallow and I often wonder what is the true payoff. Coparenting looks different for everyone so I would encourage those who have it nailed- to stick with your game plan. I know for me it comes down to making the best decisions that impact our well-being and puts my children on the right track for the future.
We are five years in and the biggest win is for me to resolve to focus on what provides a win-win in our new home. After we close the door I need to open my parenting 101 book and hope for the best.
Top 5 things I need to make part of my daily parenting journey:
- Be consistent
- Setting boundaries and enforcing consequences for their actions
- Frequently communicate my expectations
- Have open and honest conversations even if it is uncomfortable
- Plan activities for family time
BUYING REAL ESTATE AND DIVORCE
The idea of buying real estate is a common investment after getting married. I knew home ownership was a better financial investment than renting. After getting married, we planned to purchase our first home in a suburban area with a highly ranked school district. In 1999, interest rates were low and as a first-time home buyer, there were multiple programs available. I pre-qualified for financing with my credit score, income and 10% down. Before, financing with one credit history fully consider the long-term implications. The idea is dependent on how secure the other party is with making the decision. If the credit history of the other party is not favorable you may run the risk of no financing or a higher interest rate. Also, the other party needs to be secure with having no financial rights to the property. The decision to purchase based on my credit felt like a logical decision. A few years after purchasing the property, the mortgage company offered to refinance at a lower interest rate. One lesson learned is to work on credit issues before deciding to purchase real estate. Also, create a money reserve for financial emergencies such as loss of income, home repairs or any other unexpected expense is critical.
BUYING A SECOND PROPERTY
After gaining six years of equity, we made a decision to sell and buy a larger property. I will be the first to say this was the worst financial decision. In 2006, mortgage companies were a bit relaxed on qualifications for mortgages and a lot of buyers were encouraged to apply for adjustable rate mortgages. An adjustable rate mortgage is an open invitation to financial destruction. I say this especially if there is no financial reserve and if two incomes are not consistent. If I fast forward three years after purchasing a new property, I found myself unemployed and filing for divorce. After a year of unemployment, I moved out of the marital property. This was the beginning of a financial nightmare.
DIVORCE: REFINANCE, BUY OUT, OR SELL
Although it was a martial property there were a few options to recoup some equity or break even. The following options were explained by my attorney, 1) to refinance with only one mortgagor(removing the other party), 2)buy the other party out(not an option as I was unemployed), 3) sell the property(most logical). I learned after buying a property a resounding term, “you pay, you stay”. For option 1, I was not willing to remove my name off of a property in which I had a legal and financial right to, option 2 I was in no position to buy out the other party as I was unemployed and the other party was no position to buy me out either, option 3 was the most logical decision. Selling the property quickly became a nightmare. If a one party stays in the property and is unwilling to sell or cooperate with the sale it is doomed. After I left the marital property, only one mortgage payment was paid that meant the mortgage went into default. After numerous attempts at selling the property, multiple trips to court, the sale was sabotaged, property abandoned, and the bank foreclosed.
BEING PETTY or HANDLING BUSINESS
I have to point out there were exactly four years between mortgage default and foreclosure. This was more than enough time to sell the property to one of the multiple interested buyers. The fact remains that pettiness prevented the sale of the property. I went to court for a court order to force the sale of the property and vacate the property. Both court orders were in contempt of court. After the second court order to vacate the property was ignored, I stopped pursuing any additional court orders. I had to pay my attorney each time we went before the judge which meant more legal fees. In July 2013, the bank foreclosed and now my credit report has FORECLOSED PROPERTY in bold across my credit report for the next SEVEN YEARS. Pettiness is not productive and serves no PURPOSE.
I would encourage any woman who is contemplating buying a jointly owned property to determine affordability based on one income. If this is a marital property, ensure there is a reserve in the event of loss of income or any other major expenses related to the property. From my perspective, FORECLOSURE should never be an OPTION. If possible buy REAL ESTATE with someone who gives a DAMN about their credit history. It takes years to repair bad credit!
Open Letter to My Kids on Divorce and Life Moving Forward
I felt compelled to write an open letter to my kids on divorce after viewing a program. This weekend I was truly a couch potato and managed to watch Being, Jasmine Guy on Centric. It really hit home when she talked about going through her divorce and having to explain the situation to her then 8-year-old daughter. Jasmine moved to another state, which meant displacing her child. This hit a nerve with me because it was a decision I agonized over doing at the time. As Jasmine said(referring to divorce), “Our story is their story”. Her daughter talked about leaving her friends and not making it easy for her mother. Today her daughter realizes why her mother made specific decisions and felt bad with giving her mother a hard time.
As a mother, it pains you to disrupt what your kids know as home and the life in their neighborhood with their friends. My son was almost ten when I decided to move out and my daughter was almost four years old. It is difficult to explain adult decisions to kids, however, I hope one day they will understand the “why” behind my decisions.
I would like you to know that my decisions were always in your best interest and not for my own selfish reasons. As a mother, I always want the best for you even if this means uprooting to create a better life. Although, parenting is without a handbook I feel it is my duty to always provide an environment that is functional versus dysfunctional. I want, to always be honest, and not deceive you with empty words or promises. The reality of divorce is not always with a silver lining. One lesson I have learned is not to invite less than what I know deserve into our lives. From this lesson, I hope always set high standards for yourselves and never settle for less. You deserve the best in everything you do. I am tough because I want you both to stay focused and strive for more than my achievements. I wish I could promise you that life will come without challenges but this would be untrue. The lesson to learn is that despite life’s challenges we find a way to prevail. This journey is one of many lessons, challenges, and experiences. My wish is that you use our journey to shape and define your footprint in the world.