This was one of the many issues that tore us apart, the inequity in our domestic responsibilities. My smugness was gone. I longed for a lawyer. The only way this custody hearing would work without representation is if we presented a united front. He asked us to meet in his private chambers with his clerk, who would help us draft a temporary agreement.
But for now—down came the gavel—our hearing was over. I cried in those private chambers. My great experiment in self-representation felt as if it had failed. Our new hearing was scheduled for three weeks later, exactly one week after I was scheduled to have major surgery to remove my cervix. I begged my ex, with the clerk sitting between us, to just keep the arrangement we had in place. He refused. The clerk, a woman, reached out and squeezed my hand. Fearing losing momentum, I said yes to the new court date and agreed to a temporary order of custody, acquiescing to everything my still-husband now wanted until a permanent agreement could be reached.
Of all the reasons I kept putting off divorce for years, this was by far the most heartbreaking: the pain of a young child caught in its cogs. Then, the next morning, a miracle. Of course it could, I said.
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I showed up in family court three weeks later, fresh from having my cervix yanked. The rest of the pro se proceedings went fairly smoothly, after I lost several weeks to further complications from the surgery, when the stitches holding me together came undone. I bled out, which required a second emergency surgery three weeks after the first. Child-support payments were decided in a single hearing in family court by a support magistrate , who is not a judge but who has legal authority to decide issues of child support.
Would a lawyer have argued for more support money on my behalf? Friends afterward told me I was cheating myself and my kids, going it alone. But though a lawyer might have been able to increase my child-support payments by a small fraction, our combined income back then was modest and finite. Would that tiny margin of more support really outweigh the cost of the legal fees it took to achieve? Either one spouse will have to buy out the other, or the home will have to be sold so that the proceeds can be split evenly.
I understand why many of my divorced friends wanted to keep the family home, so the kids could have some stability amidst the chaos. In fact, a clean slate felt better, liberating. When the child-support hearing was over, my ex and I reached across the aisle and spontaneously hugged. The judge smiled. At the end of December , I finally had what I thought were all the signed papers, rulings, and affidavits in hand.
Or was it steps? I panicked. Felt paralyzed once more.
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The handout at the courthouse listed 20 documents I needed to file to be done with my divorce, in a specific order, and looking over that list, I had no idea what most of them were. I emailed Delruelle and apologized for bothering her again, but I needed help navigating the final leg of this journey. With knee surgery for a torn meniscus scheduled days later, I begged him: Please, I was heading into another six-to-eight-week recovery.
I really wanted to file the final papers prior. Sorry, he said. It could not be helped. Halfway up the stairs, I started to laugh.
It all felt too symbolically on point, the lady on crutches struggling up the stairs, the massive Corinthian colonnade of justice, the inscription carved into granite: The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government. Yes , I thought. All couples should have access to a legal expert who can help them through a divorce, step by step, as well as fair judges, such as the ones we were lucky enough to get, to dispense justice. But maybe the true administration of justice is, at a minimum, an ability for two people to amicably get divorced without breaking the bank or going to war.
Nice job! The school-project-looking postcard would, I was told, arrive at my home when the divorce had finally gone through, approximately four months after the date of filing. I did. With a little backstage guidance from a lawyer acquaintance. It only took a year and three months from start to finish.
Plus four years of paralysis before I started the process. But yeah. But my divorce from my ex was hardly an amicable parting, and we still got through it on our own. It can be done.
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Of course. I had the papers picked up and, three weeks later, I took my last trip to family court to file one last copy of the finalized papers with a friendly clerk, who smiled warmly as I choked back tears. Snow was falling heavily outside, the first of the season. But inside, we laughed warmly with each other, for the first time in years.
Presidents have long relied on attentive aides to help them cope with the stresses of office. Not Trump.
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So they went to a senior official and pitched an intervention of sorts: Take him to dinner one night at the Peking Gourmet Inn, a Chinese restaurant in the Virginia suburbs where both Bushes dined as president. The aides recognized that Trump was doing himself no favors by marinating in the personal feuds and Twitter spats that make up so much of his daily life, and thought a low-key dinner might be a therapeutic diversion. Just go. I first met him 21 years ago, and now our relationship is the subject of a new movie.
He trusted me when I thought I was untrustworthy, and took an interest in me that went beyond my initial interest in him.
- kurt cobain looked like buddy holly.
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- Residency Requirement and Grounds for Divorce.
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- How to Get a Free, Quick Divorce.
He was the first person I ever wrote about who became my friend, and our friendship endured until he died. And yet the movie, called A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood , seems like a culmination of the gifts that Fred Rogers gave me and all of us, gifts that fit the definition of grace because they feel, at least in my case, undeserved. Anna, Illinois, has a long history of excluding black people.
Where does that leave it today? I got into town just after sunset. So I went in, too.