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Don’t Mind Us, Just Casually Divorcing Here

, , , , | Legal | June 16, 2022

A few years ago, my ex-husband and I went through a pretty amicable divorce. The initial decision was tough, of course, but after separating, we both agreed it was the right choice. I don’t know about every state, but in ours, you have to be legally separated — living at separate addresses! — for one year and one day in order to proceed with a divorce petition. Don’t even get me started on how hard this makes it for some people, depending on their situation.

So, our year and a day passed and we got a court date. Since we’d already agreed on how we’d split our small list of assets (no children involved, which made the process easier) in our separation agreement, we represented ourselves at the courthouse for the filings and then for the final decree. In total, it was five different visits to different government offices over the course of a few months. Every place we went, we got the strangest looks from the staff because we were doing this together. I’m sure that is rare, but at one office, we had to spell it out several times before the clerk would take the paperwork. She kept assuming we wanted to get married, not divorced.

The funniest encounter, though, was when our “summons” documents were ready to announce our final court date. I was the one who filed for the divorce, so I was the plaintiff and my ex-husband was the defendant. The summons for the defendant had to go out one of two ways: delivery by special messenger and signed for upon receipt, or delivery by an officer of the law. At the time, he worked twelve-hour shifts and couldn’t wait around for a special messenger, not knowing what day it would arrive. I asked if I could just hand it to him and was explicitly told that would be illegal and would force us to start the process over again.

Instead, we went to the summons window, the clerk handed me the summons, and we went to the police department window on the other end of the room. With both of us standing right there, I handed the summons to a cop, who signed that he’d received it and then turned and handed it to my ex-husband. The whole time, we could tell the cop was trying to keep a straight face. We thanked him and managed to make it outside before we lost it. It was one of those situations where we were coming out of the stress of making the decision to divorce and were so frustrated by the red tape that we just had to laugh.

Everything went fine after that, and our divorce was finalized in February of 2020. In March of 2020, our entire state went on lockdown and the government offices closed. If we’d waited just a couple of weeks in our scheduling of everything, we likely wouldn’t have been able to get everything finished for another year. I felt so bad for the people stuck in that process limbo.

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