Last week we had a settlement conference. Her attorney is about as done with this as I am. Before the lawyers were involved, I had made an offer to her for us to start working out the details, and then we could have had a lawyer draw it up for us to sign. This is when she ran out and hired a lawyer. It has cost me close to $10K, and I suspect that it is costing her close to the same amount. I have described the process of our separation almost three years ago. Yes, this has been going on that long. We each moved out of the marital home, and we each filled up our respective places with stuff from the marital home. We spent a day at the home and moved most of the remaining things into a neighbors house, so the bank wouldn’t auction it off wit the house. There wasn’t really any fighting. There were some things that she was not happy about, and she let me know. I didn’t offer much to her in response, but I felt the same. I figured that this was normal.
I offered her all the things in her possession, and all the things that were stored at the neighbors house, and I would get what was in my possession. I then offered her half the current value of half the shares of my retirement account less half the debt I paid off using the retirement account. We each had cars when it was all said and done as well. Pretty simple. No arguments. She was free to ask for anything specific that she was worried about. There were a couple of family items in her possession that I was worried about and making provisions for in my settlements as well. I was asking for a shared parenting plan with a shared expenses budget as well. I was willing to pay all the kids expenses. She would only be liable for maintaining her home. I had no problem with this, and was able to budget my way through it.
After a whole lot of expensive nothing, I am getting ripped off through child support in addition to kids expenses. She will get the same property settlement that I offered. The lawyers agreed that there was no way to divide property further at this point. Too much time had passed. She asked for one item, and it was already in her possessions by the agreement. She gets half the value of the retirement at the time we separated less the debt paid. This is half the amount I was going to give her in real dollars. She is insisting on a GAL, but I expect nothing to change in our parenting time. So we have very little change from what I would have offered. She gets less money in the end, and I would have agreed to the child support after negotiations because I would not have won that point in court. The court still defaults to CS whenever possible, because there are incentives for doing so.
I am finally a few weeks from having my divorce, and a few months from the battle over the kids coming to an end. I expect things to be better than most men get, because I was willing to be a little stubborn and I was patient. It wears on me. The time has taken its toll. I look older than I would otherwise, and my family is not the better for it. Pretty soon, I can pick up the pieces and help them move forward without the constant watchful eye of the courts in my life. At least until she decides to take me back, because so long as the kids aren’t the age of majority, the case is never truly closed. Its a small victory of sorts.Mostly I didn’t get my ass kicked.