If I Had Known This One Thing, I Would Have Divorced Differently

When I first hired my attorney, I was pursuing a divorce through publication (not that I even knew what that was until I was left with a text message and a husband that then disappeared). At that time, mere days after the tsunami, I had no idea what happened and no evidence other than the empty accounts and maxed-out credit. My only option at that juncture was to seek a “no fault” divorce.

And then I found the email. And discovered the affair. And the bigamy.

I learned where he was and contacted the police to report the dual marriage.

Even though that first email, which indicated that band hired for his wedding had not yet been paid, sent me through a dark tortuous path that seemed to birth more questions than answers, I not regret the search for information. The drive for information was too strong. The need for some sort of understanding was too overwhelming to simply walk away.

I contacted my attorney with the updated information.

And that’s when I made my mistake.

In Georgia, you have two options when it comes to divorce – fault or no fault. In order to file a fault divorce, there has to be some concrete evidence that one person’s actions directly led to the divorce.

And with the copy of his second marriage license in hand, I had that proof.

So when my attorney asked me if I wanted to continue with a no fault divorce or if I wanted to alter my approach, I responded immediately that I wanted to change course.

But I didn’t really understand what that meant.

Here’s what I thought at the time –

No fault makes it sound as though we simply grew apart. As though the divorce was a mutual decision made over time and with both party’s well-being in mind.

No fault excuses him of his (criminal and otherwise) actions and makes me (since I was the one filing) look like the one responsible.

No fault made me physically ill. It made me feel like he could spit on me, ground my heart and my finances into dust, abandon his family and responsibilities and that I publicly acknowledging that all of those things just happened.

That they weren’t really his fault.

And at a time when what I wanted more than anything was for him to acknowledge the destruction and pain he caused, a public absolution (as I saw no fault indicating), caused the smouldering anger to flare.

I believed that the word “fault” directed at the defendant on the top of the pages would alert the judge that he or she was dealing with somebody unscrupulous.

I thought that placing him at fault would earn me the favor of the courts and positively influence any rulings in my direction.

And I hoped that having the finger-pointing at him would make my then-husband feel guilty for what he done. And maybe even prompt him to apologize.

And here is what I learned –

The. Courts. Don’t. Care.

About the reasons for the divorce. About infidelity. About blindsiding. About abandonment. About financial betrayal.

They don’t care.

My attorney was more than happy to switch gears to a fault divorce. Because proving fault takes time.

And therefore money.

And I’m not even sure the judge noticed the fact that there wasn’t a “no” before fault on the paperwork submitted to her that day. She proceeded as though my almost-ex was a rational and rule-following man as she divvied up responsibilities.

I didn’t receive any favors for not being the at-fault party and I certainly didn’t receive any empathy.

And I didn’t feel validated in the slightest my the fact that the records showed that my ex was at fault.

Because he never accepted responsibility.

And that was what I really wanted.

Something that the courts could never provide.

In the end, removing those two letters – n o – from my suit for dissolution of marriage cost me added months of stress and thousands of dollars.

And brought me nothing.

A note about the legal process – I am by no means an expert in the legal proceedings of divorce. In my state and in my situation, the difference between fault and no fault was negligible. This is not always the case. Make sure you take the time to fully research the path you’re taking. And don’t make assumptions that legal terms have anything to do with the real world.

It is so incredibly difficult to separate the emotional separation from the legal, especially when you have not been preparing for divorce. And even though from my current standpoint, I say that I wish I had not filed a fault divorce, I can’t promise that I would have listened to that advice at the time.

Make the best decisions that you can. And then forgive yourself for any mistakes.

Divorce is one of things that you don’t really understand until you’ve been through it. And I don’t think anyone wants to practice it enough to get better at it.

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24 thoughts on “If I Had Known This One Thing, I Would Have Divorced Differently

  1. You have been through so much. My heart goes out to you. And I totally agree… I can’t imagine anyone wanting to practice getting divorced to learn all the things we learn through the process. God bless you!!!

  2. This was an excellent post. I agree with you that ‘no fault’ gives the impression “the divorce was a mutual decision made over time and with both party’s well-being in mind.” In Australia it is all ‘no fault’ divorce now and you cannot get divorced until twelve months post separation. A marital property settlement is a separate legal process. So there are the two parts to the legal process. As you say, this is separate again from the emotional heartache which is a third part to the process. And a fourth process is reinventing yourself, which I am doing now. These are all HUGE steps. It is hard for others to understand when you are still trudging through the legal process (in my case this took three and a half years) and thus still in pain from it all. People expect you to be ‘over’ it and yet you are not yet ‘through’ it.

    1. Yes, yes and yes! I actually had someone tell me that I should literally be able to forget the entire marriage and divorce. Not likely!:)

      Reinventing is huge and daunting. And exciting😃😃👏👏

  3. Thank you for the post. I found it eye opening and informative. California is a “no fault’ state. My attorney explained that my husband can have 100 affairs and it still won’t matter in my state. I just don’t want the divorce to take longer than what it has to be.

              1. He really didn’t think that I would get an attorney. ..let alone fight ..he assumed that he can continue to call the shots and have everything his way…have his cake and eat it too! He never expected me to put my foot down. If he wants his freedom. ..he can have it! Until he can face his demon’s and fix what needs to be fixed he will never be free…

  4. In my no-fault state, the courts have definitely taken a turn toward favoring men. Bringing up my ex’s faults just served to poison the female judge against me – I fear it made me look weak and victim-y. So many tough lessons! Thanks for another good post.

  5. I totally understand your confusion during that time. It’s overwhelming! My divorce in New York State was “No Fault Provisions added to Traditional Grounds for Divorce” ~ after one year living apart. It was listed in the divorce papers that my children and I were abandoned. After reading what you learned about “fault” and “no fault” maybe this was good. I had no money as the family income dropped by more than half of what we’d been living on. What a nightmare!

  6. If I could go back and change the paperwork on my divorce things would look so much differently. Only she was hiding an affair and lied to get me to sign the arrangement. I feel your struggle, thanks for sharing.

  7. How horrific! I’m so sorry he did those things to you.

    Thank you for this great blog and your advice. Fortunately, as far as I know, ours will be an uncontested divorce, but I’m still researching how to proceed legally.

    I’m very impressed with your ability to survive and put yourself back out there. It will take me a very long time to be able to do that, and my situation isn’t nearly as nightmarish as yours was.

    May you find peace.

  8. This scares and saddens me. Two years ago I discovered what was to be the first (or so I thought) of my wife’s affairs. I did everything to work it out and get her to stay, spiritually and fleshly. I fasted for 16 days, and then she repented the third time (seemed genuine). Then I started working out and eating healthy. I did everything I could to be the best husband to her, buying her gifts, writing her love notes, attempting to do everything around the house… We went to a counseling retreat for marriages dealing with affairs. We did a family life conference. It took ten months, and her affair partner moving out of state for her to finally stop.

    We had a rocky (good and bad times) three months after that, and then about six months of bliss. And then she started sexting and hooking up with random men she was meeting through an iPhone game and chat room. When I found out I tried to work it out again. It took her 2 and a half months and me saying I wanted a divorce for her to say she wanted to work things out and stop… we started going to counseling, etc. After several weeks and five sessions, she made progress. The counselor told me to stop living in fear and to trust God. So I was all in again.

    She lasted two days before she started lying. On the fifth evening I caught her sexting with someone at 3:30 am… I filed for divorce the next week.

    Now she wants the kids and alimony… She has a good job, but makes less than me. It turns out she will likely get it because I tried to work things out. According to the law, that means I gave consent to her adultery.

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