14 June 2013

Stapleton Prophet

While I am keeping the Wash Park Prophet blog name, once again, in the interests of full disclosure for my readers, I inform you that as of tomorrow, I will be based neither in Denver's Washington Park neighborhood, as I was when I started this blog, nor in the Bible Park neighborhood of Denver, where I have lived for much of the last year.  This weekend I move to a townhouse in Denver's Stapleton neighborhood.

The reason for the moves has been that I am getting divorced.  This move, unlike the last one almost a year ago, has been made with time to be picky about locations and give it some thought, rather than out of an urgent and immediate need to separate with just a few week's notice, so it may last for a while.

A complete separation agreement and parenting plan reached non-contentiously without mediation or litigation and only modest lawyer involvement (I have represented myself because I do divorce cases from time to time at my day job, and my wife has had legal representation) to review the proposed arrangements and work out some final details was filed on the same day as the Co-Petition for dissolution of marriage.  My background as a lawyer who has handled divorces has certainly helped smooth out the process - I know what works and does not work in practice, and I know what kind of proposed resolutions are likely to be considered acceptable and fair by a fellow lawyer representing my spouse.  No one is really ever happy about getting divorced and it is never an unequivocally good thing, but we've done our best to minimize harm in the dissolution process itself.

Each of us have attended mandatory parenting classes and made full financial disclosures to each other.  Sometime in late August or early September, our nineteen year marriage (which had followed a two year engagement) will officially be terminated in a very brief in person court hearing (required in all cases with children, even if they are resolved by mutual agreement), and each of us will have our pre-marital name ("Willeke" in my case, "Oh" in hers) restored from the hyphenated "Oh-Willeke" name that we both took when we married and that our children share (and will keep).

Apart from a handful of paperwork items to carry out the financial arrangement, the non-parenting provisions have already been implemented and we are already living the parenting arrangements that largely track those that have been in place, on and off (we have a reconciliation for a couple of months, although it didn't last) during the last year.  Far more paperwork will go into changing addresses and effecting the name change with various government bureaucracies and businesses and informing friends and family.

Our co-parenting relationship is generally cooperative, civil and fairly flexible as it really has to be when your children are a high school freshman and a middle school child, respectively.  Both of our children are doing well in school and one even received a good citizenship award during the separation, although I don't want to downplay how difficult this may be for them now or in the long run.

In the interests of privacy for all involved, harm reduction and ongoing civility, I won't be posting any time soon about why our particular marriage ended (something that the divorce process also does not inquire about) or my feelings about why our marriage ended or the details of our financial arrangements, although obviously, I have given both a great deal of thought and I have strong opinions about these matters.  Those opinions will stay in my journal and in private conversations with close friends, associates and family on a mostly need to know basis.

Philosophically, a key point for me has been to understand that while divorce ends the marriage itself, that in our legal culture, a couple's relationship as co-parents is much more difficult to terminate legally.  Termination of parental rights other than infant adoptions can take place only for serious risk of (or events of) abuse or neglect of the child in question, and these court cases can only be brought by government officials and involves quasi-criminal due process protections for the parent. 

The relationship of unmarried co-parents has become, almost, a form of de facto secondary marriage, and Colorado law, when not required by federal tax law, doesn't even specifically describe one parent as having "custody" and the other "visitation" in most circumstances.  The co-parenting relationship of parents who divorce or legally separate or were never married and seek court guidance regarding the relationship (and the rights of their children) under modern family law is almost entirely independent of the current or past marital status of a child's parents.  This is in strong contrast to the way Japanese custody laws and traditional Islamic law work where a divorce completely terminates a child's relationship with a parent.  Since our relationship is being radically transformed, but not actually ending, it is important for both of us to maintain and nurture the relationship in its current form to make life tolerable for both of us and for the well being of our children.


Jude said...

I receive my last meager child support payment next month, and while it would be great to feel free from that relationship, our lives are so thoroughly intertwined that I imagine I will be stuck with my ex-husband (& his wife) for the rest of our lives. The one thing I wish he'd agreed to was shared holidays, but instead my sons had separate Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters. They liked it because they got more stuff; eventually, I liked it because I realized that I like to get everything done early while he likes to do it later in the day, and he could serve them turkey while I served them a vegetarian Thanksgiving. The worst thing was trying to prove physical abuse when they were younger; he was careful, and it proved to be impossible, but when they were little I had a rule that they could call me any time day or not and I'd be there; when they were older, they stopped staying over at his house, so he's been nicer since then. Good luck.

Jude said...

Day or NIGHT, not day or not.

Gabriella Kadar said...

19 plus 2 is a lot of time and a lot of life, so I think expressing my 'sorry for your situation' is appropriate. I hope whatever you have arranged will work out and the worst of the emotional trauma will lessen over time.