A Long Bloodless Slog

There is the possibility that I’m bad at marriage.

I have now been through two very different divorces, but the one thing that is common to both, well there’s more than one thing, I’m talking about myself. I was there for both.

In the first case my divorce was reasonably civil, we negotiated, we bargained we thought about how the children would be affected, what our living arrangements and visitation would be. It was painful, it hurt, hearts were broken all the way around. As divorces go though, it was perfect. Nobody, so far as I’m aware, felt like they were treated unfairly. We cooperated to make it happen, it would be among the last things we would cooperate on, but it was very civil.

Very few of those things could be said of my second divorce.

That relationship ended in pain. There was no real discussion, no real negotiation, no real plan for what things would look like moving forward. The only custody we had to worry about was my cat.  As far as he went my plan was to have him put to sleep as soon as possible. I don’t think I will ever stop regretting that things didn’t work out that way.

What negotiation was had, was limited to the immediately practical. She was about to have a badly needed hip surgery, and understandably didn’t want to be left high and dry after. I knew that her best shot was to have the surgery, whatever may come after she would be physically better able to handle, I was hurt but I loved her and I wanted her to succeed.

We agreed that I would support the household for the projected recovery time of three months before she would be able to do something to support herself and her daughter. She tried to trap me in an open ended arrangement, but I knew her well enough to know that she would definitely abuse that.

I had been trying to clear my debts since we moved to Butte. During that time she told me she was on board, we worked on budgets together, but when it came time to actually pay for things as often as not the money allotted to various things had been smoked. The necessities were paid, the rent, the power (usually), the water, the phones that was really all I could count on though. I knew that whatever else might be going on this was a chance for me to take the reigns of my life and make headway.

I knew once the three months I had agreed to maintain the household were up I would have almost unlimited power over my finances to clean up my messes.

There’s a funny thing about plans, they rarely survive first contact with the enemy.

I was good to my word. I always am now, though I wasn’t in the past. I learned the hard way that deception is a terrible master. It eats at the heart of the deceiver. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that is worth the pain of lying to someone. I’m not even talking about the pain you inflict on them, I’m talking solely about the pain a deceiver inflicts on themselves.

I was sending her every dime I didn’t need for survival.

The deal was that money was supposed to be keeping the household. That’s what I was paying for. When my friend brought me by the house and I saw that everything was packed up and everything of value to me was not there. I cried. I bawled, it was far more painful than her telling me she wanted a divorce. It was more painful than her telling me she wanted to open our marriage. It was cold black betrayal.

I no longer felt any obligation to maintain the household. I was the only one maintaining the deal. Fortunately this freed up the resources to get an apartment with pet.

I also started the paperwork to get the divorce the Second told me she wanted rolling.

In Montana, it is entirely possible for a divorce to happen if only one person wants it, it actually can’t be stopped if one partner wants is. It can be delayed, the process doesn’t have to go smoothly, but both parties don’t actually have to be involved.

The Second’s first husband was a criminal. She lived much of her life on the edge of the law. Consequently she’s really good at avoiding being served papers. So the process was long.

First I had to fill out all the forms, this is usual, they’re the same forms everyone fills out. Except Butte uses different forms. This provided challenges given that neither of us lived in Butte anymore, well she may have I really didn’t know but suspected not. We didn’t live there but we didn’t live anywhere else long enough to be a resident there either. This was complicated by the fact I was, well still am, on the road the vast majority of the time.

Once I got the correct forms filled out and sent in. I had to mail copies to her by certified mail. It’s expensive but okay it’s a step. I knew she didn’t live at the address I had, that’s actually the only thing I did know. There was the possibility that the mail would get forwarded to her I guess. That didn’t happen though.

Like I said it is possible to get a divorce by yourself but it isn’t fast or easy, or even cheap. Once it was certain that the certified letter hadn’t been delivered I had to get the sheriff’s department to try to serve the papers. This costs money, it wasn’t a lot, but then it could take anywhere from two to six weeks. In my case it was on the longer end.

pet and I were feeling pretty good about things though.

The Sheriff’s deputies not finding her, wasn’t really a surprise, like I said we suspected but did not know that she had left town. Once that failed though, came the longest part of the wait. I had to get the official notification that The Sheriff’s department couldn’t find her, then get the court to agree that I could serve her by publication. You know those legal notices in the newspaper you never read because they are a two column long wall of text intended for a single person who isn’t you? Yeah, I had to run one of those for three weeks. The paper I selected was in the middle of relocating their offices, they were super non-communitive and their website basically never updated. It was a week or two before the ad ran at all, then since I also didn’t live in Butte, I couldn’t go pick up a copy of the paper and check on it. I had basically no idea whether or not I was even receiving the ads I had paid for. Once the ads ran there was a further three week period after which she would be considered served. We didn’t get any of the paperwork from them (or even an email) until that three week period had expired as well.

From there we were informed that it was just a matter of scheduling a hearing. This was about the time I took a couple months off. I figured I would wrap this mess up and move on. Nope. Beginning of August she was “served”, we couldn’t get a hearing until the thirtieth of November. It was a long wait.

The hearing was largely uneventful when it finally did come. It was unusual and the Judge required a consultation with the law librarian, after issuing his decree. This caused pet about a 45 minute meltdown. She was certain he was going to just change his mind. I don’t know what the consultation was about but I suspect that it had to do with the fact that by this time I was well and truly a resident of another county.

The ordeal may have been officially over at this point, but the Second could still appeal the terms for 30 days. It was a long thirty days of waiting.

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