Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Big Split, Part II

The Big Split, Part I, can be found here.

When I get emotional, I get symptoms. Severe fatigue, hives, sore joints, and aching lungs have all shown up at one point or another, over the years. The theme for my divorce years was a terrible heaviness, like gravity had been multiplied a dozen times. There were days when I could barely pull myself up off my sofa. At times I thought I might not be able to keep working. I don't know how I managed to hang on to my job.

After my ex and I had lived apart for one year, according to Ontario law, we were permitted to begin divorce proceedings. But first we had to figure out what to do about the house we had bought with his mother. I had to get my name off the mortgage and have it signed over to the two of them.

We had agreed that if he would handle this changeover with the bank, I would handle the paperwork for the actual divorce. I can't prove this, but I strongly suspect that he was not in any hurry to finalize things. It took 14 months to get the house ownership transferred.

That done, it was time to fill in the divorce papers. I'm sure you know the saying: "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." Well, lawyers charge a pretty penny, but it only costs $400 to get divorced in Ontario if you fill in your own paperwork, so I decided to be that fool.

The process of filling in those papers was one of the most difficult that I have ever been through. And it wasn't because of the content, either. We had vastly simplified things by transferring ownership of the house before proceeding with the divorce. There was no contested property and we had no children. All I had to do, essentially, was fill in our names, addresses, and dates of birth on around a dozen forms, answer checklists of simple questions, and then get us both down to the courts to sign them all in front of a notary public.

However, because of my emotional state, mired deep in grief and depression, I may as well have been writing a university-level biology exam in Greek. I would stare at a form asking for my name and address, and my mind would go absolutely blank. I forced myself to answer one question at a time, using all my willpower to push through the artificial confusion. It was like running in a nightmare, when your limbs are made of lead and you can't move forward.

Finally, after a lot of effort, all the papers were complete. I brought them to the courthouse to have them checked by a clerk before setting a date with my ex to do the final signing. I took a subway train downtown and then walked two blocks to the court building. The sidewalk was flat, but the heaviness was so great that I felt as though I were struggling up a steep slope all the way there. Every step was like climbing a mountain. It took all my strength to keep going.

When I finally got into the proper office and found the correct clerk, I thought that I might faint. He was very kind and patient with me, going over all the papers and reassuring me that I had done them correctly. My legs were rubbery as I left. The hardest part was yet to come.

To Be Continued...

12 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

You have to live apart a year to get a divorce in Ontario? I never knew that was required. It's amazing when depressed how just standing up can tire you out, I can assume a divorce is much worse.

Thomas said...

How long before you felt like yourself again?

jameil1922 said...

sigh.

trinity67 said...

I concur with Jameil1922 - sigh.

Sparkling Red said...

Warped Mind of Ron: There are 3 possible grounds for divorce in Ontario: 1) one partner committed adultery 2) one partner has abused the other or 3) you've been living in separate residences for over a year. Technically I could've rushed things along by claiming adultery when I was having a post-separation fling, but that seemed tacky. So, I waited.

Thomas: I never again felt the way I did before the divorce, but I started discovering a better, more happy version of myself by around the third year after moving out. It was a very gradual process with lots of ups and downs.

Jameil1922 and Trinity67: I hear that you're there, sympathizing. Thanks. :-)

Karen said...

Oh what a sucky thing to go through.

lol....As a divorce laywer it made my blood curl that you did it on your own.

And Ron should know it takes 18 months - more than the year - of living apart to get an amicable divorce in NJ.

The Ex said...

Oooh. I'm excited to hear the rest.

Sparkling Red said...

Karen: I'd never advise anyone else to do it on their own. I'm surprised I pulled it off. My step-dad even offered to pay for a lawyer, but I was stubborn. I felt that he had paid for my wedding, and that had been a mistake, so it wouldn't be right to let him pay to fix my mistake. Yes, I was being masochistic. Never again!

The Ex: The last part is the best part... ;-)

R.E.H. said...

Boy is there a lot of paperwork involved in that process.

And, to have to do it when being depressed and (possibly) confused must be absolutely horrible.

Aurora said...

Sounds like a lot of hard work. Heavy emotions make it all harder. Definitely, it's nice when people offer to pay for difficult stuff like that. It's nice that they did.

Jenski said...

That certainly sounds like the opposite of fun. The clerk must have been so happy you weren't yelling at him or actually fainting!

Sparkling Red said...

R.E.H.: Yah, "horrible" sums it up quite nicely.

Aurora: I'll always be grateful for the offer. He's a generous man.

Jenski: Can you imagine doing that for a living? I think that clerk must have seen it all. I was probably pretty tame compared to some of the freaked-out people that came by his desk every day.