If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. ~Mark Twain
Some of you that follow my blog may know that I have been in the middle of court issue with my ex-husband. It has been dragging on since last August when I was first served papers at work. Not exactly how you want to start your day, but there is was.
Due to this and that, our court date had been postponed until this past Wednesday, Jan. 26th.
So, after months of trying to prepare my own paperwork (I did not have money to hire a lawyer, he did), taking a deposition, and having my bank records subpoenaed, we finally had our "day in court" so to speak.
As you can imagine, I was VERY nervous. I have never done anything like this before. When we divorced, we each had lawyers and settled everything outside the courtroom, so we never had to face a judge.
My ex had been trying to show that I had all this "extra" income that I was not disclosing, and since he became unemployed last May, was asking for a termination of the life-time spousal support which he had agreed to pay when we came to our final Marital Settlement Agreement when we divorced. We were married for a long time, over 16 years at the time of our separation, and almost 20 by the time the divorce was final. I gave up any rights to his pension and took half of our debt. I also paid all my lawyer fees that he was supposed to help pay, and eventually I bought him out of our family home. In turn, he agreed to pay the spousal support, which I was entitled to based on how long we were married. He asked that I have to start working full-time, and I did.
Now, let's remember that I was completely devastated at that time, I had been in love with this man for 18 years when we separated. I thought I would truly die of a broken heart. Little did I know that time and maturity would become my friend, and I would learn to live on my own, be happy and come to realize that everything happens for a reason, even things that can hurt so bad. I put up with so much bad behavior back then, I don't even know what I was thinking. Love can really make you blind. It's hard to even imagine that was me back then, but in time I realized that I fit the exact definition of "co-dependent".
I have worked very hard to keep my home and give my girls everything they deserve. My marriage did not work out, but what did come out of it are the most amazing children. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about how blessed I am to have them.
As you know, and I've been very open about this on my blog, I have tried to make some extra money since I lost the income I was receiving from child support for my oldest daughter, when she turned 18. She turned 18 during the same week I moved her into college and we have been struggling to make ends meet since then. I have been very "creative" with my finances, we have cut back on a lot of extras, I sold all my gold jewelry, had a garage sale, tried selling crafts and baked goods, cashed out vacation time, used savings, etc. to get through the past 15 months. Basically, I've tried everything short of actually getting a second job away from home, mostly because I don't want to leave my younger daughter home alone at night and want to try to maintain a decent quality of life. No amount of money can replace the time I have with my kids, I have chosen to be with them and cut back a little, rather than be away from them by working a second job so I could buy more.
So, back to the trial. I brought one of my best, most dear friends with me. She has been with me through the best and worst times of my life for the past 14 or so years. She is my rock, and I knew she was the one I wanted there with me on this day. We have been friends since our daughters were in 1st grade together, they are now in college.
We tried to temper my nerves by joking around, and it definitely helped. There is nothing like a little laughter to lighten things up!
The judge was a little intimidating!! What I mean is, she did not mess around, but this turned out to be in my favor. She saw right through all my ex's BS. You cannot imagine my relief when I realized she was not going to consider even a bit of what he was trying to prove. He was actually reading my blog posts in court!! She told his lawyer that she was perfectly capable of reading them for herself, and made him stop. His lawyer tried to object to many of my questions, she told him OVERRULED!! I loved it!! I was so worried about some of his false claims, and equally worried the judge wouldn't see the truth, but she did!! Not only did she refuse to add to my income, as the ex and his lawyer were trying to do, but she scolded him for trying to make it look like he had nothing, because he was hiding it all in his wife's name. Boy was he rattled! I felt so good when I was questioning him, I kept thinking of more things to ask and when it was my turn to be questioned, his lawyer only asked 2 or 3 questions and then I got to give my testimony!! I cannot tell you how glad I was that I did not hire an attorney. I didn't have the money in the first place, but if I had borrowed it from someone, it would have just been a big a huge waste of money. The end result would have been the same. The judge did not terminate the support, she gave him 3 months to get a job. She did have to temporarily suspend the spousal support, the key word being temporary. She issued a "Seek Work" order and he has to report to me monthly, showing that he has contacted at least 20 companies a month.
So, yes, things are going to be very difficult financially the next few months for me and the girls. I have already applied to two different places for a second job, and we will be trying to find more ways we can cut back. I will be working on my taxes this weekend, hopefully I'll get enough back to help out with the money I'm going to lose. The judge was sympathetic in the end, telling me, unfortunately, she couldn't consider his spouse's income in factoring the support, and because he is currently unemployed, that had to be considered. The law says that if the paying party's ability to pay has changed, that has to be considered. Basically the numbers are punched into a computer program, and the judge has to go by those numbers. But, she reminded me this is just temporary, and he will have to notify me within 48 hours of re-employment when he does get a job. She acknowledged that she could see I was just squeaking by on my income and the support I have been receiving and with this reduction, it will put me below my standard of living. The vindication alone made me feel so happy and relieved.
The bottom line, we will survive.
I do wonder how my ex can live with himself. He must know, that he is not just taking money away from me, but also our kids. He lives in a large house with a pool, and drives a BMW, it's a little hard to feel sorry for him. He doesn't help with our daughter's college expenses and pays nothing more than his court ordered child support for our younger daughter. That must be a very lonely home.
But, it is time to once again move on, and I have no plans to write of this again. These past few months have been filled with stress and anxiety, to the point that I didn't feel like myself. That is now gone, and I am ME again! It ain't gonna be easy...but we do what we have to, right?!?
I also want to say thank you to all my friends, co-workers, blog-readers, and family who have been such a wonderful source of support to me, especially these past several months. I truly feel loved!
Wishing you love and happiness!