Dear Divorce Diary-
Why were my school years spent on such seemingly useless mandatory activities such as dissecting frogs, making sense of Algebra and memorizing the state capitals? Why didn't anyone give me the 411 on the more important things in life? For example, don't ever screw with your credit- it will haunt you worse than anything Steven King. Play hard-to-get with the opposite sex, not only for positive dating outcome, but also a delicious pastime sport. Finally, for the love of God, if you even THINK you are getting a divorce, write down everything! Write down everything that transpires between the two of you, until you have hand cramps and preferably carpal tunnel syndrome. Every detail you can remember should be documented, down to the color sneaker you were wearing, because, as you will inevitably find if you are anywhere near Destination Divorce, everything you do during (and post) marriage can and will be questioned in a court near you. Seriously. But make sure you are not writing it in an email unless you are comfortable with them being labeled "Exhibit A." And while you are at it, you better save that Starbuck receipt just in case you can't account for that wild scone spending spree. As you go through the divorce process, your new part-time job will be accounting and compiling more paperwork than you ever imagined, vaguely disguised by the word "discoveries." Cubicle not included.
Thanks Alec Baldwin-
Ladies, fifteen years ago, Dads were lucky to get to see their children Wednesday evenings and every other weekend. Not so much anymore! It's now pretty much standard for them to get 50/50 custody under any and almost all circumstances regardless of their absence in the child's life prior to separation. In defense of some of those Dads, it may have been absence due to work. Regardless, I call this modern trend the Alec Baldwin backlash. Don't get me wrong, I loves me some Mr. Baldwin; however, in this particular area, I feel Alec is the role model, cape-wearing, superhero to divorced daddies. Unfortunately, although his intentions probably come from the right place, some of those Dads reaping the benefits of his squeaky wheel and best-seller book deserve to wear more of a dickey than a cape. When I complained to my lawyer that my ex had never spent more than a couple of hours alone with our child prior to separation, he chirped "Well you know what they say? Divorces make the best Dads!" Call me catty, (I've been called worse c-words), but ...shouldn't childbirth make the best Dads?
"No fault state"? Between the earthquakes and the cheaters there is nothing but fault-
I always prided myself on being an independent, goal-oriented, working woman. Which is fantastic in real life, yet a real buzz kill in divorce court. I have an entirely new respect for those reality shows the Housewives Of...because they may have figured out more than just the art of Restylane. Thanks to that old Disso master (the machine which calculates support payments) which would be more appropriately named the Dismal Master, the best thing you can do prior to a divorce....is...well... nothing. Particularly, if you suspect that your partner is (ahem...) "partnering up with several other firms" so to speak. Do your nails, do lunch, re-do your living room, but do not under any circumstances bring in income, or what you may end up doing, is making those support payments. In most marriages, both partners are working (if they are lucky and recession- proof of course.) But particularly in some states justice is blind, and I know more women shelling out monthly payments to men who had strayed because California is one of those fabulous "no-fault states." So forget the idea of stay-at-home moms and Mad Men (complete with aprons and pot roasts prepared) because the current trend is really mad women.
When crossing the line, may actually involve one or two of them--
You know your ex-spouse likes to do his impression of a vintage Keith Richards despite that little speed bump known as "during their custodial time"? But really, what can you do about it? The truth is, not a whole lot unless you can teach your children how to wield a video camera with skill. Random drug testing is hard to get (via ex-parte) and gives them the "you-better-shape-up-you're-being monitored" alert. All the ill-intentioned ex-spouse really needs is a prescription (which isn't illegal), or a penchant for alcohol (also not illegal). I know of one mom who was forced to install one of those "your car won't start unless you blow into a straw first" numbers as you may have seen in the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin. It wasn't as much of an obstacle for this particular mom, as it was an inconvenience she bypassed by creatively asking her children to blow into the straw for her. This particular "mother of the year" took repeated courtroom visits, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for the Petitioner's side to prove that there was in fact a slight drinking problem. So save those gift receipts from the wedding loot, you may need to eBay some stuff to pay for a lawyer that costs about a pair of Loubitians an hour to prove what you already know as the truth! With all the CSI shows, our understanding of the law, is sometimes skewed. Turns out, you can't get a hair follicle or blood test (to determine how much of mommy or daddy's little helper is coursing through their system) unless it's a criminal trial. Divorces don't count, so that little prescription pad is the pass to unlimited legal party time, amazingly, in the eyes of the court with the excuse "but I have a prescription" as perfectly acceptable. Personally, I think we are about ten years behind, at least in Family Courts, to really know the dangers of prescription pills and how to control multiple doctor prescriptions and the abuse that's inevitably there. Ah....if only Dr. Drew Pinsky were a judge.
So to recap, furiously document everything like you are a contestant on Journaling with the Stars going for a disco ball trophy. Thank Alec Baldwin (genuinely if you are a Dad, sarcastically if you are a Mom.) Do nothing if at all possible; it reaps the most financial reward. And finally, in most cases where there are accusations of drug and alcohol abuse, fiction as a defense is admissible in divorce court.
Rosa Blasi has written Jock Itch: Misadventures of a Retired Jersey Chaser
for Harper Collins/It Books to be released 03/29/2011.
Follow updates on (Rosa Blasi) Twitter.