Beginning the process of divorcing from someone you were married to for twenty-three years is not an easy process. It is complicated by the central reason we grew apart and separated in the first place: I could no longer tamp down, suppress, compartmentalize, that I was a gay man.
I want to be fair to my wife, who I still care for, but no longer love. But I also want to ensure that my rights are protected. After a short call with a potential mediator yesterday I began to think about what kind of person and process would be right for us. The woman I spoke to yesterday was fast-talking, hard-edged, pushy, and wanted to get on with it. My wife does not do well with change. Even after three-plus years of separation, she is still mourning the loss of our marriage.
Should I select a mediator who will gently guide us through a thoughtful and respectful process or should I select someone who can quickly get the job done? I am under no illusion that this process will be easy. I think we both will struggle through mediation, challenged to handle difficult questions of fairness and distribution.
Will I be challenged, for example, about the certificate of deposit I bought over twenty-five years ago and have continued to roll over ever since? It is clearly not marital property under the law but it is fair game in a negotiation. Will my wife try to claim the assets that she owned prior to our marriage are not marital property? It is nuanced, complex, emotionally draining, and stressful.
I want to move through a divorce in a reasonable amount of time but feel no need to work with someone who will make us both uncomfortable by their urgent desire to get the job done. Respect should rule the day, not expediency.