Relationships ‘I’ve been divorced twice and it cost me less than $500 total’

My parents were supportive and kept asking me what they could do to help, but I’m super independent.

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Divorce play

Divorce

(Peter Dazeley)
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Here’s how one woman skipped the fancy lawyers and DIY’d her divorces.

I was just 20 years old when I got my first divorce—I had met my (now) ex-husband during my freshman year of college, and we got married way too fast.

I’m actually not an impulsive person (I’m a Libra—I weigh the pros and cons of everything), but after he asked me three times to get married and started calling me by his last name, I got swept up and gave in.

I got pregnant right away, and it was unicorns and roses those first couple months. But I was still in school and he was out, which eventually put a strain on our relationship.

He got jealous and thought I was messing around with other guys, and we started fighting daily.

Things escalated quickly. We didn’t see eye to eye on anything, and we had different views about how to raise our daughter.

He was white, I’m black—things just got complicated. And then he hit me—yes, a pregnant woman. So at seven months pregnant, I knew I was done.

I walked right down to the county courthouse where we had gotten married and I asked the clerk what I needed to do to get a divorce. When I mentioned that I was a student and proved I didn’t have an income, they waived any sort of processing fee.

I filled out a packet of paperwork right then and there (nothing was digital yet, it was 2000) and got the forms for my ex-husband to sign.

My parents were supportive and kept asking me what they could do to help, but I’m super independent and knew I wanted to take care of things myself. It was the bed I’d made.

After my ex-husband signed the papers, we had to wait about 90 days to get a court date. Because we were so young, we really didn’t have any physical assets to split—we lived in a duplex with my parents, and pretty much everything we used in there (couches, cookware, and whatnot) was mine.

We both agreed I should have sole custody of our daughter and wrote out his visitation rights on our own (he’d be able to take her on weekends if he wanted, and we’d switch off having her every year for Christmas).

In court, I let the judge decide how much he should pay in child support (it wasn’t much since he didn’t have a big income) and after a few questions we were granted the divorce.

The divorce left a mark emotionally, but I knew it was the right decision. And almost a decade later, I actually found love again.

I made him work for it—it took almost a month before I agreed to a date with this new guy, who I met through work. We dated three years and had an incredibly solid relationship before I said yes to marriage.

I was in my late twenties and felt much more confident in my decisions.

But we ran into our own problems. We struggled with infertility and had three failed adoptions, which took an incredible toll on our relationship.

We couldn’t get past it, and I lost my will to keep the relationship going. When he’d come into a room, I wanted to leave.

I gave everything that I could and it just wasn’t enough. So when I decided to file for divorce the second time, there wasn’t a lot of emotion to it—I was completely checked out.

I Googled “do it yourself divorce” and stumbled upon a website called divorcewriter.com. For $239, they gave me all the forms I needed to submit.

I had to fight a little harder for this divorce—my ex-husband ripped up the first set of papers I delivered to him in front of me. He tried to talk me out of it and make me reconsider, even though he admitted he knew it was coming.

It didn’t help that my mom really liked him. My sister was supportive of my decision, but my mom had a tougher time—she and my ex actually still talk today.

But he did sign the papers after my second attempt, and I was able to file them for $135. Luckily, I bought our condo and car before we got married and his name wasn’t on either, so I didn’t have to pay him off for our assets.

And he had never expressed an interest in adopting my daughter, so that was a non-issue. We were given a court date about four months after filing, but my ex didn’t show up to meet with the judge.

Fortunately things still went through—I had to answer a few questions (like “Is there no way to work this out?”) and the judge signed off on the divorce.

I realize I was pretty lucky with both divorces (aside from having bad taste in men!) in that we didn’t have to fight over assets (hey—it helps to own your own stuff).

But women should know that you don’t always have to spend all your earnings getting out of a marriage, and it doesn’t have to be this complicated, expensive process.

There are loads of online resources now, and different options if you’re young and without cash.

If you’re in a bad situation, don’t assume that a crazy-expensive lawyer is the only way to get out.

As far as my future goes—I’m done with marriage. People say ‘three strikes and you’re out’ but I’m stopping at two.

I’m 37, and I just don’t feel like weeding through all these men to find another one who I think is right, only to be disappointed.

That’s not to say I don’t miss having someone—when you’re sitting on the couch by yourself you long for those intimate moments and convos about how your day went or what movie was great.

But I’m good for now—there’s too much else on my plate to get done!

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