By the time The Chadwicks had come to see us, they were resolved to split up and they had done a ton of work to lead to that resolve. They had amicable split their mostly shared assets, they had told their remaining parents who were understandably heartbroken, they had hosted a dinner party and invited all their friends to tell them, and they had gotten and set up a second apartment – in the same building.
“We want to dissolve our marriage so that we are both free to explore the rest of the world” they told me, “but we still love each other and we’re not ready yet to separate physically.”
So the divorce was very unremarkable – they had actually done our job for us pretty much. And now they co-own a furniture refurbishing shop in the storefront downstairs of their condominium building.
They’re pretty much the best case divorce scenario I have ever witnessed!
Love is real, even if it doesn’t always look the same way and even if marriage isn’t always the right act between people.
Mr. and Mr. Chadwick were very very conflicted about their desire to get divorced. They were a gay couple, about 35 years old, they’d been together since middle school and they’d been out together since undergrad. They were always best friends, their parents were so happy they had such a good friend in one another. They were the rock of their decades long friend group. Their love was a truth in the lives of their friends – all of whom were their age, unmarried, but hopeful.
They felt bad about the notion of letting their friends down, suggesting that eternal love is not always eternal, and for dissolving the rock at the center of their friend group. They were also, of course, scared to be apart!
There was also the political ramifications of their choice to divorce. They had been staunch marriage equality advocates from the age of 19. They had decided together to come out, they hosted a dinner with all four of their parents to tell them. It was, to their surprise, a joyous occasion. Being so accepted by their parents drove them to want that for all the gay kids. So they moved to DC and took up the fight.
They married the day it became legal.
It was as though the fight for marriage equality was the extent to which they’d prepared because once they actually wed, they were fighting constantly, they both felt experimental and claustrophobic, and they no longer knew how to relate to one another without the shared struggle and mission. They started taking vacations separately, making elaborate excuses to not attend friends’ functions together. One or the other was always “working late” or “not feeling up to it” or “buried with housework.” They exhausted every possible excuse before even discussing it with one another.
They had first checked with Hadley Law Firm Mobile, but had decided that we were a more organic fit for their specific needs. That’s what they told us at the first meeting. The first meeting was the last time we saw or heard from them.
That’s when we realized they were shopping around for attorneys as a way to delay getting divorced, which neither of them wanted, but they had said it aloud and didn’t know how to take it back.
I’m projecting – there’s no way for me to know if this is true. But I did stalk the husband online once and was surprised to find that they still seem to be spending their life together, and facebooking the shit out of it!
Valerie Chin came in alone, ten minutes early for her scheduled appointment, and we helped her draw up divorce papers. It was entirely professional, typical, and easy to navigate. She and her husband had wed four years earlier, their relationship had changed, they’d grown apart, marriage wasn’t what they had expected, they’d never really discussed their expectations, etc. It was a very straight-forward “irreconcilable differences.”
And then we began to discuss the assets.
They lived in a rented apartment, it was rented in her name. They had one car, it was bought in her name. They had significant debt, it was all accrued in his name. And she was pregnant.
It took us several months to realize but, this woman had very cleverly done the following:
Met this man she considered the perfect genetic person to father the child she desperately wanted.
Seduced him, dated him entirely through college, started their adult lives together, convinced him to move to the city where she wanted to raise her child (alone), and eventually accepted his marriage proposal.
Slowly throughout the course of their relationship and marriage, shifted all debt she had ever incurred – including nearly a hundred thousand dollars in student loans – into his name.
Had a dream wedding!
Spent three years trying to get pregnant, using his funds for some very expensive procedures when it didn’t happen right away.
Filed for divorce four months into her pregnancy and declined to tell him until she returned home the day of her appointment with us with the papers.
She now shares custody of her 4-year old daughter with her ex-husband who was so genial and understanding through the divorce that it was almost as though he was on board for this unspoken agreement the entire time.
The Adagonyes were a Nigerian-American couple who were together when they moved to the states, got married here, and built an entire long live together with children and a house and jobs and that whole “American Dream” thing that we’re supposed to believe in.
The problem with their American Dream however is that they were unhappy together but felt indebted to one another, they were happy to be in America but wanted to spend time with other people, and they were constantly reminded by American culture and government how luuuuuuucky they were to be here, how they shouldn’t squander the opportunity, how they were barely welcome here in the first place, and how divorce would be such a draaaaaain on their already stretched finances.
Because of the unique intricacies of American divorce proceedings and legalese, we took extra care to explain every step very thoroughly to Mrs. and Mr. Adagonye, stopping to ensure they understood, probably being somewhat condescending but only trying to be thoughtful, and we explained that the divorce could take several months.
The third appointment they had scheduled – they didn’t show up. No call no show. Cause for concern. They didn’t respond to our many attempts to reach them.
A month later, we received a very formal letter from them – in Nigeria – declining to employ our services because they, with their family, had returned to Nigeria and taken up residence in Calabar near their larger family.
Mr. Daneils arrived at our office, without an appointment, in a very emotional state. To call his behavior manic would be appropriate, if not an understatement. He was alternating rapidly between rage-breaking things, weeping into his hands, and calling our administrative assistant “a whore, like all women.”
By the time the police came, we had convinced him to sit in a chair in our waiting room placating him with the promise of seeing a lawyer as soon as possible. He had more faith in the justice system than most people have in their god.
As soon as he was handcuffed, a woman appeared. Mrs. Daneils. They lived in a condo in the building upstairs and apparently when he had fled the apartment during a fight, he only made it as far as the street outside when he was beckoned by our office. He decided right then that they would definitely have to divorce.
He was taken to the station. Mrs. Daneils told us they’d be back if they needed our services. And we never saw them again. We did, however, receive an edible arrangement a week later from the happy couple, assuring us that they’d reconciled but would employ our services if ever that should change.