Love and marriage can be weird and awkward, but not as weird and awkward as divorce!

I now pronounce you ex-husband and ex-wife . . .

I don’t know if there’s anything fundamentally more awkward than sitting in a courtroom five feet away from someone that you swore to have and to hold, to love and to honor, facing a magistrate for your divorce hearing. But if you can’t find humor in that, your funny bone may be broken.

Sitting in the hall outside the courtroom, I played “Angry Birds” on my phone while my soon-to-be ex-wife and our family lawyer friend chatted. I suppose I should say her family lawyer friend, because while I like her and would totally hang out with her, I think she got her in the divorce. I wonder if we could arrange friend visitations? I tried to pretend like this video game was the MOST. IMPORTANT. VIDEO GAME. EVER. while they talked about work and shopping and vacations and other idle chatter.

The sheriff’s deputy was a giant of a man with a moustache that would put Tom Selleck to shame. He opened the courtroom door and spoke in this deep, gravelly voice: “Avitable.” Well, except he said it more like Argylemonkey’suncle. We stood in the doorway and waited for him to step to the side so that we could enter.

Please make sure that your cell phones are turned off,” his eyes bore holes in all three of us. “And no food or drink are allowed, including gum or candy. Okay?

Okay,” we said, about as meekly as three adults with law degrees could be (which is, actually, pretty fucking meek when you’re facing Man Mountain Moustache himself.) I unconsciously chewed my gum.

Did you just chew gum? DO YOU HAVE GUM IN YOUR MOUTH?” I think flames may have sprouted from his nose.

Uhh, no.” I literally stammered. And then thought to myself “Why the fuck did I say no? I clearly have gum in my goddamn mouth and I can’t stop chewing it around and around like a fucking cow with her cud and he knows I’m lying but I can’t stop saying no and I can’t stop chewing this fucking gum.

Didn’t you hear me? I said NO GUM ALLOWED!” He grew like four inches taller.

I did the only thing I could think of. I gulped and swallowed it, fully aware that there was a very real possibility that said gum would get caught just like food can because of the surgery and there was a good chance that I would be vomiting it directly up again, probably on his giant Volkswagen-sized shiny black shoes. And then, like a five-year old happy as a clam that he finished all his vegetables, I opened my mouth, stuck out my tongue and showed Man Mountain Moustache that I did not, indeed, have any gum in my mouth.

With an evil glare that said to me “I’m watching you Argylemonkey’suncle, and if you step out of line I will beat the everloving shit out of you,” he stepped aside and we entered the courtroom. She and I sat facing the magistrate, an older man with glasses and a turkey neck.

On each of our tables was a sheet of paper. It was numbered 1 through 11, and listed the items that we had to recite. These were all items that we had meticulously included in the marital settlement agreement that the magistrate held in his creaky old hands, like “Name”, and “Date you moved to Florida” and “Date of separation” and “Number of sexual partners you’ve had”, etc. It was all mindless and rote, with a few exceptions:

#9. Did you voluntarily and openly enter into the martial settlement agreement that is in the judge’s possession?

I read this line and saw that the secretary had accidentally written “martial” instead of “marital” and started immediately thinking about martial settlement agreements. I imagined Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris hammering out an agreement of who gets to throw which punch, who will defend at which point, and how many times each party gets to bellow a mighty “Hiiiiyaaahhh!” And this thought got me smiling and almost chuckling a little, which then earned an evil glare from Man Mountain Moustache. “I can read your mind, Argylemonkey’suncle,” he telepathically threatened, “And this is strike two. If you do anything else, I will rip you in two and eat you like some type of delicious sandwich.

#10. My marriage is irretrievably broken.

Okay, so this line is a legal necessity because the term “irretrievably broken” is legal fucking terminology in the state of Florida! So apparently the settlement agreement and the 120-day waiting period isn’t enough evidence that the marriage is over – we have to verbally announce to this old guy, his clerk, and Man Mountain Moustache that yes, it is irretrievably broken.

She said, “My marriage is irretrievably broken.”

Magistrate Creaky said, “Let the record show that the Petitioner has stated that her marriage is irretrievably broken. It is irreparable, and cannot be repaired by any means possible. It’s destroyed beyond the point of return. It is shattered into a million pieces that can never be put back together. It is fucked the fuck up. It’s dead, like Zed. It’s obliterated into smithereens.”

And then he said, “Okay, now I need you to give me a reason why, so that I can perform a finding of fact.

Why? Why is the marriage irretrievably broken? He needs an additional reason other than the fact that we’re standing there in front of him with a settlement agreement in his hands? I quickly put myself in her shoes and thought of some of the reasons that I would have given if I was her:

“He snores like a motherfucker.”

“Have you seen his feet?”

“Two words: Comic books. Two more words: COMIC BOOKS.”

“He hates the Beatles.”

“He calls his underwear ‘manties’!”

“I’ve seen him hold his pinkie finger out sometimes when he drinks.”

“He wins at every board game.”

“His ego is much larger than his penis.”

“I can’t be with someone who suffers from ‘pancake ass’.”

“What’s the point when the world is ending in 2012?”

“I can’t compete with Sarah Silverman. Fly free, little Avitabird. Fly free.”

Instead, though, she took the serious route and said, “I do not want to be married to Adam Avitable.” Which, while an accurate response, also begs the question, “How is this a finding of fact?” A fact is defined as “A statement that is objectively true and can be verified.” This is a subjective statement that doesn’t really give the magistrate any new information from what was presented to him with the settlement agreement. However, she was right to go with a statement like that – I don’t think he would have appreciated a cavalier response, and Man Mountain Moustache would have had his way with me.

#11. Do you think that counseling would help?

Really? Are there actually dissolutions of marriage that proceed this far, and get to the very last item on the page, after going through all of this procedure and after agreeing that their marriage is irretrievably broken and shattered beyond repair and after naming an actual “FACTUAL” reason that the marriage is broken, and THEN, they read #11, and say “Oh Gosh, we didn’t think of that! Let’s try counseling!

Maybe there are. Maybe that actually happens. I’d like to make a suggestion, though. Instead of making it the last item on the page, make it #1. Before you say your name or your address or explain to a room full of strangers why you have failed at marriage, maybe, JUST MAYBE, the first thing you should read is “Do you think counseling would help?” Because for those few people for whom that does work, it would just save a lot of time and energy, plus there will be less counseling about why the petitioner said that the respondent was a worthless piece of shit and that’s the factual reason her marriage is irretrievably broken.

After we affirmed to the magistrate that no, counseling would not be effective, thank you very much for asking, my parents died in a car wreck when I was ten would you like to talk about that?, he looked at us seriously and said:

“Blah blah blah (Procedural shit about sending the agreement and his order to the clerk and how it will arrive in the mail and we can waive our right to file an exception so the divorce is completely final when we get a letter that says ‘Congratulations you’re divorced’ or something like that) blah blah blah.

One last thing. There are 6 billion people on this Earth, and all of them are just searching for their little slice of happiness. They’ll find it, and you will, too, and I hope the both of you are able to find the happiness that you deserve.”

I said, “Gee, thanks, Mr. Magistrate! I was planning on spending the rest of my life moping around and being miserable, but these last few words of yours, coming from someone in a clinically legal setting who is a complete stranger and doesn’t know anything about me or her and probably says these same words with the same cadence to the hundred or so people you see a day in here, well, golly, that just changed my whole life. I will be happy and it’s all thanks to you, guy whose name I can’t even remember!

Well, that’s what I would have said if it wasn’t for Man Mountain Moustache and his telepathic third strike. Instead, I nodded my head, said “Thank you.” and got the fuck out of the courtroom, which would have been awesome except I ended up walking awkwardly side by side with her as we walked out the same door to the parking lot where we had parked near each other inadvertently.

So, it’s over. A relationship that lasted 11 years, over 8 of which were in marriage, is over. And while I’m sad, I’m also glad to have the memories of the positive times. There was a lot of growth and maturation on my part during that time (and stagnation and regression at times) and any experience from which you can walk away is a positive one. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, out of all of this, it’s that love is a battlefield. No, wait. Love stinks. Nope. I’d do anything for love but I won’t do that. Nah. My heart will go on. No. Un-break my heart. Nope. Love will keep us together. Nu-huh.

Oh yeah, I remember. Don’t chew gum at the courthouse.

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93 Replies to “I now pronounce you ex-husband and ex-wife . . .”

  1. Kisha Floren

    Could you imagine what he’d have done to you if you’d puked up the lied about gum onto his shoes? Bad news, yo.

    But neither congratulations nor condolences seem appropriate in this circumstance so I’ll just say I wish you the best in finding your way in the new life you’ve been given. Much love.

  2. Nanna

    Damn it. I really wish i could have been at least out in the hallway with you. I’m sorry for your sadness, my Florida son, but I really and truly believe that wonderful things are in store for you. Love….

  3. Redneck Mommy

    Weird. I chewed gum like a sonofabitch last week during Fric’s trial.

    No wonder the judge kept glaring at me. Especially when I snapped it after blowing bubbles.

    Thinking of you. (Not like that you dirty ass pervert.)

  4. Angella

    I haven’t been divorced, but have friends here who are going through it.

    It’s hard and tough and WOW, you are steps ahead of my friends in being able to hold onto the good already.

    Hugs to you.

  5. Liz Hill

    I guess they stick with this barbaric practice so someone can keep a job saying the same old crap over and over.

    And yes–counseling is the first thing out of the gate here–we are quite progressive when you think about it.

    So sorry you had to go though this but also so glad your sense of humor remained intact–Kisha already made the joke about the gum—couldn’t help but think of Flounder puking on Dean Wormer.

    • Avitable

      @Liz Hill, it really was just ridiculous – none of that was necessary at all. Neither of us actually had to be there after we complied with their other requirements and filled in the settlement agreement in detail and had it notarized!

  6. Laura

    I can’t say why i felt compelled to leave a comment today of all days. Though I know you worked on finding humor I’m sorry, but tears flowed from my eyes. My own issues I’m sure. Issues filled of phrases that were too close to home and filled with an evening that didn’t end on the greatest note.

    Regardless congrats on the new chapter in your life. I hope you find true happiness.

    ps – sorry for the Debbie Downer comment πŸ˜‰

  7. harmzie

    When I was about 14, I was changing after gym class when I suddenly remembered & blurted out “hey! My parents got divorced today!” My dear friend, with utmost sincerity, said “oh, I’m SO sorry” and I was kind of shocked because as far as I could remember, they had never been together and this was just a formality. Plus, they got along so well (in separation) that they had just never bothered to actually “get divorced”.

    So, I’m not sure whether to say “Oh, I’m so sorry” or “Congratulations!” Seems more appropriate to rest somewhere in between. You *seem* to have a fairly healthy attitude about the situation, so I’ll say congratulations for that.

  8. Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    You missed one. Is your heart an achy breaky one?

    You should have handed your gum to Man Mountain Moustache. As an insider as to how the Sheriff’s Department works (well, in Wisconsin anyway) the dudes who end up with court duty are either so far beyond retirement that they can’t do anything else or are on the verge of disciplinary action. Well, either that or they’re just one of the few other lucky bastards who don’t have to spend eight hours sitting in a car. But the mustache is a requirement. No stache? No badge.

    Hope you can find peace with this…

  9. mr lady

    I, Honest to god, thought that last bit read, ‘growth and masturbation.’ Which, was awesome.

    I am both sad and happy for you.

    Also, I hope you know how motherfucking hard reading your blog on a blackberry is. This is the depth of my devotion. Smaller margins, mister. I think I made the trackball on this phone climax.

    • Avitable

      @mr lady, well, masturbation, too. And thank you for taking the time to read this on your blackberry – I thought I had a mobile browser set up that should have made it easier, but apparently not!

  10. fiwa

    Wow, I didn’t even have to go to court in Texas – my lawyer handled the whole thing. Out of curiosity, what would happen if one party said “Yes, I think counseling would help” and the other said “no”?

    I’m glad for you that this part of the divorce process is over. Fly like an eagle…or, um, blossom little flower, or something. Seriously, I am wishing you the best.

  11. Lisa

    I’m so glad I didn’t have to go to court and see my ex. Georgia is much more forward thinking about that stuff than I imagined they would be, especially since I come from the quickie divorce state.

    I felt awesome when I got divorced, like I was free, but I know I’m the exception in that. Take care, my friend. I’ll be thinking of you.

  12. Nancy

    Welcome to the club. It’s your job to bring manties and cookies to the first meeting.

    Seriously, though, I know how hard the finality of it can be. I completely underestimated how gut wrenching it was to get the final paperwork. It was the third worst cry of my life. So far, you seem to be okay, but you know i’m here if you need me.

  13. Kel

    They did not make you do counseling? When I went through my divorce (in Florida) they made us do 4 sessions of couples counseling, and then the counselor said their piece a the final proceedings. We were also told we had to do parenting classes cause we had Robert before they would finalize. But I agree, that should be #1 and not #11. :/

    Hugs to you, Adam.

    • Avitable

      @Poppy, well, since we still have mortgage and title stuff to work out, plus Jigsaw custody, I doubt it will be the last time I see Amy, but I’m okay with that. I don’t need to never see her again, although I doubt she feels the same way.

  14. Mel

    Divorce isn’t easy, but yours sounds like it was as civil as it could have been. I had to take the stand and testify against my ex… but then again, it doesn’t sound like your separation was as nasty as mine.

    I wanted to celebrate the end of my marriage, but when it was all said and done, I cried. It’s ok to be sad for a while, but it gets so much better from here.

  15. Robin

    I remember my husband’s divorce from his first wife, that lasted 3 years and was one of the most excruciating things I’ve ever been through. Even if I hate my husband I’m not going through that, even if I have to put up with him forever πŸ˜‰ I hope you are ok, let me know if you need to talk.

  16. Hockeymandad

    Wow, so awkward and uncomfortable. Glad it went smooth and also glad you didn’t crack your gum or pop a bubble. You may have been tased and then they would be mad at you. I wonder if they offer counseling if they’re mad at you?

  17. SuvvyGirl

    The proceedings down there sound quite a bit like here in Nebraska, except ours isn’t quite so involved. For that I am thankful, I forsee myself being a complete mess. Even though my divorce is my idea it still is not an easy thing as I’m sure has beent the case for you as well from what I have read. I’m glad you have gotten over one more hurdle. Keep moving forward πŸ™‚

  18. Jen

    Jesus, it’s like Florida sets out to make the entire thing as depressing as possible. But congrats (I guess? I’m sorry? I don’t know) on getting through it and being able to move forward.

  19. Zakary

    Divorce sucks.

    I carpooled to divorce court with my ex-husband. On the way back to my mom’s, we has driving like a dickbag and caused an accident where two other cars wrecked. We got into a huge fight.

    I don’t recommend carpooling to your divorce.

  20. Wendy

    Love Bites.

    I’m sorry you had to go through this, but I’m really jealous. The waiting period there is only 120 days?? Here in SC it’s one year. We just passed the year mark, and our court date isn’t for another 2 months. So you’re lucky!

  21. Barnmaven

    We go Monday to see the court facilitator, who will help us fill out the paperwork. I’m not looking forward to the process. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m looking forward to the final result. No one says to themselves on the day they’re getting married “I can’t WAIT to divorce you! I’m really looking forward to that!” I just want this behind me, as much as it can be with shared parenting of two kids.

    I imagine our time in court will be every bit as awkward and uncomfortable as yours was. I’d like to fast forward past that part. Is that possible?

  22. Dave

    It was easier in Nevada. Even with kids. No court appearances. Thank God for living in a state that was once famous for quickie divorces. Of course, I get to see the ex at hostage (ehem, kids) transfers, kids doctor’s visits, kindergarten graduations, and commenting here.

    It gets ever-so-minusculely easier over time. In several decades, I’m sure I’ll be just fine. You will be too.

  23. Kevin Spencer

    My ex-wife had to answer some questions from the judge, I didn’t have to say a word. Well, as I recall I didn’t even have to go to the court to begin with. But for some reason felt compelled to go to see how it ended. Odd feeling after being with someone for so long.

    Still, fast forward a few years and life now is far better, I’m happier, and I’m living with and amazing woman. Funny how life turns out actually.

  24. kapgar

    I tried to say this the other day, but my Blackberry wouldn’t render this page to the point where the submit button actually worked (yours is the only blog in the last several months that actually displays comment fields; none of the rest even do that).

    Back on track… I’m really sorry and I’m not sure what else to say besides that. Just, I’m sorry.

  25. Greeneyezz


    I just discovered you were getting divorced after swinging by your site a couple days ago. (Obviously hadn’t been here in a while and saw the link on your sidebar.)

    While I know that you’ve obviously written this with some humor, my heart still goes out to you and your wife.
    It’s never an easy thing.

    Thinking ’bout you.



  26. bizlicious

    I actually laughed out loud when judge asked if I’d like to share my personal reasons for divorce with the court. Nobody else thought it was as funny as I did. I agree that there has to be humor in this sort of vile situation. Awkward = humorous.

  27. Lucy

    Jesus, this is nearly exactly the same place I find myself right now. Together for 11 years. As of December 15, we would be married nine, but on December 13, we have our final hearing. Since I am the respondent and not the petitioner, I don’t have to be there, but it just seems weird to not show up. I mean, I showed up for my wedding; it seems like I should show up for my divorce. This entire process seems surreal–my memories of our early relationship, our wedding and first years of marriage are as fresh as if they had happened yesterday. It’s the last couple of years that seem not quite real.

    At any rate, since I am now reading this six years after you posted it, I hope that the intervening six years have brought you healing and joy. I look forward to being on the other side of all of this.

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