Friday, September 16, 2011


For the third and last time in my life, I am divorced.  I’ve been on both sides of a divorce and I’ve never figured out which side felt worse.  I also never thought it would happen again.  But it was Manuel who decided that he wanted a divorce, I just filed the petition rather than wait for him to do it.

When he told me he wanted a divorce, I found myself some free counseling help.  I had no idea what to do.  I would probably qualify for free legal help, so I went ahead and applied and got assigned an attorney to take my case – the same woman who had been my counselor at the Women’s Help Center.  It’s apparently a small world over there in Tortosa.

It could have been a lot easier and less painful if we had come to terms at the beginning.  But the two of us met once with my attorney and didn’t come to any agreement, and Manuel got himself an attorney too, but his was expensive.  It would have been standard procedure for his attorney to contact mine and the two would see if they could negotiate an agreement for their clients.  But his attorney never did that.  Instead, he filed a response and the two attorneys put on battle gear.

My two previous divorces in the US were both done out of the Nolo Press Do Your Own Divorce book.  They were simple and no property or alimony was involved.  But this time I needed alimony to survive.  There is no way I could get a job in Spain at my age and in this economy.  And there is no Nolo Press here. 

My attorney is a woman’s rights supporter.  What she doesn’t like to do is explain things.  In the middle of the process I decided to change attorneys and hire someone who would listen to me and would explain when I didn’t understand something.  After all, it’s my divorce and my life and I want to understand what is going on.  But she quickly nixed my attempt to change, saying I would have to pay big bucks to her if I did.  I couldn’t afford that, so I dropped it.  At our next meeting I received a severe scolding and very long lecture on how the client doesn’t need to understand all the legalities and procedures, just as the patient doesn’t need to understand the doctor.  Clients and patients need to leave these matters in the hands of the professionals.  Not a Nolo Press mentality.

Clearly this woman had never worked with an American before.  Since I seemed to be stuck with her and I wanted to get the divorce finished, I did my best to placate her, apologized several times, and eventually we got on with it.

In my petition for divorce, my attorney asked for a sum much larger than I knew Manuel could afford and more than I had originally asked him for before I started the legal process.  I thought it made me look greedy and assumed it was a bargaining ploy.  Manuel’s response (probably dictated by his attorney) was that he would agree to no alimony at all.  No alimony would also mean no Spanish widow’s pension later if Manuel were to die before me.  In addition, the response said that although we had been married 12 years, we had never actually lived together.  This came as a shock.  Surely the judge wouldn’t believe that.  If my attorney made me look greedy his made him look dishonest.  Too bad we couldn’t just speak for ourselves.

Our hearing was scheduled for 18 July, but at the last moment was postponed.  In Spain, they don’t do divorce (or any civil suit) in August.  Except for the criminal courts, judges are all off on vacation for the month.  No new date had been set, but it certainly wouldn’t be before September. 

Months before, as soon as she had filed the petition, my attorney gave me strict instructions never to talk to Manuel about the divorce and never to agree to anything.  If there was to be any negotiating, it had to be done via the two attorneys.  But I was fed up, and the attorneys had never spent one minute negotiating.

When summer was over, I called Manuel and suggested that we meet and talk about the divorce.  It didn’t take us long to come to an agreement.  This negotiation should have taken place a long time back.  It would have saved a lot of money and a lot of bad feeling.  I don’t know if we had gone to court if the judge would have favored me or Manuel in his decision.  What I do know is that Manuel offered a sum he was comfortable with, and I proposed an additional ten euros, to round off the number, and he accepted that.  It’s less than I had originally asked him for, but it’s an amount he feels is fair and so he won’t resent it for the rest of his life.  I’ll figure out how to make it work.  Selling my house is key.

Before we actually signed the agreement, his attorney told mine he wanted changes.  My attorney called to tell me and warned me not to talk to Manuel about it.  Why not?  It seemed to me that we did much better talking than not talking.  And besides, this was our divorce, not theirs, so why should they make up the agreement ignoring what we had agreed upon?  I told her I wouldn’t call and then hung up and called Manuel.  And I was right.  His attorney was demanding things he had not discussed with Manuel.  Once again we ironed it out and finally, after several days of delay, we signed this Wednesday.  The judge decreed it final the next day.  I’ve been a third-time divorcee for one day now.


  1. Wow! What an ordeal! But it's over and you are now again a free woman. I hope the house sells soon.

  2. Congratulations!! I wish I could agree on things with my future ex-husband. Hope it all works out for both of you.

  3. Life has such interesting twists & turns. You are a wonderful teller of tales, Dvora. I am both pleased and saddened by this news. Even if you want/need one, divorce sucks. I wish you the best and I too hope your house sells sooner rather than later. xx

  4. Thanks to everyone who posted comments here or wrote to me privately. Some have said congratulations, others I'm sorry, and they are both appropriate and appreciated.
    As for what will happen next, hopefully it will be the sale of my villa and then a move, both of them very soon. But you'll have to keep on reading to find out!

  5. Where are you going to move? Are you going to stay in Europe?