Wednesday, April 24
I’ve been scanning the Zohar during the recommended most powerful time, between midnight and dawn. I often go to bed, watch “Sons of Anarchy,” and start scanning at midnight. Smacks of the time I came home from a yoga workshop and watched boxing matches. But hey, it works for me. When I’m finished, I sleep with the Zohar on my bed so its purported magic can seep into me.
Last night, I scanned like crazy, slid a copy of JB’s and my marital settlement agreement into the Zohar, and placed it in a tote bag to take to divorce court with me.
I dressed in a gray pantsuit and heels—no bright pink skirt today—grabbed the tote, and rode the train into the city. I slid the Zohar out of the bag. I asked The Great Divine to engineer the best outcome, to bless JB, our sons, and me.
I walked through security at the Daley Center and saw Tina waiting for me in the hallway outside the courtroom. Katherine appeared moments later.
“Is JB in there?” Tina asked, pointing through the glass doors.
I looked into the courtroom. “Yeah, he’s sitting in that row,” I pointed.
Tina gave me a synopsis of the questions she’d be asking in front of the judge. “Should we brief JB?” she asked.
“I think that would be a good idea,” I said.
“Are you okay being part of the conversation?” Katherine asked. “Do you want us to talk to him separately?”
“I’m fine,” I said. “I’ll go get him.” I walked into the courtroom and leaned over the bench where JB was sitting. “The lawyers want to talk to you, give you a heads-up on how things are going to go.”
JB followed me out and got briefed. We reentered the courtroom. After hearing two cases, Judge Kelley called us up.
“Your honor, we appeared two weeks ago,” Tina began. “We got to the maintenance and child support and you requested that we bring in the respondent and here he is.” She motioned toward JB. “We’d like to pick up where we left off.”
“Wait a minute,” Judge Kelley said. “Is this the case where the maintenance and child support was sixty-eight percent of this guy’s salary?”
“It’s sixty percent your honor.”
“Did you bring in a FIN plan?”
“Yes, let me get that for you.” Tina started digging through her file.
“This is going to take a long time,” Kelley said. “You’re going to have to come back another day. I’m going to need time to go over this. Where’s the order I gave you?”
“Here,” Tina said, handing him the order. “You asked us to bring the respondent here today to go over the maintenance and child support, which is sixty percent, not sixty-eight, and here he is.”
“Well I’m going to need time to go over this. You’re going to need to come back.”
I stared at the judge. “No!” I said. I turned to Katherine. “We need to get this done today. We’re here today.” I stared at the judge.
“Your honor, you asked us to bring the respondent in and we brought him in,” Katherine said. “We’ve done what you asked. We need to be heard today. I don’t know when we can get the respondent back.”
The judge looked at my face. He wavered. “Well, if you want to come back to my courtroom this afternoon . . .”
“Your honor, that will be difficult . . .” Katherine began.
“Or you could wait till the end of the call,” Kelley said.
“We’ll wait,” Katherine said.
Katherine and Tina went back to their bench at the front of the courtroom. JB and I sat in back. I placed my purse and Zohar between JB and me. After half an hour, Katherine and Tina began to whisper to each other. Tina got up and motioned for me to follow her.
“This is ridiculous,” she said. “The judge is new. They rotate judges in and out of different courts. I don’t know where he came from, but he’s going on our list of judges to avoid. I’m going upstairs to ask for a new judge. Hopefully we’ll get your case moved to a new courtroom.”
I went back in and sat down. JB uncomfortably checked his watch. I told him what Tina said. The judge looked at Katherine, who was texting. He shifted uncomfortably. He suddenly stopped grilling people and began whipping through his cases. Katherine shifted uneasily and kept looking over her shoulder for Tina, who had all the paperwork. Katherine got up and left the courtroom. She returned and started texting. Tina reentered the courtroom. The moment she sat down, the judge called our case. Katherine looked over her shoulder and motioned for JB and me to come up.
“Start from the beginning instead of hopping in where we left off,” Kelley said.
Tina began asking me standard questions. “What’s your name?”
I gave my name in a quivery voice clamping the Zohar to my side.
“What year did you get married?” she asked.
“What’s your occupation?”
The judge’s expression softened.
“You filed for divorce on grounds of adultery, is that correct?” the judge asked.
“How do you know he committed adultery?” Kelly asked.
“He told me.”
“Is this true?” Kelly asked JB.
“Yes,” JB said and stared at the floor.
“Where’s the FIN plan?” Kelley asked.
“Here it is,” Tina said, handing him a piece of paper with a short list of numbers on it. “Our office uses different software than FIN, but it’s the same.”
Kelley looked it over, took out his calculator, and started tapping.
“This is actually less than sixty percent,” Kelley said. “I don’t know why I thought sixty-eight percent.” Kelley took his time reading the agreement. He stopped at the buyout.
“You spent most of this money?” Kelly asked JB.
“Yes,” JB said and stared at the floor.
Kelly finished reading the agreement. He looked at JB and asked, “You’re okay with what’s in here?”
“Just want to make sure. Once this is done it’s done. There’s no coming back. No buyer’s remorse. You agreed to this?”
“Yes,” JB answered.
“I don’t want to see you back here. There’s no changing your mind. You’re definitely good with this?”
“Yes,” JB said.
Kelley granted our divorce and signed the paperwork. He looked at me. “I’m sorry about all this,” he said. “I wanted to make sure this was done right, that there’s no going back.”
“Thank-you,” I said.
Tina began filing our paperwork with the clerk.
“I’m going to go now,” JB said. “I’ll talk to you later.”
Outside the courtroom, Katherine said, “I’ve never seen a judge act like that. He was acting like a lawyer, not a judge.”
“He’s creating litigation,” Tina said. “That’s not right. I’m glad you were here this time Katherine. I could tell you didn’t believe me when I told you what happened.”
“I’m glad I saw it for myself,” Katherine said shaking her head. “I didn’t get it, but now I do.” She turned to me. “You feeling okay?”
“Yeah. Great. Thank-you. It’s such a relief.”
“You were a good looking couple,” Katherine said. “It’s a shame. Between us girls, we would never do to them what they do to us. Give yourself a year to heal. Don’t jump into another relationship. You’re beautiful. You’ll find someone really nice who is good to you. I did. It took me ten years, but I found him.” She took out her phone and showed me her wedding picture.
“You look gorgeous,” I said. “He’s really great?”
“Yeah, he’s really great.”
We parted ways. I sat on a marble bench on the main floor of the Daley Center and looked out the glass wall at the Picasso sculpture. I began texting, “I’m divorced!!!” to my friends. I walked out happy and free.