July 12th, 2012

Divorce

I've been divorced. It was back in the mid 1990s. I was in my mid 20s. I'd only been married a little over two years. I was ending my marriage, my affiliation as a Jehovah's Witnesses and, effectively, all relationships with people who continued to be Jehovah's Witnesses. I have a lot of regrets about that divorce. I wish I hadn't gotten married. I wish I hadn't gotten baptized as a Jehovah's Witness. I wish I'd left home as soon as I legally could. In other words, delay wasn't the part I regret; I wish I'd cut ties more definitively sooner.

On the other hand, there's a pretty direct line between the life I had as a result of my delays and my current marriage, so it's hard to be _too_ regretful.

At least when I went through the process in Washington State in the mid 1990s, there were some built-in delays in the system, including mandatory waits between when you could file one piece of paper and the earliest you could file other paper. You didn't have to do anything in the interim, altho I suppose most people use that time to argue about things like spousal support, child support and property division. Since we had no kids and not a lot of income, the marriage was short and there were only debts to divide, that all got squared away promptly leaving only calendar days to go by. I've paid for attorneys for another divorce (of a friend), watched on the sidelines from other divorces (other friends, extended family), and they have all been characterized by a lot of statutory waiting, often filled -- right up to the last minute -- with increasingly vituperative bargaining. I don't feel like those waits are helpful. They don't save marriages, as near as I can tell, and they _definitely_ crystallize hardline positions.

So when the latest celebrity divorce was announced (TomKat, for those of you who are Really Good at Avoiding Celebrity Gossip), I settled in for several months of juicy speculation and leaks and gossip and, possibly, non-sealed court filings. I was sort of looking forward to it: a Catholic married to a Scientologist meant that I didn't really care what kind of dirt got flung, altho I suppose I should state that, oh, gosh, that's so sad for the kid having all that aired in public, wah wah, because that's what everyone says when they are bright eyed chasing after the Good Stuff.

No such luck! After decades of refusing to implement a no-fault divorce law (California did it first, IIRC; New York did it last -- between that and the persistence of pointy toed shoes, it's all grist for my argument that the right coast is fundamentally Behind on everything important) due to a strange-bedfellows combination of NOW, the Catholic Church and a stunningly corrupt state legislature, in 2010, New York finally got one. I am now convinced it may be the Very Best No Fault Law Ever (feel free to prove me wrong). No waiting periods built into the filing, as near as I can tell: if you can show residency and swear 6 months of irretrievable breakdown, you can finalize as soon as all parties agree and convince the judge they've got a reasonable spousal and/or child support plan, property division, etc. And in this particular high profile case, a matter of days.

Freakishly cool. Weird, but cool. And having watched what happened as the timeline dragged on in other divorces, I have to wonder if maybe other states shouldn't adopt something similar. People who are getting along okay at the beginning of the process can become entrenched enemies by the end; perhaps a prenup and a speedy resolution is the key to a Good, Less Embarrassing Life for the Offspring.

ETA: http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2012/07/11/tom-cruise-katie-holmes-and-more-quickest-celebrity-divorces-photos.html

Yeah, evil gallery. But interesting collection of other relatively quick celebrity divorces. It looks like the timeline had been coming in under three months over the last few years.

Housing Bust Officially Over

My town, of course, has been putting up spec-multi family for sale (Sarah Jane Court, West Acton Corner), as has the next town over, and the backlog multi family for sale in the area has already cleared. I've posted about this before. There is also single family spec going up (which may or may not include the house across the street from us; R. thinks it is spec; I haven't found any property sale information associated with the land so I have no idea). If you live in a place with spec multi family going up -- and selling promptly -- you know the housing bust is over in your town, even if there are a few overpriced houses sitting on the market for long periods of time. Also, some of the nicer/better priced single family resales are going for more than the ask, and inventory is dropping.

But just because a suburb of Boston on one of the better commuter rail lines has recovered doesn't mean things are even okay everywhere, much less good. CalculatedRisk said the bust was over a while ago, but even the Wall Street Journal agrees now. h/t CR:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303644004577520414196790098.html

They manage to make it still sound really dire, which will make you feel better (maybe) if the housing market in your corner of the country still sucks.

Also, houses are being built again in our former town, Mayberry (not its real name).