I have struggled with where to pick up the thread to tell this story, because as with all divorce stories, it’s complicated. If I tug on one small piece the entire ball of yarn tumbles to the ground and any sense of cohesion is lost. Then there’s the absolutely mind-boggling number of events that have occurred over the last 3.5 years that would make telling this story almost as long as the process itself.
I could start with the day I left, when I came home and found two women in swimsuits hanging out with my husband in the backyard, while my children were in the house. That is a great party story to be sure, but marriages usually don’t fall apart with one triggering event like that. And there are nuances to this story. First, the women in question hold no responsibility in this story, they were invited into a situation in which they were led to believe that their being there was acceptable. Secondly, I don’t believe there was anything other than poor judgement on my husband’s behalf at play here, in other words, no one was sleeping with anyone. Imagine for two seconds though if the script were flipped, and I was in the backyard with two male friends, with no announcement they would be there, and my kids in the house wondering who they were? I suspect we’d be talking about more than a divorce story gone bad.
The reality is that my marriage was essentially over almost a decade before this event, when I left the first time. I went back and stayed for all the wrong reasons as women so often do. Perhaps he did too. I also acknowledge that we changed and grew over the course of our nearly 20 year marriage, just not in the same direction.
In fact one of the biggest moments of clarity I had throughout this journey was when my therapist crystallized why my ex-husband and I were never going to see eye to eye. We were two trains on separate tracks, going in opposite directions. Those trains will never meet, and that has been the most frustrating, yet wholly accurate, metaphor of our divorce journey.
There would be no “conscious uncoupling” for us. I requested mediation in November 2018, he cancelled two days before. At one point in 2020, I requested five times over several weeks that we attend conflict resolution. He declined. My only path forward was through the family court system, and that system has failed me and my children spectacularly.
So let’s begin with where things are currently at.
On December 13th, 2021 the courts awarded me ownership of the matrimonial home in an uncontested trial. My case only became uncontested after my ex had been struck from the proceedings due to lack of participation. This process of striking him (and believe me there were times I wish this was more literal than figurative) took over two years. He did the absolute bare minimum (not providing disclosure, blowing past every due date, “self-representing”, and ignoring every request for participation) and the courts enabled and emboldened this behaviour by dragging their feet on every consequence.
In fact, the only reason I was awarded the home in December was because I had to request an emergency motion after receiving notification that the bank was going to seize the matrimonial home on Christmas Day due to lack of payment on a homeowner’s line of credit. No, my name was not on that line of credit and so for privacy reasons there was no way I could have known that this default was coming. My uncontested trial, to that point, had sat on a judge’s desk since April of 2021 and now suddenly, 3.5 years of crying, begging, and pleading for the system to help me was turned into a race against time to save my home.
While I waited on the judge’s ruling, I pre-emptively tried to line up financing to save the house. Already financially crushed under the weight of lawyer’s fees, which were unnecessarily racked up due to my exes non-participation, lack of child and spousal support, my wealth held hostage by a vindictive soul, and the realities of the pandemic on my job, I was stretching to cover the debt owed to the bank, as well as liens on the house from CRA, and over 3 years of unpaid property taxes. Still, the home was the only asset there was to save and although the depths of vengeance my ex would sink to were not entirely clear to me yet, I knew that once the house was vested in my name entirely, I would never see another penny in child support, and spousal support would never come. This was my only option; absorb all his debt and add it to mine, and hope that the home would leave some financial cushion for the future.
I had one brief hour of hope. On the way to the family home with one of my daughters we talked about possibly having Christmas in our home. We talked about living there, and building a new future. We discussed what mental tools we would employ to shake bad memories in that home, and create new ones for a positive future. The entire discussion was for naught.
When the locksmith opened the door, the smell was the first thing that hit us. The hydro had been cut to the house and using only the flashlights on our phones, it became clear that the house had been abandoned for some time. With no heat, and no hydro, I had little choice but to return in the morning, and that’s when the full extent of the willful destruction of my home became clear.
The basement was flooded with two feet of water. There was mold growing on every surface including walls, furniture, appliances, countertops and every window. Everything in the fridge and freezer was left to rot and mold. The power had been deliberately shut off at the main breaker and the sump pump wire had also been deliberately cut. The pool and hot tub in the backyard has been left to freeze, all but ensuring they would be non-functional in the spring. Three years of unopened bills were left in the home which backed up a promise he made to me in an email of July 2018 that he would not pay another bill.
I wish I could tell you what the motivation was for this purely spiteful act. I don’t really care at this point because that chapter is closed. Giving another second of energy trying to figure out why a deranged individual does deranged things will only lead to my eventual derangement. I need my wits about me as I move forward.
There are two very large tasks ahead of me, that will have to happen together.
First, the bank has paused any action on the house for 90 days. In that time, I need to first establish if I can get financing for all the liens he left the home encumbered with to the tune of $343,000. That, in and of itself, is unfair but it is a reality too many people are left with. I then need to figure out how to repair the home that he deliberately destroyed. Early estimates put the work at around $300,000.
Second, I am demanding change. I didn’t ask to be a poster child for a broken family court system, but since I’ve now entered the hall of fame for “divorces gone wrong”, I’m going to use my platform and my connections to be an advocate for change. It is my belief that over 70% of family court cases could be resolved with two actions. First, enforcement. The courts are all bark, and no bite, and every single person who wants to game the system knows this. Secondly, a sense of urgency. There is no reason for a divorce to take years to be resolved. Both parties must be held to deadlines, and there should be a reasonable expectation that a divorce be resolved quickly so both parties can move on with their life.
My story should never have been allowed to happen and there is no way I can in good conscience allow this to continue. I understand now why people are broken after dealing with the courts. They are so exhausted and traumatized by the time they reach the finish line that there is no fight left in them. My life has been shattered into a million pieces simply because I didn’t want to stay in a marriage that was serving no one. I have fight left in me though, and you simply need to look at a mosaic to know that beauty can come from broken. This isn’t a revenge story, it’s a comeback story. Watch me now.
Post Script: I hate this part. Being the subject of a GoFundMe is not a joy at all. That being said, my friends set one up on my behalf, and I can literally hear them screaming at me to include it. So here it is with no expectation attached. Thank you