Guess where I was today. I’ll give you some clues. It was a large, rectangular room, badly lit. The ventilation was inadequate and the room quickly became too warm. The A/V system was being bolshy, a middle aged man with a beard stood at a lectern and worked his way through the biggest Powerpoint slide deck in history. We sat in serried rows, many of us either bored, indifferent or there because we had to be, added to which the guy next to me smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in three days or brushed his teeth in seven.
“Room 105?” I hear my old schoolmates suggest tentatively. Nope, in fact it was room C318 of the King County Superior Court House. Today was my day to attend the mandatory parenting class required in order to file for divorce in King County. Yes, I know we live in a different county but apparently the local judges tend to be judgemental ( comes with the job, I suppose), tend to get pissy about the parenting plans and pontificate during the hearing.
To say this was a waste of time is an understatement. It seemed to be aimed at the worst case scenario and I have to say that it seemed appropriate for the crowd. It was a mixed bunch to say the least, with fashion ranging from WalMart/ Ross to Lululemon and North Face with everything in between. The room had an extremely odd vibe, with emotions ranging from ” Whoo hoo, in your face m*%^$#@!%^$r!” to the verge of tears. Of course, there was the obligatory bitter and angry soon to be ex wife whose husband had cheated on her. Pegged her about 10 seconds into the proceedings. Some tropes just never die.
Seeing as we finalised our parenting plan over a month ago, the second half of the 4 hour session entitled ” How to write your parenting plan” was wasted time for me, and to tell the truth, I was nodding off for about half of it. Still, we were finished 20 minutes early and I caught a ride home about an hour earlier than expected.
It was my first time in the building, (no, really, it was.) and I have to say that the King County Superior Court building is not a happy place. The floors are dark grey, the walls are light grey, all the furniture is faux Naugahyde. It’s impossible to make it any less miserable. No one there wants to be there, and that includes the staff. Even Patch Adams would lose the will to live if he spent more than a week there.
On the plus side, it was the cheapest experience so far. I know I am not the only one in our little world spending money like a drunken sailor, but at $40 for a 4 hour session, it was darn cheap, compared to our other expenses. Our next cheapest session costs us $110 / hour. Get our lawyers in the room and it costs us $800 for two hours. Heck, I could spend $800 for two hours in a room with two ‘Professionals” and have a damn sight more fun than I would planning a provisional budget.
Still, mustn’t complain. I’m seeing the value of a collaborative divorce and I’m thankful that we have no animosity. There were a lot of bitter, angry, upset,scared people in the room today and it dawned on me that many of them were preparing for battle and expecting to have to fight every inch of the way until the end, which is why, I suppose, that the first half of the session was devoted to “What The Children Need”, a less than edifying piece that had all the subtlety of a brick in the face. Not surprising considering it was made in 1993. In Utah. By lawyers. I don’t know the demographic makeup of Salt Lake City, but it seemed to lack diversity. All the participants – mainly the kids of divorcees ranged from Caspar the friendly ghost white to aliens from “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” white, or “The full range” as the locals call it. Still, at least it is one more box checked off on the list, one step closer to filing. Onward, ever onward, I suppose.