Jonathan’s Divorce

MY FIRST MARRIAGE didn’t turn out so well. But the divorce has been surprisingly successful.

When Molly and I separated in 1998, we quickly agreed that we should make the divorce as amicable and inexpensive as possible. The math was obvious—every $100 we spent on legal fees meant $50 less for each of us—and figuring out a fair way to split our assets wasn’t especially difficult. For $500, a local lawyer turned our plan into a formal agreement and helped us with the child support calculations. Molly and I then saw lawyers on our own. Those two lawyers each charged $200 to review our property settlement and suggest tweaks, bringing the total tab to $900.

At the time of our separation, Hannah was age nine and Henry was five. To make the upheaval less wrenching, I stayed in our current home and Molly bought a house around the corner. On their scooters, the kids could get from one house to the other in less than 60 seconds—and Molly and I avoided a lot of awkward pickups and drop-offs. In fact, we probably saw each other less than if we had lived farther apart and had to transport the kids back and forth by car.

In the years that followed, Molly and I had to deal with a slew of issues related to Hannah and Henry—everything from bedtimes to summer camps to college choices. But we rarely disagreed and were almost always civil. I tried to put aside the divorce’s raw emotions and instead view our dealings as a business relationship, where the goal was to figure out what was best for our kids. But Molly and I also benefited, financially and otherwise. I would take the children if she needed to travel. Molly would cover if I had to work late. Even now, with both Hannah and Henry grown up, we occasionally swap emails, sharing tidbits of news about the kids or concerns that we have.

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