Trading a man for a cat

Through talking to so many women about divorce for my blog, I’ve come to understand that almost every aspect of divorce is highly individual. There are so many variations, no standard one way and that’s a good thing. For me, once my husband had accepted that our marriage was over, I wanted to move ahead with the legal process, to resolve the loose ends. I felt that until that was done, I would be in limbo and I wasn’t comfortable with that.

That doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are separated but waiting to divorce and there are many reasons to wait. When Judy’s husband left, he did not file for divorce and nor did she. Here’s Judy:

[contemplate1] I know over the years there were times that I would sit there and ask, ‘do I want to stay in this?’ but I made a commitment when I got married and I told my ex that this is where I was going to stay, that I wanted to work it out.

“If you want a divorce, you’re going to have to file because I will not file.”

Judy's divorce cat

Nothing happened for a year and then my daughters and I decided we’d go to visit his family over Thanksgiving – we had always gone to his mom’s house for Thanksgiving. Anyway we thought we’d go on the Friday so we wouldn’t be there with the rest of the family, just to see the aunts and uncles. Well, he exploded,

“You have no right to go to my mom’s house!”

And he wasn’t even going to be there. His brother and sister welcomed us. His mother welcomed us. I think they all knew he’d gone off in left field but that was end because about a week after Thanksgiving, I got served the papers for divorce.

I was surprised that he reacted like that and at the same time just thought,

“This is it. This is the end.”

I finally found a lawyer I could afford and then my ex decided he wanted to come to town. Instead of letting his lawyer do the filing and negotiating, he wanted to come to town to get the whole thing done in a day.

That was December 16. I thought I was just going to be with my lawyer a couple of hours in the morning to do some talking with them, do some terms, then file it and come back for a final hearing later. No. He wanted it done in one day so we stayed there all day and worked and worked and worked on it and basically got it done.

From there I went home and one of my daughters was there home on Christmas break from college. It was mid-afternoon. I cried on her shoulder for a while, looked at her and said,

“Let’s go get a cat.”

I’d had to put a cat to sleep in November and the girls had been bugging me about getting another cat so for some reason it was in head that day. Off we went and I got my divorce cat.

I traded a man in for a cat that day.


I actually think there’s something to be said for sitting down and getting everything resolved in a day.  It’s hard work, requiring patience, attentiveness and stamina but I think it’s probably better than going through endless back and forths through attorneys and definitely better than going to court.

How feasible it is getting done in a day I think depends on how well-prepared you are. Judy said she knew all about their finances, she knew where everything was filed, what the house was worth, what they owed. That put her in a great position to know whether what was being offered was ‘equitable’ (however you choose to define that) and whether anything was being omitted. So even though she wasn’t going to file for divorce, she wasn’t ignoring the possibility, hoping it would go away. And that’s important.

This Creating a Separation Agreement article from Divorce Magazine does a very thorough job of detailing what it takes to figure out what life after divorce will look like. If you’re on the fence about divorce this would be worth reading – you’ll be able to envision your life much better for reading this. And if you’ve recently decided to get divorced, this article will help you prepare.

And I couldn’t help but laugh about the divorce cat….

My divorce took about five months to complete and although we did work through our attorneys, we also discussed some issues between ourselves to get them resolved and to keep a handle on the legal fees. We did come to an agreement without going to court.

What did your divorce process look like – long and drawn out or short and intense? Would you do it differently knowing what you know now?

  • Judy

    Even though this story is bringing back memories, good and bad… I still laugh at my divorce cat too. He has brightened my life over the last 7 years.

    • Mandy

      Hi Judy, I’m so glad you’re following your story although I know it can be kind of weird reading about yourself. I think going out and getting yourself your cat on the day you got divorced was a very healthy response. To me it was an optimistic move, being willing to be responsible for an animal that would be dependent on you, may be a good way of meeting your needs to be wanted?

  • T

    A divorce cat. Now that’s cute.

    My ex and I separated when I was still job hunting after being a stay at home mom. Our house was also on the market and I couldn’t afford it on my own. He moved in with his brother (and he still lives with him today) and the girls and I remained in our big home for 2 more years until it finally sold. My ex continued giving me his paychecks to pay the bills. When the house sold, I pushed immediately for the divorce. I was so sick of living in limbo.

    Divorce in a day? I’m not sure that’s even possible in Texas…

    • Mandy

      During our interview, Judy did say that because they had no minor children, they weren’t subject to the waiting period that was normal in their state. So that did make a difference.

  • Vivianne

    Definitely can’t get a divorce in a day in NY! We JUST got No-fault provisions. Judy was admirably well prepared and there is something to be said for removing the band aid as quickly as possible.

    The divorce cat is ADORABLE.

    • Mandy

      I read in the news a few months back about no-fault divorce just being approved in New York and remember thinking that it was about time. I know the naysayers argue it makes divorce too easy but even with no-fault divorce is not emotionally easy. Why force people to stay in marriages that aren’t working?

  • Chris

    I traded my ex for a cat too!

    One of the best trades I ever made!

  • Sonia W

    I got a cat too, how funny. My cat became great company for me when I had my lonely periods. She is still with me today in another home with a man that loves her mommy and her too. Mandy…great article. This really hit home.

    • Mandy

      Hi Sonia – I’m not a pet person so I wouldn’t think to get a pet. My friends would know I would think of a pet in terms of extra work, something else to take care of … but my friends do have pets and I know the joy and comfort their pets bring so I can someone would get a cat or a dog. I hope you have your cat for many years to come.

  • Sonia W

    Thanks Mandy, she is my little friend.