Sunday, April 22, 2012

Divorce Step Two: A Bureaucratic Fuckup With A Happy Ending

Wedded bliss. The paperwork is just the first challenge.
When I wrote the first post about my upcoming divorce, I'd assumed it was going to be a series of steps, like getting married was. Go to this place for that paper, go to another place for a different paper, drive across town to another place for further paper, then take all the paper to a fourth place only to be told someone at the second place made a mistake and you have to start all over. But the guy at the second place didn't make a mistake after all, so you take everything back to the fourth place where a different guy says nothing about the alleged mistake and dourly stamps the hell out of everything and then gets money for it.

Waiting for...
Those are the kind of steps I can deal with. Instead, after the notary there was no need to go anywhere. There was just a lot of waiting. And the waiting was pretty much down to the lawyer, who clearly doesn't feel the same sense of urgency about all this that I do. Every day, I'm just waiting for BE to change his mind about the whole thing and then make me put up with his bullshit for another year until he changes his mind back. He did his part to make it all take longer by getting nitpicky about stuff he had agreed to and trying to get more stuff. I was like, "Fuck you. Take whatever you want and how about you pay me some fucking money already." Anyway, all he really wanted was more time with LE and I'm not into making a fight about that at all.

The agreement was done ages ago but it took forever to write and translate. I mean, I know my lawyer has a new baby and everything and I'm trying to be sympathetic about that. But at the same time, I borrowed a shitload of money from my parents to give her and while babies are extraordinarily time-consuming, I know from Facebook when my lawyer goes to Antalya or does some other fabulous, not-dealing-with-my divorce sort of thing.

My lawyer, despite everything...
The fact that I like my lawyer makes it hard to get annoyed with her. She's still my champion in all of this. And the fact that I can say something like "my lawyer" makes me feel super-cool, like Tony fucking Soprano.

But still...

The only place I had to go was to a very nice and civilized cafe in Nışantaşı to deliver the signed agreements and power of attorney forms. So that was all right. I had coffee and my lawyer had tea.

A couple of weeks ago, my lawyer (my lawyer!) sent me a message that she was trying to file the papers at the court, but there was a problem about my name. Fuck. The name problem chose this time to come and bite me in the ass.

I think I've mentioned before how I have 3 official names in Turkey. The first is the name I came here with. That's the name on the front page of my passport and in my residence permit: Unused First Name Stranger Maiden Name.

This question gives me pause.
After I got married, I had the passport amended to show the name change, with the amendment on the back page because they don't give you a new passport when you change your name, not until the old one expires. My official name in America is this one: Unused First Name Stranger Maiden Name Married Name.

When I got married, the law was still that women were required to take their husbands' names. That law has since changed. If women wanted to hyphenate or keep their old names, they had to petition the Nüfüs Mürdüğülü Something Something office with lots of diacritics. Except this office doesn't have any jurisdiction over foreigners, so...

So in my marriage certificate, I'm Unused First Name Stranger Married name. We tried to get the guy who did the certificate to just go ahead and include my maiden name in there as a second middle name, but he didn't care for that idea, not one bit.

When it came time to renew my residence permit after getting married, we tried to get them to change the name to match the on my passport. But the foreign police will only use the name on the front page of the passport, and refused to accept the back page amendment. We tried for 7 years of renewals to get them to change it, but they were having none of it. Even after they got all computerized and my name was probably turning up as something else in their computers, they wouldn't change it.

Remember this? I do.
To complicate things further, about 5 years ago, the yabancı kimlik numarası (foreigner ID number) was introduced. So older official things of mine, like my original SSK account or my tax ID number, are attached to a number they don't use anymore, either my passport number or my residence permit number. My new SSK account is in what I think of as my "real" name (the one with both my maiden and married names), attached to the yabancı kimlik numarası. I'm not sure what my residence permit is attached to. Anyway, the number thing plus the name thing makes me understand why I ended up with two SSK accounts, though I still think it's a crock of shit no one over there noticed it. What are databases and computers for, after all?

Anyway, when the judge went to file the divorce stuff, he or she (probably he) discovered the thing about my names. I knew it would bite me in the ass sometime, and I was really hoping that this wouldn't be the time. The lawyer was sending me emails all day trying to figure it out, and I was sending her emails back, explaining the individual acts of stupidity and stubbornness, none of which were my fault exactly, that resulted in my name problem. By the end of the day I was just asking her to tell the judge to give me whatever name he wanted. I just don't care that much anymore.

Anyone can navigate it, seriously.

Back to the waiting. My lawyer, bless her, never got back to me about the result of the name issue. I waited for another week on tenterhooks, wondering what sort of bureaucratic triplicates were churning through the Byzantine underground. I started thinking I would never get divorced.

So I sent her another one of my politely passive-aggressive emails asking if any progress had been made. And a few days later, she replied telling me the case had been filed a week ago, with a lengthy docket number, and that a petition had been mailed to BE. The judge was busy that week, she said, but she will get back to me with a court date soon enough.

Just trust this guy, okay?
And with that, Divorce Step Two, filing the case, is complete. I admit I'm a little nervous about the part where a petition is being mailed-- Turkish mail is such that I once received a letter from my grandmother three months after she had died. But things always have a way of working out, so I'm hoping for the best.

Maybe they'll use a courier service.


Erika said...

Ah progress?

On keeping one's maiden name: only to Turkish women are offered the privilege of keeping it. Needless to say, being quite attached to my name, I am still myself everywhere else, except Turkey-where we do not live.

Stranger said...

I find it galling I'm willing to tell a judge he can call me whatever the fuck he wants.

But if it will bring this stupid marriage to an end, something as hugely important as a name is just a mere detail...

Anonymous said...

As someone who has gone up and down in an international marriage, I'm curious (in general terms only of course) what the main issues were that lead to your divorce.

Stranger said...

Having only been married once, I can't say if the failure was because international issues, or due to other stuff. The other stuff is, I think,stuff that can happen in any marriage and far outweighed whatever problems we had with communication and cultural differences. Or maybe it exacerbated these problems and made them something we couldn't overcome.

I'll spare you the details of all that went wrong, some of it my fault but most of it his. In the end, I just didn't love him enough anymore to see him through more of his crap, and our relationship was starting to poison our son, not to mention each other. Our son deserves a peaceful home, and we clearly could not give it to him.