Divorces don’t take very long when one party is willing to lose everything; The Foreigner’s need to return home was so urgent and focused that we actually breezed through the process fairly quickly. Mediating an agreement felt like a long time, but five hours to agree to the terms of custody isn’t actually long at all. The mediator split us up between two rooms, and spent most of her time in his, while I sat alone, flipping through a few People magazines and thinking how much more fun they were when Princess Diana was still alive.
There were two key items he was stuck on. The first was child support, which he’d discovered wasn’t an arbitrary amount that he just sent when he felt like it, but was actually an amount determined by a statutory formula, written into a binding agreement that was enforceable overseas. The other was The Child’s Dutch passport, about which he fought, apparently, long and hard. Everything depended on me signing off, immediately, on those papers, but I refused to sign and the mediator didn’t really ask me to: she just let me know it was a sticking point for him. Finally, I said, fine, tell him if he pays the child support on time and correctly every month for the first year, I’ll agree to cooperate in obtaining a Dutch passport.
I was surprised that he accepted that agreement. I was surprised when the child support was paid regularly for exactly a year.
I was surprised that at the end of that year, I was not presented with papers to sign to renew The Child’s Dutch passport.