Or so the saying goes.
But I very well could have been last Thursday when I had to go to court.
Yes, even I have to appease the powers that be occasionally, and the US Government, too.
No, I didn't go to court to fight a traffic ticket like last time.
This hearing was for child support adjustment.
I'd known about the date since mid-February and was justifiably nervous about it because you never know how these things will go. Back in January, K's attorney sent me a financial affidavit form, which I was to fill out and return, so my child support payments could be calculated.
Doing what seems to come most naturally, I procrastinated and didn't fill the thing out until a week ago Friday, so I could drop it off at the lawyer's office personally on my way to pick up V and M. Plus I had to get it notarized, which I also planned to do on my way north.
I lost some sleep on Tuesday, alternately thinking about the hearing and what I would say to the judge, what I had just watched of Friends, and what situations Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel and Ross could get themselves into and out of next.
Last time I had to go to court
, I had trouble finding the courthouse and was almost late because the dumpy building it's located in doesn't look much like a courthouse, even though I had directions. Not to mention that parking meter happy Nashua has crappy parking around the courthouse and I had no quarters.
Wednesday night, I made sure that I had accurate directions and plenty of quarters for the parking meter. I also made sure I got plenty of rest so that I would be nice and alert for the hearing, which was scheduled to begin at 09:00 Thursday morning.
Because I was all prepared with the periphery, I was able to get to the courthouse with no problems. I arrived in the parking lot at 08:00 and decided to write out an outline of what I wanted to say. All of these things I had been rehearsing in my head for the week prior were now flowing easily onto the paper. I'm glad I wrote stuff down, 'cuz I get all nervous in situations like this when I have to speak in my own defense and may have forgotten something. I finished what I wanted to write at 08:30 and headed into the courthouse.
Entering the building, I had to empty all of my pockets and walk through the metal detector. Once I got through it and reassembled myself, I asked one of the security guys where the child support hearings would be. He suggested I go through the doors and into the juvenile court area. I repeated my question to the woman behind the glass who said that she didn't know either, but she thought it might be over at the other courthouse. She volunteered to call over there and find out for me, which was really helpful. The only problem was that she had to leave a message and told me she didn't know how soon they would return her call. I thanked her and decided to hurry my butt over to the other courthouse, on Spring Street. It was now 08:45. I had 15 minutes to get there.View Larger Map
The other courthouse is the Hillsborough County Superior Courthouse, next to the Nashua Post Office. I ran the whole way and was quite winded when I got there. The route I took is shown in the map above.
It would have taken me two minutes to get there by car, so why didn't I drive, you ask?
For one, I had less than fifteen minutes to get there and parking there is worse there than where I was. Plus, I had just pumped almost all of the quarters I had into the meter and there was no way in heck I was going to lose out on all that time!
As I approached the courthouse, I knew that this was where I was supposed to be, as the building looked familiar. I had not had the need to go back to this courthouse at all since 2004, so it's not surprising that I went to the wrong building.
Once again I was required to empty out my pockets to get through security, which I did. Sure enough, posted on the wall immediately in front of me were signs listing the schedule for the day for each court room. I found out where I was supposed to be, which was courtroom five on the third floor. Fantastic. I'm out of breath and now I've got to climb six flights of stairs. It was 08:56. Four minutes to spare!
K and her attorney were obviously already there sitting in the hallway outside courtroom #5 when I arrived and deep in conversation. When they noticed me, K's attorney handed me the paperwork outlining her financial information and how much she was asking for per month. The attorney told me that if I agreed to it then she'd give the court the paperwork and we wouldn't have to go before the judge.
While I was still reading, the Bailiff called everyone into the court room for roll call to begin the day's proceedings. When my name was called I made sure that they knew I was there because the last time I went to court, I was almost counted as a no-show, even though I was there.
My eyes moved back down to the papers in my hand and I finished reading. I could not sign the agreement as it was written, so the three of us left the courtroom and went into a side room and worked out our differences. Not exactly to my liking, but good enough.
We still had to go back inside the court room and wait to be called, which took about 45 minutes. There were two other cases that were now ahead of us. These were divorces at the beginning of the process and were not nearly as cordial. They were, however, very interesting to watch.
Once we were called, it took less than three minutes to take care of what we came to do. After K's attorney left, we stood outside the courthouse for about 20 minutes talking. Even though the negotiation didn't go as well as I would have liked between K and me, and even though I didn't get a chance to use the bit that I had prepared to say to the judge, I'm okay with the way it went. Sure, I may have to pay more than I want to but I really can't put a dollar value on having a cordial, peaceful, non-combative relationship with my ex.
When I got back to my car, there was no ticket on my windshield and an hour and seventeen minutes left on the meter. It was a beautiful spring day in southern New Hampshire, pleasant but not too chilly. Best of all I had the rest of the day before me, as I took the whole day off from work.