Always Mister Nice Guy

The following is a transcript of the My Crazy Divorce podcast

Guest Name: Jude Sandval
Release Date: 11.4.2021

Tom Milligan: This week, we meet Jude Sandvall, a man that uses his ongoing nine year divorce battle to help other men navigate the divorce process while becoming better men. Don’t worry. Even though Jude teaches us a lot in this episode, there’s plenty of crazy to make the cut. Welcome to my Crazy Divorce.

Tom Milligan: Hello again, and welcome to another episode of my crazy divorce. I’m your host, Tom Milligan. Jude was just 29 years old when he got married. He’d finished college, had a great career and had been dating for over a decade. He did everything right, so he never imagined that 20 years later he’d be sharing what he’s learned on our show. Everyone can learn a lot from Jude, but before we get to the story, you need to know that I am not an attorney. So nothing in this podcast is even close to legal advice. I’m not therapist either. So if you’re in a broken marriage or a crazy divorce, please contact a licensed and qualified professional. And if you have a crazy divorce story and would like to be a guest on the show to and click on ‘the apply’ to be a guest button at the bottom of the page, I’d really love to hear from you. We’re going to start today’s show with Jude explaining what he does and why he does it.

Jude Sandvall: I host a podcast called the divorcedadvocate, similar to what you’ve done, taken an experience that was at best he could say challenging in attempting to make something better of it and help other people in the world go get through the process

Tom Milligan: Before starting this recording. Jude learned that I’m a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers. Since he is a Chicago bear’s fan, we gave each other a hard time throughout the interview here. Here is a first of many jabs.

Jude Sandvall: My dad was a Packers fan and despite the fact that he was a Packers fan I turned out alright.

Tom Milligan: The fact that Jude and I have become friends is proof that people can look past their differences and come together. That’s a lesson we should all learn. So how did an otherwise guy become a bear’s fan simple geography? Jude grew up in Chicago. So I guess we’ll let it slide. Here’s Jude talking about his early years.

Jude Sandvall: I grew up in the Western suburbs in a solidly middle class life with a dad who was an electrician and a mom who was a homemaker. Back then he still had kind of that free roam lifestyle where you go out all day and ride bikes and play and climb trees and go to the park and play sports.

Tom Milligan: As I listened to him describe his childhood, my brain switched between picturing Jude dressed like Huck Finn at a fishing hole and Jude running around an open fire hydrant with his friends either way. It sounds like the perfect childhood, doesn’t it, but perfect childhoods don’t seem to last do they Jude’s parents separated when Jude was about 15 years old, but for reasons we’ll never know it them 10 years to actually get a divorce just a couple of years after they separated Jude graduated high school and moved to Colorado to attend college on an ice hockey scholarship. After graduating with a degree in economics, he stayed in Denver and started his career. Then at age 28, 1 of Jude’s well-meaning clients changed his life forever.

Jude Sandvall: My ex and I were a blind date, and so you hear the stories of blind dates and they never work. It’s true but at least no, I’m kidding. We were a blind date. I was working for a company and one of the clients worked with my ex and she said, Hey, I’ve got a friend. And I think you guys would be, you guys would hit it off. And would you be open to meeting her? And I said, sure, I gave her my number. I actually thought this client was hitting on me. It was a little weird and uncomfortable. So I anticipated some weird late night call from her, but that didn’t happen. Thank God!

Tom Milligan: Maybe it would’ve been better if the client had been hitting on him, right. I guess we’ll never know either way that blind date changed Jude’s life forever because after just seven months, Jude was hooked. But just wait until you hear why

Jude Sandvall: He was really the only person I got along with for more than seven months. So for me, that criteria at that point, and I say this, and it’s so sad, right? That was the only criteria I had. Somebody I could stand to be around for more than an hour or two for seven months or longer. So I’ll tell you what I was, that was it. I was head over heels and I was planning the rest of my life together based on that sole criteria.

Tom Milligan: Wow! I hope someday to find someone that loves me that much. So romantic right? But seriously, we can only assume there was more to it because their relationship actually progressed. Let’s hope it’s built on more than just mutual toleration.

Jude Sandvall: And so then we move in together and then we have joint bank accounts, and then we get a dog.

Tom Milligan: What a romantic story? At least they have a dog, right? I’m not seeing a lot of fireworks in their relationship just yet – good or bad. I sure hope the engagement story is epic.

Jude Sandvall: And then we’re like, well she’d just get married right?

Tom Milligan: Beautiful, that’s just beautiful. If you didn’t feel that you’re not human, maybe romance isn’t big on their list.

Jude Sandvall: I’m a hopeless romantic

Tom Milligan: We can tell Jude. We can tell.  So they’re engaged and planning a big wedding so there’s a lot to do. They only have a few more months to buy a dress, pick out flowers, and do a million other things. Good thing they’re doing it together, right?

Jude Sandvall: We never fought more than any other time in those. I think we dated for about a year and a half before we got married.

Tom Milligan: What the hell? Jude, it’s easy for me to look at this 20 years later and wonder why Jude or his ex-wife didn’t see the warning signs, but, anyway, here we have two people who tolerated each other long enough to get engaged and stayed engaged long enough to plan a wedding. I’m almost scared to hear about their wedding day.

Jude Sandvall: The wedding day itself was I just, you see all the pictures, you look back at the pictures. I got this stupid poop eating grin on my face the entire time.

Tom Milligan: Really I expected a disaster.

Jude Sandvall: It was great fun. We had a lot of friends and family. We went to a dance club later after the reception and just had so much fun.

Tom Milligan: Finally, something went right for these two. Maybe there’s hope after all, so how was married life?

Jude Sandvall: I loved it. I absolutely loved it. We just started along those steps and went bought the new cars. And I started a business and started doing those things and started having kids. And we, yes, we had our problems and our problems were pretty deep seated, but I wasn’t afraid of that because I was just going to, I was just going to love my way through it. I was going to figure it out. I’m just going to do whatever I can do and love will conquer all.

Tom Milligan: That’s bullshit, Well, I can’t judge. I remember being that naive. I knew for a fact that nothing could come between my wife and me. Our love was simply too strong. And anyone that tried to tell me differently obviously had never loved anyone as much as I loved my wife, yeah right. From this point forward, I want you to pay attention to something very important. As you’ll hear in a few minutes, Jude really did have a crazy divorce. So crazy that now nine years later, they’re still in court. Unfortunately that’s actually all too common, but here’s where Jude is different. No matter how bad it gets, he always takes ownership of the problems in their marriage and finds a way to learn and grow from the experience. I really admire that. Now back to the story, Jude and his ex we’ll just call her Agatha, Jude and Agatha are married. They have a house, cars, a business, and some kids. Sounds like life is great, right? So I asked Jude what went wrong.

Jude Sandvall: Looking back, I would say the first red flag was not spending that time to develop the relationship. I did not really know myself. I spent a lot of time in my twenties thinking I had sewed my oats in some respects and also had worked. And I paid, worked my way through college and paid for a hundred percent of my college. Got my degree, had lived on my own since I was 17. And so really had thought I had figured out quite a lot of stuff, but didn’t know really the first thing about relationships.

Tom Milligan: Did you catch that? According to Jude, the first red flag was that he didn’t know himself. Now that’s typical of Jude, but he doesn’t stop by just owning it. He finds a way to turn it into a positive and to learn from it.

Jude Sandvall: Red flags aren’t necessarily a bad thing either because I feel like now after nine years, so nine years I’ve been divorced now I’m finally in a healthy relationship after nine years of divorce after, so it was 20 years that I was married. And then so I started dating well when I was in my teen’s right. So that’s like 35 years it’s taken me to now have what I feel is a good relationship. So any of those, any of you that are listening, going, oh, why can’t I just find the one that’s like three or four people I’ve broken up with, Hey, if you can do it in less than 35 years, you’re doing really, really well.

Tom Milligan: Oh, okay. So besides not knowing himself, there had to be more right.

Jude Sandvall: There were all kinds of stuff that that happened. But the manifestation of the actions, whether they’re my actions, whether they’re her actions, whether they’re my codependent actions of over giving and changing my life and showing my business and changing jobs or becoming Mr. Dad or Mr. Mom or hers of some of the ones that you would quote unquote say bad and drinking or infidelity or anything like that neither are good or bad. They’re all part of a, of a dynamic that is unhealthy. That is the manifestation of some deeper seated issues that you have not paid attention to. And that we did not pay attention to

Tom Milligan: See, he’s just so nice. But did he really just say infidelity? I had to ask.

Jude Sandvall: I won’t go into intimate detail. Although the funny part when I did initiate the tracking device on her phone, on her way to the boyfriends and she made a quick U-turn while I was watching on the map was pretty humorous and the angry argument about tracking, sorry. No sexy time for you tonight. If I’m not getting any

Tom Milligan: An argument about tracking, how do cheaters get so good at deflecting blame? It’s like, sure, I cheated, but you tracked me. It reminds me of when I found my ex’s lingerie after her quote unquote business trip, her angry deflection was you went through my things. Typical! Do they all take a class? Is it deflection 1 0 1?

Jude and Agatha obviously had issues. To their credit, they tried therapy. So how did that go?

Jude Sandvall: We actually decided in therapy that it probably just is not going to work out. And so that was a good thing. That was a positive thing, but that was the most positive thing about the decision of divorce. The rest of it became just an absolute case study.

Tom Milligan: Damn! Sounds like their divorce is going to be a lot like their engagement

Jude Sandvall: That’s when it really got bad, is it was all the mental, emotional issues and red flags that or were obvious that I wasn’t paying attention to that I should have been from the very start really started to manifest. And then I would say began to spiral and it came very contentious. It became very vocal and then it resulted in just a really tragic night of the police coming and her being removed and of returning back to the house, which is awful, but it was really unfortunate. It’s really, it’s really sad because many if you can do it in a positive manner, it provides a huge opportunity to model for your children, the ability to persevere through one of the most difficult and challenging and stressful times that will ever happen in somebody’s life.

Tom Milligan: Once the police are involved, I think any hopes for an amicable split have gone out the window, so what’s next?

Jude Sandvall: Lawyering up, right? And once you lawyer up, then it becomes a fight because you don’t know. Yeah, that’s not the right way. That’s not the right way to do it. And unfortunately, we really had, I really had to, there was some significant mental, emotional issues going on, young children that were involved, that they need to be protected. And so having to does that right away, but I don’t recommend that.

Tom Milligan: I agree. I strongly encourage anyone to avoid involving attorneys unless it’s absolutely necessary. And if your children are in danger, like Jude’s, were you do whatever you have to do to protect them

Jude Sandvall: But no, it was very, very contentious. And it was very expensive and it was, and it’s been subsequently very, very expensive attorneys are not cheap. So if you’re in court and if you’re in court without an attorney, you’re going to get blasted because it’s designed for attorneys, it’s designed by attorneys, four attorneys and the whole process,

Tom Milligan: Like I said, this got ugly. He said it was expensive. So just how much did it cost?

Jude Sandvall: Upwards of six figures. Yeah, ours was like 16 months, 18 months.

Tom Milligan: Yeah, that’s right. Over a hundred thousand dollars and a year and a half of his life gone, but at least it’s over, right? Yeah, he wishes

Jude Sandvall: And we’re in multiple six figures now after being in court for so many years, with so many different issues.

Tom Milligan: So nine years and several hundred thousand dollars later, and he’s finally done not so fast.

Jude Sandvall: Yes, we are currently still in court.

Tom Milligan: That really sucks. I mean, at some point you have to start wonder if Jude is the one dragging this out. So I asked him, what are some of the reasons you’re still in court?

Jude Sandvall: Well, one of them is that one, one side has it an unlimited amount of money. And so when there’s no reason to settle and there’s an unlimited amount of money, then there’s no reason.

Tom Milligan: And in case you wondering Jude is not the one with unlimited money. So what is his motivation?

Jude Sandvall: You hear of many wealthy people that get into the fights and you get into arguing about small things. And now I’m not a proponent of arguing for small things, but I am up proponent of doing everything you need to do to protect your children. You always have to protect your, your children and no matter what the cost is and what you have to do that whether it’s working second two jobs or three jobs. And so that’s the way that I look for. It’s an investment for me; it’s an investment in my children to make sure that they’re mentally, emotionally, physically okay.

Tom Milligan: Throughout our conversation, I was struck by Jude’s genuine and sincere dedication to his children. I truly admire his attitude for various reasons. I’ve chosen not to share a lot of information about his children. I will only that while it’s clear, Jude has a great relationship with all three of his daughters. The same cannot be said for their relationship with their mother. Here’s what Jude has to say about that situation,

Jude Sandvall: Tragic and unfortunate. And I pray every day that will remedy, but again, I don’t know what her life path is or what she needs to be learning through that process. So I’ll just continue to be there, to encourage and facilitate whatever may happen in the future.

Tom Milligan: Now let’s face it, nobody plans on getting divorced, but it happened. And it happens quite often. And it’s usually out of our control. In fact, a lot of things happen that we can’t control, and when those things do happen, the only thing we can control or influence is how we respond or react to the situation, listen to how Jude deals with it.

Jude Sandvall: I laugh about things now, and I just try to keep light of things, but Hey, I was curled up crying in my bed at night there’s days where I didn’t want to get out of bed there’s days that I felt like the weight of the shame on my shoulders for my failed marriage and for the life that I was not going to be able to give my daughters now just was paralyzing to me. All of that stuff happens to all of us. And I’ve just had the time and have made the effort or to learn from it now where I can feel better and laugh and see that life can get better. But for those going through it, that are listening, yes, we all go through those challenges. It’s hard and it’s heartbreaking, and it’s fearful and it’s chaotic and traumatic, but just knows that it does get better.

Tom Milligan: I can tell you, it really does get better, but as he said, you have to give it time and make an effort as a divorce coach for dads; Jude uses every opportunity to teach a lesson most often using his own past mistakes as a guide for others. Here’s Jude offering advice on what to do. If you find yourself in a or situation,

Jude Sandvall: Go to a therapist or a coach first, that’s the first thing to talk about, because then they’re going to help you with what you’re going through. Maybe talk about what you brought to the table, but also in better communicating, thinking through things and figuring things out and not doing it impulsively or emotionally, or having those triggers. That’s the first thing, but then surround yourself with what I call is your, your team. You’re the coach of this, this divorce team, right? You get You’ve got your therapist. You might have your CPA or your financial planner, your real estate agent, your mortgage broker. And then you have your attorney who was one part of that team. Now it might be an important part, right? It might be the quarterback, but it’s one part of, all of the rest of that team

Tom Milligan: Therapy usually costs less than attorneys and it has the added benefit of actually helping you grow. So that really is a great place to start after building out your team, draft your quarterback. Great advice! Since every one of our guests has been through a crazy divorce. I’m always curious how they feel about marriage.

Jude Sandvall: I’m a huge proponent of marriage. I firmly believe in marriage, so because I didn’t do it right the first time doesn’t mean that it’s not the right thing. And how many things do you do one time and do it really awesome. Like off the bat in marriage, we got to give ourselves a little bit of grace here. Marriage is one of those things we do. And then we get mad at ourselves or upset or down at ourselves that we didn’t do it right the first time. And then don’t want to do it or square off. And that’s not necessarily fair. It’s not fair to marriage. It’s not fair to ourselves.

Tom Milligan: He’s good. Throughout our time together, Jude offered tons of advice and lessons he’s learned as a divorce dad. And as a divorce coach, I’m going to put a lot of them here because they’re just that good. Let’s start with some advice for anyone that’s dating right now.

Jude Sandvall: Be intentional in your dating; be intentional about what it is that you want. And that could be, I just want to have fun. And I want to get to know people that are an intention, or I want to meet somebody. And I would like to get married. That’s a different intention and you’re going to go lot a different way, but be intentional and then be true to those intentions.

Tom Milligan: Here’s Jude on relationships of any kind.

Jude Sandvall: I feel like we are in relationships for a reason and those reasons are always to learn something about ourselves.

Tom Milligan: And here’s his advice for anyone in an unhappy marriage

Jude Sandvall: Pay attention to those red flags. And if you can start with yourself, that’s going to be the best place don’t start with like, oh yeah, well just not married to her. That’d be fine. Start with yourself.

Tom Milligan: Seems simple enough, right? Just start with yourself, but how?

Jude Sandvall: Getting somebody to help you process that and work through. That is the best thing you can do, trying to do it on your own is really challenging because we got all this stuff and these emotions that come up and we just don’t know what we don’t know.

Tom Milligan: I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Jude over the past few weeks, I’ve become a huge fan of his podcast, the divorce dad, which you can find anywhere you listen to podcasts or just go to I hope you’ll give it a listen. A huge thank you to Jude for sharing his story and helping us all be better humans. I also want to thank our sponsor, who has made it their mission to provide the most affordable; easy to use an effective self-service divorce process ever imagined charges a flat fee of just $299. And that’s only if the process works for you. Visit for more details. I’ll be back next week with another crazy story on my crazy divorce. If you have a crazy divorce story, please go to and click on “the apply” to be a guest button at the bottom of the screen. Be sure to share the podcast with your friends, but even more importantly, please rate and review the show on whatever app you’re using to listen right now. It really helps us get the word out. See you next week, everyone.