Advice about Divorce

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I want a divorce but husband doesn't

Dec 2009

Parents - Can anyone offer me advice about divorce? I am so brokenhearted about this, but I have tried for years to fix a marriage that cannot be fixed. My husband just can't stand me, and rages at me constantly - and in front of our child. And yet for some reason he resists divorce. I haven't wanted a divorce, but it has been years and it's just getting worse. And yes, we have seen counselors twice, to no avail. I need to somehow find the courage to leave.

I don't know what steps to take. I have tried to talk to him calmly about us separating. I have asked, courteously, if he would consider moving out, and he says no. So although I know it's recommended that women try to stay in the home, I think I need to just leave. I have no idea what steps to take, if any, before renting a place and moving. I need to at least have joint custody of my little one, who is my world and only 3. I don't know what I need to do to make sure I don't risk losing this. And I am a little concerned about my husband's temper - not that I fear physical violence, but over the long haul I worry about how he will behave alone with our son. His temper just seems so bad.

Anyway - if anyone can tell me anything helpful, I will be so grateful. Thank you. sw

You say you don't fear physical violence, but it sounds like you might be a victim of domestic violence (verbal/emotional abuse) from your description. This can be very damaging for kids to witness/experience, so for your protection and that of your child I would urge you to seek help. There are a number of programs in Alameda County--A Safe Place has a 24-hour hotline (510-536-SAFE) and a shelter. Perhaps getting some support and advocacy around the domestic violence issues might help you get organized to take the steps you need. Advocates at shelters are really good at helping make safety plans, and in supporting people through tough situations like this. good luck
I was in a situation very similar to yours a few years ago. My child was also around 3. I am now divorced and it was definitely the right decision. From my own experience I would advise the following:

Get the support of your friends and family. Let them know what's going on and that you will be needing their help.

Get your finances in order. Start saving money for yourself and your child. Get your own bank account and credit card. You might also want to get another cell phone.

Get a lawyer. Explain to them about your husband's temper, what you want for custody etc. Lawyers around here are not so cheap but I found it was good to have someone who had real authority running the discussions, also they set up child support, spousal support etc.

If you can afford it, see a counselor on your own. They can help you plan when to move, and also help you deal with your emotions about leaving your marriage.

After this stuff is in place, I would start looking at apartments.

Good luck. Your own happiness and the happiness of your child is worth it. been there

The first step is to calm down and consult with a lawyer, there have been plenty recommended in the BPN archive. In California you do not need a reason to get divorced, you can basically just file, serve, wait six months, judge confirms, and that's that.

My divorce lawyer didn't even want to hear any reasons or emotion at all, just the facts about income, kids, and property.

There are formulas for child support and who gets what. Try not to stress about all the terrible things that could happen, hope it goes smoothly and look toward the future. --happily divorced

You're not asking for therapy, but it sounds like you should first push your husband to therapy. He may be oblivious to the pain he is causing you. My husband doesn't have a violent temper all the time, and to most people he appears to have a calm demeanor and easy-going nature. But to me, he expresses loathing and disrespect. He would tell anybody else that HE doesn't get respect. Honestly, having gone through a divorce previously, and having observed the kids in school whose parents clearly loathe each other (guess what? the kids usually lose), I'd say unless you are positive you want to leave, I'd push for counseling first. Get a therapist who will challenge you to either figure out whether you really should separate or figure out how to be together in mutual satisfaction and caring. (There are more lame therapists out there than really effective ones, plus there's the personal compatibility thing). If you do the therapy you won't have to spend years later wondering if you'd done the right thing, or participating in mutual loathing that will help convince you that you'd done the right thing. Regardless of what youdo, always ask yourself if you'd regret what you're doing (including whether you'd regret being awful to your husband--don't be mean and petty-not worth it for your self-worth or your child's. And remember your child loves his daddy too. I'd also get your finances in order (including a separate account), maybe before you tell your husband that it's counseling or nothing. If your husband is truly violent, you should be prepared to be on your own the moment you give him an ultimatum. Read through all the books you can get your hands on from Nolo Press before you make any decisions. Protect yourself financially, and protect your kid. Figure it out ahead of time. Be fair.
Hello - It's excellent that you know what is right for you, even tho it will be hard. Your husband can't ''veto'' a divorce, if you want one. Talk to a lawyer with experience in Family Law about the legal realities of your situation. Also, read and research as much as you can. It is much better if you understand what your legal options are. Also, expect your lawyer to keep you informed of EVERYTHING that happens in your case. Even if you hire a lawyer, check out ''collaborative divorce.'' These are teams of lawyers, child development experts, etc., who help couples negotiate a divorce. To keep your claim to custody of your child, try to avoid moving out of your house. Otherwise, move yourself and your child out together. It seems that the law views moving out by yourself, even temporarily, as abandonment of your child. Especially for mothers. Check out your finances carefully. Is your name on each bank and retirement account and property deed that belongs to you alone or jointly? Do you have any verbal agreements about money or property that are not in writing? Did either of you bring money or property to the relationship that you have agreed to share? (The law will assume that whatever each person brings to the marriage is their own separate property at divorce, unless you have a written agreement to the contrary.) Make sure you have access to your share of the money. If you don't have enough $ to support yourself and to hire a lawyer but your husband does, you can lose everything - even if it is ''rightfully'' yours.

If you are at all afraid of your husband, or if you are afraid for your child in the least, talk to a domestic violence (DV) expert. Make a specific plan for leaving with a counselor - whether or not you or your child have ever been hurt. Planning will make everything go more smoothly. DV counselors are more aware than most people of all the decisions and preparations you will need to make.

Finally, line up good solid personal support - friends who will check in on you or send your cards or e-mails, people you can talk freely with, people whose company you like, people who think well of you. This is a difficult process, but very worthwhile. I wish you strength and success. Been There, Too.

If you decide you need to divorce, stop asking the other person's permission. I would issue one ultimatum- counseling and serious change, or you will get a divorce. But don't issue ultimatums unless you really will act on it.

Let's assume the ultimatum gets you nowhere. Say nothing and find an attorney through the BPN Reviews- must be in your county and must be a divorce and family law specialist. See them for one hour, and ask what papers to get together. Really, a lot of divorce at first is photocopying your darned financial documents. Get your data together, bring it to your attorney, and ask what's next. (Wait until January 2- this will be hard enough as it is). Best of luck. Been There.

I am also going through the 1st steps of separating. Among the tough parts of this is the fact that most of my friends are still married with kids (the impenetrable nuclear family, like we used to be), so I am having to go outside my friend circle to find others going through similar struggles. It's not that my friends aren't supportive but many of them just don't know what to say. Also, I need to start filling my time with ''refueling'' activities so that I can be there for my 5 year old as much as possible. So if you'd like to talk and share strategies for coping, please contact me. Hang in there. anon

How to keep the house if divorced?

April 2009

To make a very long story short, after 23 years together,16 years of marriage, three children, 2 years of couples counseling and his two affairs(one night stand and 3 month fling- so he says) I have decided that I can no longer stay in this relationship. I am missing three key ingredients to a successful marriage: trust,respect and love (TRL). We have both caused each other many hurts over the years and we both have worked very hard to stay together. But I am ready (and scared to death) to call it what it is: over. (advice wanted April 7)

We bought our house back in 1993. After our third child in 2000 I have been pretty much a SAHM. I have had a couple of temporary jobs;filling in for people on maternity leave. With the state of the economy and me not having a job it has been hard to reach the decision to break up. But after much thought and finding out about these two affairs,which he insists meant nothing to him, I am ready to move on. And I actually got offered a temp position last Friday. I'll take it as a sign. I am hoping I can get my foot in the door and when this position is over I can find another one, hopefully permanent.

OK what is my question you are wondering? This is it. Is there any chance/hope that I can keep the house? I have checked rentals and there is not much you can get for what we pay in mortgage. Definitely can't get a 4bd/2th house. I have looked up options and what I have found is these three: 1. Sell the house 2. Buy the other one out 3. Co-Own up to a certain time (ie. youngest reaches 18)

I don't want to sell because there is nothing affordable that I could buy. I can't buy him out because I don't have the money and if we refinanced to get more money so I could buy him out, then the mortgage would be too high. I am wondering if there is anyone out there who has co-owned. And what are my chances of such a deal? My main concern is for the kids (his too) and I know they would be happier and feel more secure if they could stay in the home they have always known. Thanks, Anon

You can ask for the house in the settlement and you have a strong case in that you wish to maintain stability for your children. Doing what is best for the kids is always the overriding concern. But, be careful what you wish for. Figure out how much it will cost you to pay mortgage, taxes, equity line, home insurance, repairs, maintenance, etc. In our divorce settlement, he had the big career, took all the stocks, IRAs, etc. and I took the house. After a year or so, I realized I couldn't pay the taxes on my meager salary. I started renting out rooms, eventually moved into an in-law unit and rented the main house, and finally had to sell. It was actually a relief to have a modest apartment that I could maintain myself. The kids got over the reduced space and I found a complex which had a pool so that made up for reduced space for them. Upshot...removing the emotional considerations, be sure you can afford the house on your own. Miss my house, but better off without it
Hello dear, I am sorry to hear about your troubles. And I have had quite a lot of experience in the divorce/house issue. My ex-husband and I settled on something slightly unusual that could potentially work in your case, provided your husband is willing and able to work with you. I would really suggest working with a mediator on this one (Judith Joshel or Eva Herzer are people I have worked with and liked).

I assume that your husband is the one leaving the home behind (I was the one who left in our case). I am also going to assume, just given what you have written here, that the court will order child support from him to you based on your respective incomes and you will also probably be able to get spousal support based on the length of your marriage (half the length of a long marriage is a rule-of-thumb payment period, though it's negotiable), also based on your respective incomes and your potential earning power for the future. In our case I could see, as you can now see, that it would not be possible for one of us to buy the other out. Nor would it be possible, given the present housing market and our reduced incomes, for us to find a living situation for our child as nice as the house I had left behind.

After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that it was most important for my (12-yr-old) son to be able to stay in his life-long home. I also felt that forcing my son's dad to move at a moment when he was emotionally and financially very vulnerable would make it harder for him to get work (he had not been employed during our marriage) and be a good parent. It was in the best interests of our son, definitely, for me to give up for the time being the idea of selling the house and getting my equity out.

So we made an agreement to continue to co-own until my son graduates from high school. It was hard to give up access to my share of the equity at a time when I had accrued debts by moving, buying a car, and paying a lot of support. So we made a clause in the agreement that said that my ex would sign onto a home equity loan in case I needed to take out some portion of my equity before the sale. And we also said that if he were for some reason unable to keep up payments, we could sell, with the first buy-out option belonging to me. And -- and this was very important to me -- we negotiated a steady reduction in spousal support year by year so that I could anticipate how much I would be obligated to pay and for how long. Your case is rather different -- you were a SAHM for a long while, you had three kids instead of one, you were not staying at home in order to forward a career that failed (as did my ex, a writer), etc. But this could be a negotiating point nevertheless.

Note that all bets may be off if your ex decides he wants to buy you out -- if he can do that, he might be able to push hard for it. But you have strong arguments on your side, given what you have said about your circumstances. I live in a reasonably priced, reasonably OK apartment less than a mile from my ex. It has been hard to accept that the house I paid for is no longer available to me, and I can't buy another for now. But my son's best interests convinced me. Maybe your kids' dad will be convinced as well. It's definitely worth negotiating. happily divorced

First, congratulations on reaching what must have been a painful decision, despite what may seem like daunting logistics. I have known a couple of couples who have rented out a studio/1BR apartment, shared the rent on that between them, and alternated weeks at the family home (e.g., while you're at the house with the kids, your ex is at the apt., and vice-versa. anon
Speaking as a divorced single mom myself, the house needs to be there if at all possible to provide stability for the children. You have three kids - youngest is 9? The house could be considered as part of spousal/family support. If your kids are there primarily, he needs to pay substantially toward that mortgage, for the sake of the kids. Besides, it's a bad time to sell anyway. But most importantly, even if your kids spend 50% time with their dad in another residence, the house is there stability & it would be very hard on them to move/sell at this stage. Maybe in 3-5 years when they have adjusted? I have been divorced for almost 15 years now, despite their dad moving several times over the years, my house is presently still their ''home'' whether they live there or not. I definitely think it helps them cope. Divorced single mom
hi, i am in exactly the same situation as you are regarding the house. i thought about buying my soon-to-be ex-husband out but realized my mortgage would go up and i would not be able to afford living in the home. divorce is definitely going to bring change for everyone. in my experience it has helped my kids cope to take one step at a time, instead of changing everything all at once. my ex and i separated 2 years ago and i stayed in the house. we weren't ready to make any decisions about the house yet as we were taking time to grieve and get used to the split. it was agreed that the kids and i would stay in the house and i would be responsible for the mortgage and the house itself. now, two years later we are finally filling for divorce and ready to move on. i am ready to move out of the house into my own place and so we will stay on the loan together as co-owners and rent the place out. this way on taxes we will be splitting everything 50/50 and we can each claim HH since neither of us will be living here. we will sell the house once the market gets better or if my situation changes once i start working maybe i can afford to buy him out and keep the house as a rental. whatever you agree to, get it in writing, email, whatever, so that you have records of everything. good luck and take care of yourself... Rosy

Husband wants divorce, I'm a SAHM

April 2009

My husband wants a divorce and he wants it ASAP. But, we have two young children and I want to make sure they are well taken care of. I've been at home with the kids for the last 5+ yrs. My husband works long hours as a litigator but says that he wants the kids 50% of the time. I'm pretty sure his motivation there is financial, so what can I do?

I was a preschool teacher before I had kids and have started subbing this school year. I didn't make much $$ before we had kids and I won't make much in the near future. So, I want to make sure our divorce agreement takes that into account. Plus, I obviously have no benefits or healthcare alone.

Also, we have talked about the house and about keeping the kids in one home for as long as possible (maybe up to one year). Hopefully, we will do well selling the house a year from now, but I'm wondering how to make sure everything works out fairly. THANK YOU!

Getting a divorce ASAP is HIS agenda for his possibly cliche reasons, and not yours. Your agenda is planning for the support of you and the kids. Get a lawyer now! Don't talk any more with him directly, put him off as much as you can citing (honestly) what a big decision this is, and if possible serve him with papers first. I'm sorry if I sound jaded but the ASAP and 50% seem like red flags to me that he's not in it for your or the kids' well-being. Plus, he's a litigator!? Uh-oh. And I'm sorry, it's scumbag behavior to leave a woman when the kids are so young. (There you have my bias.) All the things you mention are valid and are customarily considered. But get an attorney! Anon
Get a very good divorce lawyer.... anon
You are raising several complicated questions: child and spousal support, selling a home, custody and visitation. You should consult with a family law attorney as soon as possible to understand how these issues work. It's money well spent. anonymous
You definitely have substantial rights here, and you need to get your own lawyer. Everyone will tell you that. And as a divorced mom, I understand your angry feelings toward your children's father, but I would urge you to avoid assuming that his desire to have the children half-time is motivated by money alone. Let yourself believe that he really wants to help raise his kids (you probably have to let him do that anyway legally, so you might as well support the idea). If it turns out that parenting is not what he wants, he will probably want to change the custodial relationship later. In the meantime, you have significant rights to support even if he is a 50% custodial parent: both child support and spousal support, I would guess. Child support is state-mandated and is based on respective earnings; spousal support depends on the length of time the couple was married and their respective earnings or earning-power. My ex-husband and I were married for fifteen years, which is considered a ''long'' marriage, so I (the main breadwinner) am obliged to pay him spousal support for half that time. Spousal support is, however, negotiable, and so this is where you really need a lawyer to coach you. You will also need a lawyer to help you with division of property (half the house and half his retirement earned during marriage may be yours), staying in the house, etc. Since your husband is also a lawyer and a litigator, you had better look for a good representative. Usually I urge people to go into mediation, but in your case you might want to be careful -- you could broach that idea, but if your husband is not on board, it might not work. Good luck with your struggle. happily divorced

Having the divorce conversation

Jan 2009

After several years of ignoring the little voice in my head, I have finally reached the point where I am admitting that my marriage is not right and I should take steps to end it. Although I am very sad to confront this reality, I feel sure of my decision. My immediate concern is that I suspect my husband will be totally blindsided by the idea of separating or divorcing (despite the fact that we have not had sex or much physical affection in at least 2 years and have an amicable but distant roommate and co-parent relationship). I love my husband as a person and do not want to cause him unneeded suffering. I would also very much like to be able to pursue mediation or NOLO options for our split and shared custody, etc, but I recognize that I am at a completely different place in terms of acknowledging and accepting the depth of our problem and the situation. What I am looking for here is concrete and practical advice from anyone who has been on either side of a 'surprise' break up, regarding what to (or not to) do or say in breaking the news and having the subsequent needed conversations. I know there is no way to make this process painless, but I would like to try to avoid any big errors that will just make things harder in the future. Thanks for any words of wisdom you can share. don't want to burn the bridge

Instead of dropping the news of your desire for a divorce like a bomb, first point out that you have not had sex in two years, and that you would like to go for counseling. Then, let the counselor bring up the idea of a divorce gradually, based on the facts presented. After all, maybe your husband feels the same way you do, but hasn't wanted to say anything because he loves you as a person. Been there
My husband instigated a 'surprise break up', as you call it, and the most painful thing for me was the fact that he had already worked everything out in his head and made a unilateral decision before telling me. The fair thing to do would have been to tell your husband before you were sure you wanted to break up, to give both of you a chance to work at things together. After my husband told me he did not think our relationship was going to work out, as you say he was 'at a completely different place in terms of acknowledging and accepting the depth of our problem' and although in words he acknowledged my hurt, in practice he expected me to accept the situation much more quickly than was reasonable, since he had it all worked out in his head. It was horribly unfair (particularly because of the particular circumstances I was in, which I won't go into). When he agreed that he owed it to me to go to couples counselling, it was of course not much use because his mind was already made up (even though it did finally make him glimpse the enormity of what he had done). He did not give me the chance to discuss things or suggest possible changes. I would urge you to reconsider your certainty about your decision and give your husband a fair chance of discussing your problems with an open mind as to what the outcome might be. I found it a horrible breach of my husband's marital vows that by the time he spoke to me he did not even consider the possibility of staying together, as we had worked through a lot of problems together in the past and I expected we would continue to do so. You owe it to him and to your children. been there, still hurts
I am among a group of men who have all been blindsided. We all shared some common feelings. We were taught that marriage is not all roses, woman have many emotions that we don't experience (maternal bonding, post partum, super mom inadequacy)so we need to give them time, and if we work hard are faithful /committed everything will work out. It doesn't.

All of our ex's said things like, I have had enough, I can't take this, but none was direct and clear about the possibility the marriage was over. We all resented that our ex's had already decided to end it before telling us, so there was no way to save it. We all resented that our ex's friends and family knew about our marital problems before we did. Didn't we vow to be honest?

Advice: Bring it up with him tonight, be direct, don't use another relationship to help/justify ending this one, give yourself time before starting a new relationship, find out why you are so unhappy (it is not all him), give him specifics if there are things you feel can't be fixed, be prepared to happier, and also be prepared that he too might be happier. Good luck! Signed: That would have been nice to know

Seems like you are jumping ahead and skipping the conversation that is ''I'm unhappy and need things to change in order to stay in this relationship. Can we do some counseling or something to see if things can be improved?''. Maybe you've already done this, but it didn't sound like it from your msg. anon
I had this conversation under much the same circumstances three years ago, and I believe it is probably a very difficult conversation no matter how you approach it. My ex-husband simply refused to hear what I was saying for about a year. Even when I moved out of the house and had said clearly that I was not coming back, he would ask me when I was going to come back. So denial is certainly possible. And he may also really want to first go into counseling, etc. I did this with my ex, and my mistake was not making it clear that I was not going into counseling to fix the marriage. He felt betrayed when I explained that I went into counseling to help him understand that I was leaving. Prepare yourself for anger also -- I had hoped for a situation in which we could remain on good terms, and that didn't happen. Your idea of going through a mediator is excellent. Larry Rosen is often cited as a mediator who helps couples work through emotional as well as legal issues, and though I didn't end up using his services, many people recommend him. We did use mediation, and I agree that this is the very best way to go -- NOLO is really only when you have a firm grasp of the law, lots of time to fill in forms, and a cooperative ex-spouse. It would never have worked for us, and you need to consult with a lawyer, in my humble opinion, even if you make your own agreement. Good luck with this very difficult time in your life. happily divorced
I completely understand your post, and felt exactly the same way. I found it helpful to see a (new) male counselor with my then-husband;i spoke very briefly with the therapist in advance. I told him that i wanted a divorce, and wanted to discuss it/announce it in an environment that was supportive for both me AND my husband. Having a third person in the room over a few sessions both helped me speak openly and honestly without fear of an extreme response, and also ensured that we were both heard and had support in speaking our minds. We then used a mediator to file and that really worked for us. I wasn't interested in fighting over what assets we had (few)... I was interested in making a deposit in our ''good will'' bank, and steering clear of legal battles was a strong step in the right direction. Today not only do we have a very accommodating joint custody arrangement but our child knows that we are on the same team, looking out for him and loving him. I dreaded the divorce conversation when i thought about it... but looking back, our process went as smoothly as it could have. Feel free to contact the moderator if you wish to talk. bridge intact!
It sounds like you've made this decision to divorce absolutely unilaterally, in which case there's no way to break it to him without it causing hard feelings. I think you should take a step back and start talking to him -- not about getting a divorce, but by letting him know you're not happy and that you want to go to counselling. From what you've described, it doesn't sound like either of you have made a big effort to solve your problems, and you really need to go through that step first. It's not fair for you to jump to the end decision of divorce without giving your partner a real opportunity to understand your feelings and respond to them, and for him to be able to express his feelings without the decision of divorce already haven been made by you. good luck
Perhaps start with counseling to address some feelings you're having, then bring it out in that setting? Anon

Divorcing and neighbors taking sides

Dec 2008

We are divorcing and unfortunately my husband has turned our neighbors against me and I feel really sad about this. We have been very close for a long time, and although they don't know the whole story, as no one ever can, they have decided that I am the bad guy and have apparantly said demeaning things about me and have also yelled at me on the sidewalk. They are very nice people, but apparantly do not understand that it is not helpful to take sides. In my discussions with neighbors and/or mutual friends, I have said explicitly the only side is that of our children, and although I discuss my perspective, I make it clear that it is only my perspective. My kids have been very close to these people since they were very little. Now it is awkward when we run into them. I try to be polite, however it is obvious to the kids that something has changed. I also miss their friendship. I don't know whether to approach them or to just let this run its course. My kids are in grade school, and I will be staying in the home I have lived in for 15 years, before I even knew my husband. sad and confused

Good gravy. I am distressed at how people will take sides in other people's divorces; it happened a little in mine, too. It is particularly uncomfortable when the side-takers are as obvious about their feelings as your neighbors seem to be. I would ask to speak with them. I know that it's not comfortable, but I think that if you can get them to sit down and talk to you, you can explain that 1) there are two sides to every divorce story, though you do not want to criticize your ex-husband and add fuel to the flames 2) that the children are your first consideration and the hostility expressed by your neighbors is painful for them and 3) you live in a community together and you really need to get along. You do need to get along -- neighbors are important for security and mutual aid, and communities in which neighbors don't get along are diseased communities. You don't want for your children to grow up in that kind of environment. So do try to summon courage and get them to speak to you if you can. treading the neutral course when sides are drawn up
That sounds like a very awful situation to be in. Having had people talk behind my back and have people take sides is no fun. It sounds like you have done all that you can to remedy the situation by explaining your side. I don't think that ''nice'' people do mean things. You may need to just ride it out. Let the neighbors see that you are not an evil and awful person. As far as your children this is a teaching moment. You can talk to them about point of view and how important it is to get all the facts before making a judgement about somebody else. You can talk to them about how to be a good neighbor. Yes, your children may have realized that things have changed and you can help them process this new discovery because at some point in their lives they might have something similar happen to them. I suggest riding it out and say no to any verbal abuse. Hold your head high and still be nice to your neighbors. Things will hopefully get better. It did get better for me in my similar situation. Rachel
Wow! Your neighbors whom you've been ''very close to'' and you describe as ''very nice people'' are talking behind your back and yelling at you on the street?! Don't confuse these people as even FORMER friends and they certainly don't deserve being missed. You have a lot of healing to do and for them to turn on you like that lets you know that they should not be trusted again. You will probably have to come out and tell your children that not only do marriages end, but sometimes friendships end, too. They really should be ashamed and embarrased about what they've done and if they can't come (crawling) with a heart-felt apology for listening to only one perspective, judging prejudicially, and so thoroughly crushing the relationship you thought you had with them, let them be. You have better things to do and better people to meet. Enjoy your home. Hold your head up. And if they ever accost you on the street again let them know you'll call the police. brenda
So your neighbors are ''very nice'' but have ''yelled at you on the sidewalk'' ? How do you think that those two things fit together ? Did you commit adultery on the front lawn ? Hit your husband in their presence ? Shoot heroin in the front parlor ? Unless your behavior was very, very egregious, your neighbors should be a lot more circumspect about taking sides and not do things like yell at you on the sidewalk. If your behavior included things that are over the line for most people, and very public, then you need to be more honest with yourself. If not, maybe they are not very nice. In any case, why do you want to stay on this street ? Anon.
This is a realy dificult subject. Unfortunately, this happens in so many divorces. It happened to me as well. It hurts no matter how you look at it. Times heals all. The discomfort of confronting your friends will slowly disapate. When the time is right, share your feelings with your friends. Explain to them that your ex-husband is angry right now and he probably said somethings that were not true. Express to them how much their frienship means to you and your children. Let them know how uncomfortable you are feeling through all of this. They need to understand that you have feeling too. If they are true friends, all will be forgotten. If they are not true friends then, they are very small minded. Most of the time, talking things through works wonders. I believe in time your ex- husband will become best friends with you. Right now, a lot of anger and hurt feelings surface. Give it time to pass. I wish you the best. Deborah
It's too bad that your neighbors have treated you so disrespectfully, but they've done you a great favor. Really, you don't need people like that in your life. Judgmental, critical people really having nothing to offer anyone other than being condescending and loyal to tale-spinners. It's too bad your husband poisoned your relationship, so just let go and go on with your life. When you see them on the street, just act lady like and dignified and move on with your life. Good luck to you as you go through this tough journey that will someday be a blur. been there
Oh my gosh, I am really shocked! How inappropriate. I think your only choices are to not speak to them at all; catch them alone without your kids or theirs and tell them it is none of their business and how dare they yell at you on the street; tell your husband to tell them to shut up. I don't know how bad it is between you and your soon to be ex husband, but maybe he talked to them as friends and vented his spleen, but did not intend for them to attack you. No matter what you did, it is not their business. Just tell yourself that and them too if you get a chance. anon

He won't leave - should I move out?

Oct 2008

Our 13 year marriage has become unbearable for many reasons, primarily my husband's unwillingness to contribute income and ''maintenance'' to the family in the form of giving me (the unwilling but de facto breadwinner) a break by taking care of household management at least so that I can spend some fun time with my daughter, myself, my husband, friends, etc. He has also become mean and intransigent and dug in about his lifestyle of choice--doing whatever he wants whenever he wants. In other words, he doesn't even pretend that a grown-up parent has a responsibility to generate income while our daughter is in school so that I can take time off, and/or take over household management for the same reason--my sanity. There is nothing left between us, but he says he doesn't want to divorce. The worst of it is that he insists upon dragging our daughter through every gory detail of what he thinks is wrong with me and how all I do is complain and then, he says to her that, ''mommy's kicking me out''. He says he refuses to leave before the holidays, even though I made it clear during the summer that we are through. He has no access to money, as I finally had to take his name off all of our accounts as he ran up thousands in credit card bills every month. I have offered to pay his attorney fees if he moves out (my house before we married)--he declined, however I know if I get a court order, he will drag our daughter through a meat grinder and use her as a weapon in his war against me. I know, I chose a looser, but should I get him out NOW and cause my daughter to suffer through her favorite time of year, or, should I just quietly move out and see my daughter when I can, and let the lawyers work out the final agreement and then move back in? Broken-hearted and finished

You sound like you are in a tough situation to say the least, but are you really thinking of moving out ''quietly'' and only see your daughter when you can? Did I understand that correctly? I rarely respond to question but feel very strongly that you must NOT slip out and leave your daughter...even if she was to be there with a responsible husband. Big deal if it is holiday time. It's going to suck, but there will be lots of Christmases (or whatever you celebrate) in her life (and yours!) anon
How did you end up with this guy in the first place? Get rid of him (sorry to be so blunt). He's lazy, selfish, immature and just wants you around to support him forever and always. Move on and pull your child out of his poisonous influence. You will find support structures to help you through it. There are better options
I am sorry you are going through such a hard time. I would urge you to seek the advice of a family law attorney in addition to any words of wisdom that may come from other BPN members. Any actions you take could have legal consequences and it would be wise for you to know exactly how your decisions will impact your legal rights down the road. There should be recommendations in the archives and you can also contact the Alameda County Bar Association for referrals. family law attorney
I'll just respond to part of your post... Do not leave the house without your daughter. Keep her with you. As for getting him out and keeping your asset, get to a lawyer right away. The victim game and badmouthing of you is really really bad. Maybe family counseling if you could both go, even if you have to induce him by some less than straightforward means, would be good just for the purpose of protecting your daughter from his behavior. Perhaps a therapist or counselor (preferably male) can help guide him (both of you, you'll have to go with him and not make it about him). I did this last thing when I was divorcing and it really reduced his badmouthing of me to my child because my then husband wanted to appear grown up and equal in integrity with the therapist. After the divorce and me with almost full physical custody, he did everything he could to hurt me, but at least I had him out of the house. Good luck. Anon
I would gently suggest that you take swift, immediate steps, to move towards getting him out of the house. There is no good time-holidays, 1st of the year, summer, or otherwise. It's tough either way. This I know as the child of divorced parents from as young as the toddler stage. You do what you must do to protect the future of your child. Yes, it will be a rough road for awhile. Better to have that than the constant uncertainty of 'what dad/husband is showing up today'? And please don't forget, your health, happiness and future are SO important too!

Your email says it all. You've already made the decision. Now, make it happen. Take back the power. Consult a GOOD attorney (preferably a referal) and find someone who will fight hard on your behalf. You and your daughter deserve better! caring friend

Filed the papers, now how to do the next step?

May 2008

Married almost a decade, but wanting to end it for a long time (retained a lawyer a couple years ago!)The divorce papers have now been filed and I'm ''scared'' to take the next step - telling husband that I'm going forward. I have been saying this for many months - told him again very seriously in March. Him having a female ''friend'' past 6 months makes it a bit easier (do I really believe he is sleeping on her couch?)He denies everything and says he doesn't want a divorce. It's been years of arguing and verbal abuse. Not good for our nine year old. Spent many years alone and in couples therapy. Another big reason has been due to finances...his ''retail therapy'' has put us into debt since early on. I have a small $$ cushion, he doesn't (maxed out cards-no savings). Little equity in the house - which I want to try and keep - but will he leave? I have to write him emails-he cannot talk calmly; might react violently. Not sure how to tell our child. I have great support from friends. Sorry if this sounds choppy..looking for advice/someone's experience with ending a marriage. Thanks moving slowly, but getting there

I think it would be a great idea to try to get your husband into divorce mediation. Mediators are lawyers, but they do not bring suit against the other party, they try to help you hammer out an agreement together. Because you will still need to continue parenting together and it sounds as if you have a great many unresolved emotional issues between you, you could use some help. The way you describe your financial situation brings up some concerns; unless you owned the house before the marriage he probably has a share in the equity, for instance. So you should consult with your lawyer -- a mediator would be able to tell you both what your rights and responsbilities are. Ask him to come to mediation with you to work out the details of your divorce. Two good mediators in Berkeley are Judith Joshel and Eva Herzer. mediation before litigation
do it, do it do it. i went through the same situation, except my husband was extremely violent one time at the end, never in the marriage. but we were incredibly toxic for each other and our nine year old son. we finally mediated and signed a divorce settlement last week. and there is nothing as relieving. some things to be aware of: the debt is both of your, you are both liable. the money you have in both 401k's and your little cushion is both of yours, unless you can negotiate. the equity and the mortgage are both of yours. i cannot refinance, but he is staying on the mortgage and signing a quit claim on the deed. and he is taking 1/2 of the cc debt we have.

there are no hard and fast rules, i would really suggest going through mediation rather than lawyers. divorce lawyers can be nasty and cost A LOT of money. even though my soontobe ex husband and i have a lot of animosity, we were able to negotiate in mediation. i have to tell you no one will get exactly what they want, but it is worth it to end a bad marriage that just hurts everyone. good luck! juiet

I would recommend moving into your own place ASAP and selling the house. Once you are out of the house, it will be so much easier to finalize the divorce. It doesn't sound as if you have enough money to buy out your husband's share of the house in any case, so it's better to bite the bullet now and end a bad situation. Your son will be happy to have the situation resolved, especially if your new place is right across the street from his school or has a pool. Your husband can continue to ''sleep on his girlfriend's couch''. Practical

He's having second thoughts - should I give it another go?

April 2007

After about 10 months of being totally withdrawn from the relationship and not willing to talk about why or go to counseling, my husband finally told me he thinks we should split up. Outside the relationship he seems like a nice guy, which in many ways he is, but the burden of raising our child, taking care of our home and finances fell to me. I've always wanted a parntership where we shared responsibilities, but relented when he seemed so overwhelmed with work. I thought I was being a supportive wife and felt okay about shouldering most of the responsibility until I realized that he is obsessed with his work and was really quite comfortable having me do everything, and I mean everything except some kind of special project and taking out the garbage.

Long story short, I became resentful, asked him to take on some of the responsibility, he'd say okay, never follow through, and the resentment would build. There's lot's more to the whole dynamic, but to some of you the familiar theme of wife as the ultimate nag must be resonating, no? Here's one of my burning questions- how do other women take it all on and not resent it? Personally, I really can't do it all and even if I could, I don't want to.

After a few weeks of trying to sort out what my life will be like after a divorce, I think my husband is having second thoughts. I have been through the wringer emotionally and this is not the first time he wanted to bail on the relationship. Over 6 years ago we went through couples counseling for a few years when he wanted out before. The relationship flourished for some time, but with really tight finances it was impossible to do the once a week date thing, and he would never initiate anything anyway. So, here's my second question-for the sake of my child do I give it another go even though my hearts not in it? My third question-just how bad does it feel to have to move out of your own home, have to shuffle your child between two households, and know you may never be able to buy another home in the Bay Area? If the relationship can't be saved, I would at least like to find a way to keep my home. For those of you who have been through the same and can offer some helpful advice I would really appreciate it, including referrals to lawyers. Thank you! annonymous

I moved out of my marriage of fifteen years a year ago. It was my decision and I am happy with it; it surprises me now how little I miss a relationship that once was the center of my life. I simply lost my love for my husband after years of suffering criticism, chilliness, ambivalence, and other griefs. A few issues have been difficult. One is that my son has suffered and continues to have problems about the divorce, though he seems to be getting better now. That's toughest to handle. Another is that my ex is very angry and very bitter, which makes dealing with him difficult. I think I naively imagined that we could be calm and reasonable about the break- up, but he couldn't. The third thing is finances; as you say, it is very difficult to stay in the housing market, certainly at the level one enjoyed before. But I am getting adjusted to the idea that I made a trade -- my house for my freedom. It seems a good trade to me, as long as I am able to craft a life I can enjoy in other ways. Home ownership is not the be-all and end-all of existence, though people often seem to think it is. Now I am contemplating a better school for my son instead of getting back into the housing market. I think it's important to stay open to possibilities and not to cage yourself because of fear. happily single again
Yes, he can call you the nag and be right with his passive/aggressive behavior. With the workload that childcare is, he doesn't have to do anything at all and be the nice guy doing it because the default is that it's dumped on you. I've been there and could not accept the lack of respect behind a 98/2 division of labor.

''How hard is it?'' It is hard. It is hard in different but big and life-changing ways. Several factors affect the difficulty level - family in the area, owning a home, independent income producing capacity, his personality/degree of spite he might display through financial fighting/withholding, flaunting a girfriend, using the kids... The home ownership thing is major, although if you are half owner of a house, you have some leverage and a lawyer could tell you how to best use that. BTW, why must you and the kids uproot yourselves, couldn't you kick him out? The courts favor stability for kids. Personally, I wouldn't change my decision to leave the guy like that in my former life (with kids and no home) because being so untrue to myself I would die inside.

All that being said, it's not to be taken lightly obviously. See that lawyer so you know where you stand AND if there is a shred of a chance that counseling could help - if you have not closed down and don't love him any more - the expense of counseling is a tiny fraction of the expense of divorce, especially for the woman sorry to say. It sounds like he did respond to having his behavior monitored by a third party before. Inner change is preferable but there may be hope there. If there's a chance, I'd beg, borrow, or steal the money to go to counseling. As they say, you can't afford NOT to. been there

Marriage not working, therapy not working - attorney?

December 2006

I am seriously considering divorce after less than a year of marriage, which is devastating to me. We have tried counseling, but my husband has dismissed the techniques we've learned there as ''stupid'', is angry about the time it takes away from his work, and I've realized that his past demons (being molested, emotionally abused and more) preclude him from committing to our marriage, being present, or even dealing with the day-to-day. And he has said that he's not interested in how I feel, is not able to fully commit because he needs an exit strategy. So it's not all guess work on my part.

So I now find that I need some advice from a family law or divorce attorney on how best to protect myself and my preschool son, whom my husband has absolutely no legal claim to (he is not his biological or adoptive father) but has threatened to press for shared custody - one week with me and one week with him, even though my husband is gone most nights. Not a good situation for my baby, especially since I made a career change to be able to work from home and be near him. To complicate things, we have a new baby coming in a month. Whom my husband has no feelings for whatsoever - and has stated that in front of others - but will fight for as a possession. I'm freaked out, and worried about money - I am the primary breadwinner and own most of the house based on monthly contribution and downpayment, but I'm worried that my husband will be vindictive and fight me every step of the way. I need an attorney who can tell me how to prepare for all of this and protect myself and my kids before I formally file for divorce.

I know this is long and more information than anyone needs to know, but having the devastating realization that this isn't going to work has left me a bit incoherent. I will also not have the support of my family, which makes it worse. Thank you for any advice or attorney names you can provide Devastated

It's unclear from your post whether it's you or him who wants the divorce. The point I'm making is that one or both of you may be acting too fast. Divorce is too serious a thing to do without stopping for a moment and thinking. Could it be that your therapist is not working out and the two of you need a new therapist? I hear you saying on the one hand that your husband does things you don't like, but on the other hand that it's not guess work on your part. It sounds like you're not sure. What is definite is that you're feeling angry and desperate which is normal when there are problems in a marriage. However, could it be your interest in seeing an attorney is less about protecting yourself and more about securing an exit strategy? I know you mentioned it as something your husband is considering, but given that you're not sure, it seems that you may be the one in the marriage who is thinking about leaving and not him. There may be good reasons to end the marriage and from what you said if you were to divorce, you would probably need a good attorney.

However, by all means, do give marriage therapy a chance before throwing in the towel. It is often tempting out of fear and frustration to give up and become defensive, but until you and your husband have turned over every stone which you haven't yet, you should not be considering divorce. My advice is to first talk to your therapist about how the therapy is not working. If your therapist isn't responsive, then you will need to find a new marriage therapist. I know you are afraid but you must be strong and hold on to the hope that you and your husband can save the marriage and the love that brought the two of you together in the first place Anon

Andrea Eichorn is a wonderful, sharp attorney based in Piedmont/Oakland. Her number is (510) 652-0220. She does not do litigation but does mediation and collaborative divorce. And she can advise you even if she doesn't end up representing you. Good luck. It's a tough situation. Susan
Best divorce lawyer I know of is Bradford Baugh in Mountain View, California. There are other good lawyers in the archives. Get yourself a really really good lawyer and lock down everything that you can before you announce that you're getting a divorce. Good luck to you! ...
Dear Devastated,

My heart goes out to you. I am going through a divorce right now from a much longer marriage, and it is emotionally very difficult, even though I wanted the divorce and my husband didn't. I, too, was the breadwinner. I, too, have a vindictive former spouse. I would advise you to seek out a strong network of supportive friends and both legal counsel and therapy. Your pregnancy makes you that much more vulnerable emotionally and financially, and you are in great need of supportive voices, since it sounds as if you have had plenty of destructive voice in your life.

You should consult a lawyer to figure out which rights and responsibilities each of you has. If you have been the breadwinner, you may have to pay spousal support, though your marriage was short enough to perhaps avoid that.

I hope you have friends to support you if indeed your family will not -- don't assume that they will not without asking however, because I was surprised to find that my conservative, religious family members supported me to the hilt. I was narrow-minded that way. You can ask to contact me via the parents' network if you want to talk.

sending good wishes your way,
another divorcing mom

Divorce - dealing with anger

November 2006

After being quite unhappy and badly treated for a long while, I finally filed for divorce from my longtime (20 years) h. He claimed we should stay together for the kids, etc. I agreed that he would buy my value in the house, and I moved out to a rental at the first moment after my temporary support and a 50-50 custody division had been agreed to.

I thought this was going to be amicable because he will finally get the sexual freedom- ie promiscuity- that he had always wanted. However, he has managed to get very angry at me for requesting my half share in the value of the antique furniture and for wanting a slightly higher settlement value due to his successful professional practice.

Do people always get angry during divorces ? I told him I wish to return to work (stopped working after the kids were born) but he seems to see me as some sort of leech despite the fact that his adultery made divorce a necessity rather than a choice. D

Dear D., I am sorry you are experiencing the horrible feeling of rage directed against you; I am divorcing right now and I know (I think) what you are talking about. I, too, left a long-time marriage because I had grown very unhappy in it and felt I had to try to make my way outside the marriage, though I hesitated for fear of hurting our child. My ex is enraged, can't really make eye contact, issues judgemental and poisonous e-mails at regular intervals, is paranoid about me, criticizes me to our child, tries to alienate me from friends we both used to share, grasps at every penny, etc. But mostly he just expresses, through physical and verbal language, rage and bitterness at almost every turn. It is exhausting to try to defend oneself against that.

Mostly I just try to create distance. The difference in my situation is that I was the one who had an affair, which you may find to be a definitive difference. I had hoped that after I supported my ex for a good portion of his adult life he might part from me in a reasonably amicable way, but this is not quite the case. So if you want to talk to someone, contact me through the moderator. I think that it takes a very mature person to acknowledge his role in the break-up and accept it in a non-brutal way, but that is just not the case for many people, I fear. also thought we could be reasonable

Don't know if this has any relevance to your situation, but my husband gets angriest when he is feeling guilty about something. It took me a long time to realize this -- it's so different from how I behave. When I feel guilty about something I've done, I react by trying to be nicer to make up for it, but he's the opposite. So now when he gets mad, I try to think, what did he do that he's feeling bad about? In your case, your husband could be getting angry with you because he feels guilty about having wronged you and your kids. If you try to focus on whatever is good in him, he might be easier to deal with as you go through the divorcing process. Of course he did a bad thing, but you aren't going to get anywhere by harping on it. Tell him he is a good dad; he might start acting more like one. Good luck!
I'm sorry you are going through a difficult divorce. I can't speak to all divorces, but my (one) experience was the same as yours: my first marriage ended because my husband got involved with someone else, but on some level he didn't want to believe he had done anything wrong or there would be any consequences for his actions, so he responded with anger and defensiveness whenever I asked for (or even suggested I might ask for) anything from him in our divorce. It sounds like your husband, like mine, wants to do what he wants to do and not pay any price, and he is shocked that you might stand up for yourself and your needs/rights. My advice to you is get a good lawyer and try to make the whole process as impersonal as possible, though I know that is difficult. Looking back, I responded to my husband's emotional blackmail by backing off instead of sticking to my guns, because I was used to caring about what he thought of me--but the truth is, our marriage was ending and his feelings shouldn't have mattered to me anymore. Your job now is to take care of yourself, not him. I wish you all the best.
Yeah--most people do get angry during a divorce. That's just the way it is. Look out for your rights (and your kids' rights) and don't let him get to you. Get a therapist, coach, lawyer, whatever support it takes to help you stay clear on what you want from the settlement and to keep from letting him manipulate your emotions--otherwise you're going to be sorry down the road --Been there; done that

Divorce: timing & taxes

October 2006

My husband and I are divorcing, but waiting several months because we don't have the money to live separately quite yet. We are wondering, however, what kind of difference (if any) marital status will make in our income taxes--should be trying to file before the end of the year for tax purposes or should we wait until 2007? Does it make any real difference? (We are already short on money, and don't want to put ourselves at even more of a disadvantage by planning this wrong.) Anonymous

The date you file your Petition for Dissolution is irrelevant for tax purposes. Beginning in the tax year in which you get a Final Judgment of Dissolution you can no longer file joint returns. It takes a minimum of 6 months to get a Final Judgment. So even if you file now, you can still file jointly for 2006. If you get the Final J in 2007, you must file single for 2007 Hope this helps
If your incomes are about the same, you will pay less tax filing as single. In order to be able to file as single, the divorce must be final as of 12/31 of the year.

If you are not divorced as of 12/31 of the year, your only choices are to file ''married filing jointly'' or ''married filing separately''. Filing separately usually results in higher tax liability.

If you have dependent children, it is possible for one of you to be a ''head of household'' (saving you some tax), and the other one ''married filing separately'', but only if you did not live together at any time during the last 6 months of the year, which is not your case.

Given that you still live together up through October, I don't think it is likely that your divorce will get finalized by 12/31 (check me on this one). If you can't get divorced by 12/31 and trust each other financially, then filing a joint return will generally result in a lowest tax liability (assuming about the same income level for both of you) Maria U. Ku, CPA

Miserable but can't divorce

August 2006

I am miserable. I am a SAHM and have 3 kids under age 9. My husband is a very controlling person, and without going into the details, I feel horrible. Many years ago, we moved to the Bay Area, and I have been without a career since I became a parent. My husband controls all the money now, pays for everything, and watches me all the time when he is home. He is suspicious when I use the phone, and he tries to log into my files onto the computer (some of the passwords he knows, others he doesn't). I cannot buy anything without him finding out; I have no money of my own. He is not violent or physically abusive, but he is verbally abusive and always has to have his way. I do not have any way of starting up my old career, so I cannot be financially independent; I have only one local friend (the others are long-distance) and I am too humiliated to talk to her about my problems. I cannot pay for a therapist. For reasons that I will not go into, my parents are no help in this matter. I am afraid that if I were to leave him or go into counselling, he would try to take the kids. I cannot bear that, so I have to live with the status quo. Is there any support group out there or even an on-line group that I sign up for and can confide in? My only lifeline right now is my computer. Need Help

Run, don't walk to the National Domestic Violence Hotline -, 1-800-799-SAFE. You are in what sounds like an abusive relationship - things you mention like verbal abuse, monitoring your computer use, and controlling access to money are red flags, even if there is no physical violence going on. The website has some general information available, and if you call the hotline, you will be able to get referrals to local services in your area. It is a completely confidential service. You can get help, and you don't have to live with your situation. Most of all, you should know you are not alone - many women (and some men) have been through this and there are resources out there to help you. Good luck! DV advocate
Dear miserable, In your e-mail you offer no hint that your husband also finds the marriage unbearable or that he would go to couples' counseling. You sound as if you really need to escape and have no confidence in being able to talk to him. In physically abusive relationships I believe women are counseled to formulate an ''escape strategy.'' Can you ask your local friend to sit for your kids and arrange to talk to someone who doesn't charge -- perhaps someone at a non-profit women's center or even women's shelter? They could steer you toward the help you need, either in terms of getting back into your career or getting psychological help or legal advice. Your husband has no right to take your kids from you. But you will need to establish some way of living independently where you can have your kids with you, and people who work with women in your type of situation will have suggestions about that. I would really urge you to break your silence with your friend, first of all. You need someone to understand you and someone on your side. Don't be humiliated -- be active on your own behalf. Good luck! former spouse of a control freak
If you can't afford therapy, perhaps you could seek out a minister or rabbi whom you would feel comfortable talking to. Most clergy have training in counseling. David

How to stay civil after breakup

October 2006

My partner and I have just deceided to split up after eight years and two kids together. We're not legally married so there will be no divorce. Our couple's counselor will probably help us flesh it all out but I would love to hear other people's stories of successful civil break-ups and what custody arrangements worked or didn't. How do you equitably split finacial responsibilities when you have dad working and mom not with not much cash between them? (Obviously I'm going to go back to FT work). I'm not all that good at civil so if you have any tips on structured ways to suss out who gets the kids when, how to split up money and other complications like that, I'd appreciate it. mama trying to figure it out

First, I applaud you for wanting to work towards a civil divorce. It takes ongoing effort, but it is possible. My ex- and I have been doing so for 12+ years. Here are my thoughts and tips:

-Learn to say a*****e after you have hung up the phone.

-Things may be easier once the focus is on raising the children and not on the relationship between the two of you -Remember, your children are more important than money or things or everything being 'equal'

-We lived our agreement for quite some time before making it legal. This enabled us to flesh it out, and make it a more solid agreement.

-Consider a 50/50 split for both money and time.

-On the $$ front: We created a list of what costs for which we would share equal financial responsibility. In the 12 years, there has only been one thing we added to the list (car insurance for teenage drivers)

-We have a 'money manager model' for handling the finances. Essentially, a checking account in my name only for which we both do direct deposit. I handle most expenses. If he needs to be reimbursed, he tells me the amount and I write a check. We are prety relaxed about $$ and have basic trust.

-As the children have grown, the details of the 50/50 split have changed. From switching every few days, to week-on-week-off, and two-weeks-on-two-weeks-off. We've also changed what day to switch (currently Monday nights) -We have a 'hand-off' discussion when the kids change homes. Mainly, this is to share info about how our children are doing.

-If possible, live close to each other. Definitely have a shared commitment to stay in the same area.

-Be sure to keep each other apprised of any behaviour issues with the kids. My kids know that if they do something wrong, they will discuss it with me and separately with their dad. For really big issues, we have gotten together to address the problem. This is really powerful.

-We are flexible. If one of us has had a business trip and needs to change the schedule, we have always tried to accomodate the other person

-And finally, this is ongoing work. Some times it is easier than other times.
divorce has worked for my family

Coming to terms with unwanted divorce

August 2006

The last year has been the absolute worst year of my life except when I was 15 yeras old and my Dad left my mom for an affair he was having.

Last June my wife of 10 years told me she was unhappy in our marriage which caught me completly off guard. For 6 months we wne to therapy only to find out that she was having an affair with a younger man who was also a co-worker. She says she fell out of love with me and loves this man because he treats her like no other man has.

She moved into a crummy apartment about a mile away a few months ago. She told me at the time she was ''torn'' but now says she wants a divorce. We share custody of my poor 7 year old son. I have told her repeatedly that she will have to do all the dirty work in the divorce. I do marriage, atorneys do divorce.

She just turned 40 when all of this went down and I feel like the ghosts of her parents marriage are haunting her. She says she was not happy and is not happy at all in her ''new'' life.

I feel like I have come a long way in the past year and seem my faults but she is still doing the blaming game. I guess I need to move on but I feel like need to do everythign I can to salvage this marriage but I can't do it by myself S

My husband could have written your message, except for the difference of a few minor details. So while I feel for you, I think I can present a couple of things from your wife's side of the situation. I apologize if my comments are wounding.

It sounds to me as if your wife is gone from the marriage. She had the affair and moved out, and it seems that she knows what she wants. Your position that ''she is going to have to do the dirty work'' reveals your resentment of what happened, but not the understanding you claim you achieved on reflection. Do you really now understand ways in which you were at fault, as you claim? If you do, you should be able to accept her need for the divorce and your need to be part of the divorce process for your own good and your son's. The ''dirty work'' you write of is nothing less than the work you need to do to ensure your son's best situation, your own and your son's financial security, etc. You owe it to him and to yourself to be an active part of the process, though I realize it must hurt terribly.

Your use of the phrase ''my poor son'' worries me a bit. Yes, your son is most likely very sad about the break-up and will continue to mourn the loss of his family. But your wife hasn't left him -- she left you, and your tone about him suggests that you feel he is in precisely your position: abandoned. I assume that she hasn't abandoned him, that she wants to have shared custody -- perhaps that isn't the case, in which case your son will really struggle. But your attitude is going to be important to your son's development, and if it is a self- pitying, blaming attitude, then that's the role he'll adopt as well.

I'll suggest what practically everyone else in the Bay Area will suggest, namely therapy for you (also to deal with the issues left from your parents' marriage -- you seem to be replaying those) and for your son.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but I think a different position, a stronger, more mature one, will really help you work through this.
the other half

My condolences to you and to your son.

IMHO, your ex-wife sounds immature and selfish. She needs to make herself happy and look real hard at herself. Until she really understands who she is and what she wants, she will NEVER be happy no matter where she is.

You sound like you still love her deeply and miss her. As hard as it is, you cannot fix her. She must fix herself, and she can't do it with you. Talking to her about how happy or unhappy she is isn't your concern anymore because she isn't your wife. She is your son's mother - that is ALL. What did I do when that happened to me? I expressed my pain when I found out. Then I focused on my daughter and refused to deal with his social life and angst about all of my flaws. I made our relationship strictly business. IT HURT ME to do this at first, but then it got easier. He was angry and he also played the blame-game, and I told him, ''What you say may or may not be true, but it doesn't matter anymore. It's over. Please tell me when you want our child so that I can plan my life. You are a good father and our child needs you. Let's communicate for her.'' I wanted to cry, and I did sometimes, but I enforced business and hung up or walked out when he started the old cycles of conversation.

He too rejected his new life and begged to come back. I allowed him in only after he proved to me that he really wanted OUR life, and it took a long time. I still don't trust him completely, and he's still earning back the trust he destroyed. I snoop, and he knows it. Do you really want a woman back who you can't trust? Do I? No, but life is not simple. Right now, this second, we are together, but we aren't the same. Ironically, he feels we are much stronger - I'm not so sure. If you choose to take her back, make sure she is independent and knows herself. Please DO NOT take her back if she's moving from his bed to yours. Only do it after she's had time to know herself. And if you don't, shut her out emotionally, keep it strictly business, and protect your son.

Oh yeah, and ask an attractive woman out for drinks. See what the attention of someone else is like for a change. Stop focusing on her. anon

I am sorry to hear about your troubles with your marriage. If your wife does not wish to reconcile, don't try to force her. Be sure you have good counseling and support for yourself and for your son. Try to enlist the support of family and friends to surround you with love right now. Try not to criticize your wife too much either, as she is struggling, too, with her own identity and self.

If your wife is not happy in her new life, perhaps she would be willing to try counseling again? If so, I recommend a very humanistic therapist--Dr. Hans Stahlschmidt--to work with you. He can be reached at (510) 848-5347. He is terrific--I was hesitant to see a man at first, but I have come to really trust and like him. I have learned a whole lot more about myself than I have about my relationship with my partner in the year we have been doing was a big eye opener that each partner alone is responsible for his/her happiness in a relationship (barring abuse, violence, etc.). I have learned that I am the one who must change to be happy in my relationship, and funny--my partner has learned that he is the one who must change to be happy.

You should know that repairing the relationship is impossible unless both parties are totally committed to resolving their OWN issues. It won't work if you continue to blame each other. If your wife is not in this place, any attempt to repair the relationship will not be successful. It is hard to accept it when this happens, but it will only make things easier when you begin to open to the truth of the situation. Best wishes to you anon.

I was in a similar situation and it's taken over 2 years to begin healing. My spouse of 20 years caught me off guard by asking for a divorce; he was having an affair with one of his employees many many years his junior. Similarly, it was up to him to do the dirty work. I was hopeful that something in the marriage could be salvaged. The turning point was when I was served divorce papers. I retained an attorney who forced me to engage in decisions that would affect my future. I was no longer the victim and had some control of the situation. I think it's especially important that you have the support of friends and family. Some mornings I would not have made it out of bed except for their ongoing support. Don't expect answers. I just needed someone to validate my thoughts and feeligs. I suppose the critical question is if trust in the relationship could ever be restored, or worth expending energy on. Good luck no longer the victim
You are better off without her. Honesty,loyalty and trust are important in a marriage. Move on. There are other women worth more your time than her. Good luck anon
That is very sad and it seems especially so because you didn;t see it coming. You need to take care of yourself now and if that means getting a lawyer you should do so, unpleasant as that may be. Good luck anonymous
Scott, I don't know if I can give you advice, but if you want to talk I would be happy to listen. My husband and I are trying to reconcile after him revealing that he had been having an affair for 7 months with a co-worker. This started when our daughter was just 4 months old, but I found semi-inappropriate e-mails that go back before the birth of our daughter. He has the same ''happiness'' issues. Yet I know that we were happy before this mess.

I am in the same boat as you, where I feel like I am the only one really working to save our marriage. The problem is that we are not the ones who need to do the work. And that feeling of helplessness leaves us feeling completely unempowered and more alone.

I'm not posting my e-mail to the whole group, but perhaps the moderator could send you my e-mail address if you want someone to talk to. Stacey

Having a baby made things worse - divorce or separation?

May 2006

My husband and I have been married for five years, and we have a baby son. When our son was born, I came to the hard realization that my husband and I have nothing in common, and that I had been able to ignore this by involving myself so deeply with other things. Having the baby, I found myself homebound and suddenly dependent on him - I changed in terms of my needs, but he didnt really want to change in terms of his giving of time or of himself. We started going to counseling after I insisted on it, but almost a year later, things are worse rather than better. We really seem to hate each other. We fight about everything, although we try to refrain in front of our baby. We both adore our child, there is no doubt about that. I am financially dependent on my husband, and aside from that, I worry that my son will grow up with only one parent. I wish my husband and I could reconnect and patch things up, but I doubt that either of us is really capable of it. Yet, perhaps its better to wait until the baby is older to take steps to end the marriage. Any advice would be welcome. Berkeley Parent

I can't say what is best for you personally, but thought of three things when I read your post.

1) I dont' remember where, but I do remember reading that couples are most at risk of divorcing during the first year with a baby. What you are experiencing is not uncommon at all. I know that my husband and I fought a lot more during first 2-2.5 yrs after each of our two children were born. I suspect that part of that was due to the combination of sleep deprivation and what I thin was post-partum depression on my side, and part to issues he had, and we had, that we needed to resolve through counseling.

2) After one year of counseling we still weren't there. You might want to give it more time. Trying a different counselor might help too. With our first couples counselor we spent so much time (2 yrs) fighitng the issues that we never got to teamwork. Then we spent one year with a new counselor who really helped us work on emphasisng and finding the things we liked about eachother and nurtured the caring part of our relationship.

3) When thought I wanted to throw in the towel someone told me this... Once you have a kid your relationship with your spouse doesn't end with a divorce, all the problems with the other person are still there, but with none of the good times that make them easier. Plus life is just harder ie: finances are tight, and your time with your child is rationed.

Obviosly, I decided to stick it out... but only you can decide what is right in your situation good luck

Get the divorce, a legal separation basically justs doubles the costs of legal fees. And there is a six-month waiting period before a divorce is final anyway -- divorce comes with a built- in separation period.

Regarding custody, all parties (me, my ex, and our daughter) are very happy with our arrangement. I have 100% custody, but my ex visits with our daughter a couple of days a week for homework, soccer, walks to get dessert. Once a month or so we have a family outing or dinner together much happier divorced

Deciding whether to divorce or not is a huge decision. And ultimately, one that only you can decide (or I guess, your spouse).

But getting educated on how to view your options is the best bet. You could get online and do some research to find mental health professionals that help people make educated decisions whether and how to go through a divorce.

One place to start is with Susan Pease. She has a thriving professional practice designed around supporting women in your situation called The Transition Institue of Marin. Her website is Andrea

What is the average cost of divorce?

Nov 2005

My lawyer held up my divorce proccess because I didn't pay them. The reason I didn't pay was because I thought a court date will be set up, so I wanted to pay after knowing the court date. Later, I found out there was a court date set up, but dropped without my knowledge. So I was late to pay 2 months, last bill was in August, but when I received October bill, I saw they charged the time they omitted in June, which was $1000 more. I complained about it and they withdrew their service. My divorce in on hold right now.

My divorce was supposed to be simple, with no joint property or money issue. We have one child and we came in terms with custody. We had one mediation session with the lawyer and most of the times, it was e-mail or phone communication. I was very shocked when I was told the divorce similar to may case should not cost no more than $1000, because I have already paid $3500 and they are asking for more! If you know the average cost of a similar case, please let me know! I may complain to the Bar. Confused and frustrated

If your divorce is as simple as you make it sound, $3500 sounds like too much money. I think initiating a fee dispute with the bar makes sense. Anon
$3,500 to $5,000 is probably about average for an uncomplicated divorce. It would be different if the lawyer told you up front that it would be about $1,000, but if the bills appear reasonable, you should pay. I assume you have a fee agreement that probably obligated you to keep current on the bills.

Although it's a hard concept for non-lawyers, lawyers are paid for their time, not always for something tangible. Would you expect another professional to work for you if you didn't pay the bill? Do you expect to walk out of a store without paying for something you take with you? You hired the lawyer for a service that they are apparently trying to provide. Given that they agreed to reduce the bill when you contacted them, I don't understand why you would go to the Bar. Pay the lawyer and be done with the divorce. A Frustrated Lawyer

I am an attorney who just left a family law practice a few months ago to be at home with my newborn. I don't know who told you that your divorce should be able to be handled for only $1000, but I've never heard of a divorce costing that little unless the parties had absolutely everything agreed upon when they came in, and just needed the lawyers to write it up and do the paperwork. The fact that you had a court date in your case suggests to me that it was not as simple a dissolution as you might think it is. For the simplest dissolutions, it is not necessary to ever have a court appearance. Once the parties start having hearings and going to court, the costs always sky-rocket.

I know that this is a very difficult time for you, and I wish you the best of luck in resolving this. I'm probably not ever going to return to family law litigation myself, after five years of the practice. My recommendation to anyone who truly has a simple divorce but wants an attorney to make sure that the filings are correct and that nothing is overlooked is that they should go to an attorney mediator. This was a big part of my practice, and I really enjoyed it. More importantly, I think that it is the answer for a lot of divorcing couples but that they are unaware of the option.

Best of luck to you- G

Are we rushing in to divorce?

Sept 2005

I'm considering divorce and my husband is also. We both suffer very much because of this, but it seems like we can't work it out. I don't even know if it's worth trying anymore.We've discussed our problems, needs, etc. hundreds of times already. I'm very unhappy. I was so inlove with my husband that I used to tell him - if you die first, I will want to die too. We've been married for over 2 years and togheter for another 4 years, before that. There are too many differences between us: he doesn't believe in God and he's mocking His name, he does't want kids, he has no respect for other people's feelings or the way they choose to leave their lifes, he's very angry when I want to see my sister or spend time with her, he doesn't help with the household at all, he doesn't want to travel or spend time out of the house anymore. All he wants is to work and make money.He tells me all the time , ''joking'' , that I don't make enough money and that he has to go to work to ''pay for his house''. It's like I have no contribution to any of it. I cook as much as I can, I work full time and go to school at night, which he doesn't appreciate at all, I take care of himself and the house by cleaning, paying the bills, making all the phone calls. He is really mad when I make mistakes about being late with one bill or forgetting to make a phone call etc.

I still love him, I guess, and I burst into tears when I think of separation. We've just bought a brand new house, which is lovely. There are times when we are VERY happy, and times when we are VERY unhappy. 80% of the time, lately, we are both VERY unhappy with each other. I don't feel like making love to him anymore and he's blaming me for this, threatening, as a ''joke'' that he will find someone else to ''help'' him with that. We don't have kids and we are pretty young - I'm 26 and he's 29. We're college sweethearts and we've come to buy the house and everything else on our own, with no help from others. Please tell me if you think we're rushing. I'm afraid I'll regret later that I didn't leave him earlier.I'm afraid of ending up alone, trying to find someone on ''''. I don't want to have kids who will feel neglected as I've always felt with him.He's very hardworking and smart, and I think he loves me in his selfish way, but is that enough?Thank you. anonimous

No one but yourself can make the very difficult decision on whether to divorce or not, but I hope my experience can help you with your decision.

I spent 5 years of my life (3 dating, 2 years married) with a narcissistic man who like your husband had no spirituality (or rather claimed he had it and suddenly became an 'atheist' after we married - typical behavior of a narcissist), was cruel to me (very indiscreet and open gawking and flirting, often right in front of me), never happy with me, my looks, my career or how much money I made, was obsessed with money, judged everyone by how much money they made, etc. I married him at 33 and our divorce was finalized at 36.

I am telling you this because what I didn't realize then and am so painfully aware of now was that I gave my last good years of fertility to a man who had no business having them. I never wanted to have children with him because I, like you, was very worried about how this man would treat them. (I know, people always ask if he was so bad, why did you stay with him and marry him? Well, it's easier to explain that with several years of therapy behind me, believe me.)

I believe you said you were 26, but my dear, if you have any desire to have children I would encourage you to evaluate your situation soon. I don't know how long you've been pondering this, but I wouldn't spend more than 1 more year of your life getting clear on this. I would cut that in half if he refuses to get counseling so you can try to work this out.

I say this because now, happily remarried at 41, I am having great difficulty having children and it is painful to me to know what I gave away to someone so undeserving.

Divorce is awful and painful and I hope you don't have to go through that, but if you do, know that you will make it through and your chances of finding someone else at 26 are pretty high. I did it at 38. And I even met him online (craiglist - yeah!), so it can happen. Blogs are a great way to connect with people these days... if I was single, I would include that in my repertoire for sure...

Anyway, I don't mean to go on like an old hen, but you do have an important choice to make and I hope that what I've said can help you to avoid the pain I am going through now. -- been there

I don't want to be a pessimist, but I think if you are unhappy at 26 years old with no kids, chances are slim that you will be happier when you're 35 with 2 kids. From your description, you are not appreciated much less supported by your husband. I think you two should split sooner rather than later. wish you luck
You want kids, right? Then you need to pair up with a man who kids naturally like and you intuitively feel would make a great father. Your current husband does not want kids, correct? Maybe for a good reason, because he would like to stay in the center of it all and continue to make decisions based on his needs. A child would immediately change all that. Why would he ever want to change that, if he was raised to expect that he gets what he wants? A lot of wants can be purchased - no wonder money is high on his list. Other wants can be achieved through domination, control and manipulation and it sounds like he is quite skilled in that too. (He possibly couldn't stand having a small child around experimenting with the same techniques. What a competition that would be! You'd never see your husband then, he'll be working all the overtime he could find). Rid yourself of your insecurity that it would be hard to find someone else to deeply love. But keep in mind that finding the right father for your unborn children doesn't happen on your timeline, it happens in cosmic time. Given that, look carefully at yourself and decide how important it is to you to raise children some day. If you feel that it is a primary need of yours, you now know what to do. He cannot be their father based on his values and view of life. Your children obviously deserve better than that. Please just let him be who he is. I feel that counseling would be a waste of money in this case. Anonymous
I was moved by your message, because I've been there. I decided to stick it out with my husband although he had an affair 3 years after we were married, and we clearly had major issues. Now, 10 years into the marriage and a couple of kids later, I often regret I didn't have the wherewithal to leave when things first got bad. I probably will stick it out because its usually tolerable, but never great, and I love my children madly, I have to honestly say that the reasons I held on to the marriage (which were that I had once felt he was my soul mate, we had the most beautiful wedding, we had just bought a house we loved and were working hard to fix up, I really wanted children, I didn't want to be divorced, I didn't want to be single looking to meet someone else) now seem totally short sighted and sort of ridicules when I look back. I look back now and think I was incredibly young, had so much to give, we easily could have sold the house, I probably would have met someone else much more compatible with me, and I probably would have had children anyway, in a happier marriage. Divorce would have been very difficult and sad, and there may have been a couple rough years starting again, but I would have moved on and probably would be in a better place today. Someone once told me that once you begin to question whether your marriage will survive, it is already starting to die. I just want to give you this perspective: at 26, you are still very young; there are tremendous possibilities to find the life you want with someone who is compatible with you. It doesn't have to be about blaming you or him, but if you feel you're not in the right relationship, you probably are not. As wonderful as children are, having them adds new layers of stress you can't even imagine now, and that makes a difficult marriage even more difficult. Good luck, but listen to your heart. anon
Have you tried couples counseling? I would definitely recommend this before proceeding with divorce. You may still come to the same conclusion, but at least the counselor can help you guys negotiate difficult waters so that you can separate (or not) from a place of more peace and less anger. All my best to you both.
You are very insightful and brave to look for advice, and I truly feel for you. I was in a relationship that sounds very similar to yours four years ago, but was unfortunate enough to bring a child into it. From your description it sounds like your husband is very controlling. Men like this often try to make their partner feel worthless in order to satisfy their need for control, and to protect their own fragile ego. In the initial stage (at least in my experience), these men are incredibly charming, affectionate, attentive and loving. They want to spend every moment with you and make you feel as if you are the most important person in the world. The \xc2\x93I would die without you\xc2\x94 intensity is very common. But this love and affection is dependent upon your willingness to make him the center of your world. Men like this usually try to separate you from your support system and discourage relationships with friends and family (Why do you need anyone else but me? I want to spend that time with you, and I don\xc2\x92t like doing whatever activities your friends or family want to do, etc.) For me, bringing a child into a relationship like this was disastrous. My ex felt threatened by the attention our newborn needed, and his need for control skyrocketed. He became abusive physically and verbally, cheated on me openly, and tried to use our child as a point of control when I finally left after he attacked me. Men like my ex see their child as their personal property, despite the fact that they did not want the pregnancy, and do not have the maturity to contribute any effort to the work of raising the child. After finally leaving him, I have had to deal for years with threatening phone calls, an absent father who provides no financial help and rarely sees his child, and yet constantly makes demands on me, and a nightmarish process of obtaining custody. If you truly want children, run, don\xc2\x92t walk from this relationship. Think about how he treats you, and realize that a man like this will treat you this way (most likely even worse) in front of your children. Your child would grow up in a household where you have no respect and no power, and most likely, your ability to leave him will diminish significantly in the future. You and your child will be financially dependent on the support, and like most women, you probably will not want to leave the child without a father. Pray, listen to your heart and your inner voice. It will tell you what to do. You are stronger than you know. Finding the strength to leave made me a stronger, better and more whole person, and although the hardest part of my life, it was the best thing I ever did. Anon
While it doesn't sound like you're rushing, it also doesn't sound like you've tried counseling, which I strongly recommend. It may be that the counseling can help you to feel better about your choice of divorce, or it may help you rekindle and work with each other. I went through a divorce a few years older than you, and what I can tell you is that (as I was told), this is definitely going to be a time of personal growth for you. (''another F*ing growth experience'' is what I started calling them...). But really, if you seek out happiness in a compassionate way, you will eventually find something much better than you've got. It sounds likely that both of you have some serious growing up to do (and my personal opinion is that any man who threatens to satisfy his sexual ''needs'' outside of the marriage has a LOT of growing up to do). The good news is that it is easier to divorce and find new love when you are that young and without children. And I promise you, if you do divorce, you WILL find something better (even if you don't divorce, if you work for it you will be in better shape). You are far from too old, and live is big and wonderful and you will be able to find yourself a little more and find love that fits you well. Honestly. Fear is no reason to stay in a marriage. The bad news is that it will hurt, badly for a while, and you will have a lot of grieving, both for what you loved about your husband, and for the financial strain, and the pain of actually breaking up (which counseleing can also help with), and it may seem for a while like your entire world is falling apart because everything will change. But be nice to each other (and if he can't be nice to you, be nice to him anyway), be honest with yourself, be nice to yourself, read some good self-help and relationship books, get some good counseling, look forward to some hot baths and good Saturday nights with a great book, get to know your friends a little better (and start making new friends),find a counselor to cry to (because even your friends get tired of the complaints all the time), give yourself some time, and most of all, keep in mind that you WILL get through this.... it just may not end up as the fantasyland that you had in mind. And you WILL lose the things you love about your husband too. Your next partner will have different strengths and weaknesses (hopefully, because we hope you don't choose the same person with a different name next time, or else you'll be going through the same process again!) BEST WISHES TO YOU. I've been there.
I hope that writing, and re-reading your post gives you some clarity in this situation. If I were in your shoes I would get out now. The differences between you two, and his response to those differences, is sufficient cause. The time to leave is now before you have children who will be harmed by his verbal ''joking'' and your eventual decision to leave.

Whatever you fear about being on your own, its not as bad as what you are tolerating --- and you may find that BOTH of you are happier single than together.

If you are really torn, you might consider separating -- in my experience that will push the relationship one way or the other, and either way is better than where you are now. You're not married, you're stuck.

Good luck, You're already Gone

Given you don't have kids and all that you described, part ways NOW, before you impact childrens lives. One would question why you got married to begin with, noting that ''in love with'' is never enough to sustain a long term relationship when factors such as desire for children, religion, descency to others, life goals polarize you so.

STart over now, while you still can and maybe you can each find someone who mirrors your life goals.

Dear Rush, Don't just rush, RUN now! What you describe sound like serious problems. They don't get better over time without a serious committment to intervention - therapy. And things get much, much more difficult after having kids. You don't have kids, you're young. Yes, it's sad when love dies, and scary to start anew. But leave now before it's even harder and could affect children. Wish I Knew Then, What I Know Now!

Sahm - gave up career, thinking about divorce

March 2005

I married when I finished a masters at college, and since then have been dependent on my husband, for financial support for me and the children.

I'm finding this really hard to deal with; I feel guilty and humiliated at having to beg him for money; we used to have a joint bank account but he decided last year that I was 'extravagant' because I went out for coffee and bought my daughter Barbies...I never spend any money on myself, but always have tried to look after the children properly. I'm also confused and upset as his depiction of me as 'extravagant'. I haven't had a haircut for over two clothes have holes in...

My oldest child has now reached eighteen, and my husband is completely refusing to support the child any more. He claims this is not because she's a stepchild - and yet I think this is the real reason why. This is really hard on the child, who hasn't even finished high school yet. My husband says that the child was a nightmare as a teenager, and doesn't deserve any help now.

He has a 'good' job at a college, and there is surplus income after paying the mortgage and food and household expenses. I feel upset at his lack of trust; before the marriage I had one child, and had lived alone supporting my daughter without any of these problems. I managed the finances and was able to save, and my daughter never knew there was a problem; although there was little money, she never felt short of anything - and I never felt criticised or unhappy with my spending.

I have not felt able to take a job, as it would have to be a very good one to cover the cost of childcare. Also I wanted to be with my children when they were young. I now find a lot of time has passed, and I have a lot of accumulated fear about re- entering the workforce. I have lost a lot of confidence, and don't know where to begin. But the overwhelming reason that I do not feel able to work is that at present I take full responsiblity for the childcare, supporting my husband in his (highly prestigious) academic position.

In my emotions (as you can see from that 'prestigious' comment), I am feeling bitter, sad, and quite frankly, used. This man has taken my time, my confidence, my happiness.

I would have liked to go back to college myself, to do a PhD, but again, the childcare responsiblities were too great.

Is it wrong for him to support me and the children? I feel that there is no moral reason why on earth he should give me money -

I've been feeling quite desperate, wondering whether to divorce. Are there other stay-at-home mothers who feel the same way? Is this a problem of pride? I feel so terrible having to ask him for money, having none of my own - and I can't see how to start to change this.

I have come to see the institution of marriage as humiliating and distressing. I was so much happier as a single parent.

I also do not like at all the example that all this is setting for my children - I feel compelled to leave to show them that women do not have to live like this. Amazed to find myself writing this

Wow. What you are going through sounds really, really hard, and I can only imagine how difficult it is to decide what to do next. Your situation sounds similar to what a close friend of mine went through a few years ago. She ultimately decided to leave the marriage. I'll try to explain how she articulates it now. Her decision to stay home and raise their children was based on the idea of shared responsibility for the family. Caring for and nurturing one's own children does not pay the bills, but it is at least as important as as the job that does. In her case, she realized that pre-children, she and her husband had thought of their money separately (ex/ the mortgage came out of ''her'' money and car payments came out of ''his''). When she stopped working, they didn't transition to the idea that the single income, while earned by her husband, belonged to the whole family. He gave her an allowance from ''his'' money, and like you she was put in the position of having to request more when needed, and often being turned down. She was being made to feel like a child, not capable of earning or handling money. And while her husband did not want her to return to work, he was adamant that the money he earned was ''his,'' and that he could decide exactly how it would be spent. Ultimately, this was a huge control issue, and one that my friend's husband had no desire to resolve (refused marriage counseling, etc.) I certainly hope that this is not the case for you and your husband, but I would urge you to see a counselor together to work through this. No one should have to live in a relationship where one person has complete control. anonymous
There is a very good reason why he should give you money - you are his WIFE!!! Because of your presence and your contributions, he has not had to hire a nanny, cook, and housekeeper. Your contributions are real and concrete - don't let him convince you otherwise.

You didn 't say how old your younger children are, are they now in school? If so, after-school care isn't that expensive. I think you would find that you don't need the best-paying job in the world to cover the cost of after-school care, and I think having a job would do you a world of good, psychologically.

However, given that you have been out of the job market for a long time, you might need to take a graduated approach here. I think you might want to start with some counselling to help you rebuild your shattered self-esteem. It sounds like your controlling husband will probably refuse to give you the money ( makes me angry just to type that!), but there are places that will do it on a sliding scale. I am sure someone else will write in to suggest where! Next, you might try volunteering somewhere, just to get back into contact with the working world. You can probably arrange to do volunteer work while your kids are in school. Once you have some experiences and some contacts established, you can start looking for a job.

If your children are still young, you could aim for doing some volunteer work when they get old enough to go to preschool. Lots of studies have shown that children benefit enormously from preschool, so you would actually be doing your children a favor by sending them to preschool and gaining some time for yourself.

Your husband would probably benefit from counselling too, to deal with the covert hostility that he is taking out on you, but I suspect he probably will refuse to go. So you need to take steps to look after yourself.

Hang in there! Change is hard, but it can be done! anonymous well-wisher

Hi - this is not normal behavior. I'm not a SAHM, but in my marriage, went from a confident, independent feminist to a woman who couldn't decide where to go for dinner - out of fear that it would be the ''wrong'' choice (anything but what he would pick!). I recommend reading ''Men who hate women and the women who love them''. I can't remember the author and no longer have the book, but after my husband and I both read it, we realized his behavior was at the mild end of controlling behaviors described in the book. Money is a huge issue and some men routinely use it to control their wives. My husband recognized himself in the book and promised to change, but I had had enough - several counselors and years of this! Now we're divorced and I'm much happier - and hope he really has changed for the next woman! Anyway, maybe it isn't too late for you and your husband. Anonymous
I agree completely with you about how he treats you - you are an indentured servant. Anyone would feel miserable and depressed in your situation. Good for you for seeing that you are setting a pattern that your kids would likely follow. Good for you for thinking you should get out. I hope you do.

And no, it is not wrong for him to support you financially. The way I see it, he is greatly in arrears considering the time and effort you have likely put in to those children. Both my partner and I concur we'd be outta there. You can do it!

Um, for starters -- it's not ''his'' money, it's the family's money. Could he have his prestigious job if you weren't there to look after the kids? I don't think so. He works outside the home, you work inside. The whole idea that you have to ask him for money because he has the salaried job is really bass-ackward.

You sound really burnt out. Do you have a friend or relative you could go stay with for a few days -- without your husband or kids? Go get that haircut and eat some ice cream and take a few long walks. Sounds like they're all old enough to muddle along for a few days without you, and you need some melodrama-free time to sort out your priorities. It's very hard to assert yourself as a SAHM and say ''Look, I need some personal time!'' but sometimes it has to happen!

Deep breaths. Good luck. Another SAHM

For heaven's sake, leave! If you were happier as a single parent, you resent having given up your career, you want to set an example for your daughters, then go! I'm sure it will be hard, but it will be so worth it to be able to control your own fate. anon
Get thee to a lawyer pronto. You have a long road ahead of you should you decide to divorce. You can do this if it what you decide to do, but you need to plan ahead. Get a credit card in your name only and build up good credit for yourself. See a lawyer to help you determine your husband's assets. This is a community property state, and you deserve financial support and half of the assets gained during the marriage. Take your time and research your options. Good luck. Gretchen
Wow, I really appreciate the difficulty of the position you are in, and can completely understand why you are feeling angry with your husband. Your eldest doesn't ''deserve'' to be supported any more? I think of what our child- rearing specialist said ''children deserve, parents EARN.'' Which is to say, parents must EARN their children's love, respect, etc., children DESERVE all of that, by virtue of being children. Nothing else, period.

As for the institution of marriage, my husband and I believe that the point of being married is to support one another achieve one's hopes and dreams. Not just one of you, BOTH of you. If this is not happening, then perhaps some Marriage counseling is in order? Would your husband be willing to try? Frankly, some of the things he says don't sound supportive, but sound motivated by a desire to undermine your self esteem (the ''extravagant'' thing).

However, I do have to add that your husband didn't ''take'' anything from you that you didn't GIVE him. I would just reiterate, before you go for a divorce, look into marriage counseling. Read some books (I recommend ''The Good Marriage'' and ''Getting the Love You Want''). It sounds like some serious communication between the two of you is needed, but you probably need an objective facilitator (therapist, counselor, whatever) to help with this. You both need to air your concerns and needs and be clear about what those are. If your husband won't go with you, go on your own, and then decide what to do. If he won't give you the money for it, find some one who will do a work-trade with you, I'm sure they're out there. Best of luck! Anon

I was a stay at home mom for nearly 17 years, taking care of three children. My husband was building his career as an attorney, with my support and encouragement, and from a legal point of view, with my direct assistance since I took care of the children and he could/would not. I never imagined he would take off, but he did. It has been five years since he made his announcement, and the financial consequences have been significant. After he said he wanted to go, I immediately began looking for work, and just made the children adjust. I worked until the end of the school day, but it was still horrible. They resented the change, mainly because it meant I had no time for them sicne after picking them up, I still had to do all the things I normally did while they were in school. I had earned $40K when I was last at work all those years ago; now I was lucky to command $20/hour. That rate was only b/c I was working part-time. The most common jobs for women returning to the workplace pay about $12/hour, and there are many employers, especially in the suburbs, who are eager to hire women in this situation. Also, if you look at the statistics, you will find many, many college educated women are working at support jobs, rather than management - there was an analysis of this published recently, in the past year. At any rate, it was horribly depressing. I chose to go back to school, taking two years of classes at Cal to rebuild my academic track record (since it had been so long)and then getting admitted to Mills College for a master's program. I aim to teach community college, competing with 150 other canddiates for any full-time permanent position, against the many, many other adjunct teachers out there. It was the best career reentry program I could come up with, and it is not a sure thing by any means. I love teaching, but the salary will come nowhere near my previous standard of living. I may lose my home, and really, I feel quite pessimistic about the future. I used the equity in the house to pay for the program, and to uphold the standard of living my children were accustomed to when the judge ruled that living on 50% of the prior income was still living at the same standard of living. By the way, my husband left for a woman who earns over $100K; that was a critical factor. You have an equal right to the checking account if you are married. That is the first issue. You should consult an attorney. Rebuilding your career skills is a process, and does not produce immediate results. Lawyers have been successful in assigning unrealistic earning capacity to women. There's lots more to say, but please call or write if you want to discuss: Judith 333-6881, or jrathbon [at] I can only wonder why women are not speaking to each other about these matters - I find them to be highly political and worthy of discussion. The women who chose to raise their children are punished at the end of the day if the men chose to leave. I believe taking care of children is actual work, and I feel strongly that it should be recognized as such. Judith
I could have written the same letter 4 years ago. Your situation is eerily similar to mine. I'll tell you what I did: This is my second marriage. I also have a daughter from my previous marriage and we have an 8 year old son together. Like you, I raised my daughter on my own for 10 years after I left her father. You know, sometimes it's just easier when only one person is making the rules, even though we struggled financially. Then I met Mr. Right, or so I thought. Unfortunately, he and my daughter never really got along. Now I know that he was too immature and abusive to make the relationship work. Fast forward 8 years, to where you are now.

He began to talk about not supporting my daughter through college. He told me to work. So I gave him an ultimatum: Either he support her, or we sell the house (which had appreciated considerably) so that I could use my 1/2 to pay for her. He caved, but it could have gone the other way. And you know what? If it had, I would have gotten a job to support her. I will not get a job just to ''satisfy'' him.

I was then a SAHM, like you, and he also after a temper tantrum, opened his own account. It took anger management counseling for him to begin to give me the household money every month BEFORE I asked. He was told that I had a right to ask for a sum without justifying every penny, and also a right to have it without asking for it.

The trick was getting him to go to counseling. It took the threat of legal action. One day he poked my chest with a car key, he knocked the wind out of me and I went to the E.R., where the doctors filed a domestic violence report. I was very very close to not pressing charges,my mother pressured me (''he'll get angry, what if he loses his job?'') but I called the Abused Women's hotline and they talked me through the whole thing. IT SAVED MY LIFE. This had been the only physical incident, but the emotional abuse had been going on for a long time and that's the worse, because you know what? Wounds heal, but emotions are another thing.You're slowly beaten down. It's normal to feel powerless, trapped and weak in a relationship like yours which is clearly abusive. The doctors in the ER did what I wasn't able to do for myself. And I did for my daughter what I couldn't do for myself. Maybe it'll give you strength to think of it that way.

Now it's 4 years later and he's making noises again. He's again threatening to close our joint account, which he opened after he got tired of giving me money every month. Now he threatens divorce. This time, I told him that I would see a lawyer immediately to get support during the separation period. That stopped him, for now.

I really thought we wouldn't go this route again after 4 years, but I know that men relapse after stopping anger management counseling, which he attended for 1 1/2 years.

Why I stay. We have similar values, want to provide a home for our son and most of the time, he's great. However, I am seriously thinking about making an ''escape'' plan in case he falls into the same abusive pattern. I don't want another ''incident'' that will force him to go to counseling again.

I really feel for you. I know you will get lots of other good advice and information from others in this group so I'll end it now. Please know that you deserve respect and have value as a human being. He is in a bad place and is taking it out on you, but it doesn't have to be the only way. You are not alone. Mother first

First of all - whether or not you can think of a moral reason why your husband should give you money because you are a resident in California you have a legal right to a share of your husband's assets. California is a community property state - this means in part that in the eyes of the law your husbands earnings are partly your - that was the deal when you got married -a ssets that you accumulate together (through his wages, a home etc...) are shared jointly between the spouses. This law is too complicated to explain fully here and I don't have the knowledge to get too specific, but you should know that the law does not view your husband's income soley as his property - if you divorce you will probably get some alimony from him for this reason...

Also it might be valuable for you to calculate what it woud cost your husband if you were to go to work. How much would full-time daycare really be (going rate for a nanny for infants is about $10/hr. - it adds up fast) add to that costs of a cleaning person - someone to drop-off/pick-up dry cleaning so he looks presentable at this ''prestigous'' job and I bet you're going to be saving your family about 60K /yr. by the time you ge tthrough - my friend went through it this way and I'll tell you it opened her husband's eyes to the ''true'' value of the work she did.

Ultimately - it also sounds as though your husband is being somewhat abusive in his controlling behavior - both over you and over your access to money.

If you can, I would go see an admissions counselor at the UC (or whatever school you were thinking of) and lay out your situation - many shcools offer fantastic low-cost full time daycare for students (many UC PhDs with small kids extend their time as student in order to take advantage of the daycare and housing benefits)- so your dreams may not be as unattainable as you imagine -

Good luck - it sounds like you've hit a really rough patch and you schoul absolutely try and talk with your husband about hte way his actions make you feel - failing that do what you need to do to take your life back into your hands - youv'e been confident before and it will come back again once you start to take care of yourself. best of luck rooting for you

Wow. What a tough situation. You must feel a bit abandoned by your husband, or that he's trying to change the rules on you midstream after you've distanced yourself from your career, making it much harder and more complicated to reenter the work world. I'm going to go out on a limb and offer a slightly different perspective from the other posts, though: it sounds to me as if you and your husband have lost your sense of partnership along the way. I am guessing (from complicated personal experience I won't bore you with) that he might be feeling enormously pressured about being the sole financial support for your family, including his step daughter. Even people with high paying jobs these days sometimes feel no financial security, and it's quite common for someone to be in the work world to assume anyone who is staying at home has it much easier. That breeds a lot of resentment and distrust, especially if he's not completely wild about his career or current job situation. It's not the ideal reaction, but it is a common and human one. I agree in principle with the previous comments that in CA you are legally and morally entitled to half of the income accrued during your marriage. Whether or not your husband is obligated to support your daughter from a previous marriage (I'm assuming he didn't adopt her?) is a bit fuzzier. Morally, it seems yes--legally, I'll bet ''no''. You didn't mention whether her biological dad is living or in the picture, but there may be an avenue to seek child support from him, and just attempting to do so might get your husband to see you're being proactive in caring for her without relying on him. Even if you decide to leave him, you and she deserve that support from the person responsible. Another suggestion, if you feel you want to try to hold your marriage together, that might give him a better appreciation for what you do: look into buying meaningful life insurance for yourself. First, since he is not likely to continue supporting your daughter if something should happen to you, you owe it to her. Second, a good broker will make you think through what the value would be of replacing the work you do, when hiring people from the outside. The idea of life insurance should be to provide financial cover to replace you (there is no emotional cover!). Childcare, cooking, shopping, cleaning, driving, tutoring, laundry, bill paying, you name it. When your husband sees what it would ''cost'' to replace you, he might have a better appreciation for all you do to contribute to your family's financial well being. It might be a bit more neutral way to remind him than confronting him on the more emotional issues. been there, no longer doing that

Should I move out, or should he?

Sept 2004

After 7 years of a difficult marriage, I have decided to separate from my husband. Besides feeling incredibly sad about my decision (although im certain that it is the right one), there are financial considerations.

Here is the deal: I work to support the family and my husband takes care of our 15 month old son on the days I work. We stumbled into this situation after my husband was laid off and not able to find another job.

So now im trying to figure out what to do. He has insisted that since im the one who is leaving, i should move out with my son. He plans to stay in the house; however, both our names are on the lease and he does not have a job, so im worried as to how he plans to work this out for himself. I was open to discussing creative ways we might be able to make an alternative family situation work, possibly sharing a duplex, living close together, etc., (he is a wonderful father and I want him to remain close to his son) but he does not want to discuss this. He has said that I needent worry, that he will come up with the $$$, but its difficult for me not to worry.

Im writing to get feedback from others that have gone through similar situations. We will continue to live in the same apartment until I figure out what to do, and I need to find ways to remain level-headed and forward-looking. And we both need to maintain our composure for the sake of our son. Please do not write to tell me to reconsider my decision about separation. Thanks. anon

If you haven't already done so, you need to see an attorney asap to get a realistic idea of what your potential liabilities are. Your husband could be entitled to spousal support and child support. You should also not assume that you will get more than 50% custody of your child, especially if your husband has been the primary caretaker. You will need to have all of your financial information (assets, liabilities, etc.) in order. I strongly reccomend not moving out of your home until you have a separation agreement with your husband. anon
I would ask a qualified family attorney these questions before you move or do anything. Such choices may be relevant factors in custody decisions. Ask several lawyers and see who gives you the best and most reasonable answer. It occured to me that your spouse is not worried about money because he figures you'll pay allimony. anon
If you're the one who moves out, get your name off the lease. If he ends up not getting the money to cover the rent as you fear, the landlord can come after you as long as your name is still on the lease (and you'll end up having to pay for both your new place and your old place). anon
I will not talk you out of leaving but I do want to say that I think it's selfish of your husband to stay in the home. You are the one that decided it was time to seperate but you will remain the primary caretaker of the child and are the only one financially able to maintain the house so you should stay. I would move immediately to do the following: (1) get his name off the lease and inform the landlord of what's going on and that he has no income to prove he can afford to maintain the place. 2) If he is uncooperative with this decision, go to court and know that no judge will let him live there with no income. It does not make sense... divorced mom with two kids who didn't get the house because I couldn't afford it

Taking the first step toward divorce

August 2003

My marriage is nearing its end, but I seem to be unable to take the first real step towards getting a divorce. Im hoping someone can provide some advice on the steps to take to get out.

For background we will be married 5 years in October, we have a 10 month old son. I work part time (at a job I love), but do not make enough money to live on my own in the Bay Area. I have looked for full time work without success.

My husband struggles with chemical dependency issues (alcohol and marijuana), and consequently tends to be irrational, paranoid and mean. Without his knowledge I met with a divorce attorney 6 months ago after he shoved me. Her advice then was based on a fear of more abuse (which I don't honestly have now). I didn't act because suddenly things improved considerably, and truthfully I wasn't ready to take off with a 4 month old.

Lately my husband threatens to divorce me on regular basis, but never follows through. I think we both know we can't go on like this, but are afraid to give up the good things the other contributes to the marriage.

I suspect the easiest thing would be for me to move out, but I would like to keep our house, which I owned before we married (its in both of names now), and again, I dont think I could afford to live on my own before a settlement is reached. Also my husband loves our son tremendously, and has threatened to try for full custody. While Im confident tht won't happen, I don't think he'd let me take him without a bitter fight.

If rational conversations were possible, I'd probably still be trying to save the marriage, so having a straightforward discussion about the situation is not option.

Can anyone provide some guidance on how to get the ball rolling? Is it possible me to file while we're still living together, and if so under the circumstances would that just be stupid? Is there any way (short of experiencing more physical abuse) to force him to leave?

Clearly Im terrified about my ability to start a new life. Im hoping that hearing some of your experiences will give me the confidence I need to get moving. Thanks

I believe that you can get a summary dissolution, and avoid a fair bit of the paperwork, etc., if your marriage lasted five years or less. If you've tried counseling and so forth, or you're fairly sure that divorce is what you need regardless, that time frame might provide some ''incentive'' to act fairly soon. You are certainly strong enough to do this, no matter how scary it seems!

If you need someone to talk to, email me anytime. I can't tell you to get divorced, and I can't tell you to stay together - but I CAN tell you that you have the courage and strength to do what's best for you and your child, no matter how hard it may be. That's why you wrote your post in the first place, after all. Good luck! Kathleen

I want to say that I think that you should seek further legal cousel before you do anything- you are at a different place now than 6 mos ago, and you have at least 3 pressing issues to deal with: your son's welfare and custody, your home, and your fear of your husband.

Since you owned your home before your marriage, and your finances are strained, I would like to see you regain full ownership of your home to expand your options. You can do this if your husband will sign a ''quit claim'' deed relinquishing his share of ownership in the property.

It doesn't sound like he will do this easily, but perhaps you have some leverage in his drug and alcohol problems. Clearly, this has to be approached very carefully since he is unstable.

I think that an effective approach, taken with the advice and help of an attorney only, might be simply to put it in terms that you won't dispute his right to joint custody, in spite of his substance abuse problems, if he will sign the quit claim. This puts a bit of a positive slant on it since you are offering him something he wants- equal parental rights for his son- in return for something you want- your home (which I think is rightfully, if not legally, yours). I think that this could be done without presenting it as an attack.

The fly in the ointment would be if he has something to hold up against you that would endanger your own right to custody of your son.

Don't move out- it sounds like you'd never get your home back- unless an attorney tells you to do so for your own safety. Your safety has to come first. But since this is a very emotional situation for you, you could use some help sorting out your fears, which right now are all mushed together. The right therapist or counselor can help you with reality checks as to whether you are either exaggerating or minimizing your husband's potential for violence because of your other fears.

My experience with 2 past marijuana-addicted boyfriends is that they threaten much more than they actually do, I think because marijuana reduces motivation and the ability to act. But the threats can be pretty awful to have thrown at you. If there is anyone whose support you can enlist, like someone in his own family who he respects, that could help you. Just try and be rational yourself, don't trash him, and don't throw threats back- that will escalate everything and you will feel guilty later. Best of luck, anon

It is terrifying to contemplate divorce, but it sounds like you are being very rational about the whole thing and are making some good decisions! I went through a similar situation some months ago, and here are the words I remember using that got the ball rolling: ''I'm sad that things between us can't work out, and let's try to think about how to make this split manageable for you.'' (Or something like that..) The key to all conversations was to make sure to give control to the ex, bring my feelings in (because they are inarguable...he can't tell me I'm not sad, if I say I am, then I am!), and let him feel like he was somehow ''more right'' about everything (even if I didn't think so). Also, start your new life now! Find child care and start your baby in it, expand or change your job situation so that you can meet your needs without him. As far as getting him to move out, be patient, but try to set a time limit. Say something like ''when do you think you would be able to find a new place to stay'' or ''where do you think you might like to go''. Just try to be deliberate and logical about the whole thing. Have little goals for each conversation: ''now we're going to figure out where you'll live'' ''now we're going to figure out what will happen with the house''. Finally, try to only have these conversations when you both are sober. Be strong!

Living together after divorce?

August 2003

OK. I need advice from anyone who has filed for divorce and lived under the same roof together. Our finances are too strained to have two houses, we both work and have three children. My husband can't handle marriage. It sounds strange, but we're considering this to clean up finances and responsibilities.

My ex- and I lived in the same house for over a year after we seperated. We had the advantage of having what amounted to a studio apartment in the basement of our house, which I moved into - my own entrance, kitchen, bath. We split custody of our son, and in general, it worked fine. For us. In that house. Your Mileage May Vary.

The main predictor of emotional health for the children of divorce is low levels of parental conflict. If you can keep your relationship with your spouse civil, go for it. Otherwise, I hope you think of your offspring and their needs before your own, and do what you gotta do to keep their lives livable. Been There, Done That

My ex-husband and I did this for a year and a half after we separated. We also have three kids, and in an odd way I think it helped the transition from one big family to two homes with separated parents. The key is to set down the rules early for who pays for what etc. My ex, for instance, never bought one roll of toilet paper the entire time he lived here, nor did he clean the bathroom or kitchen, both of which he used. Our situation was financially complicated (and still is) but we managed the arrangement until he met his current girlfriend (who lives far away and needed to be able to visit him in his home). This brings up another question for you: what happens when you fall in love again?

IF you are able to set down ground rules the way you would with roommates, if you are able to separate the finances, arrange the billpaying, grocery shopping etc, if you have the space so that you won't be in a negative environment which would make it worse for the kids, I think it is totally workable, at least in the short term. If paying off outstanding debt from the marriage is part of the plan, put it on paper, though. In fact, I'd find a notary or an attorney and put the whole arrangement on paper the way you would with any legal lease type arrangement. Good luck. Karin

Living together after a divorce could be perfectly reasonable depending on the reason for the divorce. If you are getting divorced because he constantly yelled at you, and he continues to yell at you, then it is not a good idea. But if you are getting divorced because he was stepping out on you, but you don't mind now that you are divorced, then living together could work fine. You aren't the only one doing this. There was a show on tv about it a couple of years ago. anon
Hi, you didn't give a lot of specifics so I'm not sure if you're planning this as a long-term thing or just until you get your finances on more solid footing. My sister and her ex-husband divorced 2.5 years ago and still live under the same roof. No kids, the divorce was amicable, but like your husband he couldn't ''handle marriage.'' The biggest problem for them (if you call it one) is the rest of the world: neighbors, friends who want to pick sides or just think it's too weird, potential dates, etc. Sure, there are days when she just wishes he'd move out, but then she remembers the money thing. Good luck with your arrangement, and be ready for the neighbors to squawk when you bring home a date!
You know, I consider my husband to play three important roles in my life- husband, father to my child, best friend. There are times when I think he sucks at the first, but my friendship and admiration of his desire to be the best father he never had, always makes me overlook his faults as a husband. I hope, and not that I want it to happen or plan for it, that if anything were to go wrong between us, we can remain close friends for the sake of our children and our friendship. Too much has happened between us and we've grown up together (we're high school- college sweethearts) that losing his friendship because of our inability to live together as a married couple would be unbearable. Of course I say this now. Who knows how I would feel if I were in your situation.

I always tell my friends. Do what you think is right for YOU. Regardless of what everyone else thinks or says, do what you feel is best for your well being and that of your family, and know that I am with you every step of the way. Make the decision that best works out for you, and lean on those close to you to help you through the bumps. Generally, your first instincts is best. Good luck. Best Friends

My ex and I moved back in together for a year after having lived apart for 6 months. It definitely helped for sorting out finances and responsibilities, but we were still unable to get along. We went back and forth on ''working it out'' and ''being just housemates''. Finally after a particularly bad fight regarding a phone call, he got his own place. 2 months later he wanted to try again, 2 months after that he gave up for good, and now I wish I'd been smarter and really made an effort to get along. Oh well, the positive thing is that we now both have our finances in order and responsibilities are well defined. My advice is if you are going to do this, to really commit to tolerating what you don't like about each other and get along for the sake of your kids, while still being clear that you're not ''together'' -- that is definitely my biggest regret. done that...
After my divorce, I became involved with my best friend and we moved in together. The romance didn't work out, but . . . the friendship wasn't permanently damaged and we're pretty good coparents for my son, so we decided to try to continue living together. It's been nearly two years, and it's worked out pretty well (besides being more cost-effective!). The only thing is, if we hadn't been able to maintain our friendship, it would never have been possible. anon
Hi, just my two cents on this. I think that if you get along OK and won't fight so much that you feel uncomfortable and of course YOU want to it would be great for your kid(s) My parents divoriced when I was six and I know that this would have made it much easier. My advice would be yes, if you want to. anon

Moving child away from divorced parent

I am a single mother of a two year old boy. I am planning to move back to Berkeley this summer to finish school (we live in Texas). My problem is my son's father. He knows that I have considered moving back, but he will not even begin to have a discussion with me about it. He plays a very active role in our son's life and this is a big concern for me should we move. I don't want to leave him in the dark about my tentative plans, yet I have not found a very successful way to discuss the issue. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
To the mother who is considering moving away from divorced parent. I just wanted to share with you my experience with regards to a moving parent. My child's father moved away, granted only 200 miles, but it has been the most difficult situation for my son (5) ever. He is pretty close to his father, and not being able to see his father on the spur of the moment is very hard on him. He constantly blames himself and thinks his daddy doesn't love him anymore, why else would he move away! I am left to pick up the pieces because my son cries often, and he told his therapist (yes, I even had to take him there as a result) that there isn't a day that goes by that he does not think about his daddy. I separated when my son was two, thinking that he won't remember how we all lived together, but children do know. Divorce/separation is hard enough as it is, but actually separating a child from his parents in terms of physical distance is even more difficult. If there is any opportunity for you to finish your schooling in Texas, I would highly recommend it. I don't believe it is fair to your child and his father to be removed from one another, especially if the father currently plays an active role in your child's life. My family lives very far away, I am actually the only member of my family to live in this country, but I made a conscious decision to live as close to my son's father as possible, even if it means passing on the opportunities for myself (including my family). I am very hopeful that when my son is grown-up, he will appreciate all I have done to ensure he and his father are as close as possible. I wish you and your son lots of strength in this difficult situation.
Your child has an involved father -- why is this the right time to uproot him for your education? The stability of your child's life is paramount, or should be, at this time. Can you complete your degree where you are? Or, just wait. Maybe the reason you are having trouble bringing this up is that its only the best solution for you right now. Good luck whatever you decide. Heather
Well, since you didn't share more details, I can only ask why you need to move away from your child's father. If the father is very involved in the child's life, it's probably in the child's best interest to continue to have the both of you involved in his/her life. Can you continue your education in Texas? Just a thought...... L
You didn't say how long you have left in school, if you plan to return to Texas, what the father's job situation is, or what the custody situation is, so I will assume it is fairly permanent, you have physical custody, and the father can not also move. I think you have to put yourself in his place. How would you feel if he said he was moving away with your child, and you could not follow? Ruling out the option of finding a school in Texas, probably the only way to resolve this is in the courts, and I would try to make that the very last resort. It will create a financial burden, delay any move for an indefinite time, and create much hostility in your relationship with the ex. If you have to do this though, you should come up with what you think is the most fair plan, maybe even one favoring your ex, write it out, and give/mail it to him so he can read it and let it percolate without you being there for the initial angry reaction. I would also consult a lawyer beforehand for advice on how to follow up. Good luck to you both. kean
I would like to add to the chorus of people urging you not to deprive your son of close and constant contact with his father. My stepdaughters were denied frequent contact with their father (my husband) starting at 6 and 8 years old, when their mother moved to Canada. The matter ended up in the courts, which cost alot of money and created bad feelings that still persist. The girls are now in their 30's, and I believe their mother's decision has had lifelong negative repercussions for them. Both girls were very angry with her as teen-agers, and ended up moving here. The younger one still has difficulty relating to men. Young boys tend to act out or get off track in more extreme ways, when they lose a father's close support and guidance.

There is a great university system in Texas that you can take advantage of. I think (and I believe a court would conclude) that your son's best interest lies in staying where he is, and that if you feel compelled to move then your ex-husband should have custody, because he is more able to unselfishly create a stable environment for this child.

I recently submitted an email asking for advice on how to engage my son's father in a conversation about a tentative move to Berkeley from Texas. The responses I received seemed to misunderstand the advice I needed. I appreciate the point of view that everyone had; however, there are a few points that I would like to add to my predicament. I am a single mother of a two year old boy,and his father and myself have never been married. While visiting my family in Texas I became pregnant and decided to take time off from school to have my child and spend as much time as possible with him while he was still little. I chose to do this in Texas because of family support and obvious financial reasons. It has been almost three years since I left school, and I am ready to continue where I left off. I know there are schools in Texas where I could continue if need be, but I would rather finish in Berkeley. My son's father Knows that this is what I would like to do, but he won't talk to me about it. I would like to know his opinion on the matter, so that I can plan accordingly. As far as what the courts would see as the best for my son, I have to disagree with what others have to say. Although the two of them have a good relationship, he is in no way ready for the responsibilities of full-time parenthood. he only started paying child support four months ago, and has worked a total of eight months since my son has been born. My wanting to return to Berkeley is motivated by the fact that I am the one that has had to and will continue to support him, and continuing my education at a good school will open up more possibilities for us. Yes, I do realize that my son could suffer from not seeing his father, and because of this I plan to invite him to come with us. I think it is very important for children to have both parents in their life. So much so that I have put up with a great deal just so my son has a relationship with his father. The advice I need is on how to approach the situation with his father or advice from someone who has had similar exerience .
I read your letter and the first letter, and all the responses -- nobody who responded seemed to misunderstand your situation, we just all seemed to agree that the best interests of the child are paramount, and your desire to return to Berkeley is secondary. Its wonderful that you have made so many good decisions in the last 3 years. Before you commit to returning to California, I would urge you to remember that the cost of living and child care and education systems here are problematic, and that you are moving away from all the support you have, to return to a place that will be very different from when you were here before. Heather
There is a lot of advice and speculation available about what to do in a situation where a child's parents are not in a traditional family, or where the father does not live with the child. Things I have learned as a teacher of young children and separated parents. 1) you can't protect your child from suffering, you can only be with your child in a loving way as s/he faces the challenges that life gives them. Including the effects of conscious decisions--like returning to school in another state--that parents make. Our children come through us, they don't belong to us--to paraphrase Ghibran. If you can grow in love through being with your son as he grows and experiences the good and the hard in life, you're giving him a lot. 2) your own self esteem and wholeness is one of the most important things you can give your child. 3) talk clearly and honestly about your intention to return to school in CA with your son's father. Let him think about it and decide how/what to do in response---don't invite him along, let him take that initiative. He needs to be a partner with full adult buy-in to this next phase of child-rearing. 4) whatever you decide to do, stay in touch with the father in whatever way is possible. If you make this committment in yourself you will have done all you can to assure your son has access to his biological father. 5) biology is important but it isn't everything, biological determinism as the key factor in you son's emotional/psychological develpment may not be the most important dimension of his relationships with men. Sometmes god-fathers and uncles fill real gaps. (I'm not saying fathers aren't important, I'm saying you can't make someone ready to be a father through biology)

Friend's Divorce - Husband Recording Phone Calls

April 1999

I am in the middle of divorce too....I started with a mediator which proven to be a mistake..I am a graduate student with no income and with two daughters 7 and 10 for your friend's sake, she should hire an attorney right away....she should borrow some money at least to start the process as soon as possible..then her attorney can demade the money back from her husband..I dealt with the mediator for five months and I felt that I got very little ... I can say that the attorney protects my and the children's rights better than the mediator....Also, the mediator could work better if both sides agree if there is a disagreement ...the mediator could not work for the dissolution of the marriage.....

This is probably obvious, but anyway...I would urge your friend to keep looking for an attorney who seems to have the right attitude, and who is responsive (i.e. returns calls promptly)--don't settle for someone who doesn't think it's a big deal. She's going to be working with the attorney for probably over a year, and possibly needing help with the most intimate details of her life, so it is important to choose carefully. Also, for what it's worth, it doesn't sound like telling the truth comes easily to the guy, so mediation--which is based on mutual agreement--may prove frustrating, although perhaps worth a try anyway, because it can be so much less expensive than full-scale litigation. I have found that I can get quite a lot of basic legal information from attorneys by calling a few--I focus on those who advertise free consultation in the yellow pages--and just asking my questions--kind of a pre-free-consulation. In this way I've found out information about whether there is probably a case, what fees will probably be, what-all would be involved--not to mention get a feel for whether the attorney (and his/her staff) are people I want to work with. As you wrote, I think it is outrageous that this guy systematically recorded your private conversations with your friend. You may have a cause of action against this fellow yourself. It is my definite impression that ever since Watergate, it is illegal to record telephone conversations without the conversants' informed consent. Even if you don't have enough steam about it to go through with a lawsuit yourself, just throwing the idea around might put pressure on this fellow to do right by his family--but that might be unethical too, you'd have to check on that. Best of luck to your friend on getting through this ordeal!!
I was surfing the net, looking for information about common-law marriage, and found the attached URL contains good basic information consistent with my experience regarding divorce. I made lots of the mistakes Trent describes.

Considering divorce - Verbally Abusive Husband

July 1998

I am considering getting a divorce and it's not an easy decision as I have a three year old who loves her dad, and I am 6 and a half months pregnant with our second. My husband is constantly verbally abusive, and even threathens me physically once a year or more. I feel it would come to more if I didn't retreat from his outbursts and bullying in fear.

I think I might probably make the break if I was more financially well off, and if I didn't have a child who will suffer the separation. If I didn't work full-time, and could be there for her more, it would be easier. And I do not have any family here to help. I am entirely on my own.

I am willing to see someone, and so is he, but I feel that nothing can change a man like this. I also feel that the person we see should have some experience and knowledge re this kind of problem, which is why I am putting this request out the hope that someone may have had similar experience and success with finding a good therapist who could really help. If anyone out there knows of such a therapist, please post me a message here. I would appreciate it very much. Thank you.

You said ... My husband is constantly verbally abusive, and even threathens me physically once a year or more. I feel it would come to more if I didn't retreat from his outbursts and bullying in fear.

That may or may not be true. His outbursts and bullying ARE the problem, not your fear. Maybe if you stood up to him, he'd back down, then again, maybe he'd get worse.

I worked for years in the battered women's shelter movement ... what you're describing is a complex and difficult situation, but you are right to try to protect yourself AND your kids.

What I'd suggest right now is that you do all you can to ease your own life, get yourself and your child support NOW, without even deciding about divorce just yet. For example, I'd recommend going to CARE services and asking for a recommendation for a couples counselor but ALSO an individual counselor for yourself. You can see a CARE person initially, for free, and then that person can help you assess further needs and plans.

I'd also recommend you see an attorney right now. NOT to file divorce yet (you don't seem clear that you want that) BUT instead to ask for advice on ways you can strengthen your financial and legal situation NOW.

I'd also suggest that you ask your department if you could telecommute one day a week. My boss lets me do that. We are very upfront about the fact that I have laundry running at the SAME time I'm doing my reading and editing at home, that instead of going out for coffee with a colleague twice a day, I spend those two 15 minute chunks of time washing dishes and mopping the bathroom. It's called multi-tasking. I DON'T keep my daughters home on my telecommute day; I'd get nothing done. But then when Saturday comes, I can spend more time with them, be more present, instead of doing huge mountains of laundry.

Before you ask your department, ask CARE services for the official, written, UC policy on work and family. It helped for us (me and my boss) to know that UC officially encourages supervisors to be supportive of flex-time, telecommuting and other family-friendly options.

I have found that the telecommuting day has made a HUGE difference in my life. I'm happier at home and more invested in, committed to my job, a less worried, more present employee.