Divorce & the Family House

Parent Q&A

Divorce and the housing market Oct 23, 2016 (4 responses below)
Divorce and who stays in the house Jul 28, 2016 (4 responses below)
  • Divorce and the housing market

    (4 replies)

    I'll try to keep this short. My kid just started kindergarten at a good public school in an expensive area and is happy. My husband and I are cash-poor renters, but our salaries are reasonably high. I have very little experience with or knowledge of divorce. I'm not in a marriage I am sure I need to leave -- things are friendly and we love each other; I think we're just unhappy living together and would be happier if we separated. (We are certainly both unhappy, but in general we haven't blamed the marriage and have tried to support each other.) However, I can't see how we could afford to rent two apartments in this area, and I would not want our households to be far apart for the kid's sake. I worry that I'm acting in bad faith keeping things together because of the prohibitive cost of housing. At the same time, that may be the best decision for my family. Has anyone been in this position situationally (details of the marriage may vary, obviously)? What did you do? Are there ways for couples to give each other very large amounts of space and time apart while living in the same not-very-big apartment? Thanks for your time and advice -- and if I may politely ask, please try not to rely on advising me to get therapy; I have been seeing multiple therapists and practitioners for decades. I am looking for information about housing situations. Thank you.

    RE: Divorce and the housing market ()

    My husband and I have, in the past, talked about splitting up and logistically how that would work with the kids, especially in such an expensive housing market. We own a live/work condo where the bottom floor has a separate entrance and we considered having him move down there temporarily. We decided to keep working through our issues and things are getting better for us. But, maybe you could find something similar or have you considered a larger apartment where you could each have your own bedroom? That might be too cost prohibitive for you but something to consider. 

    RE: Divorce and the housing market ()

    I am taking time I don't have to respond to this one. I hope you'll really consider my comments. 

    These are nowhere near good enough reasons to separate or divorce and rip apart the safety and security of your child's world. YES there are MANY ways you and your husband can creatively give each other the "space" or whatever it takes to be more content, without destroying a family. You will indeed double your expenses if you divorce and maintain 2 homes. You will also force your child to move between those (crappier, smaller) homes for this rest of his childhood. Five is too young to have much say in this decision - but just wait until he's 8-9-10-11-12 +++ and he asks why you and his dad divorced. What answer will you give? I am speaking from experience - it just gets harder and sadder as they get older and more aware. You say you're on friendly terms and you try to support one another - that's because neither of you, apparently, is in love with someone new YET. The moment that happens, everything changes. Think you can trust that your husband will never move 2+ hours away from your child? Guess again. Mine hasn't (yet) but I know several parents that have done that to pursue a new love, and have made their children a lower priority than the ex spouse ever imagined possible. You will lose influence over your husbands decisions in any area of his life - but, his new decisions will affect you and your child in the deepest possible ways for the next 15 years at least. 

    So: Ideas could include - each of you take up some new interest or group that gets you out of the house doing something cool every week or two - share what happens, but pursue the interest alone. Try for each of you to give the other 1 night a week in the house with your child, alone. Go to a class, the library, a movie, volunteer. Be BUSY and productive, and don't waste energy ruminating. 

    I will add that in my opinion time apart isn't actually the answer - I think you'd find long term happiness in finding new fun things to do as a couple, always having a date night every week, and reconnecting. You can do both - have more space, and more rich togetherness.

    And, sorry but IMO you absolutely need therapy - not couples therapy, therapy for YOU and maybe an anti-depressant. That you've done it for years says plenty ... just remember: **No matter where you go, there you are.**  These are wise words.

    RE: Divorce and the housing market ()

    I don't understand what you mean "unhappy living together." I have lived with many people and as long as they did their dishes and kept the music volume low, it didn't affect my happiness. If there are problems, I would try to address those; agree to an hour once a week to talk things over and make improvements. If you need time apart and space, work that out together. Maybe a bigger apartment in which you could each have your own bedroom would help.  Or, you can spend time outside of the home pursuing hobbies or activities. Yes, couples can give each other time and space even in very small spaces. If there are no problems, then you need to stop expecting your spouse to make you happy. Figure out what makes you happy and go after it. 

  • Divorce and who stays in the house

    (4 replies)

    Hello all,

    We are just starting the divorce process and telling our kids soon (14, 12, 8). While I have a million questions and endless fear (coated often, thankfully, with relief), I'm very concerned about finances. My husband's family has money, mine/I do not. He wants to buy me out of our house and says it's legal to do so if one parent has the means to do so (pay other 50% of assessed value, equity assessed, etc.). 

    While I definitely want my kids to have as much stability (staying in their home at least 50% of the time, staying @ same schools, etc.), I don't want to be forced out of my home.

    Advice?

    Get a lawyer.  Seriously.  This site (as well meaning as people are) is not where you want to be getting your advice.  How to divvy up houses and other community property can be hard for lawyers to understand.  What you need to know right now is that you have options, and you need professional advice.  What you may be thinking of as your husband's money may well be half yours, but that's as far as I'll go in the advice line. 

    Hi, I'm sorry for your situation. You need to hire an attorney, ASAP. Hopefully the skewed money situation won't also result in skewed attorney knowledge/effectiveness. But yes, it is entirely possible he'd be able to buy you out; the assets need to be split, and you can't really split a house. So it either gets sold and you each get 50% of the proceeds, or, you get your 50% directly from him since he buys it. Fair?  No, not really. Does it happen a lot?  Yeah, sure does. The one possible consoling factor is due to the uneven incomes he'll likely be paying you child support, which will (at least in theory!!) allow your kids to live in close to the style to which they were accustomed. Although, how many times have we all seen kids of divorced parents where visiting one means trekking up to the hills, while visiting the other means an apartment in the flats somewhere...everyone's mental health though should trump all the weird economic inequities, so be happy you're doing what you can to foster that. Best. 

    Please get a lawyer as soon as possible- he or she can help guide you through this meaningful step. Just because he has more money does not mean he gets his way.

    there are many ways of dividing assets- your lawyer should be able to give you the options

    good luck- you will survive although it will be tough at times

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

How to split the house in a divorce

Feb 2016

My husband and I are going to divorce and I will be moving out of the area. He wants to stay in the house which we own jointly. How do I arrive at an amount that he should owe me for my share of the house? Any advice would be welcome. S.


You could have several real estate agents in to give you numbers, and then take an average. They generally expect to make a commission selling the house, so you would be ''using'' them. Or, you can hire an appraiser. Here is more info: http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/marital-property-division/negotiating-a-house-buyout-div Anon


The best solution is for each of you to hire a licensed real estate appraiser (not a realtor). You could use just one but if you can each afford one then you take the average of the two appraisals. I did this with an investment partner when we decided to split up and I wished to stay in the house we bought together. Use caution in finding a good qualified appraiser with lots of positive referrals.

I have been happy with Ronald P. Kaminski in Walnut Creek at 925-945-6124. He can probably refer you to others he respects in the industry for a second opinion or tell you who to steer clear of (like Apple Appraisals) in Martinez. been there


How to transition into two homes after divorce?

March 2015

I asked my husband for a divorce about 2 months ago. He's taken it hard and is not in complete acceptance of it ( even though he's talked about it as well.) long story! We had decided I would stay in our rented 3 bedroom for one more year ( lease ends this month) but despite my effort, he's dragging his feet about getting his own place. I'm done with the r-ship and I'm ready to move on to the next step in the divorce.

He's been sleeping on the couch and is extremely uncomfortable. I've offered for him to use one of the bedrooms and move the kids into one room for a few months while we save money. I'm not sure this is a good idea. He has gone back and forth on the idea. He's looked at apartments but wants to get a 2 bedroom apartment which I don't think we can afford.

My questions are this: should he take a 1 bedroom temporarily for a year till I go back to work ( I'm a sahm) and there is more income to afford a 2 bedroom? Did you live with your spouse after divorce/ separation? How soon after did you move out ? I will most likely have full physical Custody with 50/50 custody overall- he's a good dad but his work hours are long. How did you adjust to the lower quality of life after divorce? Tips to find work? Did you use up all savings?

Thank you! Confused but ready


I cannot imagine having him stay in the same household while he looks for a place. There are many residential hotels where one can rent a room weekly or monthly--there is one in Corte Madera called the Marin Suites but I don't know of any in Berkeley. Good luck. 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


I'm staying in the house, but neighbors are on his side

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 apparently said demeaning things about me and have also yelled at me on the sidewalk. They are very nice people, but apparently 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 really difficult 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


Want unfaithful husband to move out, give me the house

Feb 2008

A year and a half ago my husband of twenty five years had an affair with a coworker. He agreed to break off all contact and go into couples counseling to save our marriage. After several months of counseling during which the issue of the affair was not resolved (he never really accepted responsibility) we stopped going due to a family emergency. I recently found out he is seeing this woman again or maybe he never really broke it off. We have a 13 year old son. I want to protect my son and my financial future (I am approaching 60 years old). I would like to ask my husband to move out and keep the house for my son and I to live in with ownership eventually going to my son. My question is how to do this as I know my husband could demand his share of the house. I am not at all sure he would do this, but I am also not sure as he is going through his own issues. I would not be able to afford to buy him out. I would appreciate advice and recommendations for lawyers. Anonymous


I am sorry to hear that you are going through a painful experience. I do have to say, however, in reading your post that it seemed as if you thought you could simply have your husband's share of the house (because of his infidelity?). Unless the house was left exclusively to you by your parents or some other special situation, my understanding is that it is part of shared property and has to be divided between the divorcing spouses. You could ask him to move out and let you live there, but he would still own half of the house. The fact that he is having/has had an affair does not alter his half ownership of this very important financial asset. Further, your son's father will have custody rights, so while your son may live part-time with you, it is most likely that he will also live part-time with his Dad, unless his Dad doesn't want any physical custody.

I divorced recently and I was the one who left home, leaving my ex-husband in the house (we share 50/50 custody of our son). After many discussions and much soul-searching, I decided it would be best for our son to let my ex continue living in the house (I was the one who supported the family financially). I rent an apartment nearby. I still own half the house, and my husband's ''rent'' for my half of the ownership is paid to me (or rather is deducted from his alimony). My ex cannot afford to buy me out, nor can I afford to buy him out.

You will need to sit down and talk to a lawyer to figure out your rights in this case, but I just thought I would give you a heads-up about your son's father's rights. It can be a blow to realize that you have to share assets and share custody, but in most cases it is a fact. I would recommend that you see a lawyer who is a mediator with your ex-husband, AFTER you get some advice from a separate lawyer. It is much, much better to resolve issues through mediation, both for you and for your son (financially and psychologically). Two good mediators in the area are Judith Joshel and Eva Herzer. good luck


I am sorry that these events have occurred. My sweet husband has also been having an affair which took several month to end. I have read Divorce Remedy and numerous articles on infidelity and the overall themes are that affairs are addicting. They can die a natural death or some have to be ended cold turkey just like any other addiction. An affair does not mean the end of a marriage either. In the mean time, read everything you can, establish independence, show your child you can be happy alone, and concentrate on anything that makes you have a better life. For me, that meant little goals like cooking again. I never sought a lawyer because I was not sure if I would take my husband back after his mistress left him. They usually do, but now I would not want him back, I just do not want to go through a divorce yet, so think about it. Getting A Life


First, I want to say I sympathize with you. My husband cheated on me too--though we were very distant for some time before this. He claims that I divorced him emotionally years earlier. In any case, it was very painful for me to learn he had cheated and then stayed with the woman he cheated with. I first went to an attorney who claimed he could get my husband out of the house (he said courts would feel some sympathy for me even though this is no fault state). I found out after $21,000 that his ''legal'' rights were the same as mine and my attorney and his did nothing to help us resolve the issue. They made it worse! They made us nearly hate each other. A colleague who knew both me and my husband had went through a tough divorce and used mediation instead. I didn't really even know it was an option, or it seemed too touchy-feely for my husband. We ended up seeing Larry Rosen , whose a mediator and attorney. His website is www.throughunderstanding.com. In three sessions, we resolved all the challenging issues before us (including the house and custody), and I even understood why he ''cheated.'' I felt some love for him again, if you can believe it, not in a romantic sense (as i was with a new man by then), but as the father of my children. I don't think you can acheive that kind of outcome without mediation. YOu can't force your husband to allow you to stay in the house--certainly not with dueling attorneys. He has rights that he's unlikely to give up if you fight against him. But you can help him see you as a human with needs, and that's the most likely road to getting your needs met. Mr. Rosen was a fantastic help, and I'd strongly recommend him. And i'm sure there are other good mediators around as well. Good luck and my heart goes with you. Helga


Considering divorce, but ... who gets the house?

December 2007

I am thinking of divorce, which as a SAHM is very daunting for a number of reasons. But my question is about our house. We have been married 3 years but were engaged for more than a year before we married. While engaged my husband bought the house we currently live in. He put about $50k down and the rest has a mortgage on it aprox $400K. It has appreciated in value by roughly $200k. He has been paying the mortgage payment since I do not have a income as a SAHM of our two kids. He says the house is his and not community property since he bought it before we were married. I feel that I must have some right to part of it since mortgage payments were made with communal income (his income is the family income, right?) since we have been married. Has any one had experience with this situation or know the answer? Any advice would be appreciated. feel broke


Don't go on your husband's information. Or on the information you get from the network -- hire thee to a lawyer or a mediator. A mediator is almost always best in situations where the couple can work together at all (it can be tough, but worth it), but before going to a mediator you can consult briefly with a lawyer to get the basic rules on your situation. (The mediator won't work with the couple if s/he has already advised one spouse individually, in my experience.) Don't despair -- you have rights here, and a lawyer can tell you what they are. half-owner of a house


First, GET THEE TO A LAWYER! Too many people try to get divorced on the cheap end up losing a lot of money in the long run.

I can't give you legal advice, but I think, am not sure, that it depends what funds were used paying for the mortgage on the house. The initial deposit of 50k goes towards your husband if it was separate property. But then if your husband used community property funds (i.e. his income while you were married), then you would be entitled to a portion of the house.

Really see a lawyer. And don't fight your husband on the little stuff. I think a lot of lawyers end up fighting over the ''tea pot'' Don't fall into that trap. Figure out what you want for custody. You are also entitled to child support (a formula) and alimony. And half of all community property. SEE A LAWYER! PLEASE!


You need good legal advice, now. Your situation is in no way unique, but you need it handled properly to be fair to all parties involved, especially your kids. My guess is that no one gets the house -- it will be sold and divided as an asset, and the pre-post nuptial calculations will need to be taken into account. Financially, the best solution for all of you would be not to get divorced -- any chance of that? Sorry you're in this Situation


If you are considering divorce anyway, you should just talk to a lawyer. The lawyer can answer this question and the million others you probably have, such as questions about custody, possible alimony etc. You shouldn't rely on legal advice given on BPN. We don't have enough information about you or your situation to answer with confidence. a lawyer


In California, it is presumed that any asset or debt acquired before marriage is Separate Property and belongs to the person who acquired it. During marriage (and before separation), any asset or debt acquired by each spouse is presumed to be Community Property, including the income of each spouse. There are exceptions, so I would strongly suggest you speak with a family law attorney to get accurate information based on the specifics of your case. For more general information, check out www.Divorcenet.com.


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


Don't want to move out (therapist says I should)

January 2003

My husband and I have been going to couples therapy for a few months and we decided its time to split up for a variety of reasons, but in a nutshell he has tried to cut me off from my friends and family, and completely failed to support me emotionally.

The whole time we have been together I have always been the sole wage earner and supported him financially, even before I got pregnant and had our now one year old. After the baby was born, he has been the primary caregiver while I work two jobs to support us. I asked him if he would stick around the area if we split up and the baby stayed with me and he said probably not, so this would involve finding care for the child and paying someone to do it, which I'm willing to do. But, at our therapy session, the therapist suggested that I move out of our apartment, find my own place to live and pay him what I would pay a child care provider so that he can continue living in our place and taking care of the child while I work. This just doesn't feel right, although I do see that from the perspective of the child, it would provide the least disruption and allow a continued relationship with the father, to the extent that that is a good thing. But first of all, even the most expensive daycare wouldn't cost as much as rent and expenses of the apartment. Second, I am still nursing, and I don't want to wean the baby just because we are splitting up. But perhaps more importantly, I think I would be very resentful continuing to support him.

Am I being selfish to not want to move out and give up custody? I think I have always felt taken advantage of by him and I don't want the act of splitting up to be one more chance for him to take advantage of my generosity. I have tried to assess whether I would feel differently if I were in his position and I was sahm and he was the wage earner, but I really think the situation is not comparable, because if that were the case I think I would just want exactly the same situation I want now-- to have custody, find child care, and work a job(s) to support me and the child. Help! I don't know how to think about this, and I really feel betrayed by the therapist. anonymous


OK, so your husband has a long history of manipulation, trying to cut you off from family and friends, being nonsupportive both finacially and emotionally--all classic signs of an abusive relationship. If you let him have custody, while you continue to work, rent a separate apartment, and support him financially, you're essentially ceding him all the power in your relationship. I would think that once he has physical control of your child that he will become even more manipulative and will use your child's welfare as a control over you. Your therapist was so off base on this one that I shudder to think what other advice he/she has given you and others. A leopard doesn't change it's spots and neither will your husband. Move out with your child, start divorce preceedings so that one day you can cut this looser off for good, find good childcare, and start building a better life. You deserve it and so does your kid. anon


You do not have to do ANY thing your therapist suggests. I would just try to keep in mind that anything your therapist suggests is just that, a *suggestion.* Only YOU can know what is right for you. Any therapist that tries to say that he or she knows what is best for you is probably incompetent and should be avoided--not that your therapist is saying this, I don't know about that. At any rate, I think you should go with your instincts. Your child is only one year old, so separating from your husband will not be so traumatic for her - it's not as if she will be permanently, irreperably damaged by it. It would be a different matter if she were four or five, but at one -year, she will recover quickly. Besides, how commited can your husband be if he's really willing to leave if you don't continue to support him? (Although, that just sounds like an attempt at blackmail, to keep you from withdrawing your financial support).

I say, move on with your life. I think this therapist is suggesting an alternative that may ultimately require you to perpetuate what sounds like a co-dependent (or, at least, *dependent*) relationship, so I am stunned that this therapist would suggest such a thing. I think it is very irresponsible. Let this guy support himself for a change. Best of luck! ~Alesia


DON'T MOVE OUT!! I'm not a lawyer, but the way I understand how custody matters are decided in California, if the mother moves out, leaving the father with primary custody, it is construed as abandonment, even if you come back every few hours to nurse (however, dad moving out is business as usual and doesn't affect custody; why is that?). If you and your husband had an amicable relationship and breakup, custody might not be an issue, but you say this isn't the case. Some therapists do better work than others; maybe you found one that is not helpful or is just uninformed. You have better choices available to you. What you need to do right away is see a lawyer. Louise


Two things struck me as I read your letter. The first is that your husband's decision to (potentially) move away should you divorce is HIS decision and he should not have to be ''bribed'' (by having you support him and pay for his rent) to remain close to your daughter and maintain a relationship with her. He can also make the decision to stay in the area and make a living on his own. Second, it is interesting that your therapist seems to have missed a major issue for you, that is that you feel resentful, unsupported and taken advantage of by your husband. In fact, her suggestion (and it is only a suggestion, not law) that you move out and continue to support your husband so that he can remain near and care for your daughter, is exacerbating the issues you already have with your husband. I suggest that you discuss these feelings with her and let her know that you feel betrayed and upset. Also, go with your instincts and what you feel is right for you and your daughter and if this feels wrong, don't do it. Good luck


My husband and I have done some couples counseling in the past and one thing I have learned about therapy is that no matter how much we try to convey the exact situation to the therapist, and no matter how good the therapist is, s/he will never understand the whole picture. Your situation is just that, your situation, and no amount of training will allow a therapist to be able to understand your situation better than you do. All this to say that you should not let therapy or therapists cause you to distrust your instinct. You are in the situation, and your gut feelings are legitimate. It sounds like your husband has enjoyed a certain amount of a free ride on you, and if you are intent on ending your relationship, you should do so completely. Granted you have a child together and this probably will not be the end of your relationship with him, but short of a court ordered maintenance arrangement, you should promptly end your support of this man. The cost of child care is nowhere near the emotional cost that you would incur if you were to take your therapist's advice. Obey your instincts and do what you think is best for you and your child. You should be relieved to be getting out of your situation. Best of luck. anon


You should definitely seek out the advice of an attorney. Because you have been supporting your husband (I don't know how long you've been married) you could find yourself in a situation, regardless if he's taking care of your child or not, of continuing to support him financially until he get on his feet or some pre-determined time frame based on years of marriage and his skill set. This may be on top of what you would still have to pay a care giver.

So you really need the advice of a lawyer to determine which of the two arrangements would be cheapest for you and which one your husband, who may also seek legal advice, would be willing to accept. You may also want the lawyer to draw up a spousal support (not the legal term) agreement to cover living arrangement agreement and compensation for child care until you are divorced if you go this route.

I'm sorry you're going through this and wish you much luck. kim


WOW. Please, always remember that no matter how much training a therapist has, they are a human like us and can have a agenda or personal issue get in the middle of things like this! I find this to be NOT AT ALL OK. Recently, I was having trouble with my teen daughter hitting me and pushing me and screaming, you get the picture. I finally had to put her in school, she is homeschooled as a last resort (the school is really the closest to being home, thank the world for that) and then I called in a therapist desperate for intervention and a once a month moderator after intiatil issues were resovled to help us struggle through all this. It started because I asked her dad to move out due to a long, long hard road that ended one night in his raging and screaming and some mild voilence. After meeting me twice, the dad once and the daughter once, the therapist decided that the daughter did not need therapy and they we together didn't need therapy either!!!! My daughter who was angry that she had to go and deal with this took it to the bank. The therapist said she just wasn't comfortable making my daughter go when my daughter said she did not believe in therapists and didn't want to come!!!!! She is just turned 13. I was so outraged I started to cry. The therapist looked at me and asked, in front of teen, if I was willing to Make Her Come. I looked at her and instead of losing it entirely I walked out. Never would I recomend this woman who is by the way on the list of recomended therapists here in this newsletter and I am unsure if I will ever trust another one. Go with your gut here. anon


You raised a lot of important wuestions in your post, I just wanted to address one, which is your interest in maintaining a nursing relationship with your daughter during the separation. There is a family law attorney who is well-regarded for her work with couples going thru separations or divorce who are trying to keep the nursing relationship going. Her name is Elizabeth Baldwin and she is based in Florida but does phone consults and may travel. Her website is: http://www.compromisesolutions.com/ENB_desc.html I have heard her speak at conferences and she says that in most courts, the rights of the father will come ahead of those of the nursing infant. Because of this, she recommends that her clients work with a mediator to come up with a visitation and custody plan that allows the infant to maintain relationships with both parents but does not compromise nursing. That typically means daily time with the non-nursing parent, but no overnights until the child is weaned or old enough to handle a night without nursing, Best wishes working thru this difficult situation, Jen


The suggestion that you move out and support him sounds rediculous to me. It's your place!! You are a breastfeeding mom! I think you should get a new therapist who will really look out for your best interests. If your x-husband is not commited enouph to stick around the area to ensure that he has a relationship with his child, let him go. There are alot of great childcare providers. Sounds like he is just looking for a free ride. Being a single mom of a child is hard, but being a single mom of a child and a grown man is harder and aggrivating. I was there. I am so glad not to be there anymore. Me and my girl are doing great. a single mom


Please get a new therapist who can focus on your needs and your child's needs ASAP. What your current therapist is suggesting may lead a judge to believe that you left your child and could lead to a your husband being awarded full custody and alimony. How about letting your husband move out, find a job and support you staying home? It's your turn to stay home and bond with your child, besides which, you are breastfeeding. He isn't. Good luck, let us know how it turns out. anon


The fact that your husband has said that he probably will not stay in the area makes me wonder if he has a vested interest in your child. I would say that it would be better for you to put your child in day care or find another caregiver than to displace yourself and wean your baby. I'm sure it would be difficult, but not as difficult as feeling that you are being taken advantage of. LK


Let me say first off that I recommend you trust your instincts. I would also feel betrayed by a therapist who recommends that only one of you (you)is responsible for shouldering all the burden, disruption and expense entailed in splitting up, while the other (your husband) apparently sits back and continues to share none of it. That unbalanced dynamic seems to be a key element of the problem in your marriage.

Some of the elements in this situation sound a bit confused as you present them, however, so let me try to sort through what I read. You say the therapist suggested that you move out of the apt., find your own place to live and pay your husband for the child care he provides. This is not the same as suggesting you give up custody and pay all your husband's living expenses. It sounds to me like it means the child would still spend days with his father in the same apt. as he always has, but the child would go home with you (to a new place) in the evenings and, presumably, for the weekends, etc. I don't necessarily agree you should be the one who moves, though. Your husband could find his own place and come to your apt. daily to provide the child care. If your husband is not able to live on what you'd pay him for the child care, and doesn't find a way to make it work, (caring for another child at the same time?) he may decide to leave the area. So be it. He will have had a real chance to behave like a responsible partner, adult and father, and instead showed you (once again?)that he's not up to the challenge.

I don't see any reason why you should continue to be the one shouldering all the burdens involved with making this change or maintaining the status quo. If the father is only interested in sticking around and being involved with his child as long as you're willing to support him, and he won't try to be more of a partner, even at the risk of losing you both, well, who can blame you for wanting to separate?

I don't see anything at all wrong with what you say at the end of your message about what you want now. Best wishes to you


If you would like to email me, I would be happy to share advice I have read or tell you about some similar situations and how they worked out. It doesn't seem to be fair. I would think that he should be the one to move out specially if you have no family or friends to go to. (does he?)I would consult a lawyer before you move or do anything. If you have been working and he has not, I would worry about him wanting even more out of you. Your therapist may be suggesting this since you are already working 2 jobs. If you moved out you might have some space to think about what you could do. But I wouldn't pay him for childcare. Especially if he is not contributing towards his own rent and you have to go out and rent an apartment and still pay all the other bills. turtlesrus


What a difficult and painful situation. It sounds as though 1) your instincts are very trustworthy; 2) the most important thing to do is to take care of yourself and your baby and 3) that would mean the difficult but necessary task of letting your husband begin to fend for himself; 4) this might mean staying in your home and having your husband be the one to move out and 5) your therapist has indeed acted very inappropriately, more like an agent of your husband's interests than an impartial and mutually supportive sounding-board (just that the fact that the therapist is actually coaching one of you on specific actions is very problematic rather than leaving this important decision up to the two of you). I just find it outlandish that anyone - let alone a therapist - would suggest that you move out and pay your husband to stay home with your baby. You and your baby's interests should be protected and maintaining your irreplaceable bond with your infant should be paramount.

If I were in your shoes, I'd too want to see my very selfish husband move out, leaving me with primary custody, and contributing financially to the support of our child while I continued to do the same.

It might be useful to find a new therapist, all your own, who can help support you during this difficult chapter. You and your baby deserve a less biased and much more balanced and supportive arbiter in this decision.

Thanks for sharing your concerns with the digest community and best of luck with this process. I hope everything works out in a way that is most harmonious for all while still best for you and your baby. Best wishes.


Please don't move out! Trust your self and do what is best for you and your child. Your husband is a grown up and should start taking responsibility for himself (in my humble opinion!). Whatever you decide re: custody, I highly recommend you consult with an attorney before you put any formal custody agreement in place- it could be hard to change down the road if need be (I'm a family law attorney).

I also suggest finding another therapist who is solely there to support you in doing what is best for you. I think the current therapist's idea is ridiculous! (sorry, but your post really hit a nerve). There are MANY bad therapists out there and this one is pushing you to do something you clearly don't want to do which I feel is unethical. It would be different if you were a family unit, living together and he was a stay-at-home dad, because then you are sharing the burden of chosing to live on one income. But this is different.

I hope this didn't come off as too preachy- I wish you the best! anon


Your post is unclear in several respects. If you husband is the primary caregiver, and continues to be the primary caregiver, why would you have to give up breastfeeding if you split? And what does paying him to take care of the baby have to do with the cost to keep up the apartment?

At any rate, I think the therapist is trying to help you end the relationship gracefully. If this guy has free room and board, you will not be able to pry him outta there. You will have to leave the apartment. If you offer to pay him to take care of the baby, this will look generous. It is his problem if that is not enough money to live on. I suspect that he has no interest in nanny wages or the baby, and even if he agrees to take care of the baby he will not do so for long. He will likely find another woman to sponge off of. Sorry to be so harsh, but that is the way I see it. anon


Wow. I don't usually post responses to queries unless I have direct same personal experience, but I had to type on this one. 1) Get a new therapist if you are understanding them correctly. Perhaps the therapist is only suggesting you pay your husband what you would pay a caregiver to help him offset his new separate expenses??? Like an hourly wage based on local standards? I hope this is only what was meant. 2) I have a dear friend who just broke up with a long term partner (but does not have children) who took advantage of her financially for several years, despite the fact that he was able bodied and capable professionally and that it put extreme financial strain on her to singlehandedly support them in the style he expected. Granted, there was no ongoing child relationship to consider, but imagine her surprise when in parting he levelled the criticism at her on the way out that she made his irresponsibility and self esteem even worse by facillitating his dependency for those years (and the therapist agreed on that one.) Not only should you not leave your home and child to a person who is obviously less responsible than you are, but what kind of example and message will you be sending to your child if you ''reward'' the flakiness of your soon to be Ex by relinquishing your home to him, and financially sanctioning his lack of willingness to step up to the plate and assume both responsibility for himself and as a parent? Not to mention your child may feel you are abandoning them!

By the way this advice comes from a former executive now a sahm, whose husband has risen to the occasion to support our family, and who would not hesitate to return to work if it was putting stress on him and our family. Best of luck in this difficult situation, Cheryl


It sounds crazy to support him and pay him, too. Especially since his response doesn't sound very interested in the child. What about him getting a job and helping to support you and the kid? I think you need to find a new therapist right away that doesn't make you feel betrayed. Talk to other single mothers. For example, Neighborhood Parents Network has a single moms support group. (Ellen, 528-2797) Maybe somebody there can also recommend an attorney or mediator that you would be happier with. Good Luck! Sympathetic Mom


Posts like this, from spouses that seek advice about painful separation issues, do open the floodgates of response. As a witness to several separations, I (and many other observers) consistently find significant distortion, or dramatic self- serving, in the accounts of separating spouses. These stories are hard to ''decipher'' even when you're familiar with the person, their spouse, and have interpersonal cues like body language for help. An email account has none of these advantages, so is even more susceptible to distortion.

Good people who undergo relationship trauma will use any media, including a post, to alleviate pain by projecting a manipulative defense. I know I would be capable of it. But for casual readers to launch in and effectively validate this one-sided version of reality is troubling. This is especially the case when responders contradict professional advice, of which this post is not unique. Indeed, by now a regular reader of this page can expect an array of self-confirming responses from such a post. What better way for separating spouses to confirm their distrust in a lawyer, mediator, or therapist then have it reflected from a dozen literate voices. But very few separations are ''one- sided'' - of which professionals are well aware. Inevitably, a competent professional will diffuse a situation with reality- checks that are resisted from both sides. In our rather self- oriented society, this is already hard for parties to accept. So I'm not sure that a spontaneous reaction to an unverified and potentially distorted post serves the interests of the traumatized family.

Perhaps, at least, it is best when responders note their own marital background and experience, so our inevitably biased perspectives become a little more obvious. For example, I am in a long-term marriage that's overcome ebbs and flows, usually through the mutual assimilation of conflict responsibility. So perhaps I am biased towards a conflict-resolution approach, whereas a divorced person might be more attuned to pain avoidance. Brian


Alas, I couldn't offer any advice or help. But I do feel compelled to respond to Brian's recent posting.

Of course couples often distort the truth and seek revenge during the course of separating. And of course it isn't fair of us to offer support based on only one side of the story. Unfortunately, many things are unfair.

Regardless of how things came about, my heart goes out to this woman because in the midst of potentially biased information, the following (rather unfair) facts emerge quite clearly:

(1) The consequences of separation tend to fall harder on women with children. Mothers must create a secure environment even when they grieve and their own lives are falling apart; (2) Motherhood can be physically and emotionally exhausting even *with* emotional and financial support. This particular mother has neither of those; and (3) If a therapist makes the client feel betrayed, the therapist did something wrong. A good therapist should understand and respect their clients' emotional issues and boundaries sufficiently to facilitate growth and awareness of unpleasant truths, etc. without making the client feel betrayed.

I don't think that someone would post a message to half of the East Bay concerning such intensely personal matters unless they felt sincerely overwhelmed, isolated and in need of outside perspectives from a caring and knowledgeable community. Which is perfectly reasonable, since we all signed up to be part of such a community.

I appreciate your call for greater objectivity, Brian. We all should definitely consider the issues you raise. However, I also strongly believe that sometimes empathy - and hence subjectivity - is the most appropriate thing. Elisabeth


I am the original poster and I wanted to respond to Brian's thoughtful comments. Indeed, posting in this forum allows one to present a situation totally subjectively and using selective facts to describe one's position. My purpose in posting was specifically to strip away some of the details of my situation so that I could look at it from an outside perspective and try to get feedback from uninvolved parties, given the admittedly selective and biased information that I presented. As he rightly says ''What better way for separating spouses to confirm their distrust in a lawyer, mediator, or therapist then have it reflected from a dozen literate voices''. I fully admit that that is what I was explicitly looking for.

Yet not only did I get validation of my instincts (and there is nothing wrong with being told to trust one's instincts), but at the same time I received a lot of valuable perspectives on my stripped-away situation. I think Brian underestimates me and others who post seeking advice on difficult emotional and/or relationship issues when he says ''I'm not sure that a spontaneous reaction to an unverified and potentially distorted post serves the interests of the traumatized family.'' I am perfectly capable of seeing the spontaneous/emotional reactions to my situation for where they may come from and what perspective they are likely to be representing, and I know that my post was distorted and unverified...how could it not be?!! I also think he underestimates those who responded...of course they know that I haven't presented all the facts and that things may be distorted. They are not being asked to judge the verity of the information, but to respond given the admittedly limited information with which they were presented.

In giving their advice, people helped me understand the limitations of the therapist/therapy situation. Yes, some people were more vehement than others, but I found very helpful those who pointed out that maybe I hadn't made some of my issues clear and that the therapist is privy only to a finite amount of information from which to suggest resolutions and guide action (hmmm, not unlike this forum!). Yes, people ''contradicted professional advice'', but they backed up their contradictions with reasoned explanations and suggestions that I could then assimilate and use as I deemed appropriate. That was the point of soliciting advice in this forum!!

Finally, I will say that while Brian is correct that I am possibly trying ''to alleviate pain by projecting a manipulative defense'', this is not occurring in a vacuum. Of course I know that my (soon to be ex-) spouse has many good qualities and even that I am also guilty of some manipulation. I respect that Brian's marriage has overcome conflict in a way that mine has not, and that the same things that I may call manipulation he may have a more gentle term for. Nonetheless, if I *feel* manipulated, then I am, and part of extricating from this difficult relationship has been recognizing that for what it is, what it can do to a person and a family, and when it can be changed and when it can't.

That said, let me just say how grateful I am to be part of this community and thank you all for sharing your thoughtful perspectives and experiences. still remaining anonymous


To Brian, If she feels ''betrayed'' by her therapist, then, even the therapist will probably agree she should seek a new one. I didn't tell her to give up therapy, but to find one she is comfortable working with. I have been married for 10 years, and never divorced, since you wondered. I like to see couples work things out whenever possible. I still want to send that mom a hug. Anon


I am responding to follow-up post that discussed how distorted a one sided version of seperation can be. I respect that completely, but would also like to say that therapists are people, and as such, can respond to their own mental feelings and bias in their recommendations. I have had personal experience with therapists who have objectively looked at a situation and given good advice, and I have seen others that give poor advice. e