Hi, all. First time poster. I am currently at the point of facing the reality that my marriage is over. I am a Dad first, and my number one priority is getting the best (primary) custody arrangement as this thing moves forward. I am looking for any input or 2x4’s you have to offer based on my situation and plan. I apologize in advance if this is rambling on too much. Here are the details:
- Married for 11 years - One DS 10 - Own home – little to no equity - Me – primary income earner - $120 k per year, plus bonus - Wife - $45 k per year part-time – (20 hours per week) – she has Masters degree and has made much more…will not go back to work fulltime at this point.
Marriage background FWIW - My wife has a history of bi-polar behavior. It has been this way since I have known her. We have been in and out of counseling. I have done what she has asked me to do and stayed focused on trying to make this marriage work, including convincing her to go to joint counseling (again) with me beginning last January. Well, it has been over a year, and it has not gotten any better. She wants me out of the house. When I have asked her if she wants to be married, she says she is not sure. When I ask her if she wants a divorce, she says she does not know.
I know she has consulted with an attorney. She has threatened false domestic violence charges to get me out of the house, of which I have on recording. I also found out recently that she has an account on Match.com
Like I said….my marriage is over, and have suspected it for some time. Now, it is time to take action, or my fear is she will file first and I will be royally screwed.
What I have Done --- With the marriage floundering, I found this site a year ago and have been lurking. I have been playing James Bond cool at home. I have read the LIST and began following most of what is in it, including gathering all financial documents, voice recorder at all times, inventorying and photographing items in home.. I have documented and journaled any and all time with my son. I have his school records, and such. I am actively involved in his life, his school / teachers, and lead his Scout troop. I was his primary caregiver his first three years. I work at home 3 days a week and no weekends, so I take him to school and pick him up. I cook, clean, do the groceries, etc. He is my right hand man, and I cannot imagine not being around him.
I have an attorney and have already paid a retainer. Two things I have learned from this site….do NOT move out, before any type of custody is signed by a judge; and file first. My attorney also reiterated these points.
So, here are my goals and plan --- any and all input is greatly appreciated. My attorney wants to file for custody and residence first, so the initial filing would be:
1. Maximum parenting time with my son - I plan on filing for primary custody, knowing I ultimately I may need to settle for joint legal 50/50. 2. Maintain residence in the home for myself and my son - I plan on asking to retain primary residence. 3. There have been violent outbursts from my STBX, that I have on recording. I also plan to ask for a TRO.
Depending on how the above hearing goes, I will either stay in the house, or have to find a place (I am looking now for a 3 bedroom rental in case needed).
Financially, my goals are to minimize any alimony. Child support will be what it is, based on the parenting arrangement. Right now, I am focused on my son.
Does my plan sound OK? Anything I am missing?
This whole thing sucks royally. I don't want my marriage to end, but I also don't want to leave my head in the sand. It just seems like she is getting ready to pull the trigger. My fear is falling on my sword because I am told that I am too nice a guy sometimes. I guess that's where any 2x4's will come in....feel free to offer advice, or ask any other questions.
Sounds like you are prepared. I think you left off your state or I just missed it.
I am curious why the TRO versus asking for exclusive possession of the marital residence in your filing? I'd be a little concerned to file a TRO in conjunction with a divorce filing unless it was triggered by a well documented event.
Yes, good homework and sounding like you have your goals spelled out. The goals are very important, especially during the process when a bipolar-type attempts to muddy the conversation. Just stick to your goals and move toward them. Reminds me of the Arrow of Light presentations I gave when I was Cubmaster. The Arrow of Light (the decree) is the goal. There will be a later and bigger goal known as the Eagle (your future life of raising your son to manhood), but for right now, stay with the goals of the Arrow as it helps you toward that bigger, larger goal. After all, the Arrow of Light is the only permanent badge that can be carried on and worn on the Boy Scout uniform.
One tidbit is that divorce is not retirement. Your son is school age to where he is attending school full time. Therefore both parents would be considered to have full time careers. Based upon her making $45k at half-time, I would include an imputation of her income at $90k in any and all negotiations/documents/calculations. In addition, as mentioned above, look at the state specifics for alimony. In many cases, the question of "should there be alimony" is "no." It's not like she never attended college and needs 3 more years of alimony to get her bachelors. She's got a graduate degree and makes great money.
Depending on her bipolar/behaviors, be at the ready if you need to execute the closing of financial accounts all at once on a CAD (Close Accounts Day).
Last, on the legal stance, there's not a difference with filing first. It can be for people that are unaware and in a bad legal spot, but you're on good footing and whether you or she files first is pretty much no factor as you would be prepared with a counter.
Thanks for the responses. It sounds like some validation of the plan I have in place and some of the legwork completed.
@ Thoughts? Thanks for the input. Located in NC. DS is darling son. My attorney indicated that with the length of marriage it could be 3 years or more of Post Spousal Support (as NC defines it), or less depending if I want to cash her out upfront. That is on down the road, but something I need to prepare for. A buddy of mine who has been through this recently told me that cash flow is king after the divorce...maximize it. So, my thought is to reduce the duration of any alimony by doing more of a lump sum upfront. Any thoughts??? I just don't want to be living in a crack shack if something happens to my job, etc. two years down the road.
@ Hosier - The TRO was something I saw on the LIST to do at the day of filing, so that is why I had mentioned it. I'll consult with my atty on this one prior to filing. For those who have gone down this road, is a TRO necessary or recommended (point of leverage)? I could justify it based on her violent outbursts (throwing things, banging my car window to the point of almost breaking). But, I don't wan to come off as an as* to a judge, etc.
@ Spriton - great analogy on the Scout and arrow of light. Each candle is a virtue...each part of my plan here maps to the bigger picture. The Eagle Scout represents my son and my parenting of him! And, divorce not being retirement! Good point...man, I NEED to get in this mind set. STBX is an adult not a dependent!
Yeah, the mood swings are extreme by STBX, but no formal diagnosis that I know of. I read some info on BPD, as well. Holy cr*p, I felt like I could have written that.
Based on the STBX's irrational behavior, and such, over the years, I have no doubt that her goal will be to try and absolutely minimize my time with my son, and destroy me financially. She has already taken a substantial amount out of our joint savings that I do not have access to, and she is putting less of her pay into our joint account. I am having a hard time paying the bills with the reduction. I did open up a separate account, as well, and only put enough in the joint to pay bills. I am trying to save a little bit for atty fees, etc.
The income imputation is a great suggestion.
Like I said earlier, all the signs are there. At least that is what everyone is telling me. It is just hard to view all of this through the lense of a business transaction....I don't want anyone hurt, most importantly my son. Thanks for letting me vent. I may needs some 2x4's as this unfolds so that I don't fall on my sword. One of my strengths is finding common ground and minimizing conflict. I know that can be my weakness here...trying to do the right thing for my STBX. I know...not the best mindset ????
Sorry for the rambling post !!! It is good to vent here! Any other feedback or questions on my sitch more than welcome. This forum is an excellent resource.
ScoutLeaderDad wrote:@ Hosier - The TRO was something I saw on the LIST to do at the day of filing, so that is why I had mentioned it. I'll consult with my atty on this one prior to filing. For those who have gone down this road, is a TRO necessary or recommended (point of leverage)? I could justify it based on her violent outbursts (throwing things, banging my car window to the point of almost breaking). But, I don't wan to come off as an as* to a judge, etc.
The List includes many items that you might have overlooked and can keep you out of trouble, and some that IMO could get you hammered in front of certain judges. Consider all the recommendations but don't act on all of them blindly, run them by your atty for feasibility. IMO filing a TRO along with a divorce filing without a well documented incident(s) will be perceived as a leverage tactic by many judges.
I'll chime in with a slightly different take. In TX, 40% of divorces are accompanied by a Civil Protective Order. Yes, a TRO can be perceived as leverage to get someone out of the house. But it's commonly used. You never want to file a frivolous charge, you do need to vet the strategy by your attorney, but it can be a useful tool.
Because you're a guy, and there's a bias that guys are always the physical abusers instead of the abused, you need to have a legit case. But I've had male frineds use their ex's explosive tempers & outbursts of profanity to their favor & got TRO's to move them out. No judge has ever made the front page news by granting a TRO request -- but they all fear making the news by denying the wrong one.
The board is the sum of all of your great posts...Help divorced men be great dads! Divorce help in a father friendly divorce forum....more tips on how to deal with your divorce at DadsDivorce.com
Hey, guys. Thank for the input. Quick Update...I spoke with my atty on Monday. You were spot on regarding the TRO. He indicated no need to include it. He was impressed by the documentation I had pulled together related to being a Super Dad. A good narrative, pictures, journal, etc. All thanks to the suggestions on this sight. At the temporary, I am going for primary and possession of residential home. I am also realistic....I may end up getting booted out of the home and get joint parenting custody. The atty is confident about a Dad friendly parenting arrangement, but he is not so sure about the house....
The temporary custody filing is in the works and I expect to sign and have this served early next week. So, here is the strategy...any additional comments welcomed:
1. Continue to play James Bond cool until filing. No word on anything to STBX prior to service. (Although, I know for a fact that she has seen an attorney - I am sure she is already prepared with a counter-claim)
2. I have a VAR ready to go and have been using. Based on what I have read about BPD, STBX is classic case. A false DV charge is a definite possibility as I have indicated in earlier posts. I will leave the home only if / when the judge orders at the temp hearing (~3 weeks from service - painful 3 weeks I am sure)
3. Triple check that I have everything I need as far as asset inventory and financial documents copied and / or out of the residence. Also, any photos of S10, etc. Once the genie is out of the bottle, this is going to be ugly.
Questions for the collective:
1. Most importantly, my S10. I don't know when to tell him about about the big D. He is smart and knows that things are not good between me and STBX. There has been obvious tension over the past year. Any suggestions on how / when to tell him about the D? I don't want him to be blindsided, but I don't want to have STBX on the know.
2. My atty wants me to put together a bulleted list of why it is better for me to stay in the house with my son, as opposed to STBX. Here is my train of thought...it is better for him to stay so that there is continuity in his living arrangements, specific friends, my family in the area, the neighborhood, etc, etc. I telecommute a good bit of my job so, my home office is there, which is also a reason.
I also am the only one who can afford the house...STBX refuses to go back to work full-time; I pay 75% of expenses. Not sure to put this in...my atty says this could be a double edged sword. Her atty may argue that I have the means to get another place, she does not. Whether that holds any weight....
Any other good general items to add for you battle tested veterans is appreciated.
Once the judge decides residency, one of us moves out...then the property distribution begins....
I would suggest as soon as you file to plan an mediation immediately on the parenting agreement.
You seem to have your ducks in a row on this, get this over first cause it can be the most emotional part of the process, once thats decided and you get an agreement then move on to the financial side of things.
No matter how well prepared you think you are, you are in for an emotional roller coaster, one day you will feel you have the upper hand the next you will feel she does, its just the way it works, stay as calm during any situations with her, or getting an agreement.
As far as the kids, this might not work, but i think the best way is for both parents tell the child at the same time, that way both of you know what the other said, in my case I told my kids that I loved them, thier mother wasnt happy and I didnt know how to make her happy, but they the kids were not the reason for the divorce.
You are light years ahead of most of us veterans at the same point in our divorce. Great job. Guess I should also say great job to The Board too. Look how much we helped somebody for the last year and did not even know it.
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