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Dear Chump Lady, Is a “morality clause” insane?

sacredbedDear Chump Lady, 

I really didn’t think I’d need to write a letter, but as most things with chumps go, I am one day full of resolve and a very clear picture, and then the next stuck in the nebulous “does this make me a bad person,” self-questioning that my soon-to-be-ex, gaslighting, cheating, lying husband did nothing but encourage over the last 15 years. 

Here’s the deal: I have a beautiful, gorgeous, innocent, and amazing daughter who is 2.5 years old. When she was just 14 months old, her father walked out on the both of us, after 13+ years of marriage, for the infamous OW. This is the most stereotypical situation ever, he cheated with a subordinate at work (a serial cheater herself with 4 divorces under her belt)…the kicker is that all three of us worked there, so I turned around and turned in the evidence of their relationship, and they were both “invited to leave.” This of course is 10x worse than what he did to me (even though this wasn’t the first inappropriate relationship of his over the years, just the one that went the furthest…supposedly), so to say we’ve been at a bit of odds is an understatement. 

Flash-forward a year, we’ve had a round of insincere (on his part) attempts at reconciliation, and after I kicked him out (I refuse to be anything but someone’s first choice from now on) and moved back home (150 miles away), life was beginning to be OK, and I started the divorce process. The ex and I were working out a nice schedule as far as him seeing his daughter every other weekend, etc., and we were just going to have an amicable divorce with avoiding courts. Or so I thought…  

Until about a month ago, when it came out that the OW is back in the picture. I had one condition with my ex, and that was that when he had his daughter, it needed to be the two of them, no girlfriends or whatever around, at least for the next few years. He readily agreed at the time. Well, when he received the divorce papers citing a morality clause (no females overnight when he has our daughter), his head started spinning and venom flying. He states that I’m trying to control his life from now on, and that I should trust (ha!) his judgement as to who he brings around our daughter. 

He can’t afford to take me to court to fight the morality clause, and he keeps approaching me (through texts and calls) trying any and everything — from insults and venom, to trying to appeal to “we can work this out.” When that doesn’t work, he says that if I don’t drop this, then he’ll just marry OW 30 days after the divorce is final. Which, if it was just him and me, I could care less, she can have him and his mental baggage of insanity, but I really don’t want this whore around my kid. I told him I was willing to negotiate an age limit on the clause (say, when she’s 6 or 8 and can better understand what is going on around her), but he will hear none of it. He’s refused to see his daughter since the middle of June, because he doesn’t want to have to do it with “my rules dictating his life.” 

I guess what I need/want to know is, am I crazy for expecting Ex to actually hold himself to some sort of moral standard while he has our daughter? Is it not natural to not want my daughter around whatever flavor of the month he’s entertaining? He hasn’t paid a dime of child support yet, and I have tried to be patient and reasonable and take the “high road.” All I’ve asked for is ONE thing — and it’s the one thing he refuses to respect. Everyone says that I am not being unreasonable, but I thought I would double check with a group that has actually been through this. I spent half of my life trying to make this person happy, and when I hold my own against him I feel unsteady, it’s unnatural, and it’s so easy to think that I’m just being the bad guy in all this. I want to be a good co-parent, but I also don’t want to be a doormat any more. 

Please hit me with a logic bomb and let me know if I’m insane. 

Tired Momma

Dear Tired Momma,

Is it crazy to expect your ex to hold himself to some sort of moral standard? Yes it is. The person he was before the divorce — a guy not holding himself to moral standards (he cheated) — is the person he’s going to be after the divorce. Moreover, we don’t control other people. You have zero control over his moral standards. I’m sorry. It sucks.

Oh but the morality clause! It has teeth! It will prevent him from having the OW for sleepovers, at least for a few years!

It’s unenforceable, Tired. You may find the rare judge who gives a shit, but I promise you must judges will not appreciate you bringing your morality clause to court. A grown-up, divorced man has a girlfriend who sleeps over when his daughter is there will probably not rise to the level of “immediate danger” in the eyes of the court. There are certainly exceptions — I’ve had one judge that cared. He put a morality clause — unasked for — in one of my custody hearings with my son’s father. Result? a) He ignored it. And b) I didn’t really care because he’s been dating this woman for over a decade. Surprise! They vacation together with my kid.

Now, it’s apples to oranges because that girlfriend wasn’t an OW. I’m sure if that were the case I’d feel less sanguine and more incensed about the whole thing. Wouldn’t matter. I’d still have zero control over it.

Think about it. For this clause to be enforceable, it would put you in the position of being the divorce police. It’s the same sort of suckitude of being the marriage police, only with more distance and obstacles. You would have to spend a lot of time and mental energy figuring out who he’s sleeping with and when. Is he going to tell you that? Probably not. So you’re going to have to grill your kid for the details. Do you want to depose your kid on daddy’s sleeping arrangements? Do you want the cost and heartache of a custody hearing? Really?

See, I think you’ve already figured that out, because you’re asking me if you think he can do the right thing all on his own. Or will having that legal clause in there make him honor your request to keep the OW out of your daughter’s life? It will not. Your ex is a man who doesn’t abide by his agreements, or consider the best interests of his child.

Let go of the rope and focus on what you do control — being an awesome mommy to your little girl. You control that.

The OW being around your kid is a giant shit sandwich you’re going to have to endure. I’m sorry. You’re in good company on this one. All I can tell you is take the long view — eventually your kid figures out who the sane parent is (you) and who has their back (you again).

Now about Cheater Daddy — he’s a real prick. His reaction to the threat of a morality clause is to just stop seeing his daughter and not pay support. Oh, here is something you control! Child support enforcement. Fuck the morality clause and dock this idiot’s wages for support. Do it immediately. Do not hesitate to make that jerk pay child support. It’s not tied to visitation or the OW, it’s just something he is legally (and morally) obligated to pay. Get on that.

And I’m sorry to tell you, but my best guess is whatever arrangement you come up with, he probably won’t see his kid like he should. And he’ll blame YOU for that — you and your ridiculous “controlling” ways. That’s a mindfuck. Ignore it. The reason he doesn’t see his kid is that he’s a prick.

Oh, and speaking of controlling? The whole threat to marry the OW right after the divorce (HAH! Take THAT morality clause!) is so absurd that I think you should take him up on it. He thinks that’s the worst thing you can imagine — Oh no! Don’t pick HER! Don’t marry HER! — that you won’t do it. He’s trying to control YOU. But there is no worse punishment than two cheaters marrying each other — hell, that’s the best argument for putting the clause in there. Start planning your wedding, sucker. Begin the hypotenuse search immediately!

Look, Tired, start accepting he’s going to do exactly what he wants regardless of how it effects you or your daughter. That’s who he is. Focus on the things you control — being the sane parent, enforcing child support — and let go of the rest. Treat him with the civility you’d give your local tax assessor. No emotion. All business. If he does something that rises to harming your daughter — physical neglect, abuse, sexual abuse, drugs — then absolutely involve the courts immediately. But how he parents and the particulars of his love life are not things you can police. Let them go and focus on your improved, cheater-free life.

((Big HUGS)) because this sucks. But you’ll get to meh about them both in time, I promise.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I agree he is going to do it no matter what ..I wonder with my situation my stbexh is trying to impose a mortality clause on me and I have never cheated on him, not dating and he was the one who cheated on me in the first place. I am tempted to do the same request as well but it’s as you say then one has to be the visitation police and try to determine if any terms were violated…it’s like even after divorce when you have kids with the ex the issues don’t end.

  • Tired Momma,

    You can’t legislate morality and you can’t control crazy !

    Your soon to be XH has his ” Your not the boss of me blinders on.”

    And… It’s not your place to encourage him to exercise his visitation rights, let him drop that ball all on his own.

  • “The reason he doesn’t see his kid is that he’s a prick.”

    Big hugs Tired Momma. x

    That quote above just about sums him up to me. He hasn’t bothered to see his child for a couple of months because he is an arse, and he can’t be bothered. Not because of anything you have said or done.

    You sound like a lovely, kind and caring person, and I imagine that means that you want the best for your daughter and want her to have a relationship with her father. But you can’t make that happen. I honestly wouldn’t worry too much about him seeing her in the company of the OW, it sounds like he can barely be bothered to make the effort to see her with or without anyone else being present. x

  • Tired, it does suck. Chump Lady is right on all counts. Jackass’s wife tried a morality clause, and it scared him so much that it kept them tied together, albeit divorced, for a decade. When I was part of his life, I was quite happy to stay in the background while his child was in high school. (As it turns out, I think he wanted that for reasons of controlling my access to information and keeping me at a distance, but I still think it was wise to go slow and allow this kid one day out of seven with her father’s undivided attention, more or less.) But I of course am not an “OW.” They tend to prefer centrality.

    What you can do is get child support and get a custody agreement with no overnights until the child is school age or only overnight on alternate weekends. That will suck for him if he has to drive 150 miles, but hey, he chose this mess. He walked out. Then get to “meh” as soon as possible. Never, ever mention OW’s name again and it (and she) will lost the the power she has now because she is a threat he can use against you. My guess is that he will eventually stop seeing his daughter anyway because spending every weekend driving to see a child is not usually in the cheater playbook, sad to say.

    Use the court system to help you set boundaries not just for your STBX but for you, too. In a couple of years, all kinds of people you won’t much like will have lots more access to your child because she will be in school and out in the world. But you’re the mom! You will raise your child to have good sense, judgment about people, and boundaries. She will know crazy when she sees it. The OW (or the bimbo who replaces her) will provide lots of “teachable moments” in that learning process. You can’t protect your daughter from the world, including the part of it her loser father occupies.

    What you do need to notice is that your cheater is of the “you aren’t the boss of me” variety. I had one of these. Your best play is to get out of the “boss” and “mommy” role with him (not that you wanted that role, but he will put anyone with a call on his time or money or “integrity” into that position). So you want to show zero interest in what he does, so long as he does not directly endanger your child. Good luck. You’ve been mighty thus far. I got to “meh” today and it’s a Tuesday! You will know you are at “meh” when you understand that what he does can’t touch what you are building with your child. And when you have court-ordered support that requires no contact with this jackass. Finally, when you let go of trying to control what goes on with him, you won’t be as tired. It’s exhausting to try to control their craziness.

  • CL, what you’re saying makes sense, but right now she’s in the situation of having a morality clause in the decree. Why not leave it there and tell him to go ahead and marry the OW?

    Even if she knows it won’t be enforceable in the future, is it a problem to keep it? Is there any advantage in dropping it now?

    A different, but maybe related thing – Tired Momma, do you need to talk to him about this issue when he calls? Can you refer him to your lawyer and let it be worked out between lawyers?

    Which gets to my other big question – does Tired Momma really want this guy in her kids’ life or not? I mean she doesn’t want him to blame or be able to blame her for not being there, but does she want him to be there?

    • Sure, leave it in, just don’t expect it to be enforceable, or the reason he doesn’t see his kid. (That’s because he’s a prick.)

      As for wanting him in her kid’s life — she doesn’t control that. He has court ordered visitation, he is entitled to it by law. If he doesn’t take her up on it, she can’t much control that either.

      As a former single mother — it’s a balancing act. You need a break, but at the expense of spending more time around a crazy? (As was my case). There was a time I had no choice — my son’s father wanted his visitation, so I took the break. Now he’s NC with my kid, and that’s fine and easier. If hard on my child (why doesn’t dad take an interest?)

      It just comes down to — we don’t control the other parent. We can only keep our side of the street clean and do the best job we can do. And we shouldn’t impede a child’s access to the other parent, no matter how much of a douche they are, unless there are signs of abuse. Generally speaking, over time, you don’t have this problem, because of their douchey nature, they dump their kid all on their own.

    • If he does marry the AP then the morality cause is moot for them. It could bite Tired in the ass though if she decides to bring anyone around her kid. Her ex would definitely try to enforce it.

    • I’m from the South, and I can guarantee you that judges down here are all about morality clauses, especially when infidelity was the cause of the divorce. Like CL said, you can’t enforce it, but it seems to piss him off — and hey, that’s worth something! Maybe he will marry the great whore, I can’t think of two people who deserve each other more! I predict much sadness, and gnashing of the teeth.

      Yeah….he’s not seeing her because you are trying to “control” him. Keep track of his visits (or lack thereof), and have that in your back pocket for this or future custody issues. Let him explain your control issues to the judge…..he’ll SURELY understand.

      Make him pay child support, NOW, and every dime you can get in arrears.

      You are the HIGH road, Mom….just stay on it!

  • Okay, this is just a different piece of advice, but I don’t think he’s a nice guy that you can divorce without lawyers.

    • Yeah, I think those people are unicorns — the friendly divorce people. Great if it can happen, but I think it’s rare. If she can afford a lawyer, and he can’t — best case, IMO.

    • The quickie, no-fault, no lawyers divorce in PA was the biggest mistake I made, this side of marrying XW. I was still DEEP in the FOG and actually trusted her at her word that she wasn’t going to stick me with the tens of thousands of dollars of debt she amassed in my name, so I never got it in writing. I thought we could be reasonable adults doing right by each other. Because obviously she had presented herself as being SO TRUSTWORTHY and MATURE in the past… Talk about chumpy.

      ***HEAD, DESK***

      If only I could get my flux capacitor working I could go back and fix some of this stupidity.

      • The minute my XH started talking about us working this out “between us” to “save the lawyer fees”, I hired a lawyer. He wasn’t trustworthy when we were married, whatever makes him trustworthy in a divorce? Hire a lawyer and get what is coming to you. Trust me … there are probably things you haven’t thought of that a good lawyer can bring to your attention. And that child support thing … get on it NOW. You may not care right now that he hasn’t paid, but you should. That is money owed to you for the care of HIS and your child. Pay attention to the big stuff and let go of the little crap that doesn’t matter because as CL says, you can’t control him in moral issues, but you can control things that are mandated by law.

        • Yeah I am definitely trying to in to this with both eyes open. Like a graphic I saw on Facebook the other day said, I can be big enough to forgive him, but not stupid enough to ever trust him again. Everything he’s promising with taking on his portion of our debt and child support is going into paperwork drawn up by my lawyer. We may be able to avoid going to court once I drop be morality clause, because we’ve pretty much been able to agreed on everything else, but it will definitely go through the proper channels.

          I am going to leave my reason for divorce as “adultery” versus irreconcilable differences, but he’s just going to have to eat that one.

          • Unfortunately, I gave in on that one and went from adultery to irreconcilable differences. Wished I hadn’t, but hindsight is 20/20 and I didn’t have a group like this one to open my eyes to it. But it is in the past, and I am glad it is done and I never have to deal with him again. Well, beyond dragging him back to court every time he refuses to pay me the settlement that we agreed upon. But why am I surprised? Why should he live up to any document he signed since he didn’t live up to the original document he signed (marriage license)?

            • Can someone clarify what advantage there is in claiming adultery over irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce? Does it matter in a no-fault state? Thanks.

              • In a no fault state, I don’t think it’s even an option. In CA, the only two reasons for divorce are irreconcilable differences or insanity.

              • My attorney advised me to change my grounds from adultery to irreconcilable differences because he said the judges frown upon the adultery charge, “Oh, here’s another woman grinding her axe.” He said in our county they are less likely to “like” you with that charge. For me, I wanted the adultery out there because I can look up divorce records and I wanted people to see that he committed adultery and it wasn’t just us growing apart *eye roll*. I didn’t want him to spread his lies about ME, saying I was the one who committed adultery because that is what he said about his previous 2 wives when, in fact, it was him. But, I caved…because in the end, I wanted to make him pay through the wallet because money meant more to him than his image.

              • I live in a no fault state and that is the reason that I and my attorney stated for the divorce, adultery. In the beginning my attorney said I might change my mind and I told him that he didn’t know me very well. LOL
                I really have no idea why it makes a difference as it is no fault however, the truth is the truth is the truth and I certainly was not going to get in front of the judge and lie. I need to sleep with a clear conscience and not worry about making his life more comfortabe. 🙂 I guess, if the words hurt, just imagine how the actions feel.

              • I liked the honesty of it, personally. And where I live, you can get divorced very quickly on grounds of adultery. Everything else is a year wait.

        • My XW also was adamant about avoiding attorneys, claiming that depleting our savings would hurt the children. (As opposed to her adultery, which turned out marvelously for our children).

          With great skepticism I tried one session with a mediator. Between session one and two I discovered that my XW had told a mutual friend I had raped her and that children were not safe with me.

          I promptly hired a good attorney and my XW proceeded to drag me into divorce hell with additional vile lies. Thank god I came to my senses and realized that the person who had no problem deceiving and betraying our family had no intention of “playing nice.”

          • I still get told that I’m wasting our kid’s college funds. They don’t even have one and he is busy spending any extra money on toys for himself and OW!

        • Oh my loser STBX said the same thing..I want to work this out between us with no attorneys, we’ll save money, blah blah blah, here’s how much I can pay you every month. That amount of money he could pay me every month? Lasted a grand total of 2 months. After that, there was always an excuse for not giving me any money. Thank goodness my Dad stepped in and helped me financially so I could hire an attorney. I know that option isn’t available to is very tough to collect the retainer fee..and I really did luck out with my Dad helping me. I’ve said elsewhere on CL that I intend to pay Dad back, even if it’s $25 for the rest of my life. And STBX has been ordered to pay my attorney $1000 in temporary fees. Guess what? He hasn’t paid that, shocker! He is charged interest on that $1000 for not paying, too. I guess my advice is this: They lied about being faithful. What makes us think they won’t lie to us about everything else, including responsibility for their kids?

  • Whether you leave it in the agreement or not, and I agree it isn’t enforceable, please don’t get your child involved in policing Despicable Daddy.

    You can’t control anyone but yourself. He’s going to do what he wants anyway. Please don’t start asking your daughter who was at daddy’s house when she is there.

    Of course she will talk to you about the visits. Stay calm no matter what she says. Don’t try to get her on “your team” because no child deserves to be put in the middle of adult issues. Simply listen to what she has to say, remain calm, do not freak out in front of her, don’t explain why daddy is despicable and take appropriate action on anything actionable.

    This daddy will likely have many girlfriends and mistresses. There really is nothing you can do about that. If they do something inappropriate, illegal or dangerous in front of or to her, that’s when you get the authorities involved. If Despicable Daddy is just being an asshole, there really isn’t anything you can do about it.

    Involve as many safe and sane men in her life to show her that not all men are assholes. Teach her how to maintain her dignity in any situation. Teach her how to stand up for herself. Teach her how to be the best human she can be and teach her how to take care of herself and how not to be manipulated by other people. Any energy trying to control this daddy is simply wasted and will create tension for your daughter.

    I didn’t procreate I can’t tell you how glad I am that I didn’t. I know this is likely and untenable situation for most if not all parents in your situation. That said, I know that when parents freak out and fight in front of their kids it changes those kids forever. Even if you think you are keeping it all under wraps I caution you that kids are perceptive and try to figure things out and will 100% of the time blame themselves for anything bad going on.

    Please don’t allow that to happen to another child. Children should have a childhood in which they feel safe and protected and loved and with as little stress as possible.

    Focus your energy there for the sake of your child.

    I’m so sorry you are going through this. I understand why you want this clause. I fear it will only make it nearly impossible for your daughter to grow up without fallout from this situation.

    Take good care of you and her and try to move on as quickly as possible.

    • Thank you Samiam…to be honest this is pretty much what caused me to change my mind in the last week. I had to take a court-ordered online course about co-parenting…and it was the dumbest, most common sense and honestly ugly (I’m a graphic designer) PowerPoint, followed by the silliest True/False “test” afterward. I got a 100 on the thing, because it was honestly just very basic information. But, while taking it, I think it helped re-center me on to what is most important in all this.

      So, tearing up during a really dumb test, I realized that I just have to have to release him and his crazy to the Universe, and to focus on my kid. She is amazing and happy and loves everyone, including my idiot STBX, and I probably will do more harm in “protecting” her from any OW he decides to have around than to just force myself to trust that he’ll do what is right at least while his daughter is around.

      And I know, grilling her about what he does or any OW will do nothing but damage her. So no, I don’t want to put her in the middle of all this. At the best, she can have a good relationship with him (and yes, I try and give her great male role models as well, like my brother), and at worst, she’ll make up her own mind about him later and decide that he’s an ass. The best I can do is be her constant, and to always let her know that she had nothing to do with this, and that I’m not going anywhere.

      I am definitely fearful of her being damaged or hurt in all this. I was the “weird” one growing up in that my parents were together until my father passed away last year, so I don’t have a good frame of reference in raising a kid in a single-parent home. My STBX was raised in a single parent home, and both him and his brother are idiots and selfish (though I thought I had snagged the “good” one, lol!)…so I’m trying to figure out this balancing act along the way.

      • You are such an amazing Mom and you are an amazing person!

        I’m so sorry you are going through this!!


      • I think it’s possible that once you commit to never mentioning or responding to or acknowledging in any way that he is involved with other women, it will take lots of the fun out of those relationships for him. So if he has your daughter for the day and brings along Schmoopie #17, and you say not one word about it, he gets ZERO kibbles from the bait he laid out for you.

  • Thank you everyone, and CL, for your reply and comments! I really appreciate it.

    Over the last week, I think I came to the same basic conclusions on my own. That spending all the time fighting with STBX over this issue is more exhausting and just keeps him and his crazy IN my brain more than just dropping the morality clause (because, even IF he honored it, it would only keep OW away from my daughter between 10pm and 8am, she would still be an outlying factor during daylight hours).

    Believe me, I’d have no problem leaving it in and letting him marry the OW, just for the shear fact that I’m totally meh when it comes to my relationship with him (plus it would be slightly hilarious to see who cheats on the other first), but what has played a larger part in my decision is the fact that when we were “on good terms” when it comes to my daughter and visits, I was able to have updates when she was with him (as far as checking in to see how she’s doing, etc), and I was also able to control the when of visits through a Google calendar that I set up for us. Keeping this battle going creates a LOT of hostility, which my daughter doesn’t need to be exposed to.

    And, as CL pointed out, I need the break every now and then.

    STBX and OW seem to really want my approval, which I find hilarious, so I don’t think that either of them would ever put my daughter in harms way. I think they are just a couple of stupid, very selfish people, who feel very justified (or really want to feel that way) in there stupidity and selfishness. I can’t give them justification, but I think that my daughter would be “safe.”

    But don’t worry, I will definitely be going through my lawyer for the divorce, and will be expecting child support very soon, and not expecting it from his word of mouth, but through the proper channels.

    • Tired~ I am a year out from where you are now. My X and I have been separated for over a year. He moved right in with the OW and immediately had her around and extra involved in my 4 children’s lives when they visited him.

      I’m not going to lie. It hurt like hell in the beginning and infuriated me. But as time has gone on, I am very close to meh about it. I still am and always will be justifiably angry at her being around my kids, but I do not dwell on it, like I use to (understandably).

      I concluded that he was a crappy person when we were married, why would he change now? For his kids? Bah !! Not gonna happen! At least he is consistent, consistently a selfish ahole, that will always put his romantic relationships over the needs of his kids, and that I do count on.

      I echo CL’s sentiment. Be the sane one. That’s what I am doing, and that’s all we can do. My 9 year old said to me recently “Mom, I want to be with you always” I asked why? She said ” Because Daddy is crazy, his friends are all crazy, and Daddy and all of them are just weird” ~ And there it is. In time they will see and understand. You hold down the fort, be the sane one. It’s what WE consistently are.

      • Thanks, Freeatlast, it’s nice to know that the horrible thought of having another woman around my daughter lessens a bit over time.

        And I love that your son picked up on that. STBX is a salesman, so he can be very charismatic and “fun,” so I don’t know how much my daughter will be able to see through it – hell, it took me getting hit over the head with infidelity before I went “hey, you really ARE an a-hole.” Hopefully I can bring her up to be less naive and blind than I was. 😉

        • I think the kids will pick up on the sane parent, as long as they have a sane parent to follow. Remember that the insane parent can’t keep a lid on the crazy forever. They can try to keep it bottled up over the weekend, but there are a lot of weekends in a kid’s life, and once they start to get past the nice and compliant toddler stages and start exercising free will, the insane parent will lose control more easily. Over time, it may be that your daughter will express a desire to be with you more, or that your X will stop exercising his visitation rights–or perhaps exercising them only when he feels up to it. Right now, his daughter is still part of the pawn in the divorce play.

        • Oh yes, charisma. My X and his family are the MOST charismatic people that anyone has ever met. They are true charmers. But even the kids see and hear things that don’t add up. Kids love to sniff out hypocrisy and cheaters are full of it.

    • I think its quite true this could actually give him a control in your own life a few years down the road. I know right now, its unthinkable, but one day when you are healed and want to date he’ll pull that clause out just to spite you.
      Mine had a hissy about what a slutty parent i was for letting my BF sleep over and use a joint shower at my house when the kids weren’t around. Oh, the horror!! How about the toliet? is that off limits as well? Luckily I had no clause and he could do nothing but talk.

    • So glad about formal child support for you. That will get you the state into the business of making him pay up for the next 15 years so you don’t have to chase him, beg him, or try to collect money from him.

  • Cheaters don’t honor their word when they say their wedding vows, and they won’t honor their word when they agree to a morality clause. They generally don’t honor their word, period. And many will go out of their way to do anything they know you don’t want them to do just for spite. Expecting a cheater to honor a morals clause makes about as much sense as asking Donald Trump (or Kanye West, or Miley Cyrus) to honor a humility clause. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

    My cheating ex-wife agreed to a morals clause then broke it within 48 hours. I ran to my lawyer who said she could pursue it in court but it’d cost thousands and likely just result in another agreement she’d probably break. Wouldn’t my money be better spent rebuilding my life or saved against future therapy for my kids? Yeah, I guess so.

    Courts have enough to do trying to ensure that kids are safe (meaning, Dad’s not passed out drunk on the sofa with a lit cig ‘twixt his fingers while Toddler Teddy pokes around in the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink). They haven’t got time to police who this or that grown person is sleeping with or what time kids are going to bed or whether they’re eating too much frozen pizza. As my shrink told me, divorce means you live separate lives. That includes the time your ex spends in her separate life with you kid.

    Make a good home and you will always have a place in your kids’ life.

  • Ok. I have read almost every post on this blog, and I’ve agreed with every word CL has ever written till now. But in this case, I think the morality clause is BRILLIANT. It gives him an excuse to not see your child — and considering he’s a narcissist bastard, less time with him can only benefit her. It gives Tired a way to reduce or eliminate his visitation — and she doesn’t even have to push for it, he just gives it up on his own! I think that’s fabulous. Take advantage of it. If she’s really lucky maybe he’ll marry the OW AND never see their kid again. I know that’s tough on the child, but it’s better than being manipulated and abused by a narcissist. Of course I agree Tired can’t control what he does, but if he feels threatened/controlled and used that as an excuse to step away? WONDERFUL. Enjoy the no contact, Tired. I wish my STBX would do the same.

    • It’s a good point you make – depending on Tired’s view of the depth of his disorder, she might just want to use this tactic. If she did though, she’d have to accept that she would never be able to enforce the clause. Everyone says it’s tough on the child to not see the disordered parent, but having lived with one, I’d rather have not known him. Yes, I might have idealized him in his absence, but it would have been better than learning how to hate my own father.

      • Well and that’s the thing…he claims to very much want to be a part of our daughter’s life, and wanted to go ahead and go to court right away to get temporary orders, until his lawyer told him that if he did that, the morality clause would most definitely be in effect until the divorce was finalized.

        I mean, perhaps when all is said and done it might just be another divorce pawn, and his interest in seeing her will taper off. I hope not for HER sake, because she needs to at least know him, it’s only better for her if he actually does make a conscious effort to see her and be as much as a dad as he can be from 150 miles away.

        Don’t get me wrong, it would be MUCH easier to not have to deal with him at all, but I can’t imagine how that would effect my daughter. :/

        It’s definitely a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kinda situation it seems.

        • He ‘CLAIMS’ to very much want to be a part of our daughter’s life….

          Yeah, ‘CLAIMS’ is the key word here. Check back in a year or so and let’s see how devoted this paragon of virtue is….

          • I don’t know of anybody in their right mind that would have the balls (and sheer stupidity) to not want to agree to a morality clause. No descent human being would have a problem with it.

            I’m with Lulu on this…..all his CLAIMS don’t mean crap – he didn’t like the clause so he objects by refusing to see his own daughter! Is this the kind of man you want in her life? Hon…narcissists make really bad parents, and they do a job on their kids. The best you can hope for is him staying out of her life. If the morality clause accomplishes it, keep it in. Not being around this piece of crap IS the best thing you can do for her. I’m sorry he isn’t a better person for his daughter’s sake, but it is what it is. You’ve got the lesser of two evils to choose from….choose wisely.

  • ExH and I used a mediator, spoke with our kids’ therapist, and voluntarily put the morality clause in. No new mates with the kids in the house overnight, slow introduction of romantic partners to the kids ,etc.

    Go to find out, STBX, after signing the document (I had not yet done so) was planning on moving PREGNANT AP in while I was on an overseas work trip. Kids had never met her.
    When I asked him, he said “I thought it did not refer to HER, just one night stands.” Uh, huh. Liar. I have a bridge to sell you…

    Worst part, daughter knew about it, but was told to not tell me because I would be mad.
    We changed the agreement to add a clause about AP….and they promptly got around it by getting married and having a different baby (first miscarried) only 5 months post divorce finalization.

    It saddens me for my kids that exH is so selfish, and so blinded.
    I am a child of divorce. My father abandoned the family, and only returned to marry the AP. I do not have a relationship with my father or his OWife. The mortality agreement was put in the help exH salvage a relationship with the kids (focus on them during his time, ) but he does not see it that way.

    His loss.

    • “Worst part, daughter knew about it, but was told to not tell me because I would be mad.”

      Stuff like this breaks my heart. Kids should never be put in that position. 🙁

      • Yes, the whole situation breaks my heart on behalf of my kids.
        Daughter sees the lies and is struggling at the moment (she was a daddy’s girl).
        Son is younger, so still innocent.

        And oops on the typo.. Not mortality (though maybe the is some sort of Freudian slip…

      • Cheaters and APs are emotionally stunted, and also self-centered. They are not invested in the well-being of their children, and therefore cannot be trusted to not say and do damaging things to their children, or in spite of their children, no matter how many words they use to say they “love” their children.

        Cheaters suck.

    • My ex tried to get one of my kids to lie to me about meeting final OW and my kid came home so stressed I immediately knew something was up. I asked what was going on and he fell apart. So I ripped ex and final OW a new one for trying to get my kid to lie and yes, I was the bad guy and somehow it became about me being a terrible, terrible person.

      Whatever. Do your thing, let him/her fuck up all on their own and simply do not engage.

      • I think a way to be proactive about all of this is to tell kids who are old enough to understand that they don’t have to lie for either of you. (I say either of you so it doesn’t seem like you are calling the other person a liar and try to keep the conversation neutral…hope that makes sense) That they can tell you the truth and come to you about anything they are concerned about.

        Then, just listen if they tell you something that they were told to lie about, remain extremely calm and thank them for trusting you enough to tell you. Help them work out their feelings about it. Some stuff like that doesn’t need you to confront the cheater because, well, they are a liar to begin with and you will never get through to them. The main thing is for you children to know that they can talk to you about anything.

        Helping kids understand that they don’t have to run interference is important up front, imo.

  • So he is going to marry someone he otherwise would not be marrying in order to spite you? Go get ’em, tiger!

    In reality, whether you leave it in or don’t leave it in, he will probably marry her anyway because he’s a jackass and she has the holy grail in her crotch.

    I won’t comment on leaving the clause in other than sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. People like him, once they figure out you want something, will not let you have it. They will use it against you and dangle it like a carrot. They don’t care. Out of all of our property, my ex would not let me keep the only thing I asked for, which was a single bedroom set that I picked out. He didn’t even give a shit if I had something to sleep on.

    CL is also right he probably is not going to be around much, if at all, for your daughter. He is already looking for excuses and his actions are aimed at you but hurt her.

    • I swear to you ex ended up with final OW simply to spite me. He more or less told me and the kids as much. And I swear that 90% of what he does these days is still based on trying to bait me, piss me off or somehow get a rise out of me. Which will never happen again so he can piss into the wind with that bullshit.

    • “and she has the holy grail in her crotch. ”
      Oh man..thanks for the laugh Dr.!!

  • Tired Momma, if I were you, I’d drop the morality clause because it’s unenforceable. I’d also tell him that’s the REASON you dropped it. However, child support IS enforceable and IMO you need to get right on that.

    Don’t be surprised if he eventually stops bothering to see your daughter. My Jackass of an XH lives five miles away. He stopped seeing our minor children because I wouldn’t make them drop everything and go clean out his garage with only an hour’s warning. He declared that I was preventing him from seeing them and repeated the story so often that he believes it. The man is delusional.

    He and the OW broke up before our divorce was final, and he started dating a woman who was separated but not divorced. I asked him not to introduce the minor children to her while she was still married to another man. Of course he agreed to my request, and of course he broke his word. She (and her adult son!) moved in with him a year before her divorce was final.

    My kids are all adults now and 4 of the 5 have no relationship whatsoever with him. The other one has a very unhealthy relationship.

    • I would NOT tell the stbx the true reason for dropping it. There are better ways to use the dropping of it since Tired is still negotiating her settlement.

      I’m also not sure I’m on board advising going hardcore on the child support while negotiations are ongoing. I’m betting as soon as the morality clause is dropped he’ll catch up.

      • “I’m also not sure I’m on board advising going hardcore on the child support while negotiations are ongoing.”
        I’ll disagree with you on that one, Datdamwuf. Only because I know from experience how hard it is to get by without that support. Especially if it’s a situation like mine..STBX stopped paying every single bill that we have in both of our names, and it all fell to me. I am the responsible one..I don’t want my wages garnished because bills aren’t getting paid. So here I am, paying all expenses for everything..kid, bills and more. STBX isn’t paying a damn dime, just free-wheeling around America with not a thought in his mind. (Which isn’t unusual by the way). The FIRST thing my attorney did was get child support going for me. It IS their responsibility. They brought the kid into the world with wasn’t divine is damn well their responsibility to help pay for everything. Male, female..I don’t care. The non-custodial HAS to pay in my mind, from Day 1. No excuses!!

      • My guess is that if he is balking on a morality clause, he’s going to blow f’ing up on the child support.

        • That’s what’s great about letting the state set the support amount, collect the money, and keep track of arrearages. I know a few divorced people who were able to agree about child support privately, but men who want to live their lives without child support liens, garnished IRS refunds, and possible jail time will pay up.

  • Tired Momma,

    You’re not crazy or wrong to want your ex to act like an adult, but CL is right in that you will make yourself miserable trying to enforce it. Do everything you can to disengage from this manchild, and continue being a great mom. He seems to be enjoying the centrality, here. Take that away from him. Your daughter is the rightful owner of your attention.

    And then don’t forget about you. You will be in a better as you get to “meh.” Less tired, more happy. 🙂

  • The thing about co-parenting with disordered types is that they often don’t care that much about their kids, and quickly get bored, then disappear once the kids aren’t fun anymore, turn into opinionated teens or aren’t useful props for pretending to be Dad/Mom of the Year.

    My bio dad was a cheater and a cold, emotionally stunted man who left to marry his OW when I was six. I stopped going for visitation when I was 13, and he didn’t bother keeping our relationship going after that. I only saw him five more times between 13 and 31, when he died. But you know what? His abandoning our family left my mother free to marry a wonderful man two years later, a great guy who was a fantastic step-father to me right up until he died 11 years ago. So in the end, it turned out well.

    I’ve written plenty about the crazy and awful things my ex has pulled on our son, and there has been a lot more awful stuff I haven’t bothered to write about. Son was 13 when we split, just turned 18. Ex pulled his worst stunt yet a month ago, and since then, son has gone NC on him. Son has said for years he would eventually sever the relationship, now it has happened. I think kids generally realize when a parent is disordered and often end the relationship on their own once old enough, if the disordered parent hasn’t disappeared long before then.

    Anyway, hang in there, Tired. Don’t bother with morality clause. Your ex is a scum bucket, and most likely will disappear on his own once he gets bored of the 150 mile drive. Surround your daughter with better examples of real men, and I bet she will turn out just fine.

    • “The thing about co-parenting with disordered types is that they often don’t care that much about their kids, and quickly get bored, then disappear once the kids aren’t fun anymore, turn into opinionated teens or aren’t useful props for pretending to be Dad/Mom of the Year. ”
      Well said, Glad! I am discovering that STBX is more of an asshole than I thought. The first 2 months after Dday, he saw our daughter quite often. He was Super Dad, too..they would go to movies, out to eat, all the fun stuff Mom couldn’t afford. But since then? Visitation has slowly decreased. Sometimes he doesn’t even call her for days. I don’t think he’s seen her for 5 weeks now. But in his warped mind, I’m sure he’s still Super Dad! Just wearing his invisibility cloak, I guess.

  • Tired, tell him to marry the OW. That would be the best thing for them. Letting them have each other would be the most rotten thing you can do to them. Seriously. But I know the issue is with your daughter. You can’t really control who he sees and that is hard to deal with. However, your husband’s relationship with the OW will eventually go up in flames. And your h is probably not going to be such a great father anyway. He already isn’t. Good parents don’t commit adultery and destroy lives. The novelty of being a good father will wear off once your jackass finds it too boring, too tiresome, takes too much effort and responsibility. And the scumwhore OW most likely will not want a young child there just taking all of her boyfriend’s time away—way too much competition!! That child might mention you or cry about why Daddy isn’t home or cause other disruptions that make people think about what the fuck they’re doing. And these people cannot think about things. Oh no.
    The whole thing sucks, but your daughter will realize the truth. She really will. Your h and his OW are getting what they deserve–each other.

  • Tired, my ex husband also told mutual friends that he would just marry the affair partner within 30 days of our divorce being finalized, lol! They. Are. All. The Same. I also couldn’t have cared less about that.

    I did however drop the morality cause that I wanted after reading CL advice. I hated being the marriage police (and I was so lucky because it was only 3 weeks of bogus reconciliation, thank GOD) so I truly did not want to be the divorce police. How would I prove it anyway? Driving past his apartment and taking pictures at midnight? What would that prove anyway? His lawyer could easily come up with some nonsense excuse that a Judge would buy. Or would I ask my 4 year old? I know she would tell the truth but NO Judge would take a 4 year old’s word. You’re just wasting your time, and I know it hurts like hell to hear that, but it’s the truth. Neither your ex not that whore care one smidgen about you or what you want. If they did, you wouldn’t be a Chump.

    Another reason I dropped the morality cause on my own was because I didn’t want to limit myself to my own rules. What if I found the perfect man (which, btw, I totally did) and wanted him to spend time with us. I have my daughter 24 days a month so I would be the one who would ultimately suffer from my own morality clause.

    He is a vile excuse of a man and she’s a whore. And you? You’re MOMMY and that is the best.

  • The thing that strikes me about this situation is that … what OW is going to want to babysit his small child. I would be willing to bet most OW would take the chance to go to the spa while he has his parental visits. Hosting a small child is not the most appealing chore for a childless woman, at least it wasn’t for me in my pre-children days!

    The fact that he has a small child will really cramp his dating style. Not the best recommendation … geee…. a Dad who walked away from his first marriage by choice.

    Or if he and OW have their own kid, I can just imagine how that will cut down on his energy level or willingness to spend any time with his ‘first child’. This is all so sad.

    It’s true you cannot control who he has in the house during visits. However, holding him to the support payments is essential to do soon. Otherwise he’ll be spending that money on things and people who are not his daughter.

  • CL is dead-on here. My ex does all sorts of things in an attempt to screw with me because he wants to control me and probably also wants to prove that I’m not the boss of him. My family and friends think I should rush to my lawyer, but I just tell them what CL has said here– no judge is going to care if my ex sends me condescending emails, doesn’t stick up for his own children when his stepchildren are in the wrong, or forces the Owife on our children at every turn. As long as they aren’t being abused and he’s paying child support, I don’t have a case.

    My ex did marry the OW, and I was upset and tormented at first. Now, although I don’t like it that my kids have to be subjected to her because she’s as crappy a parent as my ex is, I realize that I have to move past it and realize that there isn’t anything I can do except be a good mom to my kids and be here for them when they come back from visitation with stories about the cheater parents’ suckitude.

    Furthermore, since my ex still does whatever he can to be difficult, methinks that all is not so wonderful in Cheater Unicorn Land. If my ex is so fabulously happy, why does he continue to jab at me in whatever way he can? I am a pretty damn good ex– I don’t badmouth him, I encourage our kids to feel upbeat about their visitation to him (and have never kept them from visitation), I’ve never asked for a dime beyond CS and his half of the medical reimbursement, and I stay out of his life as much as is humanly possible when you share children. Yet, he just has to keep being difficult… CL is right when she says that the worst punishment those two can experience is being married to each other, and based on my experience, I’m starting to think that she’s right.

    Hang in there… it will take time, but you’ll feel less and less pain and fear about your child being around the OW (if she even sticks around that long). And if they do get married? So be it. Let them dig their mutual graves together while you and your DD move on to enjoy a great life.

    • His hatefulness has nothing to do with you or how polite, reasonable and accomodating you are. He’s hateful because he’s a hateful person and he’s going to punish you whether you have it coming or not. If their isn’t some perceived slight, he’ll just make something up out of thin are. It’s how these guys roll.

  • This particular OW has had three children, and only custody of one – she lost the others to their fathers – I don’t know the reasons, but she was found to be an unfit and unstable mom at the time. This was another reason I really didn’t want her around my daughter, because I think she’s ready to jump in with both feet to have a happy little family with STBX. She has her 14 year old daughter, who apparently has to be the “parent” between the two of them on many occasions.

    Again, this is what makes me nervous to have her around my daughter, but I guess will only help out my reputation with my her, if OW is around for that long for my daughter to actually be able to see and make such comparisons.

    • Oh this was meant as a reply to Marci – sorry I didn’t hit reply in the right place!

    • My lawyer once told me that if the OW did not get custody of her kids (which she did), it would be for a significant reason since most women don’t typically just give up custody to their ex-husbands. That might be worth looking into via your lawyer or a private investigator. If she has a history of drug abuse, drunk driving, etc., then you might have a case. I’d ask your lawyer and see what he/she says about it. That looks like a huge red flag to me.

      • I agree with MovingOn. It’s VERY rare for a mother to lose custody. If you’re talking about a woman who has 3 kids with 3 different baby-daddies and has lost custody of 2 of them, then it might be wise to do a background check on her. You might turn up some kind of criminal record. You CAN legally prevent your stbxh from exposing your child to a criminal.

        • I tried that as well. A friend in law enforcement ran a background check, and she has no criminal record.

          I think she honestly is just really really dumb, and selfish. I cannot imagine giving up my custody. We’re in Texas for crying out loud – if she really wanted her kids, there’s no way that case would have been lost. :/

          • OMG. What could he possibly see in her besides some easy sex. Talk about baggage. She must have screwed up hugely to be in that situation with two kids elsewhere. He’s probably in what I think of as the blurry stage where the affair is going on, but the partipants haven’t stopped long enough to truly examine their choices. I can’t see them lasting.

          • She might have willingly given up her kids, which says to me she is much more interested in screwing than child rearing. Maybe the reason your husband isn’t seeing his daughter has more to do with the fact that Skankalina isn’t interested in being around your kid.

            You seriously need to find out why this woman doesn’t have her children. If she doesn’t like kids, I’d be damned if I’d let her around mine.

          • MY XH (not a cheater) literally had to move back into his house when his former wife called him and said she was giving up custody of their child. The kid evidently cramped her style.

    • This is really scary to me. It’s hard on kids to be around a revolving door of girlfriends or boyfriends, but it’s a disaster to be around someone abusive. Get a private eye or talk to her exes.

      If a morality clause won’t keep her away, don’t let your ex have your kid over night. You can ask your lawyer if it makes more sense to go with limiting his access or letting him drift away.

      I think our culture right now overemphasizes the importance of time with both parents without looking at the harm caused by a connection to a truly bad parent.

      • Just be vigilant and if anything happens with this person that is a red flag, get a lawyer involved.

        I know you can maybe save money without a lawyer, but sometimes it is worth having a lawyer on your side for now and for the future.

  • There’s nothing “fair” about divorce. Morality clauses are pointless because our family probate courts run on the collection of fees. Our case doesn’t matter; just our financials.

    I mistakenly thought I would get my day in court, to state my case and get what was a fair settlement. I’d been cheated on, lied to, robbed, emotionally abused, neglected, slandered and left for dead. My kids were also robbed, manipulated, abandoned, lied to and emotionally abused thanks to X’s “fabulous summer of me and my twu wuv.” Surely, the judge would weigh our case and rule in my favor. I’d receive recompense for the money he stole and some public validation that yes indeed, this guy turned out to be a selfish asswipe, a poser and hypocrite who fucked another woman and then went with her to Sunday mass the next morning while I was home with the kids.

    Hello. My name is Chutes and Ladders, and I’m an idiot.

    After the 4 minute hearing, I went back to work divorced and demolished. There would be no check deposited to my account to repay what had been stolen to fund his affair. There was no public acknowledgement of wrongdoing. X went on an extended vacation funded by our (once) retirement nest egg. Fifteen months later and he has yet to return to work. And, why should he? He can live quite comfortably with his bimbo who works while he sits on his inheritance money and skates from paying full child support for our kids.

    Unless one has a bottomless bank account and can squeeze every ounce of justice from the cheater through contempt hearings, it doesn’t matter a wit that one spouse failed to uphold his/her promise to be faithful. Or pay full child support. Or not have sex offenders around his house when our son visits. Or pay off his portion of the outstanding bills. Or… whatever. Life is just a bottomless bowl of cherries when you don’t give a shit about consequences. Because, THERE ARE NONE.

    That’s not a blindfold on Lady justice; she’s just inhaling the sweet smell of cash in her packed billfold that we paid dearly for the privilege to leave a loser.

    • I feel you about the child support thing, ChutesandLadders. My ex has never consistently paid the small amount of child support he was court-ordered to. He would constantly switch jobs so they wouldn’t know where he was working currently, work under the table so they couldn’t garnish his wages, and then just quit working. Child support agency seems largely unconcerned by this.

      I have a friend whose ex has NEVER paid child support, ever, in the child’s whole life. Rarely does visitation. And yet, he drags her back to court all the time, so she will have to pay $$$ to the lawyer, to argue that he should get more visitation that he never uses. Judges never seem to care that he’s never paid the court-ordered child support – he gets a job around that time to show he’s “trying,” then immediately quits it.

    • I hear you. My ex owes me over $40K in child support right now. He owes me $5K settlement on our old house. He owes me $2.5K for our son’s braces. He quit the job where he was very successful and made over $100K per year the moment we separated and has refused to work a regular job since. He never bothered to send his financial disclosure or other paperwork to the state child support agency, they never did a thing about that. I told them repeatedly he was working under the table, they did nothing. He never notified them about his many moves, I sent them the info if I knew it. No consequences of any type whatsoever. Now he has asked them to modify his ordered support, they agreed it should be so, and suddenly I am ordered to appear in court with him a couple months from now. I know perfectly well that ex will cry to the judge that he is so poor, that he cannot find work, that he has nothing, sob boo hoo. And the judge will lower his support to basically nothing.

      I try not to think about the fact that my ex will never experience any consequences for anything he has done (well, other than the consequence of being himself) and I am very, very unlikely to ever get the money he owes me. Unfortunately a lot of these fuckwads get away with their actions, never face consequences, never feel remorse and never make amends.

      • I don’t know how long these clowns can go without employment, but I will relate my experience.

        My oldest daughter’s biological parent never paid child support. When I moved, we were no longer even living in the same state. He never went to court to file for child support abatement when he was not working, so the meter kept running. I worked very hard to make sure that the state in which he lived went after him for child support, taking off time from work, calling, and being fortunate enough to talk to people who were willing to help me navigate through a broken and indifferent system. Yes, the squeaky wheel does sometimes get the oil.

        Once my child turned 18, I filed a judgment against him through the child support system. That child now has a child of her own and is in her mid-30’s. I have been receiving child support payments regularly for the past 18 months or so, which is the longest stretch since I filed for child support (she was 18 months when I filed) that I have consistently received anything.

        You will probably never recoup all that he has taken from you and that he owes you, but you may be surprised down the line how some of it may come back to you.

        I am a firm believer in the James Baldwin quote, “People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”

  • Tired Momma I feel you!! I cringe from the inside out when I think of the OW’s hands on my child (she is 10 months, her dad left when she was 10 weeks old for OW slut pig). He loves to blame me too – that he doesn’t see my daughter more often because of ME, because I object to the baby being around the skank with no soul. Clearly, he chooses to spend time doing what HE wants with OW, rather than prioritizing his daughter. But CL is right, we can’t expect douchewads who don’t think the rules of the world apply to them to take any heed of our requests. What has helped me get through this shit storm is to keep it all business with the x – it infuriates him that I act like I don’t care that he is gone. Feels good to have a pinch of power back, and certainly good to have such a draining mind fuck out of my daily life.

    Good luck, sending you tons of love.

  • It SUCKS when the kid/s are exposed to the OW/OM! I hate it, and it really burns me up. I don’t want that skank anywhere near my kids. She and STBX live a lifestyle that I don’t want my children exposed to..always getting drunk at the bar and getting in fights, just for starters. Really high class, I tell ya. I’ve raised my kids better than that. It’s NOT ok for my kids to be around her. But what can we do? As I’m working on my divorce settlement, one of the clauses I’m trying to put in is that he can’t take our 12 year old daughter out of state without my written permission. The O’Skank lives in another state, thank God. I don’t want my kid dragged across America for hours on end because the asshat wants to have the little “Daddy and step-Mom” thing. I don’t know how everyone here has coped with this..but I can’t. It eats me up inside.

    • I think the “out of state” clause is a good idea for lots of reasons. Jackass’s X was an idiot about it–wouldn’t let him drive to an event 90 minutes away because technically it was in another state. But it gives the custodial parent an opportunity to veto travel that might, for example, be exhausting on a weekend during the school year when kids have homework and activities.

  • I am fortunate to have had a conflict-free divorce. This was mostly because my ex was still hiding her affair at the time and was playing nice. Also because I didn’t ask for more than I needed – 50% custody and my equity in the house.

    Everyone above who has said you can’t do anything about your ex’s parenting style is absolutely correct. My ex does many things I do not agree with. In her mind, these things are harmless. She can’t see her own narcissism, though, and how it’s rubbing off on our daughter.

    Just be the counter example, as calmly as you can.

  • I, too, had a conflict-free divorce. My ex was terrified I would confront the final OW (I did the first two) and agreed to everything.

    Tired, the more you disengage, the healthier for you. Unfortunately, a piece of paper will not magically transform a morally-challenged cheater.

  • Tired,

    These “You Are Not The Boss of Me People,” do not care what is written on paper. My STBX feels free to disregard anything that interferes with him doing whatever it is he wants to do. Want to stash money for a vacation with the OW and screw over the mother of your children? Stop paying the mortgage. Why would he care if the house goes into foreclosure? He’ll be living with the OW and will have enough money not worry about it. Marriage vows? PFFFT! Who cares about any stinkin’ marriage vows? Job? Don’t want to work it anymore because he just doesn’t wanna? Retire early – that way, the ole soon to be ex-wife can’t come after him for anything. Spent up all of her money? Too bad for her.

    These people don’t do responsibility and accountability. Rules? They make their own rules. They don’t care what you think or how you feel, unless it works to their benefit somehow. If you think the clause will work to yours or your precious daughter’s benefit in the future, then by all means, keep it. However, if you think your STBX is going to abide by it, you’re wasting your time and energy. He has shown himself to be a selfish, self-absorbed, navel-gazing idiot.

    That was a difficult pill for me to swallow – when I finally had to accept the fact that Cheater McTurdmeister, really could care less what I thought or how I felt.

    Good luck to you. You’re a good mom and great person. Trust me on this – the less time your precious baby spends around your STBX, the less time she will have to spend with a therapist later on.

  • My overnight problem is not the OW (yet) but her dogs! STBX is taking care of OW’s two PITBULLS until she finds a job in my hometown (2,000 miles from hers)…he tells me the dogs are always outside during daytime visits but he brings them inside their kennels placed in their living room OVERNIGHT! I’ve been told I can’t do anything…during mediation, however, we added a “note” that says: “Father agrees children will not be left unattended with pet pitbull dogs.”. Although, I want to trust he is taking the right precautions to avoid any contact, I do still worry. Especially since according to, “over half of fatal attacks are caused by pitbulls despite the breed being regulated in over 700 cities and military housing areas” (ironic he works for the federal government). And “over half of the victims are under 7 years and younger, mostly males. Where, attacks occur in “new” or “temporary” place”. We have three boys ages 5, 3 and 1 year old and visitation occurs at his house! Of course I’ve warned STBX of the danger but he has responded is non of my business and he “knows” how to take care of the kids. He has never been a “dog person” and now he is defending “his breed”. It just sounds crazy to me!

    • We cope because we no longer lie to ourselves. My ex was never as committed to our marriage/relationship as I was. Imagine living with someone who isn’t living a secret life and lying to you. As for my ex he married his out of state whore and my kids have a new Mom…! Uh NO. Kids are too smart to buy into that fairy tale. Do be kind to yourself, you are still grieving the person you thought you loved. (Hugs)

      • Good point. My shrink once commented to me that my ex and I were working to different agendas during our marriage. I was committed to the family and making things “work”; she wanted a secure base of operations, like a safe house.

  • TiredMomma, yes! Keep your eyes on the prize; what YOU and your daughter need is the most important thing to focus on. Dismiss the clause but use it as a negotiating tool, focus on the finances, and focus on your future (and your daughter’s). Education expenses increase every year and you may want to negotiate a shared contribution to extracurricular expenses and college expenses if that is what you want for her. Also address what you may need. Pendente lite is support that is temporarily paid to a lower earning spouse until a final settlement is reached. Child support and maintenance, if applicable, should be pursued at the very first court date. If your STBX fails to pay then pursue child support through Children’s Services (they will pursue a case separately and have enforcement powers). Do your homework. There is a lot of info online. There are formulas for both child support and spousal. Your lawyer will sit back and let you figure it out and truth is most settlements are agreed to by those divorcing but get that lawyer working for you. Narcs are difficult to divorce because ex spouses “don’t deserve anything,” They will shirk every responsibility and often dissipate assets before you are ever aware of OW/OM. Although a fucked up family court may screw you over anyway (judges are biased too) you can use your lawyer to put into writing what consequences there will be if a payment is not made. Add interest. Contempt of court hearing may help as well. A divorce financial analyst is a great investment. Share the cost. On paper you will be able to see your future and so will your STBX. Good luck. Know life is going to be better. You will not be involved with someone who lies to you every day.

  • I had a no 3rd party in my parenting clause. He was living with ho- worker. Lying to his attorney. It was accepted into the final decree. NOW. CL is right in who is going to enforce it. Luckily my son was 14 and wanted nothing to do with his lying cheating sperm donor he called his father

  • Tired Momma:

    I feel for you and am sending you hugs like the others! It is good that you have a lawyer and it sounds like you are doing well working through your next steps.

    I think that taking the morality clause out works in your favor. It gives him one thing that he asked for plus this clause is the one thing that is also OK for you to give up. You want to stick to the bigger things that you are not going to budge on like his child support payments. I think that not fighting him on his wish for the morality clause can work in your favor because you are not stonewalling everything (in his eyes). You give on this one thing only will not make you go down the slippery slope of caving on other things (hold your ground on the rest) so you will not lose power. But, it can show him that he does not have to ramp up and fight harder and amp up more crazy because of you. He can do his crazy on his own without using you as a scapegoat which he has already pegged you as from his pinning things on you (his not paying child support, visiting, holding things up because you are not removing the clause, threatening to marry OW because or your actions).

    Whether or not he marries the OW in 30 days after the divorce, or she is living there now, or they break up could change on a whim so keep those scenarios out of your decisions for what you do. I say this because of his comments about how if you don’t take the clause out, he will marry her 30 days after the divorce is final. He could be planning on doing it anyway and just threw that in to make you jump. He could also be testing you to see if you still care by taking the bait (you don’t want them to get married). Or, he could be looking for an excuse to tell the OW why he changed his mind on NOT marrying her. Leaving the clause in when he requested that it be taken out could be his excuse for bailing on both of you. Since we can’t figure out crazy, we just go around in circles trying to see what they might or might not do because of our actions but really, they can change their plans and then, change the rules to justify their plans being different now.

    So, whatever you say or do — don’t let it be about him changing his actions. He has given an excuse for not paying child support and he has given an excuse for not doing visitations. Don’t comment or question or advice him on any of these actions or changes to his current behavior. You want him to realize that what he does or does not do is not in any way dependent on your actions. He can get hit by the court system for his back payments and future payments and this has no bearing on whether or not there was a morality clause in your paperwork. They are two separate issues. Also, whether he keeps up his visitation or not has to be a separate issue from the clause now since you want to stay out of arguments along the lines of “but, you said that if I took the clause out, you would……” He will just talk around in circles to meet his current needs and he also gets kibbles from you. So, whether you keep the clause or take it out, it has nothing to do with what he is going to do in response to you.

    I dealt with a similar type of exH who had a mindset that every thing was a game and that he had to win, at all costs. So, if I asked him to do something, he would do the opposite just to not have to do what I wanted. I learned to just not ask him to do anything. He would also try and play the victim so that he could win with sympathy. You can’t win that game either. Either you get hooked by showing some empathy and he keeps running with that, or you don’t take the bait and he thinks that you are cold and callous. Stay out of all conversations about anything regarding his life. You are in a competition with him to see who lands post-divorce in the best light (it is a game for him) so the less that you say, ask, or comment about his life and the less that you know about his life, the better. You can be neutral towards his plans and just keep your focus on you.

    I had two things that really saved me. One was that I repeated to myself to “take your peace” every time that I was in his presence. It helped me to keep silently saying that to myself so that I would not engage. I got away from him as quickly as possible and could vent in the car but in front of him, I tried to show nothing. Breathing and telling myself to take my peace kept me from reacting. The other thing that I have heard you mention a few times is that you are fearful about your daughter in his company and in the OW’s company. Totally valid and understood. If you believe in angels, there is a scripture that you can pray for your daughter.

    Psalms 34:7
    The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

    The word “fear” in this sentence means “reverence” or respect to God, not that we are scared of him.

    I know of a number or parents who have prayed for God to put angels around their kids to protect them and deliver them from harm. The stories of their children being protected are amazing. I had angels save my life also when my exH tried to kill me when I told him that I was leaving him. (I did not know that if you are going to leave a man, it is best not to tell him first — just go. Learned my lesson!) He came after me in a rage to try to choke me to death but instead, he bounced off an invisible wall in front of me and could not touch me. He tried three times and bounced off that invisible wall three times. Invisible angels were in front of me. Blew my mind but I became a believer when I witnessed him not being able to lay a hand on me. Another lesson was that even though he had never laid a hand on me or done any physical violence in the past, when I told him that I was leaving ( I had found a separate bank account in his name and that was enough for me to walk), he couldn’t let me win so better to kill me than let me divorce him. It was a game for him to win at all costs but I didn’t see it until much later. Pray for your daughter to be surrounded by angels if you have faith in prayer. It may help you feel more secure when she is at his place knowing that she can be protected while there and in your absence.

    When I realized that he was in a game and winning was his high, I saw much more clearly how to not play that game and to not give him the satisfaction of being in competition comparing his life to mine. I went NC, went private, and let him make his decisions without the hook of them being dependent on what I was doing. So much freedom and rest is yours once you get out of the drama and the connections with him. Stay mighty, and know that you are a great mom!! You deserve good things in your future and you will get them. Keep looking forward and let the two of them do their disorders without being a piece in their chess game.

  • Brilliant, Marie!
    Momma, it is VERY hard to understand that they are this disordered. That their emotions just do not go that deep, that their computations are this inhumane. It took me the longest time. Marie got it quickly.
    They are not fully functioning humans, so the worst thing you can do, is expect it. All that does, it set you up: to be surprised, enraged, etc. etc.
    We literally are that replaceable. Domestic appliance, excitement appliance. Even the non-violent ones like my H, operate on the emotional level of a marsupial.

  • My ex wanted full custody of our kids after he cheated and I threw him out. He said I was depressed (well yeah serial cheating made me sad and depressed for a bit like), and not fit to mother his children. So he went from wanting full custody to then not pitching up sometimes for the access he was granted. Also sometimes when he did pitch up he’d leave kids with a relative so he could go out with OW.

    I hated that the OW got to be around my kids – it is the biggest shit sandwich of all really and cheaters know this and it’s just another way of hurting you and not spending quality time on their own with their kids. It’s because they’re weak and spineless and don’t really give a shit about their own children.

    Even as recently as last weekend he rang me an hour before he was supposed to pick kids up saying he had to go out because someone from work was leaving and it was all a bit last minute. When I said no, come and pick your kids up, they have their bags packed and are waiting her said I was inflexible and bitter and he was going to go out anyway. I was so upset, I ended up feeling really down for days. This is seven years after he wanted full custody!

  • I agree that the clause, in and of itself, is unenforceable.

    But I think you should keep it. First, putting the clause in sets you up as a parent with standards in the eyes of the law. Second, if he behaves in such appalling ways that you eventually need to go back to court, the fact that he has violated multiple parts of the custody agreement will work in your favor. Third, he is still pulling your strings, and if he weren’t fussing about this stipulation, he’d be fussing about another one. Stand your ground.

    If he offers something you want more than this clause–i.e. he’ll give up his Christmas visits or pay more child support, then go ahead and use the clause as a bargaining chip. But do not give it up just to make him shut up.

    My STBX went nuts over the same clause in our agreement. It served me in good stead, eventually. Not because the judge cared who he was sleeping with, but because the judge cared that he was paying no heed to any part of the agreement.

    You won’t get another chance to lay out the ways you want to co-parent. Chumplady is right that you won’t be able to enforce good co-parenting, but you can use your initial custody agreement to set a baseline standard of what you value– just remember that the audience for this document is not your EX (we already know he doesn’t give a shit), but mediators, lawyers, judges, and social workers in the future might.

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