Dear Chump Lady,
I left my cheater husband two years ago after learning he had been having sex with prostitutes intermittently throughout our relationship (pre- and during marriage). I went through counseling with him, but finally filed for divorce last year when all I was getting was the Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse.
We have two little girls and I’ve been home raising them since they were born, while he was working and engaging in other extra curricular activities. He quit his job (he says he was fired, but I think he’s lying) and starting fighting for 50/50 custody. Since we couldn’t agree on custody we got a Guardian Ad Litem appointed and after meeting with both of us and seeing us with the kids and interviewing family and friends, she has given him very close to 50/50 custody.
I am devastated. I don’t think this is what’s right for my kids. But I also know that going through a trial will be difficult both emotionally and financially and I may end up with exactly what the GAL recommended anyway.
Bottom line I suppose is: how do I deal with the fundamental unfairness and injustice of this situation? He goes and screws prostitutes, puts my life and the lives of my children at risk and yet he gets to work less and see his kids more while I didn’t do anything wrong and I have to work more and see my kids less. How is this fair?
Dear Frustrated Mom,
It’s not fair. It’s horribly unjust.
Personally, I think the no fault divorce ethos has gone waaaaaay too far. Fact is marriages break up most often because someone IS at fault. Someone is a drunk. Someone is an abuser. Someone is a cheater. Someone is mentally ill.
I certainly don’t want to go back to the bad ol’ days when people could hardly get divorces at all, or there was divorce stigma, but come on legal system — if a business partner did half the fraudulent things a cheating spouse does (steal marital resources, risk your health) we’d have a lawsuit with damages. Hell, we might even have jail time. You marry this person and they fuck you over? Oh, we drifted apart. We all brought issues to the marriage. WTFever.
Someone needs to explain to me how no fault divorce is better. I know there is some feminist argument out there someone (and I’m a feminist!) but I’ll be goddamned if I can see how getting rid of alimony helps women. When men can have babies and take a hit to their careers to raise children, call me.
That is not to say no fault divorce is a cake walk for men either. The entire system SUCKS for chumps! A man can support his family, she cheats, takes his kids and he’s got support and every other weekend. How the hell is THAT fair?
Back to you FM — you’ve got a very difficult calculus to do and I think you need to go consult with several lawyers. I am NOT a lawyer and I cannot give you legal advice, but here are some red flags leaping out at me in your letter.
1) He’s got a prostitution problem. How the hell was that not addressed? Last time I checked (unless you live in Nevada), prostitution is illegal. He’s breaking the law and he wants custody? I would so wave that shit under a judge’s nose.
Moreover, I am completely creeped out by men — especially men with DAUGHTERS — who frequent prostitutes. It’s not a victimless crime. People are trafficked, so many of these women are damaged, or tied up in organized crime, or are paying off “debts” for being transported to the country. Sure there are predatory “professionals” — and volunteers in the sex worker trade — but read the statistics!
- The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)
- A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
- The average victim may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day. (Polaris Project)
Having a hooker habit isn’t stamp collecting. It’s not some weird, slightly embarrassing past-time, it is CRIMINAL. Whatever evidence you have of his prostitution usage, I’d be giving to an attorney and possibly the cops and child protective services.
2) He quit his job. Boy, I’ve seen that play here at Chump Lady, over and over. I’ve got to believe judges see it too as the obvious move it is to weasel out of child support. How exactly does he propose to support himself and 50% time with the children? Indefinite employment? Welfare? (Moreover, how does he intend to pay for his hooker habit?)
Look, being forced back into the workforce is not a bad thing for you — you need financial independence from this clown. But that doesn’t mean his parenting is somehow equivalent to those years you spent at home because he quit his job now!
I would think a decent attorney could make hay with this.
Look, I have been through multiple custody trials — I can tell you first hand how costly it is and how deeply it sucks. I can also tell you I have always had physical custody of my kid too. I could buy a small house for what I spent on lawyer fees, no joke. I would go through it again to maintain custody. You asked my advice, so my advice is — fight him. You’ve got some terrific ammunition in my opinion. Also, I just doubt these cheaters really want THAT much time with their kids. They want zero consequences and zero expense usually.
If you can’t afford the fight, or are resigned to this outcome, then my next advice is document the shit out of everything he does, because when you’re in court again (you will be in court again), you can show chapter and verse of what he is doing that is NOT in the best interest of the kids. The legal system loves documentation.
Talk to some lawyers. I really think a fight with this dickhead is inevitable, so I’d get it out of the way now. Otherwise, you’re going uphill later. The court will think, well, he wasn’t so bad that she didn’t AGREE to let him have those girls… So don’t agree. Fight like hell.
Good luck FM, and big ((((HUGS))).