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Dear Chump Lady, I’m suddenly a single mom

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m a mom of two young kids. (My son will be 3 in August and my daughter turned 1 two weeks ago). Six months ago my husband of four years (together nine years total) told me he wanted “out.”

He said he tried marriage, but it wasn’t working out for him. He went from being all in to being all out. No in between. No counseling. Nada. I was wondering if you had any advice about the financial struggle I find myself in?

The kids are going to live with me, but I can’t afford the rent on my own and he doesn’t want to pony up enough child support to help us out. Child support probably won’t be enough either. California seems to be in favor of deadbeat dads these days. I’m so stressed out. Any advice you can offer is appreciated.

Also, any advice you can offer towards… well, I’ve never felt lonelier in my life. He never fought for me, our kids, our family and that makes me feel worthless… and I’m scared I’ll never find love again. I know I need to focus on my kids right now and stay positive, but those other thoughts start to creep in. “Is there another woman?” “Was he ever faithful to me?” I know I shouldn’t care about now because what’s done is done.

Suddenly a Single Mom

Dear Suddenly a Single Mom,

I’m sorry he doesn’t want to pony up child support. Let him know via the legal system that the whole deadbeat thing isn’t “working out” for you. Impose consequences at once. How about he explains his penchant for abandonment with the heavy boot of the law on his neck?

I know it’s a huge pain in the ass to deal with Child Support Enforcement and I know from personal, painful experience that the State often does seem to not give a flying fuck about single parents and enforcing court orders, but you my friend are at the beginning of this shit show, and you’ve got at least 17 years of child support to bleed from that stone, so get started. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Whatever you do, don’t give into the chump urge to absolve him of his legal responsibilities because it harshes his fuckwit buzz. Wow, you’re so demanding the way you expect him to pay rent and buy diapers. Don’t accept his entitlement as normal or wonder if you can make your children’s needs smaller. Child support isn’t a favor to you — it’s a FRACTION of what he owes THEM as a parent. You will be there on the ground doing all the work. Child support is essentially a tip jar that should in no way be confused with a living wage. Paying his child support is the LEAST he can do. The very, very LEAST.

I realize that chasing after child support can be an exhausting process, but DO IT. So long as he has a regular paycheck to dock, you should be okay. If he works under the table, or skips states, or voluntarily impoverishes himself, things get harder — but you still need to get in the system, because it will keep track of his arrearages.

In some states you can use debt collectors (or private child support collection agencies, as they call themselves) to get those arrearages, but the agency takes a cut. Then again, so do the lawyers you would need to hire to get back child support too. Your cheapest and best bet is to stay on top of the state agencies who collect your child support.

It is VERY important to write into your divorce decree EXACTLY what happens and WHO pays if child support isn’t paid. I’m not a lawyer, I’m a chump, so I can’t give legal advice, this is friendly BTDT advice — but you need accountability built into your decree — ASK FOR IT. Like Bozo pays your legal fees if you have to go back to court on this.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, I urge you to call your state bar association and ask about pro bono services and legal clinics in your area. See if you can’t get a law student or pro bono attorney to take your case. There’s also “low bono” or sliding scale fees for lower-income folks too. Be RELENTLESS in your pursuit of justice on this. Call CALL CALL. Find help.

If you were 15 years into this suckfest and wanted to give up, that would be one thing, but you’re just starting. It’s essential that you not give up support for those kids because Uncle Fuckwit’s not “all in.”

Next, let’s turn our attentions back to you. The best way to not feel stressed out about your fuckwit-free future is to invest in it. I know it’s tough with two small kids, but consider what kind of career will support you all and work towards it. I’m counting on the other single parents who’ve lived this to weigh in on how they made it. But there are lots of jobs that don’t require a ton of training that pay decently. I’ll try and find the post we had on technical education. Work towards a situation in which you don’t NEED child support. Your kids deserve it of course and are entitled to it, but if you can earn enough so that you’re not all playing the Pick Me dance with him for essentials, that’s ideal. I know you’re not there now, and it might take a few years to get to that place — but WORK towards it. Nothing feels better than to have a Fuck Off fund.

That will help too with the feelings of worthlessness and loneliness you’re suffering right now too. You ARE NOT worthless — you are MIGHTY. You’ve been dealt a huge blow and you’re fighting back. You are Mama Grizzly and you’re not going to let anybody hurt your babies or you. Do grizzly bears wonder about twinkie bimbos? (Well, beyond the empty calories.) Do they find themselves wanting and consider their squidgy midsections? NO. GRIZZLY BEARS CAN KILL YOU. Mama grizzlies are badasses.

Be a badass.

I’ve never felt lonelier in my life.

You have two kids who need you. Do you have family or friends you could move toward or in with? This is all a lot easier to bear with a support system.

And there is no reason to feel alone in single parenthood any more. When I went through this crap 16 years ago, there weren’t mommy blogs and single parent resources online. Now the inter webs are awash with them. You can chat in real time with real parents facing the same obstacles you are. CN is more about infidelity here, but our forums are great. On the single parenting front, a big shout out to the Happy Hausfrau’s Front Porch. It’s a Facebook group now, but check her out, and tell her I sent you.

He never fought for me, our kids, our family and that makes me feel worthless

Don’t internalize his rejection. I know it’s hard, but he’s an idiot. You’re the sane parent here. The loving person who SHOWS UP. He, on the other hand, is a fuckwit. There is NO comparison here. Don’t make one. Don’t give this asshole that power and centrality. His abandonment has NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with the empty elevator shaft in his soul.

… and I’m scared I’ll never find love again.

Love is everywhere. Your kids love you. I’m sure you’ve got friends and family who love you too. Invest in those good people. Don’t rule out a partner again some day, but don’t self medicate with other people now — you’re vulnerable. Focus on regaining your strength and building mightiness. Romance can wait a bit. Real validation comes from within, from wresting the motherfuckers of infidelity and abandonment to the ground, and triumphing. These things take awhile. Be patient with yourself.

My son was a preschooler when I became a single parent — I’m on the other side of custody trials and travails with a deadbeat (spoiler alert — he still owes me money). My kid is nearly 21 now, a young man, and a good person. I got to parent him with my values. I got all those bedtime stories and warm fuzzies. Okay, I also got driver’s ed, and years of 6 a.m. cross-country practices, and endless sports banquets. I got teenage angst, and playing the heavy on every. single. unpopular. decision. And on the fringes of my well-ordered new life, I had a fuckwit either constantly harassing me, or conspicuously ignoring his child and his responsibilities. I survived. I’m mightier than a fuckwit. My son is mightier than a fuckwit. YOU TOO ARE MIGHTIER THAN A FUCKWIT.

You’ve got this. It’s a tough road, but the rewards are great. YOU CAN DO IT!

We’re cheering you! Now, call that child support enforcement.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Why do these suckers think that children belong to the mothers? They just think they can drop their sperm and disappear without any consequences. Make him take responsibility for his children.

    • Not mine he wants the kids so he isn’t stuck with any child support but he’s a DEAD beat husband and I know all about Liberal California same problems in Liberal Canada. The judges do NOTHING and the Canadian RCMP do nothing to help! I was just told that we don’t judge morally! All his affairs inside our Family home it’s fikthy!????????????

      • Yep. I am glad my fuckwit walked away and stayed away. Even though financially we were impoverished, I believe my girls grew up in a much healthier environment because he was not in it.

      • Someone’s not in Alberta.

        Enjoy Maintenance Enforcement on your ass if you try to skip paying.

        • I get that Carol. Im in Canada too and none of it matters if the judge orders 50/50 custody and the fuckwit is “self-employed”. If Revenue Canada won’t take them on, neither will the court system. My lawyer has thrown his hands in the air saying we’ve done all we can legally do.
          When some one doesn’t mind living in the red, its their way of life. Im on my own, paying my bills from cheque to cheque but I can sleep at night.

    • I’m over in NH here and we use a calculator found on the family court website. They put in what each person makes and some basic deductions like obligatory retirement and health insurance and it spits out a number. Check your family court website. In my experience the state does not want to pay for your children if they have perfectly capable parents. We even have nearly 50/50 custody and he still ponies up because he makes so much more. It will slide a hundred bucks or so one way if they put up a stink. But it’s basically clear cut

  • Spoiler alert: he will forever be expecting you to accommodate “what works for him” and “what doesn’t work for him.”

    When he’s trying to impress some new target/victim with what a cool dad he is, he’ll start insisting on more face time with the kids (according to his preferences and conveniences), because it “works for him.”

    CL main point is spot on: time to get tough with this pathetic invertebrate.

    • SSM – listen to the advice of the amazing Chump moms and dads on this site, and come here often! Read through the archives – there were only two years of good stuff for me to read through when I also became a single mom, but now you can read miles and miles of mightiness. You will become one of the mighty stories here at Chump Nation also, but it’s gonna take some work:

      – DOCUMENT and save everything: his texts, emails, random credit card bills, expenses that may have been going to fund an affair. Get that money back through the divorce.

      – DO NOT make the initial mistake I did and opt to not garnish wages. There is no more playing nice. This is strictly a business transaction now, and if you can get your state to be the heavy between his wages and you/your kids, then do it. I didn’t garnish at first, but after getting burned a few months in a row, turned the papers in and got regular payments.

      – Because your babies are so small, have it written IMMEDIATELY into the temporary custody order that they are NOT to have any overnights with him. You might get away with it because he’s a douche and doesn’t want the responsibility of two babies, and so won’t fight you on it, but also because of their ages, and their need to be with their mother. It opens the door to it possibly ending up in your final child custody plan/order. This will help you in the long run, because a-holes like him won’t want to pay up for another go-around with lawyers to ammend the child custody plan as the kids get older.

      Our daughter was 13 when I found out the douche was a serial cheater for all of the 23 years wasted on him. He abandoned us within days and had no place to live other than with the ho-worker and her kids. My judge didn’t like that when I filed for divorce, and immediately gave my 13 yo daughter ZERO overnights with him. It never changed. She had to go on a few dinners each week, but the douche got tired of it, then ended up in jail over the ho-worker, and I again took advantage and got a protective order against him. My daughter was only forced to see him for 10 months during her freshman year, and then never again. They don’t follow through! We know that!

      – Don’t worry about finding love, and especially not with babies that small. You’re building their foundational years right now, and have been forced to do it on your own. But think of the gift you’ve just been given! You can now build their psychological and physical foundations about love, behavior, and family without that moron’s disorder around you, and rubbing off on either of them! Teach them that YOU are the one who will be there.

      Again, from my daughter’s freshman year through her graduation just weeks ago, it was ME in the audience at her band concerts, it was ME she would look for in the stands when she was marching during football games, it was ME riding school busses as a volunteer with her soccer team and marching band, it was ME who volunteered to coach her traveling rec soccer team, it was ME taking her to church each week and seeing her through Confirmation. It was ME working with her on volunteer hours for honor society. It was ME with her when she was sick, or got her wisdom teeth out, or her braces off, and taking her to counseling each month (still). It was ME helping her with school projects and through studying and ACTs. It then was also ONLY ME who got to see her walk the stage at her technical school for drafting, and walk another stage in the top 10% of her graduating class of 600 for high school, and be with her during senior night for band, and take photos with her for prom, and teach her to drive and take her to get her license, and help her enroll in a Big 10 university for architectural engineering, and go with her to said university’s all-day orientation & enrollment last week, and it was also only me who celebrated with her as she was offered a drafting job a month ago by an architect who wants her to work with his firm the entire time she’s in college. ME. Not that douche – he has no idea! And like me, your douche won’t have anything to do with your babies’ success either. Just like eventually you’ll accept and trust that he sucks, you can also count on him always disappointing these babies.

      So then, when in THE world would I have found the time and energy to invest my heart and head with some random dude, and still give to my daughter and grandson (I coached his pee-wee soccer team, too!) and keep my career growing like I did? I’m just 43 now, with both of my kids grown, have 20 years in my career and can NOW consider what’s next for myself. I’ll always be the support system for my daughter, but trust me, to be able to look back on her achievements and know with certainty that it was only me who encouraged, supported her and who was there for her with all my heart and head, I wouldn’t give that up just to have a body in bed next to me for anything. Nothing. You have plenty of time. Would I have liked to have someone to help around the house, mow my massive lawn, support me, and have a +1 for all the events I went to for my daughter and grandson? Sure, but it wasn’t worth my daughter’s happiness and security after being abandoned. Always consider the bigger picture.

      We also have a 25 yo son and a small grandson. The dbag has never spoken to them again either. These people suck in ways you can’t imagine, and their missing empathy gene and sociopathy is not our fault. It took years to believe this, but after three counselors told me to read up on sociopaths, I was able to easily “check off all the boxes” and identify what I was dealing with, and absolve myself of everything he did to our family. It’s not you.

      If you don’t live close to your family, please consider moving closer to them. My parents are just an hour from me, but even that felt too far some days. They are my support system so I can be on my game for my daughter, son and grandson. Find a way to generate that for yourself. Also, if you live closer to them, or even with them for a while, then concentrate on your education. That’s is the long-term key to your financial independence and stability while your children are young, and then even after they grow and leave. It’s how I was able to give the big finger to the cheater in my life without hesitation when I was finally done. Good luck with everything and let us know how you’re doing! (((Hugs!))) and xox for your babies.

      • This is an epic post.

        Every chump with kids should read it. It would make the basis for a great main blog post.

        • Totally agree. I’m also single mom and my ex basically wanted out and so he decided to have an affair (and I suspects others too, if not only 1 night stands). He’s still with the whore and now of a sudden he’s the BEST DAD in the world! (It’s all fake though cuz I know he’s still trying to impress the WHORE). It’ll stop as soon as she pops out their kid and he’s itching to go out and go to bars till 3am. I know the drill know to not look at it as “what did I do wrong” or “what’s wrong with me”? Trust me, there’s moments like that still 3 years out but on most days, I’m too busy working full time and taking care of my son to care. They will always get to you though (when they lie about their income so you have to decide whether it’s worth it to wage war by asking for a child support modification or if they give you notice that they’ll be moving into a new house presumably with whore). It’ll always hurt but it’ll hurt a bit less each day. I too found lots of comfort (if there is any) in learning about sociopaths and narcissists and can literally check off each box. They are textbook. I know the traits so well now that when he pulls a typical narc move, I tell myself “that’s #5 on the list”, etc. It helps me to not take things personally but to realize the relationship I thought I had, never existed.

          I feel bad for my son as it’s entirely my fault I picked a fuckwit to be his father and my husband. But I also am now aware of these types of people and am trying to my best to try to raise a child who will grow up to be an awesome, empathetic, happy, healthy, emotionally secure man. I always speak with him about feelings, empathy, those less fortunate, point out how we’re so blessed, etc.

          My faith in God grew through this and has continued. I can tell you I would not be alive without my faith that there’s a reason for this season in life. That SOMEONE understands me, loves me and cares for me (young kids don’t always show the most empathy so I can’t expect this from my son). I don’t want to burden him with being my comforter, etc. as he should just be a kid and not burdened with things. I never speak badly in front of him about my ex. Ever. I want them to have a wonderful relationship as I know for my son’s sake, it’s better. I don’t want him growing up and looking for love somewhere else cuz he didn’t get it (even if it’s limited and fake) from his father.

          I also ended up moving back home to my parents and changing companies for my son. At 40 years old, it was a hard pill to swallow as I was always a over-acheiver, always doing my best and working so hard to get places in life. Having been a homeowner and living on my own then moving back to my parents is difficult. But also, I try to look at it as my parents won’t be alive forever. I appreciate this time with them and so does my son. I’m grateful they help with taking him to activities as I don’t make it home in time from work.

          I have NO plans to date again. I think 3 years out, I still feel this way because of the fact that I got cheated on. If there’s no cheating, I’ve noticed that there’s more of a desire to “try again”. But for me, I have heard too many stories and am very happy alone. Sure there’s times when I go to the movies alone or think it would be nice to have a traveling partner but for myself, I only have enough room in my heart and time for my dog and my son. I haven’t had sex in 3 years and I have no idea if I ever will (I’m personally against casual sex and since I have no plans to date, I have no plans for being intimate with someone again). But it wasn’t good when I was married anyways and again, with being cheated on, it’s hard to even watch sex scenes in movies/shows. I guess that means, I need healing in that way but I’m ok with it as I’m happier and less lonely now than I was when I was married.

          You will survive! It’ll be hard. Give yourself some credit. Trust your gut. Fight when you can but also know when being in peace is more important than fighting. Get what you need in order to live your life and for your child but also learn to “grey rock”. It will save your sanity.

          • “Grey rock?” I understand what you mean about knowing when to keep the peace. I want to smash my ex’s face in most of the time…but play it cool for my kids sake. He’s so unbelievably selfish that I know I’m going to have a hard time not bad mouthing him to my kids…especially my son who is feeling the majority of Daddy’s absence. I’m really going to have to work on that for their sake. But damn…he up and leaves us without so much as an explanation after 9 years together, 4 married, 2 kids…and I have to play nice and say Daddy’s a good guy when he’s really a fuckwit??!! Argh!

            • Suddenlysinglemom, I know you how you feel. Grey rock is to be boring like a rock. That’s the only way to react to a narcissist. Whenever he tries to get you to react, if you go “crazy”, you are confirming what he’s telling everyone about you. Why he left. Narcissists never have anything nice to say about their exes. Their exes are always “crazy”. So the best way to react is no reaction. After a while, they stop bothering because even a negative response is satisfying to them. So when he calls you a bad mom because you won’t change your visitation schedule on a whim, respond by saying, “your attempt to reflect me in a negative light is noted. Thanks”. Then screen grab that shit and save it for documentation.

              It has been my saving grace to learn to just not care. You can care internally. I still cry, talk, scream to my friends, therapist, etc. But never to my ex as it will give him great joy to see my angry, affected by him. I don’t say anything negative about my ex in front of my child because I want my child to love his dad and he will figure out who his dad really is when he’s old enough to know. And my ex was so concerned about the truth getting out that he put into our custody order that we’re not allowed to speak badly of the other in front of our child. He event went as far as to say “in any language” as he knows I speak to my mom in another language (that my son doesn’t know). So legally, I’m not allowed to as well. I asked my attorney if that meant that when my son is 15 and he comes to me and asks why his dad and I divorced when he was 3, that I am not allowed to tell him the truth. To me, that’s not speaking badly, it’s speaking the truth. My attorney said I technically still can’t but when the kids are that old, if he finds out what really happened, and my ex tries to say I broke our order, that the judge wouldn’t care at that point. But in theory, even the fact that I’m not allowed to speak the truth, enrages me. But I understand that it’s pretty standard language to have in the order anyways so I didn’t fight it.
              When my 6 year old son asks now why we aren’t together, I ask him to go ask his dad. Then I tell. him about how marriage is about 2 people who love each other and pick each other over and over again and he picked someone else. I hope my son will not take after his dad in that and if he wants to, that he would choose to stay single. My greatest goal in life it to raise my son in a way that my future daughter in law will thank me.
              I get it. trust me, I can go over 1000 things my ex did and still does that’s unfair. I choose to TRY to not care but it’s super hard.
              Stay strong. Life isn’t fair but all we can try to do is just live it the best way we can, raise our children well and let karma or God take care of it. I just know that when I die, I will go to face my God and not have to apologize for being a cheater (cuz I’m not, unlike my ex, amongst other things).

      • I just cried reading your post, KibbleFree_MightyMe. But it made a lot of sense, too. Everyone’s support has been overwhelming (in a good way!) and very much appreciated! I do remind myself daily that I have 2 little blessings in my life that I wouldn’t change for anything. I know they won’t always be this little and I do cherish my time with them. I’ve stopped worrying about him not spending enough quality time with them, etc. It’s totally his loss. One day he’ll realize this was time he can’t get back…there are no do-overs. Or maybe he won’t. Either way, my kids will know they’re loved, will feel special and have what they need because I will make damn sure of it one way or another.

        • I’m praying for you and your babies. It won’t feel like it for a while, but please know that you’re worthy, and loved, and you’ve already found your tribe here at Chump Nation (CN). You’re gonna be okay, and on the days that you’re not – just come back here and we’ll give you all the encouragement and digital (((HUGS!!))), advice, and direction you need to get through that hour.

          Ask me how I know. ????

          • I just might take you up on that. Lord knows I need all the support I can get right now. Thank you!

      • Spectacular, KFMM!!

        There is now evidence that overnights with the non-custodial parent can hurt attachment to the custodial parent, so fight for no overnights, SASM, especially if you are breast-feeding.

        • Tempest, my ex is living with 2 other random dudes and has a drinking problem. He won’t be having the kids overnight. My daughter is barely 1 and my son will turn 3 in August. Over my dead body will he have them alone and overnight. He doesn’t want that anyway…he wants to go party and stay out drinking until all hours of the night. I stood in the way of his good time, so he got rid of me. It’s not an ideal situation whatsoever, but I’m definitely glad to be rid of him. He’s a selfish coward and I have no time in my life for that. I have 2 beautiful humans to raise.

      • Bravo!
        No small victories here, you truly can see all the battles and recount to us how you won the war.
        It’s great to see all the reasons you have for joy and celebration, all the delayed gratification is paying off in spades.

        • Tempest & OtherRebecca – you ladies are so inspiring to me, and I just appreciate you sharing with all of us, too. You’re absolutely right – this girl’s achievements are totally worth the tears, the being alone, the exhaustion, and the prayers. I GET to experience her journey into adulthood and see her becoming a mighty little spark in her own way. Most importantly, I see now what I modeled for her in terms of being a kickass woman, and not allowing mediocrity into my life, or hers. I truly wish that for all the mothers out there.

          LifeOnTheOtherSide – you’re also 100% correct about faith helping us get through. My faith deepened through this trial, and I was at church on my knees every day during my lunch hour for almost two years. I still go, not every day, but to cry things out, but not for the same reasons anymore. I know that God released me from that “marriage” and He said “no” to many of my prayers to protect me from that evil person. I just didn’t know it at the time, but I thank Him for saying “no” to my prayers for reconciliation so often now. His plan is good for those who love Him.

          I also took up distance running and ran my first half-marathon in 2015 and then again in 2016. I would run out on farm roads and just cry it out, and then make my way back to my car somehow. Just me and the cows. It was another form of therapy and those good chemicals did wonders for me. I also started counseling within months of DDay and still go bi-monthly. My counselor is more of a good friend and advisor now, but in those initial months I needed all three of these therapies routinely.

          It’ll get better for all the new Chumps, but you have to stay focused on the light, the good, the understanding that this chapter might suck and the marriage be dead, but we’ve been given the gift of freedom, and we didn’t have to destroy anyone in our path to get it.

      • KF_MM,
        Standing ovation!!!
        I bow to your mightiness!!!
        I’m a single mom for three years now, everything you said is spot ON!!!
        SASM, my heart goes out to you. My DD was 7 when her dad left.

        Only two things I’ve said I wanted/expected when he left: honor his visitation and pay child support.
        He’s one for two. Over the last 36 months, he’s paid 14 months in full/faithfully, and has been negligent/deliquent the rest of the time. Listen to CL, fire up the engines and call every agency you can to help you. I had to do it, even with a college degree and a 20-plus year career going for me, I still can’t make it but for the Grace of God each month. It’s a suck fest for sure, but it’s better than being with his horrible ass.

        • Awww – love your energy and spirit, Unsinkable! I totally understand the month-to-month game, even with the blessing of being able to make it all work on my own salary.

          See, the dbag convinced me over a decade that rental properties were going to be the way to pay our kids’ college expenses. And it just might have worked, but instead, three rent houses were purchased on our personal names and credit, he wouldn’t listen to our CPA over that whole time and get it all under an LLC, and so when dbags abandon their wife and child, you bet your butt they also walk away from financial obligations related to failed rental properties, too. I had it all written in the divorce decree that he alone was financially responsible for the rental houses, but it didn’t matter to the mortgage companies. When he abandoned the houses and the mortgages and all the debt we had because of them, and he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy three months post-divorce, guess who ALL the financial debt fell onto? Yep, me. So working my tail off for decades for awesome credit went down the drain. I was then also forced into bankruptcy because of that f-er.

          BUT, because I reaffirmed, or “kept” the marital home, my car, and a loan in front of a federal judge three years ago now, my credit is working it’s way back up. That douche? LOL! He didn’t have a pot to piss in and (literally) squatted in one of the rental properties for almost 2 years before the bank/sheriff took it. Oh yeah, the ho-worker dumped him so he had no options and squatted in the house. What an ass.

          But it’s just like you said, and in my case, even a bankruptcy is better than being with his horrible ass.

          (((Hugs, girl)))

      • KibbleFree_MightyMe, your reply made me cry. It truly did. You are amazing. I pictured you in the stands cheering, on the bus supporting, and so on. Just like you described. Every time your child looked up, there you were smiling and waving.

        I don’t know if I cried because you are so mighty and supportive, so genuine, so loving, so present – or because in the picture of you sitting there smiling back to your child, your face turns to mine. I sit there alone in the stands, on the bus, in the carpool and so on. I smile, I wave. And sometimes if the auditorium goes dark, I cry.

        Because as the lights dim, my couple friends are sitting shoulder to shoulder waving together at their child. Of course up until a year ago, I was that couple. And while I’m sad my future isn’t going to be the dream I had envisioned, I’m glad my serial cheater left.

        I just wish my kids could look up from their ‘performance’ or lives and see their happy parents. Reality check – not happening. And I like you am so happy to have the honour of showing up every single minute for my kids. Mentally, physically, spiritually and so on.

        You are so mighty, KibbleFree_MightyMe! I’m totally jealous that you’re so young and so happy for you at the same time.

        I wasted a life time with someone who, well, we know the story. Someone who repeatedly showed his true self. And I smoked hopium and spackled.

        Your post should be a mandatory read for single parents. It’s reminding me to put more effort into my single parenting. I’m single parenting several teens. I’m so tired of the cooking and cleaning. It’s been a long year!!! I keep trying to smile and wave – smile and wave.

        Your post has reminded me that I’m doing a great job. However, it’s also made me think I need to rework my days. Like you, I don’t want another partner in my life, I want to focus on creating a great life for me and the kids…time with my friends and so on. I have time suckers though. Not a partner, but things I can see that I do that ‘waste’ my time. Being on the computer, Netflix. I see these as my downtime from work and parenting. They can be out of balance. Time to realign.

        KibbleFree_MightyMe, keep being mighty. I love that your reply has motivated me to keep being mighty.

    • This is so true!! I got the “I deserve to be happy and this life just isn’t what I want.” (He wanted a younger woman and a life without kids) Well, I did not want to be a single mother to two young boys either. Listen to Tracey get child support in order. Also, look at school if you need some training to get a job to support your family. I’m in nursing school and my fuckwit has to pay for it. There are tons of grants, scholarships and loans for single mothers. Some campuses offer reduced daycare for students. You will feel better about yourself. A lot of people say, “that will take x number of years, I can’t do that.” YOU CAN. In that same number of years you will still be the same situation (panic over supporting your kids) just older. Maybe you already have a skill set, look into daycare with scholarships that are need based. He does not care about you and your kids struggling (mine is obsessed with money and having ridiculous things) so you should not care if he suffers financially. Take all you can for you and those babies! Good luck, if I can do it so can anyone. It’s just one day at a time on moving forward. Welcome to chump nation. You are mighty, you are enough and his choices have nothing to do with you, even though it feels like it.

      • Yes! It is possible to get more education with young children. I went back to grad school with two tiny children and earned my master’s and Ph.D. Everyone kept saying “but you’ll be 36 by the time you graduate.” Well guess what, I was 32 at the time, so I figured “Hey in four years I am going to be 36 no matter what. The question is, do I want to be 36 with a doctorate or 36 wishing I had one.”

        • I didn’t go back to graduate school until all the kids were in school. I was 40 and earned my doctorate at 47. Never too late!

  • Tracey is spot on once again!!!! Absolutely get into the system with child support. They will track his arrearage, and come tax return time (if he gets one) that money will be yours. Should he ever win any $$ in the lotto you get first cut as well. So get yourself on the books, paying child support is not an option. It’s not enough to live on or support your kids fully, but it certainly helps A LOT!!

    Don’t let your devastation & emotional trauma rule the divorce, support & visitation proceedings. I know that it’s hard, but you need to fight. You can do this!!!! There are so many of us single parents out here. Approach this as a business decision – get through it any way you can, and save your tears for when you’re home. Don’t let him see how upset you are, because he will try to use it against you, and to his advantage. Fuckwits are master manipulators. He is leaving you and the kids – TRUST that he SUCKS, and don’t feel sorry for someone so pathetic & basically devoid of a soul. (I had a bunch of adjectives here at first, but soulless is a concise summary).

    Focus on your kids, but also focus on you. It’s hard at first, but make sure you take time for yourself. Figure out what you want to do for a living or if there’s a career path that you want to go down. Take some classes if you need to. It seems insurmountable right now, but you can do anything. You are grieving, but you will recover & be so amazed at yourself when you look back. There are so many of us that have been dear this single parent life, and we’re all thriving. You will too!!!!

    The fuckwit in my life walked out when the kids were 6 and 8. I was at least working part time then (I had just gone back- thank God!!). The boys are now 11 and 13, and they are great kids. Tracey is right, I get every single good time, but also the stress, frustration, anger (towards fuckwit) and fear. They’ve got anxiety from what their father did to them. But I am so amazed at what strong young men they are becoming, and so proud that it is ALL ME!!!! They rarely see fuckwit & he certainly doesn’t stick around or engage in anything with them outside of visitation hours. I could never imagine that the man I married would turn into a complete deadbeat, but (now that some time has passed) I am so happy to not have him in our lives. Single mom is a hard road, but living with an abusive fuckwit is even worse.

    Hang in there, you are going to be just fine. All of us here promise!!!!

    • All good advice TAT. Someone told me to to immediately start “dating myself”. I liked the phrase and understood what she meant. I poured myself into doing what was right but the kids and trying to work around their schedules as much as possible. When I had time alone, or was wishing for time alone, I would plan for things that I liked to do. Time at a bookstore, museums, walking new trails, even a cheap mall massage. I couldn’t afford anything extravagant, but it helped to have something special that I was doing just for myself.

      I had the thought that I had to know what I wanted to do before I could meet someone else. I had to know what kind of dates I enjoyed. But more than anything I thought I had to like dating myself before I could reasonably ask someone else to like dating me. And eventually, I got tired of this but it took many years – years I look back on now with a strange mixture of compassion and pride for the woman I was then. I promise you Suddenly A Single Mom, there is a great life out there for you. Maybe not the one you planned but maybe one even better. Keep us informed of your progress.

  • I’m not a parent myself, but please know I’m rooting for you. You’re gonna really find out what you’re made of in these next few years (like several of my cousins who have children have found), and I think you’ll realize you have gold in your heart.

    • Gold in your heart! Love it! And I’m rooting for you too!

      As a side note: my ex left the exact same way. He was cheating but he just showed up one day and was done. Left me with a special needs child. In Canada our laws are a little different and he’s paying child support, alimony and extra ordinary expenses for my daughter’s special needs. FIGHT! Like Chump Lady says.

      Also, I switched careers and I have my own residential cleaning company. It’s minimal start up cost, you don’t need a lot of training and you charge what you want for the houses. You can make your own hours to suit your kids. If you want, CL can connect us through email and I’d be happy to help. I’m 5 years out and I own my own house again. You ARE mighty! And you CAN do it! Hang in there!!!

      • Agreed my dear I’m in Calgary Canada and mine also just walked out one day with his latest TRAMP! My case is different he uses parental alienation which I’m fighting and tried to go after me for child support, lol. I have a part time job only and the income tax centre in Canada said I cannot afford to pay at this time. It’s completeky destroyed our marriage and family!

        • I’m in Calgary too.
          I hope you get his ass in court and they shut his shit down. They settle 87% of the time Mother – sole out here.

    • Agreed Vulcanchump and never give up I have been fighting 3 long years this month and I’m at the point of having to file for bankruptsy but I’m not giving up. He destroyed our marriage and family life and I’m going after him full boar!

  • Dear SSM
    It doesn’t feel like it now, but consider yourself lucky you have found him out so early in your relationship. At least you’ve only (!) wasted nine years. As you’ll see from the CN comments, some of us have discovered that the last 30 years have been a lie. You have many years ahead of you to find happiness with someone else or on your own with friends and allies around you, and with your lovely children by your side. First thing, do all the practical things Tracy suggests, but look to your self-esteem, nurture it, it will be with you for the rest of your life. Lucky you that the d***head pushed off so soon.

    • I second that! This is a good thing that your children won’t have a Fuckwit in their lives for another second. They won’t have to beg for attention from a checked out Dad. My oldest is still detoxing from his father. He actually stayed a year longer than I did.
      Now that he’s away from the poison, he realizes how bad it was….
      You will survive and like the rest of us, someday you’ll wonder how you lasted so long with him.

      • Feel lucky he checked out vs. staying around and continuing to screw around with your head and your children’s hearts. My boys are 17 and 19 and my ex and his family have done irreversible damage. I wish years ago I was in your shoes.

        • Our whole society today is coming unglued it’s EVERYWHERE these problems, Canada, the US, Europe, Australia you name it. It was years ago families were tied together through God, Christianity but it’s breaking down. This is why we are seeing so many “DEAD BEAT” moms and dads. Society isn’t holding them accountable so we must fight harder than ever.????????

          • I don’t think it’s a lack of God/Christianity that’s the problem. I’m not a Christian and yet I have a moral code and have never cheated. My ex cycled through several religions and landed back at Roman Catholic when he was screwing Owife.

            It’s lack of morals, shit character, and society’s ingraining of the demand for and expectation of instant satisfaction. Everything is disposable. Everything is supposed to be nonstop fun and sparkles. Except laundry, dishes and poopy diapers are not sparkly (unless somebody ate glitter glue again). It’s also refusal to accept reality.

            • Agree, and frankly, an historical study of “family life” easily shows that Christianity did not prevent people from abusing their spouse/children, turning their homes into terror zones, nor abandoning spouses.

          • Actually, it was far easier to be a deadbeat dad in the past.

    • I mean no disrepect at all when I say this but being cheated on early into a relationship or late into a relationship still sucks. The mental anguish is painful and crippling. I wish this on no one no matter how long they have been in a relationship.

      • Absolutely, it’s always vile,
        but just trying to look on the bright side for this person – better to try and rebuild your life at 30 or 40 than at 60 or 70, which is happening to many of us.

        • I don’t mean to sound dismissive, but it’s not the Pain Olympics.

          • Absolutely, definitely it’s not a competition. But I work in finance, and there’s a ton of research out there that says you can screw up your life and finances several times in your life, but it’s MUCH harder to recover in your 60s and beyond, just because you’re running out of road for working.

            I’m not at all talking about finding another partner, just solely money based, it’s MUCH harder to recover at older ages. Not impossible, just for the OP, there’s lots of evidence out there that (financially), there’s lots of hope for her.

            For the OP, I’d recommend some type of corporate job that provides not only medical benefits, but paid sick days and vacation days. You may absolutely be using every “day off” for the first couple of years to deal with sick kids, but if they’re paid, you’re in a better spot financially. Call temp agencies and see if they do “temp-to-perm” placement at firms. Many firms now also have child care centers that they’ve got a partnership with, or that they’ve set up in their building.

            I manage our Intern program, of folks 20-22 years old and I tell all of them my story, even of chumpdom and single parenthood, with the singular message of “get your schooling or training or apprenticeships together and in order before you get married or have kids”. Set up your OWN social safety net in case your life blows up later.

            • True, statistics are not rosy for people 50 and above who suffer any setback.

              • However, that is not to say that one can’t triumph if a crisis hits post-50; you may just need to try harder.

              • Let me say this to everyone because, Lord willing, we all get to post-50, and many times post-50 brings kids in college, weddings, and sometimes illness of parents or spouse: Have a plan. Imagine what you would do if you were suddenly the sole breadwinner. If you had to shoulder the whole load. And plan for that. That really goes for any age. If we act like nothing will ever change, we are never ready because everything changes. And some Jackass shouldn’t be your plan either. Ask me how I know. This is one of the great lessons I learned post-DDay. Have Plan A and backup Plan B and C.

            • So true… I got divorced 3 years ago at age 60 after wasting 40 of my best years on my serial cheater fuckwit XH, who happily skipped off into the sunset with his married Howorker-turned-Wife-2.0. I’m totally grateful that I had a well-established small business which produced enough cash flow to pay my bills, but I lost all my health insurance, watched 50% of our retirement funds go to him (news flash: you can’t retire on half the money), and immediately realized I had to extend my projected retirement date by 10 years. I’ve been regrouping financially ever since, fully aware that I just don’t have that much road left to walk. But I’m prepared to do what I must so I don’t eat cat food when I’m 80. No pity party going on here… just dealing with reality.

  • I too became an unexpected single parent to three children recently. Tap into any and every resource you can find. I have had to let go of a lot of my pride and ask for help when I didn’t want to. Lean on family and friends. When you are overwhelmed and feel like you can’t make it, look at your kiddos and remind yourself that they are the reason you get up every day and keep moving. My ex is the embodiment of a fuckwit and as hard as its been I have reaped rewards he will regret he missed out on. No matter how small a step, each one will get you closer to the life you deserve!

    • You and me both Cindy I had the leave my toxic Narc husband after 24 years of marriage very stressful. I was lucky enough to attain a part time job but had to apply for a welfare subsidy. He left me penniless and he has a good, high paying job! It disgusts me but I have taken my anger and I’m fighting back everyday. I’m not giving up and being on his back has him very stressed!

    • You are so right, Cindy. Every day I reap rewards he misses out on. My kids are my joy, my everything. I love the bit about no matter how small a step each one is getting me closer to the life I deserve. Never thought about it that way before. Very helpful. Thank you!

      • CHUMP LADY my posts keep disappearing!!

        Anyhow, SSS, my X literally does not know what he missed, b/c he missed so much. He THINKS he was there for everything (confused sophomore year homecoming with senior prom, for instance. Listed it as an event he “made time for.” Incredible.

        So, the thousands of nights I put the kids to bed and tucked them in, heard their dreams and fears…the countless mornings and afternoons and evenings of being the taxi for them and their friends to and from school and basketball and drama and sleepovers…

        I KNOW my kids and they know me. Their dad is a stranger to them. But in a way that’s good since they are all quite used to not having him around. There is no “gaping hole” even though we were married 35 years and I really thought we were past his idiotic selfishness.

        Point is, rather than blast him (internally) for being such a prick, and giving him centrality as I recall how many nights I had no mate or companion or co-parent, I’m glad for what I gained. So much time with my kids that he will never have and which I treasure.

        Your kids will learn to have each other’s backs and to trust each other. That’s a beautiful thing.

        Last summer when the DOCTOR cut off funding our youngest’s college as she was entering her junior year, it was her brother – MY SON – who spearheaded a campaign for her to get financial aid.

        He submitted my medical records along with the tattered handwritten note sent to D20 from the DOCTOR, cutting her off, and an outline of the events underlying the claim for a “substantial change of circumstances.”

        Her college gave her a $45k grant – the gift that keeps on giving. No big college debt!!

        Those^^ are the kids I raised. And the DOCTOR doesn’t even know of this beautiful loving relationship overcoming adversity (from him) and sticking together. We 4 are very close. We are also used to not having the DOCTOR around much, we had to rely on each other.

        You will raise your kids to be kind and loyal to each other and to you, and that’s a gift your wasband has no part of.

        Doesn’t matter if he knows, admits it, or cares or even senses…

        Your gifts are the gifts of these times with them, and that’s YOUR gain & yours alone.

        Stay strong and be bold.

  • I also am a single parent. Do not forget self care. Your kids need you to be functional also. This is a very stressful time. You do need to take care of yourself also. As for child support, get what you can but getting it may take longer than you expect. It took me three years to start collecting from my ex-wife.

  • Dear Suddenly,

    Same thing happened to me last year. 4 kids ages 2-12. “This isn’t the life I planned. ” was what I heard and I laughed. Who did, buddy! It is awful. Make no mistakes about it. It brings you to your knees. But don’t let fear set in. Your best days and years are ahead of you. Every time fear creeps in have a mantra to say to yourself. Mine is that….my best days and years are ahead of me.
    For some reason it took me an unusually long time to trust that he sucked. (Not legally. I sprang into action. Filed the next day. Assets and Custody signed within two weeks. Have to get them when they are motivated. I mean he doesn’t follow any of it but I got it in writing fast. I went back to my maiden name. If my kids were younger I would have changed their last names too. ) But I still thought he would do right by his kids. Silly me. He is a deadbeat in a yuppy world.
    Anyway sales is a great income. Go the inside sales route in pharma or technology. You dont need to be outgoing. Sales is about asking questions and learning what someone wants and needs. I guarantee after this experience, you will be better at reading people. For interview purposes, the number one thing you need is focus and work ethic. While going through a divorce is the opposite of focus and work ethic, you can fake it until you make it.

    • Hi Kate, I love the idea of having a mantra…and I actually really like yours. I try to remind myself daily that this is only temporary…my kids won’t be this little forever…focus on and be grateful for what I do have and not what I’m missing or don’t have…be kind to myself if my kids don’t get their daily veggie serving (survival mode is a bitch!)…etc. But I like the mantra idea. Short and sweet. Thanks for the idea!

    • Kate, did you get grief for going back to your maiden name? People think I’m crazy (I have 5 kids and they think I should keep my name for their sake), I feel empowered by it though, I don’t want anything of his except his money.

      • Foolme, I went back to my maiden name a few years ago. My kids were older so I didn’t care and neither do they. Besides MY family are the nice guys. The twat only found out recently and was stunned. Yeah, like I really want any reminder that I was once married to you. It’s a bit like the comment yesterday by the chump whose dying cheater thought she would want to die with him. They are so delusional!

      • Attie, I took my old married name as my middle name so that part of me will always match my son. He is 9 ????. I was thinking of how his wedding invitations would look someday. But I love when I am in court suing his ass and they ask my name. I have a very Irish last name and I say it with pride. I even correct my children’s friends. Kindly of course but I am no longer that married name.

      • Sorry that was meant for FoolMe. I really could care less what people think of me kind of person. Our Christmas Cards say The (my maiden name) Family. Judge away people. I ask my kids and they are the only people’s feelings I consider.

  • I’m one of many that followed the path that you are now on, having been abandoned with a 3 year old and 6 month old in a foreign country as a trailing spouse, 10 years in to the relationship. The kids are now 8 and 5, we moved back to my home country, and we are stable and well. It’s been an uphill struggle, digging my way out of the big deep hole/rock bottom I found myself in, but it is possible and as JK Rowling says, “rock bottom is the solid foundation on which to build your new life”.

    WRT money, I’ve been working as a freelance editor when I was a trailing spouse and I’ve kept that gig going. It is decent pay for a side hussel, and I’m still doing it now that I’m gainfully employed. Check out Upwork, and consider what you can do online. This type of work can be done from anywhere, and importantly allows you to work whilst the littles are sleeping.

    WRT confidence. It came out in the wash that there was a secret lover/secretary from work, who FIVE years later came to light. It was all about impression management, as usual, and thus she was kept a secret until it would be considered acceptable by the friends and family. I have seen him replicate the start of our relationship, taking vacations instead of seeing his kids, and generally acting as though his life is awesome and everyone is smiley and happy. I just ignore it and as Chumpnation advises, stick to the facts. I’ve found support in such unexpected places, and I have tremendous gratitude for every kindness now. I’m still single, but embracing my freedom. What’s important is that I’m a better person now that I’m not curling myself up to worship a narc and I’m grateful. You will be too.

    My ex is fearful of legal processes. I’m sure he realises he would lose given his track record on parenting, and also it would bruise his image if he looked like he wasn’t supporting his kids. That said, you have to be ready to go for it with the legal avenue if needed, I nearly came to it a couple of times when he wouldn’t give me freedom to travel or threatened to cut his child support payments. You need to be on top of whatever laws are in place where you live and be ready to use them.

    Planning your new life should be the top of your priority list and you need to get strategic as Chumplady suggests. You’ll have to take on work that involves minimum travel, and that accommodates raising kids. I’ve completed two online degrees after my ex left, one in teaching, which is a great fall back if nothing else, and these have boosted my stale CV. I now have a great permanent job, with flexible time and working with some fantastic people. It took four years of slogging to get there.

    Please remember also to practice self care, sleep, and journal. Find your tribe and wrap yourself up with them. Here if you need.

  • Dear SASM,
    I have been through a version of this. Twice! By the same man! 10 yrs apart. Aaand tried a third time????!
    What your going through now is awful, unjust, and a mindfuck.
    But please!!! Listen to CL and CN.
    He might be gone for now! But he will try and Hoover you back.
    You need to baton down ur hatches now. Get some supports in place( as CL and others have advised), I’m not in USA so can’t advise about that.
    BUT, do it ASAP. So that you’ll be less susceptible to a Hoover and even more yrs of this.
    Take this shit situation as your getaway car and get out! Fast! Dodge the next bullet!
    Best of luck!

  • Good advice to get custody and separation of assets while ( if ) he feels guilty. My gut told me to do that but I trusted a lawyer and held off. Don’t.
    A friend knew I was meeting up with a chump on the weekend. She said; “Dont let her get you down. ” I was really surprised by that. I really like to support others in this position. It feels like I am doing something for them and helping to reverse the injustice of being abandoned. I am sure others in your life will feel the same. Ask for help. People like to do it.
    Just keep going. I look back and can’t believe how much I accomplished while in shock and runnnig on adrenaline. Use it to your advantage. Then when you are weary stop and ask others to help out. Better still get help now but use that shock to fortify yourself , with custody and finances, and anything else that has to get done.
    Be careful of your ex. He is possibly flailing all over the place and grabbing what he can for himself; emotionally, financially, psychologically. Please look after your own needs and those of your kids.

  • I’m going to echo what others have said. Use this as an opportunity to invest in yourself. Practice self-care. I’m also a single parent and I understand that sometimes it can be hard to find the time to do this. Find the moments when you can. Lean on friends for support. People who care about you are always willing to help out if you just ask.

    One of the best things I did after my X left was joint a gym and start taking Pilates. Something I never would have done before because I was too busy doing everything to find the time. I’ve met the most wonderful people there. And even when I lost my job their incredible kindness and generosity made it possible for me to continue going. However you can find a way to exercise, do it. There are affordable gyms, some jobs even have small ones on site and walking is free. It’s a great way to relieve stress.

    You also have a great opportunity to raise your children with YOUR values. My X counter parented me in front of my child. As a result, I was always stressed, second guessing myself and felt bad which meant I was a lousy parent. Now I’m free to think through decisions. Free to parent and instill the values I want to. And even though I am doing all the hard work, it’s less stressful.

    The hard part is getting through the discard. It makes you feel like something is wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with you. You are amazing. You will be an amazing partner for someone else in the future and they will appreciate everything about you. And if you have a hard time believing that, just trust that your X sucks.

  • It always grieves me to see situations like this…why do they always think this is the other persons responsibility as if they created them alone? In my case, my ex husband was the one who wanted kids, consequently, it was the only thing he didn’t fight me on, lol. Child support, fight, finances fight, custody…gave them to me without a whimper. Definitely get child support, and let the state do the work. I didn’t and wish I did. If he thinks his responsibility end at “I don’t wanna”, then when he feels like it, he won’t.

    Lean on friends on family, I don’t know where I would be without them. If you belong to a church, get out word that you need help, you never know who can help, with the kids or otherwise. My next door neighbor began mowing my grass for me for the last 3 years cause he knows I’m alone. People from my church babysat and one lady came over to clean my house one day. People went shopping and bought my kids clothing. And a close family friend takes my son the the barber shop for haircuts, and pays for it. There is no shame is being honest with people. Some of these same people around you have been in your shoes and can empathize like you wouldn’t believe.

  • SASM,
    Stick with CL and take their great advice. They are what got me through.
    The only thing I would add at the very top of the list, considering your circumstances and long road ahead, is to do WHATEVER YOU CAN to get the very, very best attorney possible. Beg, borrow, steal, sell anything you can, take out a loan – I am totally serious. Seek resources and help, yes. But legal stress on top of everything else is the LAST thing you need and this can go on, and on, and on. Scrimping on an attorney right now is the worst thing you could do. Prioritize it above all else – it will have echoing effects on everything else, including your own well-being and that of your kids. It may not be the case in all divorces or circumstances but it is here! You need someone to have your back, and vigorously advocate for you and your children, as well as proactively quash any monkey business which is certain to ensue.
    The TYPE of attorney matters just as much. You will get conflicting advice on this too but understand that all the pat advice is unlikely to apply to the disordered cretins that we find ourselves dealing with with our mouths agape.
    I didn’t t want to provoke, instigate, or be responsible for going “high conflict” or adversarial. Eff that – you need the pit-bull. You need a FULL-SERVICE, experienced, exclusively family-law attorney who’s been there, done that and DOES NOT FUCK AROUND.
    This is the advice I wish someone had given me and would have saved me money, and years of grief and stress.
    It’s a hard pill to swallow all around and will make you sick to your stomach when you see what it costs and have to do whatever it takes and lay down that money. Do it. You have too much at stake and too long a road ahead. And you need to set the precedent with this Fuckwit tout de suite. Good luck.

    • I agree. You need to set the precedent with these clueless individuals. You must do it right out of the gate. They are terrified of legal recourse.
      Get a lawyer that will get them by the balls and give it a little twist.(sorry i dont know what comes over me at times!!!)
      Get the best lawyer you can find.
      It is so important. You are not dealing with a normal person.

    • I agree. My ex didn’t Seem to feel I was a person but now he knows our state thinks I’m a person and THAT ensures he honors our agreement. He heard how successful my lawyer was in court and that motivated him to settle and I know he’s thought about fighting me for more but he knows he’ll be up against the same lawyer if he does. What was so interesting to me is that being supported by strong legal counsel who insisted my desires mattered too helped me hold my ground when he was mean and calling me entitled and lazy and whatever else he could to get me to agree to less support. I’m so sorry you are going through this. Tough it out to set the stage for your babies having enough.

    • SASM, JerseyChump is so right. Do whatever you have to do to get yourself the best, most experienced family law attorney in your area. Borrow the money if you have to, trust me it’ll be worth however long it takes you to pay it back. During the initial days of grief and shock from sudden abandonment, my sister gave me this advice and helped me borrow the money to pay for the best of the best attorney. I am so thankful for her because I was going to get a much cheaper attorney because I couldn’t afford anyone else. I’m a chump and I believed my then-husband would be playing by the same rules as me. Newsflash–they don’t!

      Don’t let your jerk husband make you feel like a bad person because you want what you’re entitled to. After his treatment of you, he doesn’t deserve for you to be nice to him. I fell into that trap as well and didn’t want to instigate trouble, wanted to minimize my pain as much as possible to make the process easier. SCREW THAT! HE DOESN’T DESERVE THAT!!

      Get yourself the best attorney and then you let them do the heavy lifting. They’ve seen it all before and they know the games these disordered jackasses play. Stick with CL and CN, there are smart people here who have walked through the same hell you’re in right now and lived to tell the tale. We all have your back. Wishing you the best SASM 🙂

      • Totally agree! Lying cheaters don’t all of sudden play fair in divorce. They didn’t worry about minimizing your pain during the marriage and they will only worry about saving themselves during the divorce. Get the best attorney that only specializes in family law. If they are doing criminal work and divorce work forget it – just family/divorce. Feel free to meet with more than one attorney to find out who is the best fit for you. If you earn a lot less than your spouse and depending where you live, your spouse may have to pay your attorney fees. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help, your life has turned on a dime and you need all the help you can get.

  • My single parenthood happened later and my kids are….uh “challenging” (nervous fidget) …imagine drunk circus monkeys

    mental health crises for all of them, therapy, meds, fail out of school, one changed his name to a fruit and moved to a commune where he danced (probably naked) around fire circles (among other things), one lives in a hovel in Montana (picture Unibomber with no bombs), daughter got neuro disease for which the only treatment is marijuana and the local police were not ok with it and she went to jail, she is currently hanging on by a thread and I have twice had to drive to the city to make sure she ate. (only a snippet)

    but with all that said, we are OK. They haven’t hurt themselves or other people

    what Im going to say next is important, so young single parents, please take note:

    If I had left their dad when I should have (years earlier, when they were younger) I may very well have
    blamed myself that their challenges were because I broke up their family. In reality, I think that
    staying is what really hurt them. The rage, inconsistency, gaslighting, selfishness from their dad,
    it all did its share of damage.

    But were OK.

    I did remarry but because they are older, my parenthood is totally separate from my romantic relationship (which feels weird, I always thought those things were inexorably intertwined)

    My kids are NOT the cookie cutter versions of upper middle class success and I had to let that go. The boys are hippies who each have like $200 to their names, but they both run homeless shelters in very cold climates where they keep people from FREEZING TO DEATH…and THAT, my dear friends is a task of great value and Im proud of them.

    So throw away your definitions of what “success” will look like and just love them through this.

    • “they both run homeless shelters in very cold climates where they keep people from FREEZING TO DEATH…” I would call that success any day. If they can be content helping others while living simply themselves than they are successful. You have every reason to be proud of them. This country’s perception of what “success” looks like is totally warped.

      • Whoa. That’s huge. That’s deep kindness and commitment to other people. Kids to be proud of. One thing that’s killing this country is the idea of “upper middle class success” where appearances and money and stuff defines a good life. Congratulations on raising sons who are living meaningful lives.

        • Yes, they are really good in how they serve. The population one of them serves is so badly at risk (the poorest of the poor in our society) that he has to deal with them dying, but not from freezing. I visited him once and there is a shed behind the main building and I asked him what they store in it…he said “People mostly” its an overflow shelter, no real heat but it beats the wind on the street.

    • I agree with Chumpinrecovery–running homeless shelters where your sons prevent people from dying is Success, with a capital S. Those of us who lived with sparkly, charming, seemingly financially successful fuckwits now know that character and compassion are more important than what is in a person’s bank account.

      Chumps like us who had emotionally abusive Xs beat ourselves up for staying, but would also have beat ourselves up if we’d left. We often stayed for the children, and to keep an intact family because of all the horror stories about children of single mothers ending up drug addicted, with teenage pregnancies, etc.

      But it turns out the worst scenario is for children to grow up in a high-conflict home (even if it’s only one person causing the conflict). Having a disordered parent, especially if that parent is emotionally abusive to either the children or the other parent, is damaging. I wish I’d left Hannibal many years prior, before my oldest daughter became emotionally guarded, and before the youngest developed emotional issues which I’m still dealing with.

      Kids need one sane parent, and that sane parent needs a support network.

      • Oh Tempest you are right… I could quote your whole post, yes.

        Every time I heard a case of hardship of a child in a single parent household, I would brace myself to withstand ANYTHING that he dished out rather than leave. First of all, fuck him for making those my options and even though I was mighty, my mighty ness was misdirected.

        • I’ve struggled with the stigma and stats related to kids chances growing up with a single parent and I would give them more if I could. Perhaps the hardest was when my daughter’s childcare had noted against her records some passages from textbooks on managing children from single-parent homes, like it made her different. It made me sick to my stomach. BUT. They are doing great. Cast around and see the kids in the world that come from broken families. They can be presidents, or paupers. Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and many many other very successful people. It’s about your kid’s character in the end. AND how many books you have in the house ;-). Your kids sound awesome Unicornomore!

          • JJ–I’ve done a ton of research on this topic, and you shouldn’t worry. The single-mother alarms are so conflated with low maternal education, teenage pregnancy, and poor-parenting-skills as to be negligible in application to many children of single mothers. One study that controlled for maternal education, SES, etc., found that children of single mothers were only 4% more likely to have pathologies or externalizing behaviors–statistically negligible.

          • Books, heheh yes!! I’m moving and so have had to winnow my collection but about 1k are coming with us, book maniac here 😉

            • AFKAC, I was gutted when I had to offload my lifetime collection of language books and dictionaries to be able to afford my move home. Really missing them now 🙁
              Thanks for the reassurance Tempest. I guess if it wasn’t that stigma, it would be something else! That said, I’ve also heard it has to do with the education of the mother and I have three undergrads and two postgrad degrees, so I think, at least, they’re ok there.

    • Unicornomore, I always relate to what you write— you tell my story and inspire me… please keep doing so!

      My 4 kids and I were also told that X “hated every minute of the last 10 years of our lives!” Youngest was 10 when he said those heinous lying words. It was all lies but almost destroyed me and the kids. Almost…… kids’ trauma was so acute that one tried to kill herself, all of us have anxiety and panic attacks, two have substance use issues. Tons of therapy for those who will, a lot of pain and agony, and rehab for one… it’s been 3 years and we are wobbly but surviving. There are a lot of set backs. But we are all alive today and I have hope that better days are ahead. Last night the two middles (22 and 18) who are living with roommates, working, going to university, came over for dinner and we made s’mores in a fire outside— it’s June gloom here in the chilly PNW. It was fun and we enjoyed each other’s Company. Life is worth living despite what X did to us.

    • Unicorn no more your kids sound like really unique and lovely people. Its so hard to pin down why kids do what they do. But if they have sweet hearts and adventurous spirits i think they are a success.
      I do think why didnt i leave sooner?
      The damage seems to be the same for my kids as it is with me.
      We realize our life was a lie. That is so traumatic.
      I didnt leave sooner because i really loved him and i just didnt know any better.
      He wasnt ready to let me go.
      He wanted to live out his perfect family fantasy.
      Our kids receive the blowback from this,whatever age.
      I think it must be a lot like finding out your dad is a serial killer.
      Its just too messed up for words.
      I’m still struggling to deal with it.
      I just want everyone to be ok.

  • California is super supportive of fathers rights and that seems to be dealt with much more seriously than support. You could end up forced to live in California so he has access to the kids even if you’re getting zero support. If I was you I’d consider his current detachment as a chance to move where you want to live, can find work you want, and be where things are more affordable. You can do the paperwork to enforce child support from anywhere (and Tracy is right, swing into action, document everything, etc) but also now is the time for you to be the leader of you family and build a new nest. You can do it.

    • Agreed. I’d leave the state of California. California (and Illinois) aren’t exactly….. affordable. Definitely use the county to collect your support. And there are a lot of grants out there for single moms. I’d use that to your advantage because not only can you receive grants, but daycare would also be free.

      I was a single mom at 16. When I turned around 20, I started college and was completely paid for by grants. One of the dumbest things I ever did was get married (not only because he turned out to be a cheating piece of shit), but because as soon as I was married I lost my grants. I had to start paying for college. I graduated with some debt (not too much), but had I stayed single, I would have had no or nearly no debt.

  • I love you, Chumplady. You are the voice of reason in a sea of chaos. You provide a storm shelter for families battered by moral rot.

  • Dear SSM,
    Remind yourself when he comes crawling back, sobbing and regretting leaving you, reminding you of “what we had” that this means his new relationship didn’t work out and he needs a aplace to land until he lines up a new reason to abandon his family.

    Don’t buy the sob story: move forward on the divorce so that actions trump words. Don’t let this chapter of your life become a dress rehearsal for a future abandonment.

  • Trust that you are awesome! It will not be easy but you will get through it because awesome people can overcome anything and end up on top. Your kids are lucky to have you. As others have said, you will be the one who is present. You will have to deal with the trials of parenting, but you will also get all of the rewards. You get to raise your kids with your values in whatever way you see fit. Best of all, you don’t have to deal with fuckwit complaining to you that the kids aren’t living up to his expectations because you aren’t parenting the way he thinks you should.

    Oh yes, and he is definitely cheating, at least emotionally if not physically. If he can be so easily distracted to the point where he is blind to the value of his wife and family, then he isn’t good enough for you or your kids. Do your best to get whatever financial support he owes his kids and then leave him to his own fucked up life. He isn’t your problem. He has released you from that burden.

    • I suspect 90% of cases where one partner just up and leaves a relationship involves another man/woman.

      • Why else would they leave and risk losing a giant portion of income to child support?

      • I think it is closer to 99%. You don’t on a whim blow your family up, lose half your assets and have to pay Alimony and Child Support for years. There is a schmoopie around for sure !

        • If they lose a buck, the cheater has gained a fuck 100% of the time.

      • I hate to say so, but I think so too. My ex tried to leave the marriage without revealing the other woman. Fell out of love, etc. He was extremely concerned about how it looked to the extended family and his friends, so he didn’t want to seem like the one breaking up the marriage. Tried to make it look “mutual.”

        Truth is, he was content to be with me until he crossed the line with this affair partner. (Narcissists and their impulsive attraction to the next shiny thing!!)

        That was enough for him to blow up the status quo.

        I’m so sorry you’re going through this, SaSM.

  • You can do this.

    You will have days where you feel that you can’t… but trust me, you can. There of many of us here that are single parents fighting the fight of child support.

    Kids can live with less “things”… what they can’t live with is less love or a sane parent. Remember that.

    Get a lawyer and don’t stop until you get WAGE GARNISHMENT for whatever the child support amount is… make the payments come automatically through the state so you can go as No Contact as possible.

    Get a support system in place. Single moms need a village. Build yours, check in with your local churches (many have support systems in place) and get your children signed up for any and all food and healthcare support systems.

    Put your energy into nailing this “I tried” fucker to the wall. Find that righteous anger and own it. Get this shit dealt with and be mighty.

    Worry about falling in love again much much later from now. Your worth shouldn’t be attached to your dating status. You’ve got two little kids who have more love than you can imagine right and ready to give to you now.

    You can do this.

  • Let me just say, you absolutely can do it! Yes, it is hard when you suddenly become a single parent. I have an unusual situation myself….I was a single parent first. My oldest child, my son, and I were on our own from the beginning. His father bailed before the second line fully materialized on the pregnancy test. I raised him on my own for six years until I married my now ex husband. Now I am a single mother again. It is not easy, but not impossible.

    One thing I learned the first time around, don’t become too dependent on child support….treat it as extra if you can. My son’s father did anything and everything to avoid paying. He is still a few thousand dollars in arrearage to me and my son is 20 years old. This does not mean you should not pursue it… aggressively.

    This time around the biggest issue I am having is my social/back-up network. When my son was young I had plenty of family that could help out. Not so now with my daughter….My closest aunts are now 78 and 79 years old, one has had a stroke and the other is the care taker for a “husband” (legally divorced 30 years ago because he is an alcoholic, but still carry on as if they are married), who has dementia. My step mother who was my rock passed away suddenly a few years ago. My dad and brothers help when they can, but they are busy and a 12 year old girl is not too keen to hang out with her grandpa and uncles much these days.

    What I have done is reach out to my limited circle of friends…..I don’t need much help with childcare since daughter is 12. I will offer to babysit for friends and then have a kind of “IOU” in place …not in a use people kind of way, more of a trade off favors way. Make connections like this if you can with your kids friends, especially as they get older. A night or two of freedom will save your sanity.

    The find a job to support yourself is key. My son was born a year before I finished college. After he was born I worked odd jobs for a couple of years before I landed my dream job. I also sold stuff on ebay to make extra money. My son and I for years would go to thrift stores and flea markets looking for vintage toys to clean up and re-sell. I made quite a bit of money that way…..and it was fun. Sometimes you have to get creative!

    You will make it through this and both you and your kids will come out of this just fine.

  • SASM…..

    Please read all of the great advice here and use it to your advantage. I arrived to this site late in the game and I so wish I had discovered CL sooner than I did.

    DO NOT let your sperm donor get away without paying child support. Child support is his responsibility and it needs to be enforced. Lock him down now. The amount of child support you receive will never be enough but every cent helps! And your children deserve that and so much more. If nothing else, fight him on this.

    I am so sorry you are going thru this. When I went thru it, I hardly slept. All I did was worry. Eventually, my life evened out and I am happier than ever. It is a “one day at a time” kind of thing. I still struggle financially but I have learned to budget and sacrifice some things. It isn’t easy but it is possible. I am raising my daughters alone and we are super close. I think I have done an amazing job and I am very proud of them and myself. It is a huge accomplishment.

    You are stronger than you think and wiser than you know! TRUST THAT! Get out there and KICK HIS ASS!

  • Dear Chumplady, I have to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your response today. You hit the nail on the head on all points. There is no need to feel alone anymore. There are so many tools and resources out there to help us, as you said, groups we can belong to, that we don’t need to feel alone anymore just because some of some fraud of a husband.

    And I almost teared up when you said that there is love all around her, her children, likely her parents, siblings, soul friends. Just because one person turned out to be fraud, no need to think there is no love in our lives. Great post all around! Brava!

    • Yes there is so much love out there. It was only when my ex left me that I discovered how many other people there are out there who do love me. The real trick is to notice it and appreciate it and accept whatever benefits come along with it. Accept help when it is offered because the people offering it really do want to help because they care.

      • My uncle was with me one time when I received an unexpected and kind gift from a neighbor. He could see how puzzled I was to receive this odd gift. He said, “Receive the gift in the spirit it was given.” I felt like the clouds had parted and an angel had spoken to me. Having empathy for the gift giver is a gift to both of you.

  • They drop the bomb and while we are paralyzed with shock they go about gathering assets and positioning themselves for the divorce. Because they ARE NOT sad AT ALL (no matter the tears!). Find some scrappy old lawyer who likes trial and has been out there in the trenches and hire that guy but reserve your processing emotions for your therapist. The minute you lawyer up get ready for the manipulation from you ex. The key is to only communicate about child hand-off, and critical child issues. Don’t stray though no doubt he will try and hurt you with the intro of the shadowy OW (who exists, not doubt, they don’t leave until they have someone to leave to).

    • This advice is dead on !!

      Some good advice I received after Dday was that “You need to take your emotions and put them on a shelf until later. From now until the divorce is done, this is a business negotiation”.

      This is true and the details of your divorce and child support/custody decree will directly affect your life for YEARS — it is CRITICAL !! Don’t let your emotions affect your judgement or the pain make you just want to sign a bad deal and just get it over. Get the best lawyer you can (sell stuff if you have to– I did) and listen to their advice.

    • nodancing is correct. There is an OW in the shadows, no doubt about it. The abrupt departure is a dead giveaway. Get a “take no prisoners” attorney if your stbx has a decent job and can dole out child support and alimony. If your ex is a shit bum in the working department, you may be throwing away good money after bad so you’ll need to get government assistance till you can hold your own. So sorry you are going through this but I really believe you’ll be much better off in the future.

  • Ex walked out on me and my 11 month old daughter for his “forever schmoopie”, so I can relate. I really can. Even worse, he walked out while I was trying to learn how to drive, so not only did he leave me in a terrible position, he left me KNOWING that I was dependent upon him to get my child to daycare so that I could work. No family in the area to help me. Bad, bad spot.

    Well, it’s been 2 years. I got my license. I can drive. I can get my daughter, who’s now 3, to daycare, the park, the pool, anywhere she wants to go. Ex is now calling me wanting to know if he can come along on our adventures, she and I. Umm…. no. It’s not my fault that you chose wrong, bub. Baby girl and I are doing just fine without you.

    Child support – get it. Even if it’s not worth much, get it anyway. I get a whopping 64 dollars a month, because that’s just how crappy the system is and ex will never get a job that’s any better than what he has now. Two tanks of gas and maybe a box of diapers – big whoop. But you know what? You’ll manage, and manage well, because that’s just what we as women do. We sweat, sacrifice, and pinch every cent we can to make sure that our kids have what we didn’t. It’s just innate. You’ll be okay. It may not feel like it some days, but you will make it!

    Take time to be alone right now, to take stock of yourself, to know what YOU want as a person and as a potential mate to someone else. Don’t be in a rush to find someone else – you’ve been through a trauma and you need to heal from it. That’s why these fools do what they do – my ex hasn’t been alone with himself in God knows how many years. Maybe never, to be honest. He runs from one relationship to the next, and often doesn’t bother to end the former, which is why he’s a cheater. Taking that time to be alone, it resets you for what you really need, want and deserve.

    Hang in there.

    • CW grats to you!! When everything broke, I went out and started to learn to drive (at 51) and landed a job 25 minutes drive away, in a lovely Primary School that has restored so much of my self-respect and faith in people. My first job in 3 years, living in rural Cornwall I had to drive to get a job.

      I started that job 3 days before I finally passed my driving test at the third try. How mighty am I! ;D

      Both keeping the job and passing the test seemed impossible at some points. A definition of us Chumps is people who do impossible things all the time. How mighty are we!

      Love to all here today x

  • Thank you for the shoutout, Tracy. And thank you for the fabulous and oh so real advice you gave this new member of the club. I’ve been single parenting it for over ten years now (and yes if you’re single and you’re a parent and you’re doing the hard shit alone you can call yourself whatever you want- including “single parent”. Don’t get me started on the pedantic stuff).

    I also can’t emphasize enough to not even think about a new relationship at this point. It’s imperative that you heal at least a little before that’s a main priority. Being left by a partner does some major psychological damage, some of which takes a while to be felt. You take care of your babies and yourself first.

    I’m sorry so many people go through this. I’ve been hearing these stories for years and it still blows my mind.

    Come to the porch- we are women (and a few guys) in all stages of the shitshow- from beginning to end and beyond. Zero judgment. Memes. Love and support.


  • Count me as a single parent… twice.

    My first husband and I had 5 kids and the shit hit the fan when our oldest was in 9th grade and our youngest was in Kindergarten. He beat the living crap out of me in front of them. I got a restraining order, kicked him out and filed for divorce after 15 1/2 years of marriage. I fought tooth and nail for every dime of support and he spent a lot of time in arrears, but I got them raised and they’re all decent people.

    Now I’m a single parent again and I’ve got an almost 8 and almost 10 year old. I resented it for a long time because I gave him 3 kids ( one passed away 11 years ago) and I was just so crushed over his abandonment.

    Last week, I reframed that. I realized I DIDN’T have the kids for him, I had them for me. I’d always wanted a big family and when things blew up with my 1st husband, I knew I wasn’t done having kids.

    The second husband couldn’t have cared less if I’d had kids or not. We purposely had our 1st daughter after we lost our son, and he didn’t really didn’t want anymore, but I didn’t want her growing up as an only child, especially since we’re older parents, so I got pregnant on purpose, something he holds against me to this day, but I don’t regret it a single bit and I’d do it again.

    Once I realized that I had them for ME to fulfill MY dreams, it stung less. I took ownership of being a mom again, and that felt mightier.

    He was merely a sperm donor, nothing more.

  • SSM,

    I’m sorry I can’t turn the school counselor off in me, even during the summer, but let me throw a couple of resources at you for career guidance. If you were in Utah, I would direct you straight to an awesome and affordable technical college that is a direct pipeline to Silicon Slope which STARTING pay is $80,000. But. Go to It’s like an Occupational Outlook that stays current and you can search by state, career path, or specific occupation. It will tell you what the job outlook is, average pay in your area, schools that offer your program, and cost of education. Also has interest inventories if you don’t know where to start. It is not just a Utah tool. In fact, it began in Oregon.

    That was my free PSA. Make sure you write that into the divorce – that he pays for your training/education to become marketable. Why are you entitled to that? Because you thought you were part of a team that had performed roles that you counted on – since he signed a contract (marriage license, vows, etc.), he is legally bound to the consequences of breaking that contract. You dictate what those consequences are. If this were a business partnership that he walked away from with all the assets and all the necessary tools to continue the money making you wouldn’t sit back and watch it happen just because court is hard. No, you would be fighting for your half of the assets. You invested just as much as he did. Your business partner can’t just walk away with all your investment for the past few years. He may have been the talent, but you were the manager. You took care of all the crap behind the scenes so he could go on stage and look good.

    Sorry. He can’t just walk away without paying the manager.

    • Copying and putting this out where it will be very visible to all, and thanks to theonewhostayed:

      “Make sure you write that into the divorce – that he pays for your training/education to become marketable. “

  • I was a 38 year old mother of a 3 year old when my ex husband pulled this crap, complete with “I never wanted kids” and “I was forced to marry you” (huh?) and he spent money on booze and other women instead of his family. He struggles to pay the minimum child support, or he pretends to struggle.

    That was almost 7 years ago now. In two weeks, at 45 years old and a frumpy older woman with a few too many pounds and an 11 year old, I’m getting married to a wonderful man who wants to be with me and my son and treats me like a queen. You’re in the thick of it right now. Surround yourself with people who support you, in real life or online, or both! You can do this. He sucks, you’re great, and that’s just the way it is. Don’t let his personal shortcomings become your self-image. Spend your time loving your kids and the short time they’re little. It goes fast, savor those times that you get. He is going to miss out on a lot because he’s a canckle. Listen to Chumplady, she’s right. In time you’ll feel yourself again, and realize that he has nothing to offer you. There will be plenty of others out there who will treat you right, in time. But you need to remember that you’re worth it. Take it step by step. You’ll get there!

  • Suddenly a Single Mom,

    I am sorry to hear that you are in this challenging predicament.

    I suddenly became a single mom of young children four years ago (in California). I had no income as I had been a graduate (doctoral) student for years. Unfortunately, I did not finish my doctorate. My husband was self-employed and had/has many opportunities to earn lots of money under the table. He decided to quit his very lucrative job shortly before he filed in order ‘to create cartoons.’ (He has no cartoon/video creating background.) As such, there were/are no wages to garnish. I spent $100k defending myself from my husband’s false allegations against me when he filed for divorce. I never recovered my legal fees on my four very expensive legal teams ($400-$500/hour). If you can fairly easily get the court to garnish your husband’s wages, then I encourage you to do so. If you are in a situation like mine, then chasing down support, no matter how deserved it is, is probably a waste of money. I will likely pay 100% of the braces and any post-secondary tuition help of our children. Most of my attorneys said that I could not ‘win’ on these fronts. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have spent
    a lot less time (three years and 16 hearings) and money (probably could have saved at least $50k if I had just written my husband a $50k ‘go away forever’ check the day after he filed for divorce) on trying to ‘get justice’ and financial support from my very high earning husband (who earns beaucoup bucks in the entertainment business). I would have spent more time and energy trying to re-start my professional life. I need to find a way to swim to shore with my children on my back. I don’t want to paint an all gloom and doom picture, though. By being forced to ‘swim,’ I have developed an emotional strength I never would have had I had a healthy, happy marriage. I am more ‘out-going’ as I have ‘nothing to lose’ by reaching out to people. I reach out more because I am lonelier. This reaching out has helped me form friendships with amazing, wonderful people, some of whom I met through Chump Lady! I have also had to get roommates–most of whom have been a thousand time better roommates than my husband ever was!

    On the loneliness issue, I experience much loneliness although I have the lion’s share of physical custody of my kids. Contrary to what the majority of posters here say, with all due respect to my fellow chumps, I won’t tell you NOT to date anyone for a very long time. I decided to date someone who was a fellow chump and who I thought had been my friend for 30 years five months after my husband left. I wasn’t looking for a partner at the time, but my ‘friend’ happened to be free and I had greatly respected him, as virtually everyone called him Mr. Nice Guy and A Great Catch, childless, youthful, highly educated, high-earning, modest, responsible. I felt incredibly fortunate to ‘have’ him. The love bombing on his part didn’t last long, but my pick me dancing (in spite of his lying, disrespecting of me, and probably his near constant search for my replacements) did (for a few years). I didn’t realize that when I started dating He Who Looks Like Mr. Nice Guy but is really Mr. Hyde in Dr. Jekyll’s Cloak who is Just Not That Into Me that my divorce would take over three years, 16 hearings, loss of most of my nearly 50 years of live savings and continued abuse by my estranged husband. I also had to change jobs and move a few times during that period. In short, it was a really bad time to date my now-ex-boyfriend. That being said, I think that romantic relationships that start less than a year after separation CAN work out well if the people in relationship know themselves, their partners, and the expectations, desires, and constraints of each party and are honest, considerate people. That’s asking a lot of most human beings. My boyfriend and I didn’t have many of those vital ingredients. I didn’t realize how vulnerable I was to love bombing and how prone I was to spackle (to live in denial) because I couldn’t imagine life without my true love. In my ex-boyfriend’s defense (although I think that in many ways, he’s a jerk), he had never dated a single parent and probably didn’t realize going in the limitations and opportunities of single parenting. He was and still is, in many ways, my ‘true love’ (although he does not deserve my adoration), but I am nothing but an object, a disposable convenience item, to him, like a doughnut tire to be used when one’s standard, ‘valuable,’ tire goes flat (the wife leaves the guy for her affair partners) and one doesn’t have a ‘real’ tire on hand–until one can find the ‘real’ replacement (in my case, it was my boyfriend’s work subordinate) and abruptly toss the doughnut tire on the side of the highway in the desert, the way some people ‘discard’ their loyal pets in the middle of the desert once they tire of their animal companions. Unless your heart can ‘handle’ the pain of this possibility (mine couldn’t–I was suicidal for months), tread intimate relationship territory with great caution.

    Doing whatever you can to ‘get a life’ (form a new, healthy life) while being kind to yourself when things don’t go the way you had hoped or things don’t progress as quickly as you hoped will help you and your children. Know that you have the empathy and respect of millions. Sending you loving kindness and a virtual hug. From the way you write, you sound strong and level-headed. I think that you will do quite well ‘on your own’ and feel well-deserved pride in living a noble life as the head of your household.

  • ‘Do grizzly bears wonder about twinkie bimbos? (Well, beyond the empty calories.) ‘

    Thank you for this, CL, you made my day!

    From one Mama Grizzly to all the others out there, you got this! And your kids will know it!

  • If you two got life insurance, make certain that YOU own the police and yes, that means YOU will pay the premium. Get it into the divorce decree that YOU are the beneficiary if he dies.

    If you trust him to pay the premium, trust that he sucks and will get the policy cancelled. Just before the Karma Bus squashes him flat.

    You can do this. I don’t have any firsthand experience being a 24/7/365 single parent, but as my husband was essentially a cardboard cut-out of a parent, I was effectively a grass widow. Your situation sucks more but trust that it sucks.

    Good luck to you and the kids. Remember: the more lawyers YOU consult, the smaller the pool for HIM. Many lawyers offer a free one-hour consultation and with it, he can’t use that lawyer. Well, at least that used to be the case. Give it a try.

    Again – you can and will do this!

    • Right?!
      I started paying on a life insurance policy on exh2/The Evil One years before D-Day and wreckonciliation and divorce.
      I STILL pay on the policy. It’s only $50,000., but to me it’ll cover all the financial stress that bastard put me through when we were married, plus his child support arrears.
      Can’t wait for him to die.

  • Dear SASM, you’re in good company here, and getting great advice from the posts. I became a single mom two years ago when my boys were 3 and 1, after 11 years together with their father (4 married). You think after all that time that you know somebody…and then they turn into some bizarre alien/stranger. It’s shocking and devastating and just a whole lot to process. What helped me the most at the time was that in addition to all of those feelings, I was also FURIOUS. Waiting to get my STD results back after what I thought was a decade of fidelity, and wondering if I would have to take my infant I was still breastfeeding to the pediatrician for an STD test as well…that kind of serious disregard for the people I love (and he should have loved) made me FURIOUS. That anger saved me, it made me see that he was dangerous and pushed me to get as far from him as possible, while taking what I needed to rebuild our lives with me.
    Now, other than expecting him to pay child support in-full and on-time (he’s big into image management and knows full well I’ll sing like a canary if he doesn’t), and to pick up/drop off as defined (to the hour) in the Settlement, I expect absolutely nothing and I DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT everything I do parenting-wise. Under no circumstances will he and Shmoopie-who-likes-to-play-house ever contest me for custody of the kids. Iron-clad boundaries on the important stuff, protections where you can and you have to let the rest go. In your case, you absolutely have to use the law as best you can to go after him for child support, CL is right. It is the absolute least he should do, though he’s trying to get away with less. It is far, far easier to rebuild a shattered life with just a bit more money. You and the kids deserve this. But everyone is right, you also have to find other avenues to build your income up, whether or not any CS ever comes from him. He’s clearly demonstrated he is not trustWORTHY.

    My advice for digging out of the rejection: Ask yourself if you value the opinion of someone like that. Someone so low that they can walk out on a spouse and children and not feel any obligation to support them. These people suuuuuuuuuuuuck. Their opinion on what matters in life suuuuuuuuuuuucks. Do not use their sucky opinions as your own. Take a step back, and form your own opinion of yourself. Not based on other people’s choices (his abandonment) which you can’t control, but based on your own choices (being a loyal spouse, sticking by your kids) which you do control. You do that and you will see your worth, and that his opinion of you is not worth your time.

    Lots of hugs, you can do this and in doing you will grow strong.

    • Right on Something New, we’re on the same timeline with kids the same age. “Know your worth” as Chumplady says, was my go to mantra when navigating this. I hope that you’re doing well now!

      • Actually, I’m 5 years out, so not quite same timeline, but same stats when things kicked off.

        • Thank JJ, I’m definitely doing much better (I would like the divorce to be finalized, but should be soon!) and at the rate life is improving, I’m VERY much looking forward to being five years out! 🙂 Hugs to you and your kiddos!

  • I was “fortunate” in that my children were older (one in college and one @ 16 y/o) when ex ran off with married howorker following almost 25 years (our entire marriage) of serial cheating (unbeknownst to me until a whole year after D-Day #1, which preceded D-Days #2-4!!) So the child support issue was short-term for me. However, I had been a SAHM for 20+ years, and to say that it was tough to find employment at that juncture in my life is a colossal understatement. Following the divorce and sale of the family home that I shared with Hugh Jassol, I moved in with my best friend and her family for an entire year (with my teen daughter and our dog, and my son even joined us for about a month between his graduation from college and moving into his own place). (Yes, we’re still friends!!)

    I went back to school and after a couple of devastating “false starts,” I landed a job that I absolutely LOVE with a wonderful employer who values and appreciates me and has been generous in so many ways. I feel completely blessed….and I must say that I am happier now than at almost any other time in my life. I was able to purchase my own little home, I have a great circle of family and friends, and my kids and I are very close. Life is pretty good these days!! All that to say that it was (and continues to be) a journey – not easy and not without setbacks – many setbacks! It can be staggering at times, but somehow I managed to press on and continue to move forward. The overwhelming sentiments of hopelessness, despair, and fear of the future/unknown that I felt during the period leading up to and immediately following the divorce are now vague memories, but reflecting back on that time and those feelings allows me to measure my personal growth and resiliency! And now almost 7 years out, I’m still standing! You can do this, Suddenly!

  • SSM, I didn’t read all the comments, so am probably repeating something already said.

    You know those food banks and community action programs so many of us donate to and volunteer at? You and your kids are the kind of people we want to see using these resources. Go and get a food box. Get the next size of clothes or shoes your kids need. See if there’s a community family crisis type program that can support you with some child care in the form of a nursery school setting, while you take care of the legalities. Ask for help with your utility bills and emergency support for rent.

    This crisis time is likely finite. At some point the child support will kick in and you’ll be able to start to plan and recover. But for now, please take some of these resources, we want to see you and your children comfortable and safe through this crisis.

  • I started doing a response but thought “Wait a minute. Suddenly a Single Mom can really benefit from doing it herself.” So as a teacher, I’m going to suggest a couple of “homework” assignments. This will keep you busy and keep the fear at bay for a while.

    1. Go through all of these responses, including CL’s, and make lists: Things to Do, Things to Remember, Ideas to Try, Things to Help Me Gain a Life, Stuff About Custody Agreements, etc. There is so much wisdom here and even if you read everything, you won’t remember it all. So sort it out. Put it into lists and then, as you read other main blog posts and stuff on forums, you can add to the list. Copy and paste sentences and ideas that resonate into your lists. I made a “Chump” file on my computer and collected all sorts of quotations that helped me get through the first 2 years.

    Be sure you pay close attention to KibbleFree MightyMe’s post, as it’s particularly rich today, especially the parts about documenting everything. The point of doing this work, from making lists to starting to document, is to start the process of taking control of your financial life. As TriumphAfterTerror says, “Don’t let your devastation & emotional trauma rule the divorce, support & visitation proceedings.” You will be in much better shape in 5 years if you approach divorce as a business transaction and reading on Chump Lady as your education in being a single parent after a “discard.” Discards are so painful and difficult, especially with very little kids, but if you don’t get tough out of the gate, you are likely to get less than what you need and deserve to raise those kids on.

    2. Tell the people in your life what is going on. You don’t have to badmouth your X. The tone of your letter to CL is just fine. But your support system–parents, siblings, friends, pastor, hairdresser—need to know. It’s almost a cliché, but in truth it does take a village to raise a child. Gather your people. Ask for help. Sit down with people you trust and let them help you figure out what attorney to hire, where to live, etc. And don’t be afraid to take money if they offer to help. That’s why we are here on earth—to help each other. Think of money, used well, as love in a form that provides immediate help.

    3. Do you own your home? If so, how much equity is there? Start learning about how that home can be an asset in starting over, especially if it makes sense to move. Call a realtor to evaluate the value of your home. You’ll need this info whether you go or stay.

    4. If you need to move closer to your family, start planning for that now, before a divorce settlement puts limits on your ability to move. Don’t hesitate to move in with a friend or family while you get on your feet. My cousin was left with 3 kids under 6 when her husband died. Her widowed Mom moved in and they raised the kids together, even after Cousin was on her feet and had her own job plus SS. If your family is “difficult,” think about your “chosen family.”

    5. Make sure you have secured at least ½ of all savings. Make copies of all financial documents. Don’t let him dissipate marital assets you need to raise those kids.
    6. If you want more education, consider getting an entry-level job in a community college or university. There are lots of positions that open up at these places. Usually the work is during regular business hours. Sometimes there is day care. And always, tuition is free. Many courses are offered online so you wouldn’t need more time away from the kids. They often aren’t the best-paying jobs out of the gate, but tuition is a great benefit. They hire everything from security guards to housekeepers to dorm supervisors (complete with apartment). Places like Chipotle offer help with college. Start looking into where you want to work based what you need to do for the next 5 years, until the last kiddo goes to school.
    7. Finally, do the research on the narcissist’s relationship cycle. We don’t need a diagnosis for you STBX to know that he’s disordered. And disordered people often follow a relationship cycle that ends in abrupt discard of the partner. Knowing that your STBX’s behavior is part of his disorder will help you understand that there is something wrong with him. It doesn’t matter what it is. He’s disordered. It’s not you.

  • Suddenly–
    We all know you are overwhelmed. It will get better, and you GOT THIS!
    I am also in CA. I agree with the comments- document everything! Recently a friend took her ex to court for back child support, ex claimed disability. She had things documented, she was awarded $30k in back pay, AND judge told him to stop being a deadbeat and to get a job.
    In my case, ex quit his job and wanted to reduce/stop support until “he was on his feet” with his new consulting business. Judge basically laughed. It was a painful laugh for me (given the attorney fees), but at least fees were just under half of the year’s support. so I “got it back’. California courts are often supportive, but you have to document and keep track.

    I agree with self care. Given my teenaged daughter’s mental health issues, I did not practice self care, and after 3 years it took a major toll. Join a meetup or a gym– I just joined Fitness19. Relatively inexpensive, they have kid care, and they have great classes in additional to the gym part.

    Finding love. Do not worry about that now, but know that it will come. For me, it just recently happened, 6 years after DDay, 5 years post divorce finalization. My life was filled with my kids, and I was happy with life/job. The road to romance took a little longer than I thought it would with this particular guy (my new guy did not quite realize my inexperience with dating– aka, never done it, did not know how to flirt!)– but we figured it out and laugh about it now.

    I agree with the posters above. Document, make lists, get everything into the agreements– post those to the forums, folks will have lots of things to add in.

    Jedi hugs to you. It is overwhelming, but it is temporary. Things will get better.

  • I can’t believe AFTER these fuckwits breed and have children, they then decide they don’t want to ‘be all in.’ WTF. If he is this big of an asshole, I’m sure there are other women involved.

    I was a single teenaged mother for five years and never got one dime of a child support from the sperm donor as he worked under the table AND skipped states. Fortunately I met a real man when I was 21 (not the cheater) and he adopted my daughter and we got the fucktard on abandonment. Of course he went on to have two more children he never supported.

    You can do this. I took a short (one year) course to become a legal assistant while my daughter was an infant. I did that for many years until my daughter got older and while working part time pursued more degrees until at age 45 I had a masters. I now work in higher education and there are so many wonderful technical/professional degrees that you can get. Please check with your local community college and see what they have to offer. You may qualify for Pell grants that you do not have to repay and work study. Many colleges have programs for displaced homemakers as well. Check with Vocational Rehab too. They help many of my displaced people and our campus also has a Children’s Center daycare where students and staff can leave their children. You can do this. Best wishes mighty woman.

  • Cheaterpants and I separated when I our son was 10 months old. Playing detective, I found out that he had met the OW on Craig’s List when I was six months pregnant. I discovered the whole thing when our son was 10 months old. I have been a single mom for 7 years. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. Cheaterpants has not been involved since the day I left. We haven’t heard from him or seen in almost 3 years. Get the state to garnish the child support. I lived in Nevada and opened a case with the state and they said as long as Ex was paying he could pay them directly and they would pay me. Ex missed one payment and they began garnishing. Child support garnishment means I don’t have to chase ex for money and it comes the same time every month. Get very specific in your divorce: who will pay for child care, extra curriculum activities, medical bills, braces, etc. Judge may not agree to all of it, but ask.
    Learn to rely on yourself, don’t count on ex to do anything. Ex should be paying medical bills, he doesn’t. I have to take him to court to get that money, but taking him to court means money and he could possibly him disrupting my life. I communicate with my ex through email. I send him a copy of the medical bills requesting his share, he ignores, I file it all away. I have a Google voice number set up for my son. Ex has the number and can call my son anytime. My son uses that number to call his dad if he wants. That way I don’t have to use my phone or get texts from the ex. He is blocked on my phone. I keep a file of everything, emails, communication, visits. As many others have said, document everything. When my son was 1, 2 and 3 and Ex was trying to play daddy, I set my son down with the phone on speaker and let him and his ‘dad’ talk. At first I tried to facilitate a relationship, encouraging my son and Ex to talk and providing topic ideas. I sent emails and texts to my ex with ways to connect to his son. “Hey ex send our son a video of you at your job! Record yourself reading a book and I will play it for our son.” At this time we lived 5 hours apart and Ex had seen our son only 3 times in 3 years. His actions clearly showed he wasn’t interested in being a dad, but I wouldn’t let that go. I tried to force a relationship and tried to force my ex to be a dad for about 3 years. This isn’t your job anymore. Once I took myself out of the relationship, ex got mad and went away.
    Most of this gets easier, I do get lonely, a bit sad that my son doesn’t get the ‘perfect’ intact family. On the plus side, my son and I are both better off without their mess of a dad. I don’t have to consult ex about anything, I raise my son the way I want too. I have surrounded myself with other single parents and I have family that are very supportive. You will find your way. Lean on your family and friends and Chumplady.

  • I had DDay at 7 months pregnant. Ex husband has never met now 3 y/o daughter, we are lit. an ocean apart. He financially abandoned us aswell, even though his family is wealthy.

    I work 4 days a week and am fulltime single mom with limited support system. Am about to lose rental home due to owners bankrupcy… there is a housing crisis and both renting and buying are nearly impossible. I have no clue how to solve it all and go to bed tense of stress and exhaustion usually. I dont even want to live here, I miss the home I left behind 9,000 kilometers so much it aches.

    This shit is hard…

    Kiddo is doing well though and we are healthy. But I hope for brighter days.

    • I’m sorry, JungleChump–you’ve been hit with several setbacks all at once. How mobile are your job skills? If you have to move out of your home anyway, would it be feasible to move to a new location entirely where there are more options for help (and perhaps less expensive rent)? Are there job counselors you could talk to about employment options in other cities?

      • I am pretty mobile being an ecologist, I did consider moving way out to the provinces where homes/rent are affordable. The thing is I would need a job there first AND my little girl her whole world is here… she has no father and all her fathers family is overseas, I only have some family around here (being my deceased father was a cheater and my mom the OW who moved from far for him) and my friends from my home town and their kids are her friends. I finally got her high on the waitinglist for awesome Montessori schools so if I move need to restart that process too. And I would in the beginning have no support network there… which is scary when alone with kid.

        That being said… I will look into moving there as otio but with time and preparation. I am also still deeply unhappy here in Holland and what I really want is to move overseas again… but financially I cant right now. But thats also why I dont want to keep moving, it will already be hard for kid anyway if I do emigrate. If I cant emigrate I would indeed move to cheaper province and enjoy bigger home with yard etc…

  • I’m right there with you!
    I am the single mother of 2 children, both with significant special needs. I suppose I’m lucky that I already had a job that could support the three of us as the cheater has chosen the voluntarily impoverished /permanently unemployed lifestyle, and had assumed a parasitic existence even before I discovered the affairs/prostitutes/chat sites.

    So I have it all; All the responsibility, all the bills, all the kids’ medical appointments, all the meltdowns, all the while trying to wrap my brain around what the hell happened. (He, on the other hand, spends his days practicing yoga, playing video games, and having online sex with strangers. It’s Infuriating!)

    I won’t bullshit you; It’s bloody hard. Harder than I thought it would be. But this is what I tell myself: There isn’t an easier option. Adding a sociopathic man-child to the mix won’t help me and it won’t help you, either. As brutally unfair as that is (and it is horrifically unfair and I still get lost in my rage about it), these assholes stole any better option from us. And sometimes just being honest about how truly shitty and unfair it is, if it doesn’t make it any easier, at least I recognize how mighty I am because I’m figuring it out. And that’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I may regularly say this life is too hard and I can’t keep going, but I keep going anyway.

    You will keep going, too, and do more than you ever thought you could.

    • “I may regularly say this life is too hard and I can’t keep going, but I keep going anyway.”

      This… my daily struggle being a full time and working single parent, and then I am lucky my kid has no medical issues.

  • Said it before and I’ll say it again…I hate cheaters. And the more I read I realize there is something wrong with them.
    Cheat r said he thought he’d have more money and be more awesome if he left us. He said he hated his life because he went to work and came home…his choice, since I used to plan things for us and he’d bail at the last minute or come and be a drag. Oh gawd….just typing about him is taking time from my life so I’m done. In conclusion these people are the true definition of weak losers.

    • My ex would bail out at the last moment, its probably quite common

  • You have to watch out for false promises, as you probably know, I will pay towards kids, cadets boots, trips, always has excuses. You have to become self reliant. Personally what really pisses me off, is people who say, he wasn’t that bad!, I would correct them, but what’s the point. Incidentally daughters year 9 parents evening, she did very well, guidance counsellor said, I must be a wonderful parent!, no help from ex.

  • I don’t usually comment any more though I check in once in a while. I got through my divorce with the help of CL and Chump nation. My youngest was 12 when his father walked out after 25 years of marriage, and 6+ years later has not since him since. Son just graduated high school with honors and is heading to college, and is an awesome young man. I did it all myself, it was just my son and me, and I wouldn’t trade it (my two older children were already young adults). I am now happily remarried to a much better man. You will eventually get your feet under you and will become mightier than you can imagine. Much love and hugs

    • Great to hear from you Kelly! I love a happy ending. Congrats to your son on his graduation!

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