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Managing Divorce Expectations

It’s always a good idea to manage your expectations around most things. What’s this? A scented candle? NO, I WANTED A PONY! Life has a way of broadsiding us.

This is especially true when it comes to divorce. Now, you would think I’m a cheerleader for divorce, given the tagline here — “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” I’m constantly scribbling “SEE A LAWYER.” And yet, I concede the whole divorce process sucks.

Yes, even when it’s liberating you from someone who sucks.

It’s expensive, emotional, and involves notarizing things. No one does this on a whim. (“Casual divorce” is an oxymoron.) Of all things you should go in prepared for — it’s divorce.

I had an interesting chat on Monday night, recording for the next Chump Lady podcast, with Bethesda, Maryland family law attorney Regina DeMeo about managing expectations around divorce. What the law can do, (create settlement documents) and cannot do (mend your broken heart).

I met Regina when I wrote a story for Washington Lawyer magazine on difficult clients. Some of us were married to those freaks. The kind of crazy that litigates to punish their ex, who refuses to respond to discovery, who drags things on and on and on… And, as I was writing this for lawyers, the kind of client that drives the legal system bonkers. No one wants to clog the docket with wing nuts.

Regina had a great story and we sort of bonded over all things Divorce. She’s had one. It makes her more compassionate in her job, (BTDT, has to share her kid with her ex), but she’s also the first to tell you, she sucks at hand-holding. Please. Do. Not. Hire. A. Lawyer. For. Emotional. Support. Regina is a total sweetheart, but…

“I have a narrow skill set. It’s highly trained, and it’s expensive.” — She appears in court and she drafts documents.

Expectation #1. Lawyers aren’t therapists. Come prepared with as much documentation as you can muster, and be all business. Don’t waste a lot of 6-minute intervals on your sadness and inchoate rage at your ex. Get some real life (free! cheaper!) support and build another team for that. Your lawyer is there to kickass at settlements.

We discussed other expectations and strategies — and I won’t give them all away, (because hey, please support the blog and check out our next charming podcast!) — but here’s a couple more.

Expectation #2. There are many shit sandwiches of injustice. Dividing time with your children after you’ve been chumped? Shit sandwich. Paying alimony to a cheating ex? Shit sandwich. Losing half your 401K? Shit sandwich. Lawyers can do their best, but the law is the law on dividing assets and What Is Best For Children (a lot of states that’s 50/50). It’s pretty indifferent to your agony. Expect it.

But do know what you’re entitled to, that’s where a lawyer can really help you. Chumps are so used to making their needs small (Oh a scented candle? Why thank you. I’ll treasure it always.), you may be shocked to learn the law grants you half time with your kids, alimony, or half the 401K.

Expectation #3. Chumps are dead common. Regina said about half her clients are divorcing over infidelity. So multiply that one Maryland lawyer by a gazillion lawyers and their clients and you realize that the judges see a LOT of chumps and cheaters and Zzzzzzzz.

Your pain is not very interesting. Dissolution of marital assets? Credit card receipts for hookers? THAT is interesting. Document, document, DOCUMENT. Money spent — that can be demonstrated. Your PTSD? Not so much.

And we discuss other fun topics like how to afford divorce (did you know divorce financing is a THING? I did not), how to do some of the divorce work yourself, and how to build a new life.

That’s the big takeaway. Why are you going through this suckfest? TO GAIN A NEW LIFE.

Give me a D I V O R C E !

Hope you tune in. I’ll post when it goes live, next week. And you can check out more about Regina here — and read her blog for more tips.

As for me, remember, this is not legal advice, I’m not a lawyer, I’m a chump. Please hire the professionals. I’m just here for support. And snark. Always the snark.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • And hire the attorney with experience in family law… not the one who is fairly fresh out of law school and who will just agree with you.

    At the end of the day, even a crap attorney gets paid.

    • Or even an experienced attorney who doesn’t do family law. Family law is its own special set of rules.

      I have a friend who is a world class litigator in med mal. One of the best attorneys in the state.

      He would be disaster in a divorce courtroom setting.

      ….

      Also don’t hire any attorney cold. Get recommendations. Ask around.

      • And when you get that recommendation, hire one of the partners if you expect a high-conflict divorce; don’t save money on a more novice attorney.

        My therapist gave me a great recommendation for a law firm, and since I expected a smooth divorce (community property state; X signed off on my full custody of daughter), I hired one of the lawyers with only a few years experience. She was fine for the task, but was then completely tongue-tied when the judge altered a significant statement about custody on the day of dissolution. A more experienced lawyer might have (a) seen the change coming, and (b) been able to be more articulate in defending the decree (that my X had signed off on, BTW). In the end, I paid extra billable hours because she had to contact her partners to see how to fix the situation.

        • This. My lawyer isn’t considered super fancy, but she is a partner with decades of experience in family law. STBX hired a fancy attorney who passed him down to his junior associate…his representation has been terrible, imo.

        • Also, more experienced attorneys tend to have long-standing relationships with judges, so they have a much better sense of how a particular judge might rule on any given issue. Most divorces don’t go to trial, of course, but during negotiation you want to be armed with an attorney who can speak with confidence about how a given judge would likely rule on a given issue.

    • My ex husband said his attorney would destroy me after I would not agree to ‘share’ an attorney, cause it’s cheaper. Well I got more assets, guaranteed Alimoney, majority time with kids and the house and one hell of a gladiator for an attorney. His attorney ended up being a 27 year old attorney, with a short skirt who specializes in paten law. Dumb ass.

  • And we love you for the snark!

    Let me take a moment to second bringing in your documentation!
    Better yet, bring it in organized by date (ascending or descending – doesn’t matter) with an explanation of each and how it matters.
    I submitted spread sheet after painful spreadsheet documenting expenses, using receipts my Type – A self had saved over the years so there was no doubting my estimates for what it costs to take care of my child. There was another on dissipated assets and of course the mortgage statements and credit card statements and other financial records. I put them all in a three ring binder newest to oldest with tabs in between. It’s amazing what you have time for in the sleepless PTSD stage when your raging cheater refuses to leave the house.

    I mention this because my attorney told me she didn’t have to change a thing, she whipped out that binder during settlement and used it to prove things I had not ever noticed (like how bank statements and tax documents did not match)

    Attorneys have also seen this all before my friend. Mine suggested not going after alimony and taking other assets instead, because if he never works again or has financial hardship then he won’t pay. Damn, she was right, a year after divorce he was on public assistance. She did some other stuff too that I never expected. Even though I didn’t ask for child support she threw it in at the last moment – only about $100 a month. I asked her about that after everything was over and she said no one wants to pay alimony but if he doesn’t pay his child support he looks like a bad guy, besides, once a month when he pays his bills I want him to have to think about what he’s done. Yes, I love my attorney.

    • Alimony won’t exist in another generation.

      Child support is goin to become harder to dodge.

      My state charges it to parents whose kids are taken and put into foster care. Just cause you can’t physically care for the child, doesn’t mean you should not lay.

    • Great observations and suggestions AllOutofKibble! Like Chump Lady, I’m not a lawyer either, but I do provide support to women who need one. I just want to add that I really urge clients to consider assets instead of alimony as well for the simplest reason that it’s an express lane between judgment for alimony and the line up to file for contempt of court for not paying alimony. And as you mention, the urge for him to “lose” his job is also pretty compelling in my experience with clients. Still other women who have a job in their husband’s business don’t seem to grasp that that job will be phased out, or the company closed and another one opened without you in it.

  • CL you are so truly amazing.
    Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for U and CN.
    I think I’ve listened to your podcast on “After the Watershed” at least a dozen times and I look forward to this one, too.
    My divorce is almost final. It most certainly is one shit sandwich after another, and the injustice of it all is hard to accept.
    We started our 50/50 parenting plan on Sunday. I cried (tears in my eyes, not sobbing) saying goodbye to the twins when STBXH picked them up as I wouldn’t be seeing them again till Wednesday. I got a phone call on Monday from my attorney that he called his attorney saying that I shouldn’t be crying when saying goodbye. WTF. I’m human, and it was my first week of having them 50% of the time, against my will, and now I’m reprimanded for showing emotion.
    Yep. Just one shit sandwich after another.
    Thank you CL and CN for showing me I’m not alone in feeling the injustice, because boy do I feel it😪

    • Sorry for your pain, Almosttomeh. Cheaters are so devoid of normal human emotions and empathy, they just can’t stand to see others showing it. So they try to control and eliminate it. Cue the trying to intimidate through lawyers crap. They are so evil.

      • Thank u, FB, for validating my emotions. It’s so helpful to hear someone agree they are evil.
        Your time and concern is greatly appreciated ❤️

    • That once came up in a case I was watching from the attorneys gallery(seating area).

      OC said “Dad is visibly sad when kids are exchanged. We want him to stop bc it hurts kids feelings.”

      Without missing a beat, my judge said “I fail to see how him being expressionless would be an improvement for the children.”

      There’s a difference between parents who grown emotional tantrums to manipulate the kids and those who are genuinely torn up about their kids being gone for a week. Judges have seen both and know the difference.

      And, yes, I have seen parents use their supposed emotional turmoil to manipulate the kids. Whether of not parental alienation meets any definition the APA would recognize, I’ve seen sick parents try and do it to their vulnerable kids by claiming they love the kids most and the other parent is hurting them by taking the kids away.

      Never do that. It only hurts the kids.

      Kids want you all to be happy. Especially kids under 12. All they want is for both parents to be happy. Even when that’s not possible.

      So let the kids see the tears, but let them know you will be ok as long as them come home and give you a big hug.

      I’m not saying nit to be sad or even not to cry. I’m saying to show kids that you are sad, but adults process that sadness bravely and openly instead of the way your ex is probably doing it…

    • Oh that is a tough one. He’s way out of line to involve attorneys at this point. I think the bigger issue is that it is ok to demonstrate that you are sad they are leaving but it is also a time to model that people can be sad and ok at the same time. Tell them the good things you did while they were gone – the fun stuff but also things you got done around the house. Eventually they will learn it is ok to be sad to leave you even if at the same time they are glad to be spending time with their dad.
      STBX is a jerk. This will get better, I promise.

    • AlmosttoMeh chances are he did it to continue to try and build a case against you as well as continuing to cost you money by going through attorneys. My Ex did the same BS. He finally stopped after I got rid of my lawyer and his lawyer had to deal directly with me. Funny how that worked! It only cost me 68k to finally come to the realization that I didn’t need my lawyer any longer.

      My advice, Get a good lawyer. I had a terrible one. I wish I had gone with a larger firm. I hired one who all she had was 1 legal assistant. My lawyer was so disorganized. Also, have all your documentation and make compies of it as you go. That way you are not scrambling to get everything ready for court. 7 times in court for me! I should be an expert at this point.

      Dipshit Welfare Wayne is what I like to call him, wouldn’t move out of the house, I moved out so our child would have to see him mentally and verbally and at the beginning stages of physically abuse me. He stayed in that house until I had to have him court ordered evicted. If you have a difficult ex, don’t let your lawyer give them chance after chance to try and prove things. That happened to me and everytime he had an excuse and judge let it happen.

      Also, don’t settle. I settled with him just to be done. Gave him everything he wanted just to get the custody I wanted. Looking back now I think I would have gotten the custody without having to give up so many other things. Its a long long road. There IS light at the end! Don’t forget that!

      • Thank you, everyone!
        Yes, once again I do feel he trying to build a case against me. I will never understand the cruelty and how he treats me like I’m the one who cheated! He is now living happily with OW, so WTF?!

        Anyway, yes, I am settling to get this done with, even though I know I shouldn’t. We go back to court next week and I am giving in on a few things to include his parenting plan. I can’t take the emotional abuse any longer.

        If I don’t, trial is set for Jan 25th.

        Just mo’ money and mo’ time. I want to cut my losses now 😞

        Thank u again for all the support!!!!!!!❤️

        • Don’t give in on the 50/50. Your lawyer should be having your back. Not conveying messages from his lawyer. Okay to cry – kids will know their mother misses them. But I like the cocktail dress idea

    • Next time, do your hair and put on a sexy cocktail dress and makeup and meet him at the door and shoo them off smiling !!! Now he’ll brood about how much fun you’re having while he’s taking care of the kids. Brood away, suckah

  • I had my friend (who works at the Courthouse) go to the Family Court Clerk and ask ” if you were going through a divorce, who would be your top 3?” I got the names and picked one.

    To save money, I printed off every document and put it in a 3 ring binder; the same documents I printed, were scanned and put on a flash drive for my attorney. I don’t think I paid for copies once…. that can be expensive. Still cost me about $12-15,000.

    We kept it professional, except for the time when my attorney called and said, your ex is crazy……he sent an email to my attorney asking if he thought the attorney knew more about his life than he did.

    Douchebag McGee also sent me an email saying that he hoped my attorney dies for making me look like I was the vulnerable one on the stand during my post separation support hearing. My response was to forward that onto my attorney.

    I rarely worried about the outcome, my attorney was solid. You get what you pay for.

    • In my state, clerks are barred from saying this to the general public.

      Bailiffs, however, have no such restrictions.

      Also, ask attorneys in other fields.

      I get a lot of referrals from other attorneys.

      I also always try and help anyone who comes in my door find an attorney. Even if they want one to do something really odd and rare. How do I do so? I ask other attorneys who to use,

    • I got a referral from my private investigator. The recommendation was worth all the money I spent on his fee. P.I.’s testify in court frequently so they see the attorneys in action.

  • Documentation was key for me. I went to mediation with two bankers boxes. Every financial, phone bill, summarized spread sheet of texts and calls to numerous wimen over the 18 months of printed phone bills, texts and emails galore during the CYA fake sorry phase the first few weeks then the rage ones that followed when I continued to uncover more details of his nasty double life. Do you have proof the funds in this account were your pre marriage? Yes – box #1 third file back labeled XYZ. Do you have proof the $75k put down on the marital home can from your pre marital assets? Yes – same box ninth file back labeled ABC and so on. Do you have documentation Showing he paid for affair travel, meals, etc on company credit card? Yes – pulls out two files with cc statements and one cross referencing dates/places of time together one of the the affair partners had provided me. Held back the nasty stuff the PI found as trump cards when he still pushed back after mediation and wouldn’t sign. Once those were shown viola consent order signed next day! In reality half of one of those boxes were fake files with blank papers but rolling a little cart with those two big boxes into that room made me feel prepared and mighty! Smartest thing I did was throwing him out on D-day #1 and starting to gather all the Documentation. Didn’t find CL until
    Two years later struggling to create my new life. Almost 7 years out and life is good!

    • I hate your cheater, but love your mightiness story. The imagery of a rolling cart with boxes full of documentation scaring the crap out of a cheater—-priceless.

      Stay mighty. You deserve so much better.

  • My court date is tomorrow. I should leave the court divorced. I sat this morning and organized all my files, and realized that for me, 36 years of marriage is going to be reflected at my divorce in three documents: the quit claim deed on the house; the marital settlement document, and the dissolution (which I don’t yet have a copy of, because the judge will sign that tomorrow).
    In the legal system, all that counts is property (and debts). That’s a lesson for chumps: remember it. Do your due diligence, and don’t let emotion cloud the decisions you make–don’t make concessions because of emotional reasons, like believing he/she/family/friends will feel better about you or treat you better after the divorce.

    • Good luck for tomorrow Adelante. Even though I wanted the divorce it was still a weird feeling afterwards – well that was before the absolute euphoria set in. But seriously, it was weird. You’ll be a free woman tomorrow. You go girl!

    • Thank you everyone. It’s a roller coaster of emotion, that’s for sure. Last week I wrested a last minute concession out of him, and it took every ounce of courage I had to confront him about it. I felt pretty mighty when he agreed. I rode that adrenaline wave a while, but today I’m pretty emotional–I wouldn’t go back, I don’t want to be married to him, but this is by no means easy.
      A friend and I are having a glass of wine at her place after work, so that will be helpful. Three and a half years after he revealed the full extent of what he was doing: the emotional affair (I can’t believe she’d sleep with him, overweight and old, but who knows), the trans porn, the cross dressing–all of it going on for years without my knowledge, and all that time I’d felt like the person who had failed because I knew something was wrong in the marriage, and blamed myself.
      Now I know. It wasn’t me. It was him. So he can have him. And I get to have me.

  • Divorce sucks. I would like to think I was a good client. My lawyer commented multiple times on how fast I would turn around requests. Of course I was fast – who wants to spend $$$ to get nagged for stuff?

    My lawyer was awesome. She set expectations early on, I came to terms with them (my state almost always splits things 50/50, so I didn’t bother fighting about cheaterpants getting half my 401j. I did, however, provide lots of good information to her when he tried to screw me over – he actually tried to value the stock he holds in his business as the amount they’d be worth if he died without having the business’s ducks in a row. She went to bat and forced him to provide the fair market value. When she wasn’t sure about whether the court would approve child support, I sent her a huge list of everything I do for the kids that improves their lives (being there when they are home from school, taking them to lessons, etc)

    The divorce took far longer than it should have due to ex’s shenanigans but it’s over. I’m still wrapping up the financial side of things (how many messages do I need to send him before he takes 15 minutes and opens the 529 accounts he is supposed to???) But life is soo much better with a minimum of interaction with him.

  • My lawyer was a snake and a liar. But I didn’t care because I wanted it over with and she wasn’t being paid to be my friend.

    My divorce was as easy as it comes: We had no minor children, I did 100% of the negotiating and itemizing, we had zero disagreements about balances and nothing was hidden, and had zero debt of any kind including mortgages. We followed the letter of the law drama-free in our no fault state. Nothing could be easier and all the lawyer had to do was pick up her lump sum fee check (which I negotiated down 30% because I knew we were going to be EASY).

    She was a phony though. But she lied about some things and made promises that were not true. Passive aggressive about things. Tried to pretend we were friends when I didn’t ask for a friend, and acted like a snake when she was exposed in a lie. The lies were those of convenience but not those that put the situation in jeopardy. Just lots of promises up front about how I didn’t need to be present for one thing or another or when paperwork would be available. When I was traveling for work I got the snark from her about “I am sorry you are gone so much, you are making it difficult” after she promised me earlier we could do so much by e-mail. Liar. Phony.

    We were the easiest case she had all year. No fighting. His guilt was running very high and he handed over extra funds to my side of the balance sheet so he could scurry away to the bed of the 25YO sparkletwat. No QDROs, we negotiated everything to balance out of the free cash from the sale of the large house. No court appearances required. All business, no delays.

    It sucked, I got through it unscathed and incredibly lucky that the X-hole had already rapidly disappeared up his own ass and just wanted out of the trap he thought his life was.

    I guess I would recommend this divorce specialist lawyer to someone in my situation with a big warning about the lies. Still, she did what she was paid to do, to free me legally from the man-child.

    • My heinous cheating wife, the breadwinner, saw me pursuing my cut of the assets as coming after “her money”, which got her defensive in the beginning. Luckily she too was head over heels for It-Doesnt-Matter (the only name for her coworker fuck buddy she ever used when I asked it) and wanted to swiftly be carted off into his big strong arms, so she was open to my demands for a healthy asset buyout and most of our furniture.

          • Formal name, “Somebody I Am Not Supposed To Talk About.”

            Said by the Asshat in snarky sing-song voice to my adult daughters when they said they didn’t want to hear about the sparkletwat ever again (she is their age, gee, why wouldn’t they want to compare Instagram posts?). He couldn’t’ resist, had to bring her up and felt he had a right to. But of course nothing was going on with her at all! Really!

            Jackass.

  • My attorney showed up drunk to court. I got totally screwed over.

    When my ex wouldn’t do anything required in the decree and I complained to him, his response was:

    “What did you expect? If she was a person you honored agreements, you’d still be married.”

    • Make a complaint to the bar, AND talk to a non-family lawyer, to see if you can at least sue them to get every penny you paid that lawyer back.

    • I mean, thats a pretty spot on statement about you ex. Can’t blame a man for calling a spade a spade.

      The rest of it deserves a complaint to the Bar.

  • My wife hired the divorce attorneys in the area who specifically advertise as being “for men”. They canceled my (not free) consultation the day before due to conflict of interest. How nice. Why she hired them, I have no idea.

    • Your wife may have hired the “for men” attorneys specifically because then you couldn’t use them. Even if she only had a consultation with them, they would need to disclose the conflict of interest. She maybe did it to limit your options.

      • She ended up hiring them. Nice for me, she paid out of her end the fees and dealt with that headache, I only had to review the asset agreement over and over and consult, freely, with my aunt and uncle who are familiar, in different ways, with this kind of document.

        • It sounds like her ploy helped her attorneys arrange things so that you would benefit and she would pay for it. Hope so! Maybe they were always working for men’s best interests.

    • In all fairness, “for men” lawyers usually mean “for MRA whiners who want to be told that they’re being oppressed.” A good lawyer isn’t going to stick to one gender – that’s a gimmick, and gimmicks are for people who aren’t good enough as-is.

      • Thats what I initially thought, too, but they seem pretty prolific in this area. I think they mainly target dads in their ads. For what its worth, her direct representation was a woman.

      • My super naive and supremely chumpy female friend was literally saved by a total shark of a fierce lawyer who was a man.

      • There are also informal networks of attorneys, in my experience–through mutual friends I ended up meeting two other women whose Xs were also on the down-low with other men. All three of our Xs hired the same female attorney, who recently married her longtime partner, a woman (we live in a small Midwestern city, so there aren’t a ton of attorneys to go around, meaning the chance of coincidence on each of these variables are pretty low).

        Then another friend of mine, whose husband is straight, recently filed for divorce and discovered that her husband–who is well connected to various movers and shakers in our city–also consulted this very same attorney. A little more investigation revealed that she almost exclusively represents men who apparently either find her through the closet-network or through the much more open and powerful network of well-connected men.

        So yes, definitely ask around before you hire an attorney. I was fortunate that my CPA knew this attorney, anticipated that my X would likely hire her, and recommended that I hire the biggest pit-bull in town, a man in his mid-70s who does alpha-male like nobody’s business. I ended up with a decent settlement.

  • My divorce day in court had another agency I was hoping would step up. My husband was on parole from Federal Prison during the divorce. He had lied to his parole agent and left the state multiple times, told them he was unemployed so he didn’t have to pay parole costs, forged stock documents so I wouldn’t put claims to our business assets, Lied on discovery to the FEDs and hid large amounts of gold and silver coins so he wouldn’t have to turn them over to the FEDs, was still using drugs and transporting across state lines. The FEDs sent an agent in to take notes during our final court date. I was hoping for an arrest right after my divorce was final. Big disappointment. I had even visited his parole agent and gave him the evidence to hang him. They did nothing. My attorney even made comments about their lack of interest.

    Jump forward 30 days after the divorce. My X again left the state illegally and managed to get into a car accident in Tx. Law enforcement in Tx arrested him for parole violations. He goes back to Federal Prison. My attorney was a bulldog in court and we still keep in contact via computer. He often wants “Tales” about what my X=idiot is up to. It’s always good for a laugh. Last post I informed him my X’s step daughter had put click together flooring in the garage and was doing pole dancing lessons. I hoped they had heat in there because I’d hate to see a person get stuck to the metal pole in minus 20 degree weather.

  • Family so-called court, like none other that I’d experienced.
    Fortunately, I am somewhat of a stranger to court, other than my hotly contested divorce.

    Ex brought in a parade of former partners (including the one who was the administrator at my daughter’s private all girls school) to supposedly document my alleged incompetence as a mother.

    I haven’t spoken with my now 27 year old daughter, every time I contact her she tells me to ‘stop playing games’ with her.

    Still can’t believe that the lies went unchallenged, including by my lawyer—this is
    America? my heart is hurt, and many years later, my child is a stranger to me, and as a young adult lives with her father=–who has since divorced the AP second wife….

  • “But do know what you’re entitled to, that’s where a lawyer can really help you. Chumps are so used to making their needs small (Oh a scented candle? Why thank you. I’ll treasure it always.), you may be shocked to learn the law grants you half time with your kids, alimony, or half the 401K.”

    I was AMAZED at how much the law valued me, and how much my SH lawyers got for me.

    Turns out his rules (you are nothing, of no account, etc) weren’t real after all.

    • This was it for me exactly. It was a great surprise to discover that while he doesn’t think I’m a person, the state of Oregon does. Makes me shudder to remember all the time I spent without legal protection from him. I have more money now that the two of us are supporting two houses than I ever did when we were together. What a wake up.

      • Sagefemme, that is the bit that is the real wake up!

        I now have more money on 30% of his income, than I did when we were married. Turns out I made my needs very very small.

    • I agree. For one time in this woman’s life, an institution–the law–was on my side, and I knew when I asked him for more that if he didn’t give in I’d get it anyway from the court. That helped me over the hurdle of my tendency to defer to him. (And I’d thought I was a strong feminist!) He is so concerned to avoid lawyers’ fees that he gave in–I made sure he knew I’d go for it, and that I wouldn’t be going for it if I didn’t know I’d win.

    • Truth. When I finally took all my stuff to an attorney she was all “so, what he is asking is 100% unfair, not supported by law, and completely minimizes your role as a partner in your marriage…and in this state we don’t allow that. A judge will take less than 5 minutes telling him all this and you’ll get what you’re asking for, cause that’s right.”

      Yes, that’s right and fair…thank you lawyer!

  • I’ve told my story here many times: 25 year marriage, 4 kids, houses (primary and rentals), law practice,books written together, pets, community, everything….X was a covert narc serial cheater. Kids caught him then fake remorse then manipulation 3 narc channels, mainly rage and attempts to intimidate me. X earned 7x what I did. X abandoned, lied about living with young gold digger. PI and records confirmed his lies. I had to file while X was still lying and said he would come back if I would do xyz (mainly stop questioning his conduct… NO!).

    I had to go all the way through SJ on the business (he lost), then 2 failed mediations (he was demanding 90% of our assets), and a 10 day trial. I won 72% of all assets and full custody. Judge said he wished he could have given me more because X came out ahead with much higher future earning potential than me. Judge gave me all property instead of maintenance. Thank God! I’m free! It cost me $140,000 in fees and took 13 months but I came out set for my future. Totally worth it. I live in a community property state, btw.

  • Let me first state all that divorce is emotionally rough , extra traumatic if you have children and they suffer through it and it is very expensive.

    Also it is one of the best ^&^#% things that ever happened to me.

    As a tainted comedian once observed, “One day one of your friends is gonna get divorced. Don’t go ‘Oh, I’m sorry!’…No good marriage has ever ended in divorce. If your friend got divorced, it means things were bad. And now, they’re better.”

    • Um, some good marriages end in divorce.

      I’ve seen people forced to divorce to qualify for Medicaid or other benefits.

      I also know a case from another country where a divorce was the only way for mom to keep the kids. Dad had family in a group the government considered terrorist and I consider freedom fighters.

      In the US, most divorces are for broken marriages. But not ALWAYS

  • My attorney was recommended by Asshat’s own adult daughter, who was/is horrified by his cheating on me. Asshat agreed to pay for the entire thing as long as we used one attorney to divorce “amicably”. He didn’t know until halfway through the first meeting with her (the attorney) that she was a friend of his daughter’s. The attorney turned to me at one point and asked, “so, how is L doing? I haven’t seen her in a little while, but we keep up on Facebook…” Oh, I wish I had a photo capturing the look on his evil face.

    Asshat suddenly realized that he had to manage his image with the attorney or else further damage his relationship with his kids. He wasn’t overly generous, but he largely agreed to my demands. Now, ten months after D-Day #1 5 months after D-Day #2 and 3 months after I moved out, we are finally nearly done with it- just waiting for the judge’s approval.

    I went by ‘his’ house today to pick up some of the last of my remaining things, and while helping myself to a bottle of aspirin, noticed a prescription bottle belonging to Young Shmoopie- for Valtrex. Ha! It’s the little things…

  • Someone said don’t let your emotions get in the way. Don’t try to be fair or even nice because these Narcs won’t be and even if you are all they do is take and take and even if they get everything its never enough. After all is said in done they still won’t be nice or appreciate how you didn’t make things difficult. They didn’t appreciate you before they won’t now. DON’T be nice. It won’t get you anywhere.

    I did everything by the book. I didn’t use marital funds for anything other than marital expenses. Ex did what he wanted. Took marital funds to use how he wanted to. He sold marital property during divorce and was instructed to put in his lawyers trust. Guess what he didn’t he kept it and nothing happened. Even in the end he didn’t have to pay 1/2 his DB lawyers took less amount because they knew they wouldn’t get it out of him. He didn’t follow any of the 7 court orders except when it came to custody and that was because he was trying to get 50/50 so he wouldn’t have to pay a dime for his child. Ftard didn’t get 50/50 and pays a very minimal amount because I waived child support. Does he care .. nope he stilll thinks he shouldn’t have to pay for anything for our child. Wants me to pay for everything because I make more money (on paper) than he does. Of course he lied about side jobs and continues to lie about side jobs. Yet he just got a new car when a few months ago he was crying to the judge of how he wouldn’t even be able to meet his daily needs and needed alimony. Luckily he didn’t get that either.

    Point being… they will take and take and will have no regret or remorse so Don’t you have any either. Fight for the important things. If you can afford him having the car or boat or whatever then give .. .less of a hassle for you anyways. Freedom is worth so much more that money and toys just can’t buy!

    • So true.
      They will try to appeal to your fairness and good nature. They will try to bully and scare you. They will lie about anything and everything. Don’t believe a word of it. Divorce is the time to take care of yourself and children first.

      I had more than one occasion where X had me in tears threatening this or that. Berating me for looking out for myself and taking things that according to him, I was not entitled to. After every threat I would regroup myself and then research. He didn’t know sh*t. He was just throwing tantrums and trying to scare me into doing what he wanted.

      • EVERYTHING here new chumps please listen! I find it comforting however that my STBHX is not unusual insofar as he loves to kick me while I am down. I wish someone could explain the cruelty to me when he is the one who cheated.
        This is why NC/grey rock is SO important. They try to manipulate everything you say against you. I will never understand.

        • My big thing at first was I was trying to be so nice so he would say to himself, “Wow, she is really a nice person maybe I am being an idiot by leaving her for MOW.” But nope, doesn’t matter if u r nice or not. And when they are nice to u they are only trying to get something out of u. Truth.

      • I was told I wouldn’t get custody of my babies because I didn’t have a job. Oddly, I was the only one employed when the divorce was final. My lawyer said, even if I was unemployed, the court would have likely awarded sole custody because the courts in my state favor the mothers for children as young as mine were (1, 2 and 3)

    • Yep. A court order (like a restraining order) is just a piece of paper and is only as good as the person it is handed to. My daughter’s father was ordered to pay support, take my name off the house, maintain medical insurance on the girls, provide a life insurance policy, etc. etc. guess what? He did none of those things. As it was, I GAVE him every material asset we had, house, cars, retirement funds, etc. in order to have my girls full time. I accepted half the child support the state said I was entitled too. I waived maintenance, and on and on. The reason? I knew he wouldn’t do any of these things anyway. And, he didn’t. He did nothing he was ordered to do. What happened to him because of this? Nothing. When you go back to court the judge would say “You have to do this.” But then he wouldn’t and nothing would happen again. It didn’t take many times to realize that paying lawyers several thousand dollars to get a court order that would not be enforced was a wast of money (and time). I am glad I bargained the goods for custody right off–because he never would have paid anyway and he would have made our lives miserable.

      • Jojobee I sure wish I would have gotten full time custody! My ex it too Narcisstic to let that happen. He needs to appear to be Daddy of the Year! All through the divorce he told me he wasn’t going to pay a dime for our child and that he would work the bare minimum so he wouldn’t have to. During our marriage he barely paid any attention to our little one but then Divorce talk and all the sudden he was demanding parenting time… I was in awe.. I don’t recall ever taking parenting time away!?? He had it all along and could have spent every friday his day off with our little one but chose to sit and watch porn all day and masterbate and check out affair dating sites. Even after I found out all that he still wanted to fight ME in court about EVERYTHING. And now I have to share my child with the DB. He gets her every other weekend and pawns her off to family or even his new girlfriend while he goes and works side jobs for cash. I keep asking myself how did I marry such a loser!
        Anyways, Divorce isn’t fair. Especially if you are the higher earner. I had to give up a lot just to ensure more time with my child because we all know that the courts don’t really care what is best for the children they just want 50/50 across the board.

        • You might want to ask an attorney about redoing child custody because he “pawns chid off…” Parent time is supposed to be parent time, not girlfriend or grandma time. Notorious of narcs to pawn off kids to others to care for. If he actually admits to a side job… That means…he’s hiding money/ and you would either pay less in support or receive more. Or, the kid should get more time with you since he’s unable to care for her….

        • Yes! The law/courts being “In the best interest of the children” is a crock of shit! That’s not what happens. 50/50 is rarely in their best interest. In my experience, the court takes the fast & easy road verses examining what’s truly best for the kids.

  • First time commenter. My DD#2 was just over 3 weeks ago after DD#1 2 years ago. Found text messages to co-workers both times. Says he’s only slept with me since we’ve been married but why would I believe that? I started back in individual therapy in August for my “trust issues” only to find out he cheats while I am seeking therapy! I found CL the night of DD#2 and read her book in two days. Very grateful for these posts to help me feel confident I am doing the right thing. I put the divorce proceedings in motion two days ago. I turn 40 next month. We have not been able to have kids. Have been doing fertility treatments all along the way. I still want children and will pursue on my own once the divorce is final.

  • OK, the last thing I want to do is push everyone to get in arguments with their attorneys, but I wanted to point out that there is some room in a divorce situation for self-advocacy, if done politely. Just as you would if you were in the hospital and it appeared you were getting medication different from what was prescribed. You’re not a doctor but you can look out for yourself. So in the middle of our divorce, Douchebag’s employer cut him loose. I told my attorneys I thought I was entitled to some of his severance package. My attorneys quickly told me that would not be successful in our state and showed me the one case on point. But I researched (thanks Google) the case law in other states and found one (where the spouse got half the severance package) that replicated my particular circumstances much more closely than the isolated case from my state. I brought it to my attorneys and asked them to take it to DB’s attorney, who agreed that I made a good point. I did not get half the severance package but I got a better percentage on the asset division as a result. My point is that your lawyer, just like your doctor, can sometimes miss things, and I think it is part of your self-care to look out for yourself and ask questions about why things are being done the way they are, until you fully understand.

    • This absolutely. My first lawyer didn’t listen to me when I said I felt my husbands parents were trying to do me out of money (they were our business partners). So I changed lawyers. Second guy also wasn’t convinced at first, felt everyone was above board but I convinced him with the help of some emails I “found”. Bottom line, speak up and make your point with your lawyer because you know your spouse and their family better than he does, even if there was a lot you didn’t know!

    • Yea, get a lawyer who “hears” you and doesn’t just listen. And sometimes you get what you pay for. You don’t have to go top shelf to get good legal representation, but if someone’s rates are significantly lower than others…know why.

  • So officially divorced as of yesterday. I had no say in the final paperwork as the judge waved my right of signature. He was sick on Tuesday and did not come to the hearing and then signed off on the paperwork, “signature waved by court” the next day when he reportedly drug himself into the courthouse to review my questions about the paperwork that his lawyer wrote up and decided it was fine, screws me out of permanent support that he ordered and several other things, so I didn’t even get to sign off on 34 yrs of my life. He wasn’t doing me any favors, the judge just wanted to be sure that he got off on his vacation to FL on time. After years with a lying, narcissistic, gaslighting, abusive male, I am paranoid with reason to think that his lawyer simply called the judge and said, ‘hey shes just being contrary and don’t you want to leave early for your vaca? Just sign off for her, its all good.”

    So Narcula won again. He got the control again. Like he has had for our entire 34 marriage. I am a statistic now. One that is growing by leaps and bonds. The older spouse dumped, whose life is stolen for and by the young female who is willing to spread her legs to get ahead. The dialog is changing but not very fast. Way too many old fart judges on the stand who just do not care about older spouses.

    Ladies and gents, I advise you get and keep a family lawyer at all costs. Swallow your pride and borrow money from friends and family. Sell your stuff, whatever, to keep someone on your side to protect you. You will at least know that some part of the law is on your side. Narcula starved me out and the one I had dropped me after the money was gone. Do a lot of research too. Ask friends and family, again swallow your pride its going to be out there soon anyway that your divorcing, for money to keep your lawyer. I wish I had.

    Wish me luck trying to refi my home, any suggestions as to how to do that since my business strategy shows no profit for years all to the narcs benefit, get a QDRO done properly and get some sort of pay out so I can get on with my life.

    • Sorry Janna. The following has helped me. They may not all apply to you but take anything that resonates. 1. Physical fitness – as cheaply as you can find a gym or other resources. I took a martial arts course – I was not an assertive person and it helped hugely and I am still doing it. It is a bit expensive so try your local community center and they may have some self-defense classes.
      2. Working out also helps deep sleep which helps dial down the stress and depression.
      3. Do you have a spiritual practice or tradition to dig into – I did and it helped me process some of my anger.
      4. New friends – sometimes, you can get a new perspective.
      5. You are doing the right things by coming to CN/CL
      6. Try to find a free finance class or even a one-time payment to a financial consultant

  • I can’t agree more around keeping documentation. I was told for years I was useless at record keeping hy my stbx, however he found that wasn’t the case when he left. I luckily had kept years of stuff relating to our business, that my lawyer told me on day 1 to get hold of and stash away. Lucky I did because his whole family tried to get away with paying me way less than my shares in our company were worth. Also, I agree with the alimony thing, I am in new Zealand and we do not have that at all. We have spousal support for one year if we are lucky, and there is talk of that being phased out as well. Maybe the material assets are better to go for, as there seems to be a lot of these cheaters who are either broke or jobless, or both!

    • Many states in America are phasing out alimony on the premise that the playing field’s been leveled amongst the sexes adequately (it hasn’t, but whatever) and that staying as a stay-at-home parent is a “right” you forgo when you divorce. Allowing spousal support only temporarily for retraining purposes and what not so that receiving spouse can get a better job. My thoughts on all this aside notwithstanding, it is important to be able to take care of yourself and your kids financially at all times, in case you have to. Always, even when you’re in a good marriage.

      And yea, got for the material assets, even if you get support.

  • The process is fucking broken and manipulated by broken people. Know that. If you are a man earning more than your wife or have a stay at home wife you will be brutalized in a way you can’t fathom. If you have a psychopathic narc or borderline wife, you will pray for the good old days of her fucking your son’s soccer coach. She may cost you your job, your kids, everything you worked your entire adult life for. Then refuse to adhere to any agreements she made with you or the court.
    Document? Sure, just in case. But it will really piss you off, somehow cost you money and not be relevant ultimately.
    Is there light at the end of it? I dont even think I give a fuck anymore.

    • @DunChumpin; So sorry what you’re going through. The pain, frustration & unfairness you’re experiencing is apparent in your post. I feel for your situation. It does seem true that for the most part, the higher earner is screwed. Jsuk, that’s not always the case.

      I’m a disabled sahm. Xh earns over 6 times what I get for disability. I found out shortly after he left that he purposely waited to leave until I was granted disability so he wouldn’t have to pay alimony. Since he made so much more than me, I couldn’t believe this could be true. Turns out it was. I didn’t get alimony (16 year marriage & I was the higher income earner up until becoming disabled. I paid 90% of bills during the marriage & sacrificed while he squandered his paycheck on crap, of which he got to keep all of.)

      He cheated for years & I then additionally got screwed by the legal system as well. It’s a double whammy of injustice for sure. Imo, & probably most here, the cheater should leave with nothing. What the hell happened to it mattering what cheater did?!

      We hear & talk on here about cheater consequences. Well, for people like you & me, it doesn’t seem like they get any consequences. Yet, some of us chumps do. It seems like some of us will be punished for the rest of our lives for trusting & believing a lying, deceiving, manipulative cheater.

      Like you, I feel even more screwed over by the system. I most definitely understand your rightful anger regarding it all being so unfair. Just realize though, it’s not always the sahm/lower income earner who comes out ahead.

      • Oh, & he has over 20 more years to continue working & increasing his income. Whereas, the small amount of disability won’t change much. Plus, we have 2 kids. Shit sandwich eating never stops & you never get used to the taste.

        • I am so sorry. I long ago resigned myself to the financial realities I’d endure. The legal shit though. The fact they can manipulate a system with no consequence. That’s just fucking evil.

  • I relied heavily on the fact that my ex doesn’t like to be responsible for anything, including filing or advocating for himself. He really was his own worst enemy during our divorce and agreed to things he shouldn’t have, including not getting a lawyer. All he wanted to focus on at the time was his new life.

    As a result, I got spousal for longer than our marriage (which has a Karon waiver so it can’t be changed) and sole physical custody of our child. He refused to let go of the house, so he pays 1/2 the mortgage, but I get exclusive living rights. He agreed to all of this knowing that he had a baby on the way.

    Now of course, it is all so unfair. He got a huge raise and I am inquiring about getting a CS increase. How dare I ask for more money for his child! He told me he is not a sugar daddy! I am supposed to consider that he has a new child and another on the way. But he didn’t consider me or his child when he cheated. The OW now thinks he is bad with money (duh) and wants to go over his financials. So he is repeating the same exact relationship pattern with her.

    But he plays the victim card well and everyone in his life thinks I am the bad guy in this scenario because I protected myself. Oh poor X! CC took advantage of you! Why does no one question him for not representing himself better?If I came across a guy like this I would question why he didn’t fight for custody or why he agreed to such an unfair agreement and I would see it as a huge personality flaw, but I guess that is the one up side of going through this experience–being able to spot these people.

  • There is always a chump for who CLs posts and topics really hit the mark and today this one is very timely for me. One year out this month since shallow man baby ran out the door to become a better version of himself with the downgrade. It took me a long time to process that he was a liar and cheat, more time to process that he is a narc, and an eventual realisation that he is a pathological liar to everybody. Low contact as we share a child but i am rebuilding me after 16 years.
    My lawyers requests for financial disclosure have gone unanswered or with a dismissive ‘there isn’t anything to disclose’. $2.5K to my lawyer and nothing to show for it. Can’t draft an agreement so may have to go to court which here in NZ takes up to 18 months.
    I am meeting with my lawyer next week again and will be suggesting that we find other ways to get the required disclosure. Bizarrely he made me the sole shareholder of the business even though I have no day to day involvement – apparently SMB says the business is worth nothing so ‘nothing to disclose here’. I will be instructing my lawyer to draft letters for the accountant to disclose accounts as I am the ‘owner’ and therefore have every entitlement to them and similarly for the business valuation once i find out who did that.
    I want to avoid court – it shouldn’t be necessary once I get the business stuff. It’s not like i am wanting anything more than 50/50 but he is determined to screw me over again (I’m the enemy dont you know)
    Wishing all other chumps luck

  • I am compelled to chime in. The cost of divorse was emormous…as anyone dealing with divorce can tell you when they are dealing with a high conflict person. Mine filed in another state that he no longer even lived in after I filed. Why? To fight- to be contrary, to be the one who filed on me first. That cost was enormous. Divorcing in 2 states- I needed 2 attorneys for a while. Then it was 2.5 years of his lies, insane accusations that I had affairs on him (he named 13 affairs in discovery- and I had found 6 others. Meanwhile I was faithful for 26 years), He had his attorney write letters that I was not feeding our kids. I got just intermittent support despite his 400K+ salary). He would never agree to anything, was fighting in evey way he could, missed all documentation deadlines and papers were always incomplete. He was emailing and texing me hate until I blocked him. Then he emailed crazy stuff to my own attorney. She said he was the worst she ever went against in 25 years.

    Since I want to help the newbies out I have some things to share. Not a club I wanted to be in, but I am a card carrying member and proud to have made it to the other side so this is my attempt to give back. Maybe your ex is as crazy as mine is, or not, but be mighty!!!

    I made some great choices that saved me and some that I could have done better with. Listen to the advice out there in Chump Nation.

    My list of things that were wise and/or turned out in my favor:

    1. I documented right away through the shock, pain and trauma and after every good cry stood up, brushed myself off and got cell phone records, all investment records and copies (front and back) of checks/withdrawals I could not recall….forgery found on one check for $15,000! FOCUS on the business at hand. You can grieve in between and later, healing is ongoing. You have one shot to get the full picture after D Day. Get it!

    2. I learned how to use Excel and saved $50,000 per my attorney as I was the one to go over and document all expenses on known and unknown accounts and credit cards from subpoeaned records. My attorney had a forensic accountant view my completed work against the records for a fraction of what it would have cost her to do all the work and his side knew it was accurate. It took SO MANY hours of my nights and weekends. It was the cost of my freedom which is always worth it. I found my untapped Private Eye skills too. Like that XY Food and Beverage…appeared so many times, searched and it was a fake name for XY Cabaret- a seedy strip club 20 miles from home. Rarely do strip clubs come up with the real name- always (DBA) Doing Business As…something innocent looking.

    3. I was able to prove that many nights he missed soccer games and back to school nights and life in general for four kids and me, he was not working out of state- as he was in expensive AND cheap hotels near out home. Those charges are dated and I had a family calendar that was accurate and color coded to keep live humming for the family, so it was simple to check.

    4. By doing the work- I learned who he really was. His behavior showed- the way he spent his time and our money was a shocking, gross, and accurate account of the cheating, lying, deceptive game player that was pretending to be my loving spouse stressed out at work. Words don’t matter- what we do is who we are. It also proved to his attorney and the mediator what shenanigans he was up to and they had to advise him to mediate or he would be mortified in court.

    The excel spreadsheet work turned into a nice graph for him and his attorney to choke on! Over $130,000 of marital assets on trips, strip clubs, gifts, etc. This did not bring what I was promised ( half of that back to me because it was ours at the time). But, it was a powerful negotiation tool. I wanted NO alimony but more assets as he went from threatening to lose his job, to losing his job, to working “off the books” so I could not garnish wages. He was still spending tons of money on this lifestyle all this time I was trying to divorce him.

    At some point down the road when you get past the shit show, you will see like I do the value of all of that work/time/energy if for nothing else other than cutting ties. I did not get the amount I deserved or was promised. But here is the silver lining. I got skilled at Excel (our mediator offered me a job- he said my records were organized and I could find anything he asked for) which gave me confidence to keep getting more technologically savvy and landed a higher paying job. I was sick to learn the depths of his depravity, but I would rather see the truth while ugly, than rely on his revisionist history and lies. I learned a skill and the truth at the same time. Priceless!

    5. Do the math and determine if the cost- both financial and emotional is worth the legal battle. Once the divorce was over, he did not pay child support, was not paying alimony and had drained a pension we agreed to divide in mediation (he feigned ignorance and confusion). He assumed I would not fight him becuase it would cost too much. I did not fight it until it was about $100,000 in total and I could not let him get away with it. I was strong and went after him and got my part of the pension back, and all the back child support (jail time scared him). For the alimony, I made him a lump sum offer he could not refuse and I was DONE with him.

    6. I read Dr. Simon’s book In Sheep’s Clothing- highly recommended if you have a Character Disordered Ex. CL introduced him to me. At my point of cracking under Ex’s threats he gave me excellent advice over a Skype session. The best of which was to get fully financially free- whatever that meant and whatever it took. (hence the lump sum alimony to be done for good)

    7. Trust your attorney (once you hire a great one) and your gut. In my case, she agreed with the no alimony path and we pursued it. While he refused to let me have no alimony (he needed to have some alimony in his sick mind that he could refuse to pay after the divorce). I got 60% of some large assets and a paultry alimony. It was the right way to go for me- a trial would have cost way more than I ever could have gotten even with proof.

    It is not fair. Accept it, work to get what you can, and don’t give in unless you must, and look at it as the price you are spending to be free of a cheater and gain a life. I faced a judge on the stand (ex brought me to court- sigh) and after an hour he ran in the hallway with his attorney and stroked a quick stop gap deal for $50K because he did not have the balls to get on the stand after me!

    Nothing scares me now. I have to do public speaking and teach technology in my new role. God found a way to use those challenges I faced to strenthen me for today.

    Here is what not to do in your divorce:

    1. Do not call your attorney to discuss outrageous behavior. If your ex gives your 14 year old son $3,000 in hundred dollar bills on a Tuesday night after dinner out, and has your child hand it to you and say, “Here Mom, this is from Dad- he makes bank!” Send an email to your attorney and rage with a friend. (This is true sadly and not hypothetical).

    2. This post is spot on. Get counseling and have friends listen to you. I had some great friends who would read his emails and help me process and vent and decide if it rose to legal intervention. Very little of the outrage does. But there were too many times I called and ranted and discussed the injustice, and the no homework done, and missing school, or not following the temporary plan, or forwarding his dumb emails. I ended up having about 10 emails worthy of the binder for mediation. Eveything that seemed important at the time (and they were to me!) were not worthy of attorney knowledge, comment, emails etc). He loved the game and would actually write you are spending way more than me! Of course. I do the legal homework well and on time and play by rules and do not engage. He cost us thousands in frivolous

    3. When you are dealing with a You’re Not the Boss of Me character, don’t bother spending time and money to get things you can’t enforce into paperwork. I was adamant he use the software for co parenting and in the end, he refused. Hey- you can’t make him do anything, so focus on what you can do to stay sane ( you can’t fight every injustice from someone throwing constantly at you) so you can keep your job, be good to yourself and your kids and stay mighty.

    4. Let some things go- it will never be fair, or just, and rarely can you recoup all of your losses (Try HARD first, with great legal advice) and then trust they suck. Amicable divorces are ugly and expenses, so multiply that by a batshit crazy cheater and you might as well be the cost will be unfair, outrageous, and for sure it will be worth it.

    The cost of your new life is your old one- and it is worth it.

    • Excellent advice here.

      One of the most important points, I think, is your argument about unenforceable agreements. You can (sometimes) use the legal system to get money or divide assets. You can get a concrete custodial agreement (though even that may take multiple visits to family court to sustain). Beyond that, the words in divorce, settlement, and custodial agreements are just words. You can take a former spouse to court multiple times to establish the behavorial expectations in an agreement have been violated, but you’ll probably be broke and elderly before the courts will act on these issues. Unless you can prove that the violations of behavorial clauses have harmed children (not could have harmed, but have demonstrably harmed them), chances are the violator will get a stern warning and nothing else.

      The goals in divorcing an unethical person may simply be to maintain your own ethical conduct and to walk away with the least unfair of a deal as you can. If things were fair, you wouldn’t be in this position at all!

    • Being financially free, if possible, from my perspective is the way to go. I’ve foregone spousal support and am taking limited, temporary child support, even though I’m an unemployed student at the moment and could use the money, but have insisted on my complete share of our assets, including all retirement assets that he does not want to part with, on the premise that I want as few financial entanglements with him as possible but want my fair share of our life.

      I know not all chumps can make the same decision. I’m lucky that I was in the middle of a graduate program that will ensure me a great job moving forward when we divorced, so I have the luxury of racking up a little debt and not taking his support knowing I can make up for it on my own soon.

      I encourage all chumps who are in a financial position where financial support is required to try and get out of the position ASAP–through job growth or education or whatever. Even if that disrupts your plans t be a stay at home parent…because relying on a self serving cheater is a losing game, no matter how you slice the cake.

    • Thank you so much for all of this great information. I am in negotiations now for a settlement and it definitely makes me sick what he is getting away with.

  • I learned quickly that yes you have to get a lawyer and immediately. But I also learned that the lawyer is not for you. The lawyer is for making as much money off of you as you as possible. The lawyer is not your friend . End it doesn’t really matter if you hire the best lawyer in town because the state rules are the state rules . The injustice done to you doesn’t matter . That is a shit sandwich . Document everything you can on your own gather all the information you can on your own .

  • I don’t have much to add because my divorce was a walk in the park compared to most in this situation. Ex and I did not want to screw each other financially. Ex because he still wanted to look like the good guy and me because I didn’t want to be beholden to him in any way. I got just what I needed to keep the kids in the house until they go to college. Otherwise it was a 50/50 split. If you can avoid lawyers it will save a lot of money. This doesn’t work for most chumps. I was extremely fortunate in this regard.

    We live in a no fault state, but in mediation you can come to whatever agreement you can so it doesn’t have to be 50/50 if everybody agrees. Our team included one lawyer who helped us draft documents and explained the legal ramifications of things to us both but did not represent either of us and an accountant who helped us navigate the financials. Both were women. There was also a licensed marriage counselor whose primary job appeared to be just making sure that neither of us was taking unfair advantage of the other. I think the women were trying to help me out a bit through clever accounting. Ex gets some deferred income from a previous job and they counted it as both income and asset. I took what I needed to be able to cover expenses until youngest goes to college, but no more. They were going to hand me a chunk of his pension in addition and he was prepared to go along with it but I refused because it really would have been unfair and I did not want him to resent me for it later. I was upset by what he had done but I didn’t want to punish him financially because that wasn’t going to fix anything. I still came out a bit ahead financially in the end, but probably not by much. Honestly, I wish I didn’t need anything from him at all beyond my 50% of assets.

    Meanwhile the counselor seemed to favor ex (they were both pilots). He lectured me, in front of ex, on the need to encourage the kids to have a relationship with Schmoopie for their sakes. I was holding my ground on that one. I agreed not to badmouth her to the kids but no more. To me she just doesn’t exist and that’s the best I can do. When the guy wouldn’t let it go, the women (the practical ones) managed to change the subject back to all business so we could move forward. They were clearly in my corner as far as they could be on a “neutral” mediation team.

    The one thing they did to protect him was to make sure there was a provision in the agreement that would automatically trigger 50/50 placement of the kids under specific conditions without the need to go to court. I went along with it because I figured if he actually wanted placement half of the time that was good for them. He went along with it so as not to look like a dick. So far he has not triggered that action although he still sees them a few times a week so he hasn’t just dropped out of their lives which is what the mediators were trying to prevent. Overall, I was pretty happy with the mediation team. As I said, however, I was extremely lucky. This won’t work with most cheaters.

    • P.S. It is a good thing ex wasn’t out to screw me financially because it would have been really easy for him to do so if he had tried. I was totally naive and completely clueless when it came to documenting what was going on and protecting myself. Our finances were completely tied until well into the divorce process. At some point I realized he was draining marital assets away (a bit on Schmoopie directly but mostly indirectly through rent on his apartment after he moved out, etc.). Nothing hidden, in fact I wish he had hid it better as it was pretty in my face. I decided it would be too much trouble to document it and try to claw it back so I just started spending money myself to play catch up. While he was spending money on theater tickets and dinner out, I was hording expensive olive oil and maple syrup and took a trip to visit my parents. I also bought new clothes, and a few household appliances. Just before the divorce was final we sold the last of the gold to pay off that credit card.

      • I am sorry you did not tell the counselor to shut the f up. That is not good counseling. They can ask that no one bad mouths the other or anyone else the kids come into contact with but everyone is responsible for forging their relationship with the kids. How are the kids doing with Schmoopie anyway and how is she doing with them?

        • About what you would expect based on hints I have gotten from my daughter but I don’t really know because I don’t ask.

  • I saw this documentary in 2015. Check it out, it was life changing and saved me a lot of money. Another eye opener. Its called Divorce Corp. Some of you may have seen it or heard about it. Its a racket, just like my 31 yr marriage was. Just heartbreaking when we need help more than ever!

    https://youtu.be/lZTOT6DKfZ8

  • Someone above talked about the value of being financially disentangled from your cheater and getting material assets instead of support payments if possible…and I agree with this 100%, if feasible. Cut those ties as much as humanly possible.

    My lawyer did a great job of laying out the pros and cons of certain things, like taking or forgoing spousal support. She helped me make a wise decision–to save myself a lot of hassle and avoid having him hound me later on once I have larger income. Sometimes, taking less now is a trade off for having more later, and the balancing of all that matters. She also helped me insert language into our divorce agreement that locked him into certain things later on, without wiggle room. Which was super smart cause now he’s arguing that X is unfair and Y is unfair (they’re not BTW) and he wants X reversed, but that’s impossible now. He signed it and waived his right to contest it by being arrogant and refusing to lawyer up himself and get advice.

    A good lawyer will not just help you grab all that you can get but will show you your options and the pros and cons of them all and develop a strategy.

  • After 40 years, I see divorce coming at me. Narc, Adulter. I need advice. Am so confused. WTF happened to my life. Nothing was real.

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