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He Left Me. Why Won’t He Agree to a Divorce?

Dear Chump Lady,

How do you deal with a fuckwit who won’t do the things necessary to separate from you?

On the very rare times I’ve seen my ex (child drop offs), he says under this breath, “we need to separate NOW!”, like he means business. So, I think to myself, “Yep, couldn’t agree more.”

So I try something….again! Like I wrote him a proposal of how I thought it should go. He waited 3 months to respond and when I prompted him, he said, “You’re just trying to punish me.”

My lawyer prompted him with a letter asking him to gather up his disclosure documents and he pushed back on her, saying he didn’t agree with the process. Trouble is, we do not know what other fucking process there is.

He won’t make the first strike, he won’t put his cards on the table. He just bitches that I’ve got the upper hand by living in the family home, I get more time with our child, I’m in the advantaged position, blah blah blah. Yeah, right!

My advantage was getting gaslit and cheated on and abused for 13 years. But, all I’m actually trying to do is negotiate a deal — he will get money out of the house as I plan to buy him out. He’s said that he wants to buy a house with his whorey little young thing of a cheating girlfriend who he left us for.

So why in the hell won’t he just play ball and get the fuck out of this last part of our dead marriage by separating the property, taking his money, and going to live with Schmoopie? He bitches endlessly about his apartment and how it impedes his relationship with his daughter.

Sigh….even my lawyer is stumped at his stonewalling when she knows he wants the money too. At times, I just ride it out and sit here in the family home, paying the mortgage myself and think it’s no big deal. Other times, I’m stressed to the max because I just want to move on and have NOTHING to deal with this serial cheating waste of space. What to do?


One Frustrated Chump

Dear Frustrated,

Quit trying to negotiate with him. Quit trying to understand him. Document your efforts to be reasonable and get this in front of a judge. (Remember, this is not legal advice. I’m not a lawyer, I’m a chump with a blog.) Freaks like this enjoy the power games.

Is it expensive to compel discovery and force him to cooperate with “the process” he doesn’t agree with? Yes. Put the cost of those legal bills in your new settlement agreement. Quit giving him a free ride for dragging his feet.

He’s not going to “make the first strike.” Let go of that and stop expecting him to agree to a reasonable settlement. I’m surprised your lawyer isn’t outlining your options here.

I’m not shocked your STBX is being a dick about this. It’s what they do — make great big messes and expect their chumps to clean it up. Clear out the closets, care for the children, file their own divorce papers. Don’t you know you’re a big buzz kill?

And when you call them out on this injustice — what are the three channels of mindfuckery, class? Rage, charm, self-pity — they’ll flip through those.

How DARE you demand he adhere to a process!

Hey, let’s be be friends. Friends don’t let friends sign settlement papers.

How could you DO this to me?! It’s so UNFAIR! You… with All The Things… me, alone, on my sad futon….

See how that works?

Pay attention to his behavior. He’s not divorcing you because he doesn’t want a divorce. He wants a continuation of CAKE. Triangulation between you and Schmoopie over the wonderfulness that is him.

What’s in it for him?

1.) A power trip. You have to go through him for Things and he can Deny you those things. Ask nicely. Beg prettier this time. Hmmmm… maybe. See how this is just a continuation of all the mindfuckery he’s been enjoying for 13 years? Withholding makes his dick swing. It’s how he feels powerful — at your expense.

2.) No consequences. Right now he can retain all his chips AND enjoy his affair. If he finalizes a divorce, he has to share. Shit is divvied up and it’s final. Make sure your credit is frozen and he can’t accrue any debt you’re on the hook for. There are sometimes nefarious financial reasons these freaks have for dragging things out. Why again are you paying the mortgage?

3.) Keeps Schmoops at bay. Would she like a commitment? (Cheaters often do, it’s baffling.) You’re a convenient obstacle to their happiness. Why, he would just make her an honest woman if it weren’t for his mean, mean wife who won’t let him get this divorce. Refer back to #1 — he enjoys the power trip. OW gets withholding too.

4.) You don’t get to move on. He has an affair partner, he’s holding up the divorce, but hey, don’t you dare date.  This mess prevents you from having the emotional bandwidth for a relationship with anyone that isn’t him. His antagonism keeps him central.

So what’s the answer?

Put on your bitch boots. Get a court date and let the judge decide what you’re entitled to. It might be a lot more than what you’re settling for now.

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.
  • Mine walked in on a Tuesday. Told me we were getting a divorce. Went to a lawyer then next day. I filed two weeks later, left with the kids a week later (due to continued and escalated concerns over my safety), had him served while I was safely out of state and he whined that I left him and “took every living thing from the house”! I took the premarital dog with the kids but I did leave the house plants (so not a truer statement ????). When cross examined in court (with the contract he signed from the lawyer) denied wanting a divorce. He was just checking out his options in case I decided to divorce him. Like WTF.

    • One other thought, from experience- if you have any joint credit cards with him, call customer service and tell them outright that you are divorcing and you need to freeze the account so he can’t charge on it. Most companies will allow either cardholder to do this. (They will give you a passcode of some sort that you can use to unfreeze it if really you need to.)

  • You need a new lawyer. Once I told my lawyer to file, it rolled through quickly. I was even to come to a settlement without going to court. Ex bitterly claims we had the quickest divorce in the history of divorces. I would say that I took longer to actually commit to filing due to hopium. Ex is only aware of what was done to him – the divorce.

    • Same. It took me 9 months to finally contact a lawyer. After that it took 3 months tops. Ex says it all went so fast, even though the OW delivered his baby 2 months after it was final.

    • Exactly, and a pitbull lawyer. See my post below and what worked after fuckwit procrastinated for 18 months. Unless you squeeze his balls he will not divorce.

    • Our divorce was filed on March 8…. Final in March 28. 0property was not a problem, and we agreed to a very loose custody arrangement which I knew we would get more serious about later which ended up with his suing me for full custody and me winning. He got 8 days a month and every other week in the summer.

      I haven’t heard of a divorce process that was shorter from start to finish.

      • I filed for divorce on June 6th, it was signed on June 15th. To be fair, it was a joint petition with no children. That he since contends he was cheated in the settlement. Judge was hearing none of it and eventually jailed him for contempt of court!

        • Ours was joint as well. What slowed it down is that court is only every other week in my County because we share a judge with 3 other counties, so he has to make the rounds. In the neighboring county, they only do divorces on Wednesdays. Court was booked full right after the filing, so we had to wait until the next time around.

    • Thanks CL and Chump Nation,

      The advice is spot on. Actually reading your comments makes me think it might not be my lawyer who’s being soft, it’s me!! She has made quite a few suggestions and I’ve wussed out. Reason is-I’m always fearful of the ramifications. Reading all this has strengthened me-I won’t ever understand it, he’s pulling a power trip, he just wants to manipulate me. The result of all the narcissistic abuse has got me down. Fuck him! I want my power back. I’ll light a fire under my lawyer one last time to see if she ignites, otherwise I’ll change. She’s said she’s worked with heaps of manipulators in her day but she did say he takes “the cake”! He sure does. I wouldn’t survive without this blog and Tracy’s book ????

      • Be careful paying the mortgage and allowing him to stall. You’re building additional equity that he will get half of without having made any of those payments. He could be stalling because he knows it’s in his financial interest to do so.

        • Always have your lawyer address any financial concerns in a motion as soon as possible. Do not wait for your lawyer to figure it out. It’s bad enough that many of us have waiting periods to file, this just allows the disordered to run off with more assets. Looking back, I would have had all family expenses split “pro rata” the very first time I appeared in court, or at least addressed who was paying for what. Have your lawyer issue firm deadlines and schedule a trial early to force financial honesty. Some people freeze assets but I had a child across the country attending college. (Ca law has some mind boggling financial challenges for those left in the family home as well so do your homework.) A great trick many cheaters/disordered use is to refinance the house a year or two before abandoning family, thereby stripping it of equity, and then “burying” the money. All this I documented in filed paperwork but courts have little enforcement power…. After Dday, X had left us all in the family home, paid a few mortgage payments, stopped (it was my entire paycheck+ while only a quarter of his), and then allowed the home to foreclose. I was, at that point, scrambling, spending my entire salary on our family’s expenses, electricity, propane, education and travel expenses, pets, even property taxes, etc., trying to juggle three adolescents (two in college that he abandoned financially as well) and their expenses (my youngest was headed to UC a year after my middle was left hanging; firstborn’s college’s financial aid staff was a godsend), and worried for my safety. It was easy to choose my kids over my “dream” home though. The bank was not helpful either, right up until I negotiated expenses to move out. X wanted half that money… the fucking nerve…and I flat out told him no, at which point he vandalized the house. Our divorce took over two+ years, x never complied with disclosing financials, our CS branch took him to court for child support, and it took the bank that long to foreclose. Hard days. Easily dissipation of assets but poor sad sausage was never once held to the same standard in court and, at that point, I could not wait until trial. I simply could not afford it. As my lawyer was still dragging her feet, and receiving a quarter of my pay every month, I finally negotiated my own settlement, wrote it up, forced her to hand it over to his crappy lawyer, and got the hell out. I left a lot of money on the table but discovered hidden assets rolled into retirement, half of which by law was rightfully mine. For those divorcing, there is a wealth of family law knowledge online. Do your homework. Knowledge is power. There are tables too for child support and alimony. A certified divorce analyst is a great asset in negotiations because no one knows your family’s expenses/needs better than you. They can show you what many settlements look like, now and into the future. I wish I had had one. IMHO, family courts need all the help they can get. They see *this* all the time and probably wish for a better way of doing business. The lawyers, not so much. Don’t be afraid to discuss your situation with others, I worked with another Chump who shared information. Finally, if you are struggling (financially, personally…), please use resources that are available to you.

      • Just file. Or, if you’re attempting a more “mediation type” situation, give him one last chance and have your attorney send him a legal letter with the date and time you will file for divorce if he is non responsive. Also indicate that you will be seeking whatever attorney’s fees the law allows and any other sanctions as appropriate given his stalling conduct. You might also tell him that any and all communications between you two that demonstrates his behavior will be attached to the court request for sanctions and fees, which will promptly become public. Essentially, his “private world” and misdeeds will become public record.

        This legal letter tactic worked with my ex. His impression management and fear of the legal system ultimately got him to sign the papers my lawyer drew up without going to the courts. He grumbled and bitched the entire time, and called me every name under the sun, and I almost had to get an anti-harrassment order BUT…he signed.

        Best of luck. Your ex is acting like a bully by stonewalling and the only tried and true way to deal with bullies is to unwaveringly stand up to them. So, do that.

        • NotaNiceChump-
          Your advice is empowering. You’re right-it’s just business now, and if he were my client, I’d be just letting my lawyer deal to that asshole. You’re also right that he mainly cares about his image, and winning, even if it doesn’t make sense to fight. He won’t make it easy, but I will unleash my lawyer on him. I think she’ll actually enjoy it…she’s sick of his shit too 🙂

      • I mean, what ramifications could there be? He already cheated. You’re already getting a divorce. You’re already living in the home and making the mortgage payments. You don’t say he’s dangerous or violent, so the only ramification is that he can cry, whine, blame you, play the self-pity channel, rage, stomp his feet, and otherwise act like a jackass.

        Block him on phone and text. Use only email to communicate. Set up a communication app for emergencies only (an old friend used to say to his X, “a bone better be sticking out if you call.”) Once you decide that you aren’t going to wheedle, cajole, beg, argue, and reason with this fuckwit, your lawyer can get this done.

      • I had the same problem. 25 yrs married, 30 together. D day was 2.5 years ago and we were going to file joint until I realized he didn’t want to commit to the process – he wouldn’t put anything in writing for the attorney.

        It started with a text from one prostitute and it progressed into my finding, over the weeks, that it was multiple prostitutes, orgies, swing clubs, chat rooms, massage parlors with happy endings, titty bars, casual meet ups with strange men and women in the area in their homes in the middle of the day, craigslist postings and pictures…replies to men, women, transvestites, transgenders, etc. No protection.

        I had to move out within two months. He moved into his older sister’s house an hour away.

        No debt (because he had driven us into bankruptcy seven years earlier”), no children of the marriage but he helped raise my special needs son from age 3 so my son saw him as his father. The sun is 36 now and still lives with me and probably always will.

        Four months after he moved out, I arranged for a keep the peace police officer to come over for a prearranged four hour window of time where fuckwit would move his stuff out. He was ???? when he arrived and saw the cop. I was so glad I did that. My divorce paralegal help me stage the event so that a judge couldn’t hold it against me. We had given him multiple email warnings repeating the same thing… Bring friends, bring a big enough truck for all your shit, bring all your packing and moving shit including a dolly, you only have four hours, you can’t come back, you can’t go through the house or the shed. He had brought some stuff with him when he left but I sent him pictures of everything that was left in the house and told him to be sure to tell me what he wanted so that it would be ready for him.

        Nope, I wasn’t the boss of him and he was going to do what he wanted. Wasn’t he surprised when he arrived. I think he was expecting my sister to be here- he was looking forward to walking all over her. Nope, it was a cop who followed him step for step behind him for 45 minutes because he was on the rage channel-in front of the cop!

        I continued to try multiple different things to get him to come to the table for the next five months. Crickets. Then in October I was informed that he had filed for divorce in August and he had waited the maximum amount of time to serve me. Made no sense.

        Concurrently, without knowing that he was about to file, my attorney said we couldn’t wait for him to agree to anything verbally before putting it on paper so we drafted the separation agreement and sent it to him in conjunction with a litigation package and said you choose. Apparently he chose the litigation package because he still didn’t respond.

        I also found Bank boxes that he forgot to bring with him and then that I discovered he had dissipated over $1 million of our assets in our 30 years together. I had evidence for 200,000.

        It’s complicated. I’m on my third attorney. First when you give me an engagement letter or statements; the second became abusive and badgered me at court just this past March… Insisting I put the house on the market and move out immediately because Covid was going to crash it all the markets and that it wasn’t fair that I had been making him pay 80% of the mortgage and the utilities for the past two years! I fired her the next week. My new attorney, once engagement letter and the retainer were said, proceeded to tell me I should get a job… I’m a small business owner whose business knows dived in January…i’m just saying he agrees with the judge in the court transcript that this should be an easy divorce… Just split everything according to statute as the judge says. Apparently my attorneys strategy for restitution would not holding court but the new attorney has no new strategy. I’m pissed that he has my retainer which should’ve gone to pay off my last attorney. Instead the credit card is racking up interest fees. I told the attorney to put everything on hold but he wanted me to continue settling during the lockdown. I can’t believe I had to explain to him that there was no way I could negotiate in a conciliation meeting when conciliation is based on financials and I have no financials at the moment! Told him I’d have to redo my financial statement to reflect the current condition and he said this was an anomaly and then I had to use the financial statement we already had drawn up. How bizarre and shortsighted is that? He wants me to claim income based on 2018 in the middle of a pandemic when I don’t even know what’s in the future for me. Then he told me to get a job! In the middle of a pandemic!

        Do I need to fire my third attorney and get a fourth?

  • Of course he won’t comit to the process, you aren’t the boss of him.

  • The sociopath narc wanted to “do it without lawyers “ , to “save money”. Really what it was about was continuing to control and financially abuse me. He stopped paying any part of out house after 3 months.,I hired a lawyer anyway. Mediation was a disaster since he lied about everything and the mediator saw it and said he wanted to talk to both my lawyer and my counsellor. Cue the rage. I felt very threatened that day. He thought I would just meekly accept whatever crumbs he would throw my way( after stealing equivalent to his share of our net worth during “wreckonciliation”) I then knew what that was about—4 years of stealing from his family to the tune of $500k. Don’t let him do it—hire the most kickass lawyer you can find and get free. I had to give the asswipe about $300k just to get rid of him. Did it hurt to lose my retirement? You bet it did but it was worth every penny to get free. Do not assume he’ll be fair at all he is not your friend.Treat him as the enemy now for that is what he is.

    • Gosh, you could be talking about my STBXw right down to the “let’s do this without lawyers” jive

      Chumps, ask yourself this question:

      When dividing up assets & custody with a Pathological Liar, who should be in charge:

      – the pathological liar whose preference for lying got you into this situation?

      – someone whose job it is to deal with pathological liars and who is duty-bound to look after your interests ONLY?

      Hire that lawyer, then follow their advice…if there’s one thing these Narcs fear, it’s professional opposition

      Stay mighty!

    • Yeah, the reason I’m paying the mortgage is that he simply left and I was living here. Thank god I can do it on my own. It’s fucking annoying that the dickhead thinks this is some miraculous advantage. He sits in his apartment without a care in the world while I maintain our investment. I will definitely be getting this money back.

      • consider the date of separation to bs part of accounting for equity and expenses. I used that date to value the assets which resulted in lower equity since the house appreciated over the year it took to get a divorce. might be different now given COVID. do the math and make it to you’d advantage. sounds like has past the guilt stage and is now going for your throat. you’d ramifications of not aggressively moving forward is he will wear you down and you will cave just to get out. stay strong and fight hard to the end. he ruined your marriage, protect your future and that of your daughter. he is not your friend, he is a snake. go get yourself free and get what is yours.

        • Good advice. My god I wish he had a guilty stage! He was so high on himself when he left me-he was so excited to be with his affair partner he had no remorse at all. Then, he slid right into being mad at me because I froze the bank accounts (he was taking out his rent money but not putting any money in). There was a period of two months where I paid all the bills for him and our mortgage! He has told me to me face – “this divorce is all your fault, it’s all on you.” Incredible. I don’t believe I had the benefit of the guilt stage – I think, deep down, he either doesn’t feel anything, or, he convinced himself he was entitled so that he doesn’t have to feel bad. He’s never once said he’s sorry for all the pain he caused, and the humiliating affairs that he had, all the hookers, and the sex clubs…….you get the idea!

          • yep. sounds like a major ass and all the more reason to go after him. put those 2 months rent in final accounting. i hope you froze credit. good luck!

          • You can likely get half of that back in your settlement. Stop working from guilt and shame and start viewing this as a business transaction. Good business people compromise and negotiate but do their best to leave nothing on the table. And certainly stop thinking about what he does or doesn’t think or feel. Prepare effective business strategies and move forward with them. Do the “feelings” part after the divorce is final.

          • Don’t untangle the skein of his fuckedupedness. It doesn’t matter whether he feels anything or not, or why he does what he does. What matters is he’s abusing you financially and emotionally. He left the marriage. He won’t do what it takes to be fair to you. That is all that matters.

            • True, this shit will never make sense! I’ve filed child support with the tax department. That’s how it works where I live. Getting it all sorted and away from me now. Feels good to be moving in that direction. I feel more empowered already!

      • So you MUST take into account the date he stopped paying as his last contribution. Don’t let him slide on that.

    • My EX wanted to divorce without lawyers too. Then he made his first offer to me–he got 80% of our shared income, and I was to support the kids and myself on 20% of it. We made roughly the same amount, so, in effect, he wanted alimony. Maybe he thought it was a great negotiation tactic? But for me it was a clear signal, I needed a lawyer.

      Some people can divorce without lawyers–the people who have been honest with each other about when and why they want to divorce. If you are divorcing because your spouse habitually lies to you about any part of your marriage, then you are going to need a lawyer.

      • Agreed – it’s quite simple. You can negotiate with a lying liar who lies.

      • Same here Ofc. My fuckwit offered me 35% when I was the one who put 60% into the property in the first place. This was after an academy award winning past in our wreckonciliation play. I thought his remorse was somewhat genuine so I thought his offer would be too. Therefore I didn’t see the need for a lawyer. That 35% bullshit sure slapped me out of that. Once he knew I had a lawyer (and he’s a hardass) I saw the rage channel. Up til then it was only charm & self pity. So I’m pretty sure I’m doing the right thing

  • They play sad sausage because you hold the power and you can’t be the boss of me attitude. Just hold your head up high and don’t settle for anything less that you deserve for yourself and kids. Personally I had mediation and the mediator sincerely told me how sorry she was for me having to go through all this (I thought they were suppose to be negotiating for both parties?). I just told her flat out what I deserve and took nothing less. I was fortunate enough to file before he stuck me with all the affair vacations, gifts etc. Keep going high no matter what, you won’t regret it!

  • This is exactly what I have been going through for the past few years. He was sooooo miserable (all my fault, of course), wanted a divorce, started “dating” his co-worker (whom he had spent the previous year texting non-stop), and yet would do not one single thing to actually get a divorce. He said we didn’t need lawyers, despite having a child and complicated property ownership issues. I’ve had to do all of it, working around him. Next month it will be 2 years since I hired my attorney and we aren’t divorced yet.

    I think all of Chump Lady’s reasons are spot on. As appalling and unreasonable as this behavior is, it does strengthen the resolve to have as little contact with these jerks as possible.

    • Yeah totally! My resolve is stronger reading all this. He’s mad, it’s all my fault, I’m a bitch, I’m taking him to the cleaners, he HAD to cheat on me, etc. He’s a grade A fuckwit and he thinks he’s entitled to it all. Oh, and I didn’t mention he also doesn’t pay child support.

      This was a great set of responses Chumps!

      • Well that better end ASAP. File for child support. As soon as you can. No idea how that works in COVID World, but call your lawyer and file for support.

  • Oddly enough it was a Tuesday in the middle of February 2010 when the twat finally came home after disappearing in early January. Brought our boys with him (how nice) to say that he had moved in with the skank and I would be receiving divorce papers. I couldn’t have cared less at that point as I wanted out anyway. So I waited, and I waited and … you get the idea. Eventually I’d had enough and in June of that year I filed. A couple of weeks later we met at the bank to separate our joint account and sort some papers out. While waiting for our appointment he started off with “it would be a shame to throw away everything we’ve achieved in 26 years”, at which point I stopped him and said I hadn’t thrown it away, he had, and he would have a snowflake’s chance in hell of ever coming back to me. You see, he liked his home comforts, he liked our standard of living, he certainly liked having my salary available to him and he probably realized that even though he had a good salary it wasn’t going to stretch to buying rounds of champagne at the ho bar every night. It might also have given him no excuse to not make (double negative?) a commitment to the skank. So no, they like to play chief ape and bang their chests but as for doing any of it and following through, not so much. Oh, and just a thought, if you alone are now paying the mortgage make sure that is reflected in the settlement! Good luck!

    • Mine played out much like yours, almost to the word. Good news, the bankruptcy filing that my ex put me through just a year before I discovered the affair? Dropped off my credit score last week. The last fiscal control he had over me is gone, aside from his court ordered child support he still provides. Even if he completely stopped that, I’d still be fine. But my credit is now excellent for the FIRST time in my life because I’m not attached to a financial abuser. It was so symbolic when I got the score (Credit Karma is your friend!) that I nearly cried with joy. It’s mostly symbolic because I have a car, have a house, and don’t have a huge need for that score but it is something I fought for for so long.

      After this lockdown is over I’m having friends over for cake. 🙂

      • I discovered you can also get a FICO score through Discover even if you don’t have a Discover card.

        • I’ve kept an eagle-eye on my credit ever since, because even after we split up and were waiting for the tax return so I could afford to file for divorce, I received information that “I” was turned down for a new credit card. Yeah. I still keep a keen eye, and now I have to watch my son’s credit in case his dad gets any shady ideas about opening a line in his name. Ugh.

    • File with your best settlement offer. Then on the next drops, Tell you know he’s still under your thumb because he wants to be. Then smile. Then close the door.

  • I’ll add a bit to where CL says “I’m not shocked your STBX is being a dick about this. It’s what they do — make great big messes and expect their chumps to clean it up.” The STBX will also reserve the right whinge like mad about how the Chump clears up the mess, even though (a) STBX made the mess unilaterally and (b) STBX refuses to help clean up.

    CL is absolutely right, however, to say that this is about the STBX exerting control. The answer is to take control for yourself. It’s a long story, but I fought for (and got) a very favourable settlement, a clean break and the kids living with me. I am now (at last) out of debt, have been promoted at work and am happier than I have been for years; it all started with taking back control.

    As an aside, Ex-Wife tells everyone that I scr*wed her over in Court, and that’s why things didn’t work out for her as she had planned. Nothing at all to do with her being caught out lying to the Judge, lying to her Legal team and taking her AP to Court with her as moral reinforcement, even though she denied being in a relationship with him.

    She is a moron.

    • Just to back up what CL and others have said. The ‘process’ he doesn’t agree to is set in stone. It’s not his opinion versus yours. You may need a tougher lawyer or let your lawyer know you need them to toughen up. Once the divorce is filed, there is a ‘procedure’ that includes a reasonable amount of time for him to provide his financials (which will probably be full of crap). This is all communicated between lawyers.

      Just assume this will continue, take a deep relaxing breath, and let the law work for you. No need to ever communicate with him on this again for the rest of your life. Demand MORE than you want to start. Make sure he pays half of any mortgage payments or household expenses you have paid up until now. Make sure your new lawyer tells him that every day he waits, costs HIM more. (you may have to bend on that at the very end but it should be in there as a starting point).

      The good news is you don’t have to deal with him directly. Good luck!

      • That’s if they have a lawyer. Mine represented herself and fought over every little detail (even stuff set in law that isn’t Negotiable). It was horrible. I took 10 months to get a court date, she even threatened bankruptcy if I didn’t do what she wanted. Cost me $60,000 to divorce her.

        • Holy crap! $60,000? Just the other day I was i tears over $20,000.
          It’s such a waste. I dissolved into tears when thinking about our kids. What if we had spent that on them? College fund, not to mention so many things it could do for our disabled daughter.
          I appreciate you sharing this. It seems as though every time I feel sorry for myself I run into someone who has had it worse.

  • It took six months of antics before he finally submitted his information to my attorney. The first court date was missed, his lawyer withdrew, months went by and he missed the next court date. The judge ordered his appearance or he’d default. At that time he finally showed up without an attorney, threatened to hire one and finally signed.

    You should have him served by now with a court date in place. Stop talking to him and leave it to your attorney.

  • I agree w/CL 100%, especially about the control part.

    There could also be some non-apparent but very real legal and/or financial advantage that stalling creates for him.

    You may need a more assertive lawyer, one who has experience thinking more strategically in relation to a toxic narcissist opponent. I would expect a lawyer to be the first one to suggest that you press forward — but again, I am a chump, not a lawyer, so take that with the appropriate grain of salt.

    Even so, after reading the story, my first gut response is “we know he hides things, and he’s stalling now because he’s hiding something and trying to put you off the trail so you won’t dig around and discover it”. I don’t think digging around is worth much energy — it’s probably putting too much emphasis on the wrong thing to do that — but I do think ignoring his blah blah and pressing forward with the divorce has merit.

    Even if he becomes an even bigger dick when you do. Even when. Grit teeth and push on, says me.

    • One sidecar thought: We can get a little attached to our lawyers — but we are customers, and they are (highly paid) consultants who we hire to dig in and do the tough work. That’s why they make a lot.

      Lawyers aren’t there to be good to us, or to validate us, or to help us even, really. Lawyers are there to do two jobs — provide all the information we need to make sound decisions and execute those decisions in all the ways we can’t because we don’t know the legal system.

      So, even if you adore your lawyer, you’re burning your money if you are paying a lawyer who isn’t actively advising you of all your options, from passive to iron-fisted active, and their likely outcomes and/or paying a lawyer who isn’t assertive and/or aggressive enough to execute the plan you agree on to your legal and financial advantage.

      Your toxic narc ex isn’t going to be reasonable. Your lawyer shouldn’t be, either.

  • Soooo relate to this. My husband was angry , depressed and a “functional” alcoholic and had cheated on me by the time enough was enough and I said we were finished. It was one year ago today! His relationship with our kids had deteriorated over time given his behaviors and he can’t seem to understand that that is on him. He doesn’t want lawyers involved but wants to just continue to either blame me for everything and tell me I ruined his life(umm… did that all on your own!) or to tell me after 20 years he deserves more than this. No rational discussion about how to finalize property agreement and divorce. Astonishingly suggested in the middle of a pandemic we should “meet up” which I realized was a request for sex ????. What kind of nutcase thinks that is a rational request and why would I ever agree to it? I have realized every day since I ended it how messed up and toxic the last 10 years of marriage were and how much happier I am and my kids are to have him gone. His latest manipulative move was to say he wouldn’t agree to anything or sign anything until I spent “one last night with him”. I finally did what has been suggested. I got a lawyer and threatened criminal action if he continued to refuse to sign based on his attempts at coersion. Do I want an expensive legal process- of course not- but I have got to cut all ties to the lunatic and that is the only way to do it.

    • The ‘one last night’ thing – barely have words for how disgusting that is. So glad you got away.

      • Yes. I almost physically jumped back from the screen when I read the “one last night” thing. Unbelieveable.

      • I’m gobsmacked by that. You should win a CL contest for the craziest negotiation tactic.

    • Did he make that suggestion in writing? If so, I’d bring it to my attorney.

  • I once read that one of the biggest mistakes women make during the divorce process is continuing to work with an attorney who is not providing adequate representation. Move on to a new lawyer. Good luck!!

    • EXACTLY!!!

      I made the mistake of not wanting to change a “nice” lawyer, but after ONE YEAR of procrastination I changed to pitbull lawyers, surprised dickhead a few days before we had to appear before a mediator.

      So three months after dickhead missed, on purpose, a deadline, I was divorced and dickhead even had to pay 70% of my lawyers fees (see my post below).

      Change lawyers ALWAYS!

    • So true. Her lawyer is “puzzled” by stbx’s crazy antics? The lawyer is not being paid to figure out what makes cheater tick, she is there to represent her client’s best interests.

    • Or men. I stayed with a “nice” lawyer that I liked a lot. He would have been great dealing with a normal divorce. When I hired him I didn’t know about narcissism. I should have hired a lawyer who had experience dealing with a narcissist/BPD, high conflict divorce. The lawyer later admitted he wasn’t good at those kind of divorces. But I was almost to the court date, so didn’t want to start over.

  • The court sets the time table. If he doesn’t comply that’s between him and the court. You can’t drag discovery on forever. The court sets limits. Get a different lawyer if you’re getting bad advice.

  • As someone 4 years into this mess, w/ him refusing to engage on and off the whole time, file as soon as you can. I’m still annoyed that we didn’t do that (on the advice of my lawyer). My lawyer expected him to be a normal person that would work to agreement that we could submit to the court in a timely manner. Don’t assume that. File ASAP.

  • Frustrated,
    Sparkledick did exactly the SAME things as your cheater. For all of the reasons CL listed, except one reason is missing: he wanted to reconcile.

    Why? For sure, not because he had true remorse, as per CL’s definition.

    He wanted to reconcile because he actually had enough neurons to do the math: he was in deep $hit and figured out he could not afford to divorce (I could).

    Sparkles kept ignoring my proposals until we reached the deadline legally required to go before a mediator. In court he flipped all the channels CL described above. He actually said in public, before intern law students and the mediator and his lawyer and mine, that I could trust him.

    “Pray tell me how one trusts a cheater?” I ask him. Snickers in the courtroom. His lawyer looks down into her lap.

    So we get a new deadline to make a deal, which he ignores and the procedure turns litigious, much more expensive.

    My pitbull lawyers felt sorry for me, so they whipped up a moral damages suit, full of the gory details of sparkles fuckwittedness (he was using the law office that serves his think tank so the details surely embarrassed him no end, by the way, he is a lying liar who lies, even to his lawyer). Besides the damages payment to me my lawyers ask for sparkles to also pay 70% of their fees.

    Dickhead backed down, signed the divorce and paid their fees. His lawyers probably told him he was going to lose, so to cough up my lawyers’ fees and start using what was left of his brain.

    Good luck, but I think you have to figure out how to squeeze his balls.

  • My Ex filed for divorce and I received the papers on my birthday. I immediately hired a lawyer. My ex became very angry and yelled at me. Ask me why the hell did I hire a lawyer? Now it is going to cost him more money. He later stopped the divorce. Funny how he secretly went to a lawyer. Filed for divorce his grounds credit card fraud(I opened one card in his name). Never told his lawyer that he was cheating with my cousin, And stashing cash in his parents safe. I suspect he became angry because he wanted to screw me financially and I was protecting myself. I agreed to stop the divorce as well. However, I filed 1 year later.

    • I opened one card in both our names. I used it to pay taxes because he wasn’t giving me money.

    • My XW also wanted us to do the divorce without lawyers. We used lawyers.

      Now (5 years later) she wants to renegotiate custody – again trying to do it without lawyers. Now that I have friends who are lawyers, they’ve confirmed to me what I suspected: XW has been talking to lawyers. Her lawyers told her that she’ll lose in court. So her best legal strategy – on the advice of her lawyer – is to try to convince me that we can do it as friends.

      “We don’t need lawyers” is, in and of itself, a legal strategy.

  • They are also weak and can’t face things that aren’t pretty and are either too fabulous or just to stupid to pull together what it takes many a time. Let’s not face what’s ahead or what we really think. That’s what gets them into this stupid place in the meantime. Cowards.

    I think it’s time to ask the lawyer about options and if they can’t get a new lawyer. I felt I did too much of the ‘suggesting’ the lawyer (we weren’t married but still have an agreement which my ex loves to tell me at any turn isn’t legally binding). I look back now and wish I had legal rep that put more suggestions on the table or spent more time discussing things that just doing what I thought was right (and perhaps it was) because what they didn’t appreciate is I hadn’t been in that situation before and didn’t have a clue where I stood.

  • Your lawyer sounds kind of sucky. Are you not filed yet? Screw it and get this in front of a judge so you can be done with this. You don’t have to remain in separation limbo, and your lawyer’s job on every issue should be to drive a resolution in your favor. Holding up your hands and being forced to say “oh, well” is not a legal strategy.

    I even had to go to divorce TRIAL (yes!) two months ago because my ex-wife refused to settle reasonably on anything, and the judge agreed with me. My ex-wife was a peach when she was testifying.

    • How did you sit through that! I’m so dreading court and keeping my composure. Mine is one of those “nice guy” cheaters and no one can believe such a polite man could be a cheater!

      Lucky me and my son we get to see the rage channel all the time but not the rest of the world.

      • Can you try to get him to communicate in writing? So, you can document the rage channel.

  • Disney daddy is the zen master of these steps. He wouldn’t leave till I “got ugly”. I had filed in 2015. I’m still not divorced. Always a sad sausage at every step about how it was going to cost him money. Not how he was sorry for screwing around with OWs. Nope. Just ME! Wah!!

      • Yes. We are done with the testimony phase but are NOT finished with the entire process to be divorced! I’m. Not. Kidding. The latest maneuver involved a false flag of prove you don’t have undisclosed bank accounts. Three credit reports, a phone call after much research to find said institutionals contact information and multiple emails to and from my lawyer, I’m sure will cost me more $$. Am I done yet?? NO!!

  • Document all of this. Collect both your communications with him and any of his responses. Insist that he communicate via email or other traceable communication. If you can save your text chats, you should do so.

    Don’t delay on the financials. Talk to your lawyer about ensuring that the debts he incurs while living separately do not count against the marital estate. Also tell your lawyer that since he’s opted to be uncooperative, you wish to compel him legally to comply with disclosure. If you could compel a credit check, that would be really super, as this would uncover any accounts that you may not realize, but it may not be feasible to do so. CL is right: build those costs into the settlement.

    If your lawyer is reluctant to pursue any of this, then start shopping around for a more proactive lawyer certified in family law and experienced in high conflict divorces. Divorces can drag on for a long time if people disagree about the settlement, but there’s no reason to delay the disclosure documents unless he is trying to hide assets.

    Going through the courts is often a last-ditch course of action because you don’t know what the courts will do. The benefit of working things out through the lawyers is that your settlement may include some kind of compromise, but the settlement is something that you chose, rather than having some judge decree that this will be the settlement. That said, if your STBX is dragging his heels and you have the sense that your estate isn’t that huge in the first place, then taking him to court makes more sense because the judge won’t have a lot of financials to work through and the outcome is very likely predictable.

    CheaterX also dragged his heels through the process, stretching out what should have been a slam-dunk 60 day process into a 1.5 year process. The only reason I ended up divorced when I did was that I took him to court. We’d tried private negotiations. He’d agree to a settlement and then refuse to sign. We tried mediation, which he canceled the day before because each party has to pay 50% of the mediator’s fee. Finally, I told my lawyer we needed a court date. I showed up in court with my lawyer, and lo! CheaterX brandished a settlement proposal which was exactly the same proposal that we’d put before him 15 months previously!

    Anyway, the moral of the story is to push this along. You can’t wait for him to put his big boy pants on and make the first move. He made that when he started fucking strange and leaving you and your children for Schmoopie.

    • The nice thing about deciding to go the court route is that you can step back from it at any point. MANY a cheater narc has signed a settlement five minutes before a court process is supposed to begin.

      So start the court route, then be willing to settle before it gets there, AS LONG AS the settlement is fair to you.

      And I agree, start by asking for EVERYTHING you WANT. You can work your way down to ‘fair’ from there. Narcs MUST WIN, so that will make them feel like they’re winning … because they are idiots.

  • Get a new kick ass lawyer. File. You do all the legwork, get all the documents, and always be two steps ahead. Do not fight over little things. Know your bottom line and stick to it.

    I waited a full year for X to decide whether to pick me and our kids or leave the young gold digger. ????‍♀️ I finally had to file. Then the three channels really amped up. A year later, after I produced 3,000 documents – X about 20 pages; 2 failed mediations; X’s failed summary judgment motion; 5 depositions; one-week of trial and $140,000 in legal fees, which I had to put retainers on two credit cards — I won every single thing we had, full child support, full custody at trial. The judge said he didn’t believe one word of X’s testimony, wished he could have given me more.

    Total and complete vindication.

    It’s been over 3 years. Meh is amazing. Recently X tried hoovering and said: “that divorce stuff was really awful, sorry….[not sorry].” OMFG!

  • When I first started reading, I thought “buzzkill”, CL got it. They want twu wuv with schmoopie, and someone else to take care of all the pesky paperwork….it’s our fault they were driven to this right. Then a little reality sets in. I filed and he hit the roof….I was damaging our family by not doing things his way( what way is that, pray tell? He’s been gone for 4 months “living on the boat” and hasn’t done a thing.). Kids and I decide to clean out the garage…..the dick is not the person any of us thought he was…….They lie about everything , and when you catch them in lies they lie some more. When they realize how many thousands of dollars and % of things and that people no longer accept their lies at face value…..they get MEAN. Maybe that will work? Nope. No Contact. Grey Rock. Get a good lawyer or tell this one to GET IT DONE. Do not believe a thing about your marriage… mind is blown by how well and how long he lied.

  • It’s so hard for a narc to adult. It’s funny. Well their are consequences (punishment) for crappy life choices and not being able to love unconditionally. I’za sad. It’s so difficult to adult. Yep. It’s time to be a bitch. My ex called me a bitter bunny. Thank god. Low contact is easy now because I’m bitter. What ever it takes to get away from ur character disorder freak. You got this! Show him how your loving yourself and the kids. Show him ur worth!

  • Yes, big mess and you are to clean it up because he is the victim. I can bet he learned this game from his own family and is a master manipulator. I’m in the same big mess

    My fuckwit pays zero bills, no child support and mortgage but feels entitled to my inheritance which was comingled and in the house. He takes zero responsibility for the mortgage, which he walked out, along with the kids, when he moved in with his girlfriend in another country. He also doesn’t want to pay for the money he took out of our bank account and used for his affairs and travel and is pursuing litigation over settling. He has zero resolution skills and will drag things out at any expense, in order to “win”.

    These guys have one thing in common, lack of responsibility. The mess was always there throughout the marriage, and I was always cleaning it up and I’m sure others before we got together. I look forward to finalizing things, win or lose my inheritance just to distance the fuckwit and be further away from the blame game.

  • Do they all do this? I think it’s par for the course. Xhole tried everything to slow down the divorce. The process server/private detective had to explain THREE times that he was being divorced. Lol. Then the shenanigans began. We should have been divorced in 61 days. He slowed it up and it took almost 10 months.
    In the beginning, he was telling ME he wanted a divorce and I better not try to “keep” him. And then he stalled every chance he got, while I was the one pushing uphill for the divorce to go through. He even tried to contest the divorce when it was his mistress who answered the door when he was served. She even admitted, while being filmed, that she was his girlfriend and that they were living together. Smdh.

    • Not all, some really want out and into their ‘new life’, so especially if they want to secure a seemingly-desirable AP, they may take off and expedite the divorce.

      Best is to go as fast as possible with the whole legal/financial/custody thing; sometimes there’s a touch of guilt in the beginning (they’ll talk themselves out of that with time, believe me!), and they are still under the delusion that their lives are going to be perfect with Shmoops. A fast divorce can happen then, and is more likely to be fair to the Chump without huge legal fees.

      • Yep speed is best. After d-day discard, I filed for divorce 4 days later. He imploded our family by his affair with married howorker, but who knows how long it would take him to file for divorce. If they have any guilt it won’t last long. We agreed to child custody first, he gets visit 2x/month since he decided to move away from us. Then property settlement took about another 6 months. I even forgot about his pension at first but then it became a great bargaining chip. So now we’re divorced and AP is still enjoying her cake and hasn’t even filed for divorce. She probably doesn’t want to lose her pension to her husband. They can continue their pathetic affair and I have my freedom.

        • Her poor husband. I hope he gets out soon and gets a favorable settlement. She deserves to lose his pension.

  • Get. Another.Lawyer.Now.
    Careful with the so-called “Shark Lawyers”, though…not that most of them are great ….but I was screwed up by one big time. They’re sharks with exes but sharks with clients as well.
    Don’t listen to anyone that tells you “count your losses and get out as fast as you can even if you leave it all behind”. Money doesn’t matter to them until they have and you don’t, especially if you have kids.
    He/She is not GIVING you anything, it’s your money, too. No-fault does not mean you cannot use their lies and abuse against them and protect yourself from financial hardship and your kids from more abuse. No, he can’t do whatever he wants in his private time if it involves cheating while married and putting the kid’s mental health at risk. Don’t go into this having unrealistic expectations but be careful with what some people say. Last Xmas a friend of mine was saying that I had no reason to be sad and that I should have gotten out of this fight a long time ago….while spending the Holidays with her husband and kids in Aspen. I’m like, sure! How easy is to judge when you’re with your happy family. In Aspen!

  • Howdy 1FC

    I got a female lawyer who was only concerned about what I wanted. One that understands the pain that we go through and has a dislike for cheaters.

    After my xw walked out I got a copy of Tracy’s audio book and immersed myself in her instruction. It was my Wikipedia for divorce navigation.

    I made a checklist of tasks she asked me to do. Financials, etc. It’s easier to check off and provides a concrete goal to chase. Complete A. Check. Item B… Done ✅

    10 months after she moved in with camperboy beer salesman I was free.

    During this timeframe I went NO CONTACT and only used email. I had my lawyer pull the trigger about 4 months after She walked.
    My hopium bing dissolved in short order.

    When you invite an (Good) attorney into your marriage, who in turn invites the long arm of the law in… These entitled dipshits run at full speed into a concrete wall that says, “Not Today Asshole. You don’t get your way!!”

    Time to pay the piper for the dance you’ve put your legal partner through.

    Payback’s a Bitch. And the feeling of justice being served upon a deserving scumbag is a catharsis that starts the healing process.

    We’re not meant to suffer our lives away in pain. We are meant to share our love with someone worthy to receive it who shares it right back.

    So Stand Too 1 FC. Release the dogs of war.

    • Awesome Marcus Lazarus! Like I said in another post, I fear that it’s me that’s being a waffling wimp. My lawyer has probably been rolling her eyes. I’ve become like a kicked dog through his manipulation and abuse. My lawyer sends a letter, ex acts like a assface and then I go back to kicked dog syndrome. I think, why’s he being mean to me? I didn’t do anything! Ugh- this post has truly been a wake up call. I am going to stop fucking around getting abused and push my lawyer harder. If she’s still too soft I’ll change. Funnily enough I hired her because others said she was an experienced bulldog. I’m really now thinking I just need to unleash her! Thanks, really helpful to hear your story

      • Stop beating yourself up. this isn’t easy stuff, this is hard and you’re doing the best you can. hopefully with all this great advice and with this support you can now move forward with strength and power. go for it. make it happen. Get what yours. get yourself free. hugs!

      • Yes, let her do her job. Let her take the reins and just say “I want a fair settlement and a divorce as soon as possible…and….go!”

        Your attorney can advise you of all the pros and cons, and advise a strategy, but she has a legal obligation to abide by your wishes (as long as they don’t break the law). If you’ve been telling her in one for another to NOT proceed with court action, then she cannot. You’ve tied her hands. So, untie them and watch what happens.

      • Figure if your stbx wants to go with the narrative that you are the problem, you may as well become his problem. Do not deal with him, let your lawyer deal with him and tell her to go with a “take no prisoners” strategy.

        • True! I love that advice. It’s all my fault anyway according to him.

      • One thing that might help you, OFC, is to just be NO CONTACT so that you don’t even know if your STBX is upset or acting like a jackass. If your lawyer sends him a letter, don’t be available for him to manipulate. If you block him, as I suggest above, you won’t have to deal with his manipulation. If he emails you, just forward it to the lawyer and FORGET it. Your job is to say, “He’s just trying to manipulate me. And it won’t work.”

  • 5.) In his mind, if you’re not divorced, then you (and his house and old life) are still an option.

    However, I’d much more be questioning you…as to why you haven’t gotten a new and much better lawyer. Stat.

    • Not sure about her, my case was such a scorched earth break up that It’s more about triangulating with the OW and controlling me. Also, OW is a very big downgrade and he is too self-conscious. I am really waiting for the final episode when he will reveal if he will marry her like promised or he will blame her for something and move on to another victim. But I am almost sure he will marry her to save face. She thinks I am the reason why we are not divorced and is in for a treat.

  • I got a property settlement pretty quickly because my EX wanted to buy a new house. He gave it a name (which I won’t use here to preserve anonymity). We’ll pretend it was “Love Nest.” And he referred to it that way to our kids. He’d pick them up and say, “Come on kids, time to go home to the Love Nest.” Really, they ought to give medals for self-restraint. I didn’t vomit, complain, or kill him.

    But when it came to the divorce, he wouldn’t do it. Wouldn’t respond. Dodged paper-servers. Ignored the registered mail. I had to run ads in the paper to serve him “by publication.” And, I had to prove to the court I had contacted family members, friends, and employers in an attempt to reach him. It was a real joy. (See previous paragraph about medals).

    There really is no way to over-estimate the lengths some people will go to be difficult. If you have your duck in a row and are ready to divorce, have your lawyer start the process. Document all his delays and all your costs and keep plowing forward.

    • Shit that sucks. I’m sorry you had to do all that but you’re a role model for being persistent. Love it

  • Yep this is my fuckwit exactly. He can’t let me go yet as he loves the control. I kicked him out 6 months ago. I sent him a settlement offer & had minimal legal help (friend of a friend & My son who is a baby lawyer) because I wanted to keep legal fees low. It was a mistake. He took weeks & weeks to send his counter offer which was so outrageous it forced me to look for a bulldog lawyer who i now have and he’s worth every sent. Fuckwit has just been admitted as a lawyer himself after a career change where he wanted to work in community law to ‘help vulnerable people’. More chance to look for his next victim more like. Anyway he sends my lawyer an email refusing to give his address & refusing to sign a real estate agency agreement to sell the farm. Which we’d agreed on months back. My lawyer said that as fuckwits a lawyer this will look really bad for him in court. He’s also representing himself (because he’s so brilliant despite the fact hes a only a law clerk at 59) which is also a big no no & will look bad in court. I now realise it’s all about power & centrality. He’s hugely pissed off that I’ve got myself a bulldog lawyer & refuses to communicate on maintenance issues in relation to the farm. I wish I’d taken CL advice from the start & got myself a bulldog lawyer earlier. But I’m hugely grateful that I have one now.

    • Well, the silverlining in regard to being too nice, waiting too long or giving too many chances is that when you finally do move ahead, you have no regrets. You tried to do it without lawyers, and he used that as an opportunity to take advantage of you. He’s the one who will have regrets now!

      Good luck. I hope you out of your marriage quickly!

  • This is what courts and lawyers are for. There is always an option for “the other person/jackass won’t cooperate” where things get split up forcibly, and cheating losers ejected from your life.
    If your lawyer isn’t pushing this by now, it’s time to get another lawyer.

  • Frustrated: Either have your lawyer FILE NOW or get a new lawyer. If you’re in the US, I believe there are no longer any states that disallow no-fault divorces (believe New York was the last hold out). That means he actually can’t stop you even if he can slow you down. My cheating now-ex made literally no apologies when I busted him on his cheating. He also made ZERO moves to divorcing me even though he was very clear in how he spent his time and money that he had no interest in reconciling. I held out a few years because of the kids and college, but then I ended up pulling the trigger and filing. You need no cooperation from him to do this. In my state, California, it was critical that I be the one to file because I was able to specify the date I believed we separated on with the intent to divorce. This triggered the separation of marital assets/debts as California is a community property state–so in theory, as of the date I named, I was no longer responsible for the credit card debt he was amassing wining and dining his affair partner. Also, since I filed, it put me in a stronger position and he had legal deadlines for responding (yes he could miss these but eventually you can get a summary judgment if he’s just not responding rather than actively fighting).

    Like so many other chumps, I soon discovered that my cheater wasn’t going to lift a finger to help with the divorce. I got a lawyer–and my idiot cheater happily agreed that he wouldn’t get one because then I would pay for the lawyer and it would be “cheaper” for him (their stupidity can be astounding). We agreed to have a friendly divorce (yes, he believed that). I had to pull together all of our financial paperwork, make copies for him, let him copy from my disclosures, hire someone to file his disclosures, and then walk him through all of the paperwork. I actually wrote our settlement (I knew what was/was not allowed in our state and I was able to get a very good deal for myself even if I couldn’t take everything because he was an a**hole). I was actually nice enough to wait until he was sober to do all the paperword (he’s a functional alcoholic). He’s a narcissist who loves to feel like the benevolent big man–yes, you’re entitled to many things (as is he legally unfortunately) but by being nice and asking, he “generously gave” me exactly what I asked for and then some. If your cheater is like this at all, strike while he’s feeling guilty and benevolent. My mantra through the divorce was “Smile and wave, boys” (Penguins of Madagascar) because he thought I was just so sweet and nice and devastated to lose him. It was worth sucking up to him, for me, because I got what I wanted.

    Bottom line, it seems like many of our cheaters are man- or women-children. If we make it look easy and they can be benevolently patronizing good guys and gals, we can get them to do what we want as long as we do all the heavy lifting, clean up, unpleasant parts. It’s not fair, but then it’s over. I didn’t realize until my divorce was final just how stressful it was living with him as husband and wife–it was just my normal.

  • I could have written this letter myself! Unfortunately it’s not as straightforward as just putting the costs to go to court in the settlement (that’s our plan but a patriarchal no fault family court system means it’s not guaranteed).
    I still need cashflow to pay the bills up front to lawyer. I also need to pay home renovations to build a bedroom for one of my kids while also increasing value of property which he will ultimately gain on (from my pocket).

    I’ve chosen to wait. Property values (including the business I get no say in running) are up in the air right now. I treat every foul move on his part (his stonewalling legal process) as a gift that I reframe to my advantage. Covid just another gift. I’m calling his bluff. Ball in his court (until I have enough saved to go to court).

  • Greenlight your attorney to take court action and watch what happens. Dollars to donuts this guy signs papers and you can call off the court date. His feet dragging is likely due, in part, to his fear of the legal system and/or anger toward it. The best anecdote is to directly confront him with it…serve him a summons to appear in court and argue his case. He’ll probably do just about anything to avoid that.

  • When the fuck will I not be angry anymore?
    Two years since d-day and I think about it constantly and I’m soo angry.

    • Tuesday.
      We don’t know which Tuesday, but some Tuesday you will wake up and realize angry has run it’s course. You will be free.
      Tuesday will happen.

    • Set a date when you will start working at not thinking about the cheating or the cheater or the AP(s). When that date comes, have strategies ready. For me, the biggest times were driving in the car and lying in bed at night. So I kept satellite radio or a playlist on in the car at all times. I would talk back to the radio or sing out loud if my mind started in that direction. I put a TV in the bedroom and watch police procedurals like Law and Order and Blue Bloods until I fell asleep. For you, it might be sleeping with your earbuds in with music on or listening to an audiobook. Meditation and yoga also help because of the emphasis on staying PRESENT and focusing on what you are doing in the now. Your X is the past. You are in today and want to build for tomorrow.

      • I really like this advice. “Moving on” is an action, or series of actions, to be taken. For me at least, it didn’t just happen. Like you, I’ve had to develop strategies to reduce my anger and sadness. Right now, if I have a sad feeling I give myself permission to feel it until bedtime that night, then I do my mental exercises to let it go. If I get angry at something my ex does, I allow that anger for an hour or two then I do my “letting go” exercises. It is hard work. It does not happen on its own. But it does get easier over time.

  • yeah, my ex dragged her feet with the divorce. i delivered the papers to her as soon as legally possible (you need to be separated for 12 months where i live), but she didn’t come through with her side of the divorce until around 6 months later. i think she was waiting until she had a promise from the fuckwit she’s sleeping with that he’d separate from his wife.

  • First of many posts I’m sure. I’ve been crying off and on all day. Married 28 years and out of the blue he says he wants a D. Moves out and 7 months later I find out about the OW. I file with grounds the next day. Holidays, COVID and a busy attorney slowed things down. His attorney was served sometime in the last 6 weeks as I just got his counter complaint today. He’s been gone a year and I’ve been NC for 8 months. We have teens so no need to ever communicate.

    2 days ago a coworker let it slip that they know who she is. Stopped them before I got a name. I don’t want to know. She works for him and I think she’s the department whore. I’ve only seen her from afar but she’s younger, fit and looks prettier than me. Yeah I’m having a really bad week.

    • Elena, welcome, and I am so so sorry. Read the archives. Post as much as you want, about whatever you want.

      And take the good advice you’ll find here – leave the cheater, and then start gaining a life. The first part is underway already, but the second part is also essential.

      Take time and be gentle with yourself.

      And yes, cheaters never trade up.

      • She seems like an upgrade because she’s way younger and prettier. He used to make fun of the men she dated at work because she’s out of their league. Old, fat guys. I’m not even sure this is her but the timing works. I remember when he told me she wanted to work for him and I worried. He got promoted and she no longer works there. Either they did something stupid or her new boss was immune to her charms. She’s been through most of the dept so her options were limited.

        • Nothing you’ve said about this loser makes her sound like an upgrade in any way.

          • She’s into mixed martial arts, nice tattoos a real bad ass. I’ve only seen her from afar. He’s pointed her out to our kids too. “Hey look there’s the whore” while at the grocery store.

            • Uh, I still see no upgrade here.

              Your ex literally called her a whore to your children? What a charmer.

              • Omg thank you for making me laugh. He’s been gone for a year and the longer he’s gone the more I realize how much he sucks. You’re absolutely right calling her a whore in front of our kids is terrible.

                My 19 year old son is autistic and refuses to see him right now due to covid. My husband makes fun of him for it. “Am I sick, am I sick am I still sick”. Stop it. My son won’t get in my car and yet I’d never make fun of him for it.

    • She may be younger and fitter, but she’s a dysfunctional skank that screws married men. She won’t always be younger and fitter but she’ll always be a dysfunctional skank.

      • My imagination tortures me says he’s way happier with her. I caught him texting her last July. Big huge smile on a normally grumpy face. I had not confirmed the OWs existence yet but I knew.

        My kids say he looks terrible but it’s because he’s having to work 2 jobs now to pay for this. He went from no gray hair to all gray in 5 months.

        • Elena, these people sound deranged. Your ex is not worthy of you.

          You worry he’s “happier” with a woman he’s ashamed to be seen publicly with, whom he openly calls a whore? If the shoe fits, I guess, but he clearly doesn’t respect her.

          She has a nice ass? So what? A nice ass hasn’t gotten her true love or respect. She’s won the booby prize – a heartless man who abandons his own family. What does she really think she’s winning here? Who is she kidding?

          Now he’s blown up his family and destroyed his life – for what?

          He won’t tell you that, of course. Cheaters need to believe they’re winning. But he’s delusional too if he thinks working 2 jobs and losing his hair means winning. In a few years, he’ll wonder why his life sucks and his kids hate him, and he still won’t take responsibility, because he’s a sociopath. That’s his problem, not yours. He did not cheat because you’re not a martial arts badass, he cheated because he sucks. He is deficient.

          Again, he’s not worthy of you. Don’t buy his line that this woman is somehow “better.” All I keep hearing in your story is that she’s a loser and a public embarrassment even to her affair partner. If she was really so great, she would be doing something meaningful with her life and people would recognize her for it. Instead she’s fucking strange and content with being ridiculed in public by a loser like your ex.

          I’m sorry you’re going through this. Hang in there. You did nothing wrong.

          • It may not be her. I’ve asked people not to tell me who it is. I just know she works with him and it’s a male dominated field. The whore makes sense only because I remember when he told me she moved to his department. The timeline fits but it could be someone new that just started working there.

            He didn’t see it as abandoning his family. Told me as long as he’s there for the kids physically and financially that he’s still there. He had this whole divorce fantasy that we’d do 50/50 custody. That our teens would spend nights at both places. This did not happen. My 17 year old disowned him. My 14 year old barely tolerates him. My 19 year old uses him for money.

            The only thing that remotely makes me feel better is unless he’s morphed into someone else after he left I know what she’s won. The great guy thing is an act. The minute she starts expecting things from him he will withdraw. He picks women with low self esteem (myself included) that will accept crumbs. Thing is he convinced me that if I were a better wife he’d love me more. I am blaming myself for losing my family.

            • Elena, I think you’re brainwashed which is what abusers do. I know that sounds extreme but that’s what I’m working through with my therapist. He’s brainwashed you to the point where you’re doubting what you know in your gut is real. Fuck him! Move on! Love and care for yourself right now. Know that you have a shitty road ahead. He’s abusive. That’s all you need to know. It’s not about you. You’re good just the way you are. He’s a liar so don’t listen to his shit. He wants you to feel bad- that’s what abusers do. Don’t let him do this to you anymore. ♥️

              • What if his complaints were valid? I was angry a lot and yelled. He worked all the time and I was mad because I felt like I came 7th on his priority list. He said he had to work to provide and I was unappreciative. Later he said he avoided coming home because he couldn’t stand me. He did say I caused him to drink but he’s still drinking.

                I know I’m messed up but isn’t it possible that this is my fault?

            • I can’t reply to your last comment below so I’m replying here. Are you seeing a therapist? (Hopefully one with a specialty in trauma.) Because you have suffered a trauma. There’s no shame in it, any more than if you broke your leg. If you broke your leg, you’d go get it fixed.

              Chumptastic is right, your ex has brainwashed you. No, his complaints are not valid. Everything you say about your ex reveals more and more a horrible person who blames others for his behavior. This is so typical of abusers.

              “I was angry a lot and yelled.” With a husband like that, I’d be yelling too. I’m sure his behavior sucked for years. You can’t blame yourself for reasonable reactions to abuse. You’re a human with feelings and needs, not a doormat.

              “He said he had to work to provide…” Does he want a cookie? Most adults hold down jobs. Any parent who isn’t a gremlin works to support their kids. What was he expecting, a Thanksgiving day parade every time he came home?

              “Later he said he avoided coming home because he couldn’t stand me.” More vague, baseless accusations with no substance.

              Look, this guy is full of crap. Even I can smell it from far away, and I’m a stranger with no skin in this. Your ex NEEDS you to be wrong. He’s not going to admit that he’s a soulless black hole, right? So what does he do? Blame you. This is typical. It’s so typical that entire books on domestic violence have been written about this.

              If your ex took responsibility for his life, he wouldn’t be a cheater in the first place. Cheating is a narcissistic act. It shows entitlement and callousness. Responsible people don’t behave this way. Blaming you is right in line with all of that. Ex wasn’t responsible before, so why would he change? If anything, him blaming you should validate everything you know about this guy: he’s a selfish asshole. This is what selfish assholes do.

              Even if you did something wrong … so what? He could’ve talked to you about it. He could’ve taken you to marriage counseling. There’s a million things he could’ve done besides fall dick-first into a stranger.

              But he didn’t do that, because there was nothing wrong with you. He just wanted any excuse to have an affair, and he’ll retroactively make up reasons to excuse it. Namely, by blaming you.

              This guy is a liar and his accusations are as ridiculous as he is. You can’t trust anything a liar says, let alone one with an agenda as blatant as his.

              • Thank you for this. It’s 3am so I’ll respond later. I’m so grateful I have people to talk to. This was a terrible week. Found out who I think the OW is and I got his divorce answer back.

                I was in therapy and had a weekly support group but then COVID shut it all down hence why I’m here posting probably way more than I should.

            • “He didn’t see it as abandoning his family. Told me as long as he’s there for the kids physically and financially that he’s still there.”

              I keep coming back to this shocking comment. It reveals so much about your ex. He’s delusional! THIS IS WHO HE REALLY IS. Soulless, unfeeling, and irresponsible. He’s a sentient fart wearing a meat suit.

              People don’t change who they really are. I bet, Elena, that you can look back on your life and see patterns in your own behavior: how you treat people, your work ethic, your honesty. People are consistent in their thoughts and behavior. Liars may be able to hide who they really are for a long time, but at their core, they don’t change. Nobody does. You either pay people back in a timely manner or you don’t. You take responsibility or you don’t. You’re a dependable friend or you’re not.

              This guy doesn’t believe he abandoned his family? He’s delusional. He literally walked out the door one day and didn’t come back and demanded that everybody be okay with it, as if he can bend reality to his will. That is delusion. He really thinks the world revolves around him.

              This is a man who lacks character. I bet if you look back on his life too, you will see evidence of his mindset going back years in how he treated you, the kids, responsibilities, how he showed up to work, how he paid back his debts, how he related to everyone else in the world.

              Abusers do not suddenly abuse us one day because we deserved it. They want us to think that, of course, so they can keep getting away with it. It’s why abusers are masters of impression management. They need the general public to believe they’re a good person. But behind closed doors, it’s a different story.

              You would never abandon your family. It wouldn’t even occur to you to do that, because you’re probably a responsible person who forms deep meaningful relationships with people. Nothing would ever convince you to behave otherwise, right? Who you really are at your core is how you show up in all areas of your life.

              Your ex thinks abandonment is ok because he’s selfish and doesn’t feel that deeply. That didn’t happen overnight. This is who he really is. Nothing you did could have forced him to do this. It was his choice and his choice alone.

              Oh, have you noticed something? Your ex blamed you for his abandonment, as if anything you did could have possibly forced him away. So what does that say about how he views his own children? Rabid hyenas couldn’t keep my father away from his kids. Dad would have murdered anyone who got between him and us.

              Your ex doesn’t care about his own kids. Did you cause that, too? Do you see how ridiculous his accusations are?

              This is who he is.

              • Thanks so much for this. Now that he’s been gone for a year I’m slowly starting to see this.

                He tried to talk me into moving out and I agreed to this because he said I couldn’t take care of the kids on my own. He said he was the better parent and I believed him. He sent me a text the next day saying he was at an apartment complex and did I want to meet him there? By that time I’d come to my senses and said no I was staying with the kids. He moved out 2 days later.

                Now the plan was I’d fall apart (told the kids this) and he’d get to be the hero. He said I could see the kids of course but with my fragile mental state he would need to have sole custody. He doesn’t want the kids he just doesn’t want me to have them.

        • Okay serious question and yes I know my self esteem is in the toilet. What if he didn’t actually cheat and started the relationship after me? What if she’s just a rebound? Is she a dysfunctional skank then? What if it’s not her? What if he left me then met someone great?

          I can’t prove when this relationship started. I know for sure she was in the picture 4 months after he left.

          • 4 months is a shockingly short period of time between the end of a 28-year marriage and the start of a new relationship. Anybody with an ounce of shame would be embarrassed to be seen in a relationship that early after the demise of their marriage.

            Oh yeah, and there’s still the issue of him ABANDONING HIS FAMILY!

            Normal people don’t abandon families after 28 years. Normal people don’t start a new relationship 4 months later. Normal people don’t assume the kids will be fine this abandonment and then act surprised when the kids don’t want a relationship.

            Your ex is an abnormal person. Everything he’s done so far is selfish and crazy.

            You don’t need proof that he was cheating, this isn’t a court of law. Everything he’s done so far is bad enough to end a marriage. Though you did say in another comment, didn’t you, that he was texting another woman last year? And we’ve already established that his behavior is crazy. So, yes, he was probably cheating before he left, but you don’t need to prove it, you’re not on trial here. If you need validation, I’m happy to give it to you. This guy betrayed your family and he sucks.

            • Yes I’m in that place where I need validation that he sucks and I want to stop blaming myself. My husband got a new place and gave our 19 year old a key. He used it one rainy afternoon and that’s how I found out. When my son realized what he’d walked in on he quietly backed out. To this day my husband doesn’t know exactly how I found out.

              I’m a mess. I’ll feel empowered posting on here with people who get it then I walk away and my mood just tanks as I imagine where he’s at and what he’s doing. Waiting for Tuesday right?

              • Your son walked in on your ex and his new partner?? I’m so sorry.

                You said upthread that you were in therapy but the pandemic put a stop to that. Is your therapist available to meet long distance over the phone or video chat?

                My therapist not only still talks to me every week, but insurance has allowed us to talk even though I’m in another state right now due to the emergency situation. You deserve support during this time, quarantined bedamned.

              • I can’t reply to the thread above. H got a new place, a mile away from me and gave my 19 year old son a key. H had been gone for 7 months so he does not know my son’s college schedule. My son got out at noon and decided to go visit the pets (I’m going to try and get them back). H’s cars were in the driveway and my son assumed he was home for lunch no biggie. He let himself in and there was her purse, her shoes, her glasses, house was dark, etc. My son immediately left, came home and told me.

            • As CL says, Trust that he sucks. He sucks. You don’t. He sounds like a sneaky abuser. You know now what he is. It’s horrible. All of us on this site know exactly how shitty this all is. It’s not your fault – it doesn’t matter if you weren’t the perfect wife. Who is? It does not mean he should cheat on you and be an asshole! Do not blame yourself. Be kind to yourself and know that what you’re feeling is normal and that, slowly, it starts to get better.

    • You’re just feeling low and that’s totally expected. He married you, you are worthwhile. He’s just fucking her-she’s a whore. You held the position of honor. DO NOT let them ruin your self image. Stay strong and make yourself feel good.

      • It’s hard especially yesterday reading his divorce offer. He rides off into the sunset with her and I’m supposed to live in my car once the kids turn 21.

        • Fight him. Be the Chief Executive of your divorce. Get what you deserve, don’t be a victim.

          • Hired a bull dog first then he got one. Hit him with adultery and now he has a public defender/mayor/some high ranking person as his attorney. My gut says either he can’t afford the bull dog or she fired him. I’m in the Bible Belt and the first thing my attorney asked me was did I cheat? I was taken aback by the question but I’m guessing she had enough business that she didn’t need to take on a cheater….or maybe it’s personal.

              • She’s waiting on his financials but asked me to look over what else he offered. She said basically no to joint custody, no to him claiming all the kids on his taxes and said he left off alimony. Our kids are teens and we own nothing really so there isn’t much to negotiate other than alimony and his pension plan.

                He did offer alimony but it was in such small print buried on the last page that she overlooked it. He offered 8 years worth of nothing payable after he retires. Guess he expects me to live in my car after child support ends.

              • OMG wait I just realized what he’s doing. I’m so stupid for not seeing it until right now. He’s been paying me 18% of his income for support (no court order) based on what he was making a year ago (he’s since gotten promoted and a 2nd job). He wants joint custody, to continue to pay me what he’s been paying and then drop it down after he retires so no child support.

                I have 2 kids FULL TIME. He bribed my 14 year old to get her to live with him but he’s never home so she wants to move back in with me. Its complicated.

    • Pretty is as pretty does. It’s tough, but don’t go into comparisons. Narcissistic cheaters don’t leave because someone else is prettier or smarter or better. They leave because they can’t get their ego boost from staying in the same relationship or because you know them way too well. They want the new and shiny relationship because that AP doesn’t see through their bullshit. Do the reading about narcissistic relationships. That saved my life.

      • He’s always needed his fix of shiny things. Cars, boats, campers, big houses, enough was never enough for him. I don’t think he’s a narcissist because of his good guy image but then again I don’t know anything anymore. Who is this person?

        • Narcissists LOVE to project the good guy image. They’re also a bottomless pit for shiny things. Google Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

  • The money I spent on getting the cheater to court for finances and sorting parenting time was worth every penny to get my life back. I invested in myself to be free.

    He on the other hand didn’t file for divorce so he could keep up the narrative of the downtrodden loyal husband even though he was cheating on me with a howorker 25 years younger than him (low hanging fruit right there!).

    He wanted a wife appliance at home so he could go play with howorker when he felt like it. ‘I just do what I want to do’ said the man size toddler I was unfortunately married to.

    He also wanted to care for his child ‘when he wanted to’ which made me the default setting and controlled my ability to go out with my running group, stay late at work meet friends etc – control, control, control.

    But he’s such a great dad you say? He’s so great he never gave a toot about him when he fell into her vagina, the fact our son cried himself to sleep, couldn’t sleep on his own and worries about leaving the ‘family’ home. Hes so great he drops our son with his 80 year old mum when he wants the howorker. And now my son who is 8 is getting it – ‘dad sent me to school so he could go out with his girlfriend. Mum can you come and get me?’

    He also didn’t clear up the mess because why would he poor sad sausage. I filed, hired a lawyer and took him to court. As well at the same time because of his behaviours our child ended up on a child protection plan. I roar laughing when anyone ever suggests I will eventually ‘get over it’ because that’s just victim shaming. I’m very close to Meh except sometimes when the betrayal washes over me and I become adrift.

    Unfortunately when you are dealing with disordered personalities of cheaters there’s just no other way to do it. Get it in front of a judge and get started on yourself.

    • Well said and it’s always so shockingly similar how these assholes behave. It’s like we could write one narrative for the entire Chump Nation!

  • They don’t file because they want their cake and eat it too. Proven from all these histories! They firstly wound you and in their mind they think you will play along as you always have. They bet on your generally forgiving and cooperative nature, the sunk costs. But of course you don’t play along and a switch flips. They don’t get how serious you are about resolution until you actually start pushing for it. Then the three channels come on. And then you make it happen, despite the exhaustion of it all. Then they get to play the victim card and get extra cake from schmoopie and the world for being married to such a bitch or bastard. Frankly speaking the legal wrangling and pain aside, what’s the worst is leaving the house of horrors cheaters set up for you. You have to find your way out when there’s so much deception and mindfuckery everywhere. And when you didn’t see it coming or still love “them”. It takes a lot to bury your dream when you didn’t kill it.

  • I detached from my cheater while lining up my ducks. I think he had been planning to make a new life for himself with his slut. I was done and he knew it. He just didn’t know that I was aware he was cheating. We had the talk about divorcing. He said he would pay child support. I told him we would get a temporary written agreement. I told him I needed more money because I was not going to be left with all the marital Bill’s. I got more money from him but I think he thought once our son was 18, that was it on paying me money. Nope. I wrote up the MSA and on our next meeting he told me it was all fo my benefit. I gold him that was a starting point for negotiations. I reminded him of the money he hid, his fancy car, his double life, our long term marriage, etc. He tried to play hard ball after talking to an attorney. He said he was offering me what the law allowed in alimony. Nope, there is no law a judge has to go by (30 year marriage). He told me to think about it. I gave him my answer right then. That doesn’t work for me. I let him simmer down and started laying out the costs of a contested divorce. Had a third meeting and we settled. I get more debt than him but i get un modifiable lifetime alimony. Not as much as i wanted but ok. He thought i would take crumbs. Nope. Almost divorced. Once taxes are paid, i will not have to talk to the POS ever.

    • Well, actually, there are alimony statutes in every state so that if a case goes to trial and there is no reason for a judge to vary from the statute, then the judge will order the statute in every category. That’s why it’s in everyone’s best interest to try to negotiate without a judge; however, with a disordered character you can’t. I’m in MA and I forced us to go in front of the judge after 2 yrs of his stalling and the judge said without solid evidence that he dissipated those marital assets, she would rule with the statutes in every category. So you have to know if what you’re asking for is worth going all the way to the end and will it hold up in court. Threatening to do something rarely gets you what you want.

      However, if fuckwit wants to give you the stars and the moon, then the judge will approve it so long as it doesn’t leave him destitute.

  • He’s the enemy. You’d be an idiot to expect or want fairness, empathy, apologies, or the truth from your enemy. Or to care about the enemy’s feelings, “poverty”, or accusations. He wants your money. Attack. Do not believe a word he says.

    • I have kind of been an idiot but I’m waking up now that I see the extent of his narcissism and generally fucked up behaviour. We all go through it in some way. “How can my lover, my best friend and my companion of 25 years turn on me??” But they do and it’s an absolutely hideous feeling and it makes you feel brain damaged. I’m not taking it anymore.

      • 28 years here and in the span of 2 hours one Sunday afternoon he became the enemy. Stunned, surreal, blindsided. Took me another 7 months before I faced it.

  • This lawyer is telling you they have no experience of personality disorders and is still expecting reasonable behaviour.

    Change your lawyer.

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