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How to Line Up Ducks When You Can’t Afford a Duck

Hello Chump Lady,

I have a question as to your to line up one’s ducks. A little about me: currently 6 months pregnant, working part-time from home, have a 2 year old and a 1 year old. Husband spent thousands on the affair partner, of course my money was in there, we now have nothing. I took this work-from-home gig so I could watch our 1-year-old and not have to pay for daycare. Husband also started a new job around that time. Both of our incomes have been reduced due to job changes since his affair was discovered.

How do I even begin to line up my ducks when:

A. I don’t want to depend on him financially in any way, I don’t want to give him that control over me or the divorce.

B. I can’t stay with family for long. I’ll receive no emotional support and will possibly be blamed for his cheating due to cultural expectations.

C. I can’t even afford a “cheap” lawyer.

D. I’m expecting soon and can’t really make any major moves for at least 3 months after baby.

E. My 2 year old has speech and developmental delays that require her to stay in state to receive services, moving out of state isn’t an option.

F. I have no money to get my own place right now.

G. I don’t want to stay in the marriage for too long, but trying to save for a lawyer or my own place might take a while… at least 2 years I predict.

As for his affairs, let’s just say 6 years of marriage plus 3 sexual affairs and one emotional one have convinced me it’s enough. I just keep drawing blanks on how to go about this.

I feel so stuck. From your experience and the things you’ve heard/read, are they any tips/advice you can give me?

Where do I even begin?

No Ducks

Dear No Ducks,

You begin by making a plan. You may have to wait to execute your plan. You’ll probably hit multiple roadblocks and have to adapt your plan, but right this minute you can start figuring out how to escape and become self-supporting.

Caveat: Chuck the plan if you have any sense that you’re in danger (aside from the fuckwit squandering all your money on affair partners, which is financially abusive — as well as isolating you). If he’s threatening in any way, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (in U.S.). That’s one way out — a shelter and professional help escaping.

In any case, the way forward is letting people know you need help. Yes, it will feel humbling and mortifying, but there is ZERO shame in it. Even if you ask and get rejected, keep reaching out. This shit calls for creative problem solving and doing the things you didn’t think you could do.

I’m also counting on CN to weigh in here on how they managed these hurdles, because they are, sadly, common hurdles. Financial vulnerability keeps a lot of women stuck. But consider in your case that staying doesn’t guarantee you any financial security either, as your husband is okay blowing all the money on fuckbuddies. Staying is not sustainable. So here are some options to consider.

1.) Get on assistance. As appallingly inadequate as our social safety net is in the U.S., there are services you can avail yourself of as a single mother. Generally, benefits last for two years, but that’s a good amount of time and space away from a fuckwit. You’re already working part-time from home, that could actually qualify you for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). There’s also Medicaid, Food Stamps, child care assistance and housing subsidies. A good summary of available programs is here.

THIS IS WHY WE PAY TAXES. Please feel ZERO shame about using these services. Situations like yours — a temporary crisis until you can get on your feet — is why they exist. Some people are not blessed with supportive families, or deep wells of financial support. But this vulnerable moment is just a window in time — you can train toward a self-supporting career and raise kids. It’s much harder than it should be, but you’re made of tough stuff, as chumps are.

Oh, and another thing — if you do go on assistance, the state enforces your child support FIRST. Any way they can get him to pay versus the taxpayer? They will do it. So, if he can afford fuckbuddies, he can afford child support.

2.) Get legal help. Call your state bar association and ask about pro-bono or low-bono legal services in family law. Law schools in your state may have legal aid clinics. RESEARCH divorce laws in your state. Womenslaw.org is an excellent resource. Also they break down all the resources available by state Places That Help. Given the unequal financial status you’re in with your husband, and having soon three small children, I’d err on the side of legal help over do-it-yourself options like LegalZoom. A good article here — 25 Ways to Divorce Without Going Broke. You can petition the court yourself and get the fees waived, to get the ball rolling. (I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice…)

3.) Raise cash. Hock your jewelry. Ask a family member for a loan. GoFundMe. There’s even divorce financing these days (but beware predatory lenders). A good article on financing a divorce and how to do it when you can’t afford it here: Everything You Need To Know About Divorce Loans. (This is from a loan provider, STILT, so keep that in mind. However, it’s a good overview of options.)

4.) Get creative. Can you live with a friend? Do you know another single mother you could cohabitate with and share child-care? Do your parents have a basement apartment? It’s time to dump all the “I Could Never” thoughts out of your head. I could never do this alone. I could never ask my parents for a loan. I could never live with a roommate.

The way you’ve been living — with a man who’s been abusing you — is much harder. You’re much stronger than you know.

I’m going to open the floor up to CN now. How did you escape? Do you have pointers for No Ducks? Pep talks?

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I appreciate your patience, as I still need to declare a Cheater Freak Xmas winner. I’m on it…

    Also, meant to add above — marital funds spent on Schmoopies can be asked back for in divorce. Document!

    • Yes, I have a forensic accountant on my legal team and he found plenty of Schmoopie money. The FW is not happy about it and has an accountant looking at my spending. Sadly, I don’t have a Schmoopie and my accounts are very simple. He can pay to have the guy dig but there is nothing to be found. Naturally with a FW, he wants to play tit for tat.
      I am waiting it out right now but settling this is a pain when dealing with a FW with pressure from his young Schmoopie. We have a lot in our favor especially with pictures he inadvertently loaded on my son’s shared family account.

      • I myself found schmoopie money through credit card statements. My lawyers loved it.

        Sparkledick never thought I would go to his weekday work apartment 700 km from me, but I got a tip he was out of the country, I got into my car, the doorman let me in because after all I was still Mrs Sparkles back then. I later heard that Sparkledick was Rumplestiltskins furious about this.

        Well anyway, sparkles did not want to make a deal, he let the divorce turn litigious. I had presented numerous deals and he never presented a single one. So besides divorce I sued him for moral damages. I guess his lawyer then told him he had better back down and stop being an idiot because he was going to loose with all the evidence I had. I did not have to split his stupid debts in our settlement and he ended up paying for 70% my lawyers fees.

        Document! Plan! Be patient, but keep safe!

      • Look for a single parents’ social/support/community group in your area. Examples are bay area single parents (BASP) network in the San Francisco area, and Seattle single parents (SSP) meetup group. These organizations exist partly as social/meetup groups and partly as support groups. You’ll find them on meetup.com and as private Facebook groups. They will plan outings, social events, share resources like hand me downs, maintain on-line forums for commentary and advice, etc.
        Not infrequently, one will see posts in the forums from other single parents seeking shared living situations, or seeking practical advice for navigating legal issues around divorce or child care.
        When you join, understand that it does NOT matter if you aren’t technically single yet… You are seeking to be. Most people who are part of these groups have been there, done that, and they understand that no one needs the support of a group like theirs more than someone like you.

        • The moms groups suggestions are a great idea. Always good to know more people. Never know who can help you. Thank you!

    • “marital funds spent on Schmoopies can be asked back for in divorce.”

      Absolutely true. I did it in a no fault/50-50 state. Unfortunately it takes a good lawyer. In my day I could afford to retain a good lawyer, even on a minimum wage job, but I didn’t know that until I went for my consult. He told me what he could do and I figured out if he did that (temp maintenance, I could pay him and save some money. But from what I understand now, the price is is beyond the reach of many.

      I still would say get all the financial paperwork she has, and go to a consultation. A good lawyer can tell you up front your situation, and how much it will cost. He can’t walk away from helping with the three children he has created. And if he does, then that kicks in a lot more legal services and help.

      I was left with only a minimum wage job, and my ex was a police officer who “knew everyone” so I went to the next large city and found a family law firm. I knew when I talked to the lawyer, he could do exactly what he said he could.

      I could have gotten three years of full maintenance as long as we stayed legally separated. I only asked for six months, ended up getting a year. I didn’t want to stay legally married for longer than that. I think I had an inkling my fw was going to crash and burn; and I wanted to be far away from that when it happened. I wanted him to sell out everything he got quick and I knew he would as soon as the D was final.

      Having small children and being abused/abandoned by a cheater is horrid. It is always hard, but that is pretty much the hardest.

      • Also, remember that some lawyers will give you the worst case scenario and that might scare you to death. The first one I talked to told me my XH would get alimony (he was retired) and half my pension. That did not happen. Go in knowing what you want: a divorce, fair child support, spousal support until you are able to get a full time job, help with childcare if you work, health insurance, etc. Find the lawyer that will get that for you. If your husband used marital assets in his affairs, perhaps recouping that money will actually pay for the divorce. Think outside the box.

        Also, remember that filing starts the clock running. It gets you child support and spousal support pending the divorce. All of a sudden, you have both your part-time salary and support. That is a game-changer.

        • True, I only know mine was on the mark, and excellent.

          I honestly don’t think I could afford him today.

          Now days of course one can research online, we didn’t have that. I knew I just wanted enough to pay first and last months rent on a place and to buy a late model used car. I got that plus a small paid off property.

          A lot of it is dependant on of course a good lawyer, but also what the situation is. In my case he had run up a lot of bills spending on schmoops, which proved at least three years of deceit, and he had towards the end of our marriage talked me into buying property that I agreed to believeing we were in a solid marriage. With that proof, I got out of it with some stolen funds returned and a small mortgage free property. he got all the rest of the property, but he also had to pay off all the debt.

          He was desperately trying to keep not only his very long term job, but his latest promotion. So he didn’t need a nasty divorce to hit the news. He kept his job, but lost his promotion and cushy office. By then I was out of the mess, and he had to eat it all with the whore. Hope he enjoyed it.

          I know that every time he looked at the whore for the rest of his life he knew what he had paid for her (his dream job). Hope the little dumpling was worth it. Lol.

      • Oh there were a lot of marital assets spent on Schmoopie. The more I comb through the bank records the more I scratch my head. Definitely documenting everything.

        • Hang in there and there are many ways to recoup some stolen funds, even in a no fault/50-50 state. 50-50 does not usually mean literally 50-50.

        • You might want to run a credit check on both of you, that might reveal alternate bank accounts.

          I actually thought of that when I was going though it, but honestly I just wanted some money and a place to live. Even if he had a hidden account; at the rate he was spending on the whore he couldn’t have stashed much. I suspect had she not been his direct report, he wouldn’t have spent as much on her; but as George Costanza said “she had hand”. It was to keep her mouth shut.

          I have wondered if the day he filed bankruptcy after our D, that he thought of me. I have to admit I was surprised. I really thought he would handle his finances better than that. But, it seems per my son and daughter in law, he went directly to marrying her, then cheating again, then a few years later massive gambling, then he obsessed about getting a huge RV. (I mean rich guy type RV). He finally got it, then he died a year later. Honestly I can’t believe they even gave him a loan. What is wrong with these folks.

    • AP spent lots of money on my wife (his schmoopie), which his wife eventually recouped during the divorce. When confronted, AP didn’t deny that he’d spent money on the affair, but argued (formally, in legal filings) that these expenditures were actually in *aid* of his marriage: namely, that they allowed him to discover that he hated it and wanted a divorce. He lost the legal argument, but it was some next-level unrepentant adultery.

      Strangely, this is one of the thing that sticks in my craw the most about him. Not that he slept with my wife and destroyed my marriage. Not that he betrayed his wife and screwed up his kids. It’s that – even when he was caught dead to rights – he still couldn’t understand that his behavior warranted this very, very modest penalty and shut up and take his lumps. We’re talking about 4 to 5 figures here – chump change compared to his net worth – but he still had to twist the knife on his way out.

      • I know the feeling IG. I can’t believe the depths these folks can sink too. It’s clear Ex’s boss was monitoring divorce proceedings because the day after our divorce was final, Ex and his ho-worker were called into the boss’s office and fired, one right after the other. Ex claimed that the handbook didn’t cover fucking your subordinate as being off limit behavior and even filed for not one but two reviews by the Dept of Labor when he was denied unemployment benefits for being fired for cause. But the fun didn’t end there. He made one child support payment, stopped paying and then filed in court to have his obligation terminated due to no longer having an income. This after he had taken all the cash assets from our marital estate (I took the house and mortgage) and had received a $200k inheritance earlier that year. The judge berated him and refused to modify his obligation but I still ended up paying $7k in legal fees.

      • IG, this is what gets me too! I’m 2.5 years from DDay, STILL not quite divorced, and FW STILL acts like he has some sort of high ground.

        Finally we were about 2 weeks from a court date and I told my lawyer to tell FW’s that we were calling Schmoopie’s husband as a witness. ONE DAY before the court date, I finally got a signed agreement out of FW, but he had to throw in a bunch of last minute little changes that were not in the document we both reviewed. Then, few days later, I get a threatening email from his lawyer accusing me of harassing him and trying to destroy his career (he’s military). Dude! You did wrong and lost – go away! And this is with me getting waaay less in the end than I asked for.

        My reply was basically, actually I don’t want anything to do with his career, and won’t have anything to do with him if he’ll just shut up and sit down already. Not in those words but… the entitlement is mind-boggling. I guess that’s the sort of person you have to be to bail on your spouse and kids for some random ass.

        • “FW STILL acts like he has some sort of high ground.”

          “Dude! You did wrong and lost – go away!”

          “the entitlement is mind-boggling. I guess that’s the sort of person you have to be to bail on your spouse and kids for some random ass.”

          Exactly how I feel about my FW too. Even after the divorce decree, that left her totally off the hook regarding children-related expenses and legal bills (at my request), though she ruined our finances during her affair, she still uses every single exchange between us regarding the children as an opportunity to harass me, whining about the situation she caused herself but is somehow all my fault, accusing me of being selfish or simply annoying me in one way or another. Are these cheaters not one bit self-aware? No sting in the conscience, no shame, nothing??? Like: “I did so many bad things to my family, maybe I should just pull back and leave this poor dude alone to take care of our kids”. I just can’t fathom this level of entitlement and delusion. It is perplexing how my FW always looks sincerely aggravated. They really enjoy twisting the knife, these freaks.

    • “…marital funds spent on Schmoopies can be asked back for in divorce.”

      I wonder if it would be possible to lobby for a law that shmoops and sex workers themselves would have to pay back marital assets spent on affairs or “companionship” or rub and tug sessions, etc.? Also whether shmoops and sex workers could be subject to the same “should have known (goods were stolen)” rule as any other receiver of stolen property if they even suspected a FW was married.

      I think about this because nothing from nothing is nothing when nothing is left after a FW rampage, which is the situation for today’s letter writer and countless other chumps. Not that any prospective rule like this should depend on chumps’ financial standing but just on principle, but I can imagine the state taking an interest because of the number of chumps with dependent children who end up on state assistance following their cheaters’ spendy fuckfests. Make the shmoops pay the state back if they can’t come up with the money before the state has to step in.

      Because these amounts are finite– what was spent on affairs/sessions before the ink was dry on a divorce– I imagine these suits as possibly more straight forward than going after child support and alimony. Furthermore, a suit like this would arguably not have to be tried in family court but in regular civil court.

      I think the above would be less antiquated and iffy than fading “alienation of affection” suits or criminalization of sex workers.

      Anyway, if I saw a petition for a law like this in circulation, I’d sign it. From what I understand, shmoopies and FWs can already be technically required to pay taxes on the value of non-spouse gifts over a certain value given or received in some states which kind of/sort of points to precedent. Why not take it further?

      • “Also whether shmoops and sex workers could be subject to the same “should have known (goods were stolen)” rule as any other receiver of stolen property if they even suspected a FW was married.”

        This makes sense to me. If one is proven to buy stolen goods, they have to return it, whether they knew or not.

        At the very least the laws should be easier for victims to recoup stolen marital funds, and the fw should have to pay for any legal fees incurred to collet it.

        I would encourage any young married folks to both know all the money coming in and set up a weekly or bi weekly session to go over all expenses and account for funds spent. I should have done this, but I trusted my fw; and he for several years bought gifts and gave money to his whore.

        I got some of it back, but it would have been better to know earlier. I only had one child, had I known who he really was; I could have gotten out way earlier.

        There is nothing wrong with a small amount of personal funds for each to not have to account for; but it should not be enough to support a double life, while the primary partner scrimps and saves to live. I thought I was being a supportive wife, what I was doing was freeing up funds for his whoring around.

        Unfortunately his whore got treated way better than I did, though once they married she got treated even worse than I did.

        • How on earth does a man buying the services of a sex worker make the sex worker the equivalent of a person buying stolen goods?

          They aren’t stealing the marital assets any more than the owner of a liquor store who lets married alcoholics spend all the joint funds on booze & cigarettes, or the owner of a car lot when he blows the bank on a new sports car. It’s would be ludicrous to charge them with a crime, and it’s just as ludicrous to charge a sex worker with a crime when all they are doing is trying to make a living. It’s not the job of sex workers or anyone else to police whether or not their customers are cheaters! Like literally WTF is WRONG with you people?!

          If sex workers didn’t exist, your shitty exes would have found someone else to sleep with, and if they couldn’t find a willing partner, they’d groom themselves one. The responsibility for cheating on you belong led to them and them alone. A man who loves you will not cheat even if faced with all the schmoopies & sex workers that exist- period.

      • Though your idea has merit, it diverts the blame. The one ultimately responsible is the cheating spouse. When you blame and hold responsible the affair partner or sex worker, you are, in a sense, giving an excuse to the cheater, as in (s)he would have been a good spouse if it wasn’t for that other person. In a sense, this can be likened to the argument, ‘if she hadn’t been wearing that short skirt, she wouldn’t have gotten raped.’ I look at it this way, it wouldn’t have mattered how many skanks were around the fuckwit; if it wasn’t that one, it would have been a different one. I put all of the blame on the fuckwit, and so would a court of law.

        • No it doesn’t divert the blame. It holds both people responsible for the theft against the person who had no choice. Your rape analogy makes no sense. Unless you mean the betrayed is like the rape victim in that it didn’t matter if his/her skirt/pants were too long or too short, or they had gained 20 pounds the theft and abuse is solely the responsibility of the perps who knowingly committed the crime against the victim.

          It doesn’t matter who the get away driver is in a bank robbery if it had not been this one it would have been that one, certainly won’t stand up in court; the co conspirator in a crime is still responsible for his/her part in the crime. Blaming the driver for his part in fraud and theft is not letting the bank robber off the hook.

          fraud is a crime and funds and compensation for stolen time and items can be recouped even in a divorce. To me that is the point that is being made. Just because there are not at this time stronger laws protecting an unwitting betrayal victims, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be.

          • Susie Lee I agree. The FW and PA (oops AP!) work as a team against you planning deception, betrayal, lying, stealing (both time from their family and in extracting marital funds). Also is the endangerment and risk to health and wellbeing from the FWs promiscuous sexual behaviors, It is rare that AP knows nothing of what FW is doing or that he or she is married. They should pay for their crimes. The reasons they don’t is entrenched in a patriarchal and religious judiciary system. We do need better protection in law for abused spouses.

            • “The reasons they don’t is entrenched in a patriarchal and religious judiciary system. We do need better protection in law for abused spouses.”

              Yep. She sat her nasty ass on my couch and let me server her a “hot beverage”, she lied to her employers as his direct report. She took a job as his direct report without disclosing she was fucking fw. She took a raise that fw petitioned for her from the city counsel, without disclosing her relationship with fw. So much more. They were partners in the theft of time, and money. They plotted together to determine my demise. She knew she was fucking him all the while he was lying to me conning me into signing for loans that would benefit them.

              She willingly hid in the gutter and back alleys for several years and took copious amounts of money and good from him (Credit cards proved this).

              Yes I trusted him with finances, (wore a short skirt) so I guess it is all my fault for trusting my husband. Shame on me. I had that coming to me.

              Innocent adultery partners are rare, in fact so rare they should be referred to as unicorns in this space.

              • I guess my comment was taken not in the way it was intended. You are correct, the AP is very much culpable. My ex-fuckwit had his skank on the side for 15 years. I can only assume he also spent thousands on her that were taken from marital assets. She came into my house and had sex with the fuckwit in my bed while my children were in the other room. She was definitely culpable in the demise of my marriage and the destruction of my family unit. I was just trying to say that though the AP is as culpable, it probably won’t hold up in a court of law (or at least I don’t think it would.) In some states it’s possible to actually sue the AP for the destruction of a marriage. In fact, that is the law in my state, and it’s quite possible I could have sued for the loss of marital assets from the skank. I was trying to make the point that the one ultimately responsible for the demise of my marriage was the fuckwit. Had it not been for that particular, it would have been a different one. I’m sorry if you were offended. It was not my intent.

              • “ She took a job as his direct report without disclosing she was fucking fw. She took a raise that fw petitioned for her from the city counsel, without disclosing her relationship with fw”

                By the way, the reason places don’t want bosses fucking direct reports is because the balance of power is so heavily tilted in favor of the person with more power. As that person, it was also his responsibility to disclose the relationship, not hers. She was a victim, too.

                “She sat her nasty ass on my couch and let me server her a “hot beverage””
                She was in your house because your FW wanted her there.

        • Also, if the only reason people cheated was “because SWs and available AP exist”, then it wouldn’t be just men doing all this abusing & cheating, women would be doing it just as much.

          Cheating is a choice.

      • “ I wonder if it would be possible to lobby for a law that shmoops and sex workers themselves would have to pay back marital assets spent on affairs or “companionship” or rub and tug sessions, etc.? Also whether shmoops and sex workers could be subject to the same “should have known (goods were stolen)” rule as any other receiver of stolen property if they even suspected a FW was married.”

        The most disgusting part about this is that for the vast majority of people (PEOPLE – not just women, because men & trans & non-binary people do sex work too) who do sex work for a living do it because they cannot find a job in the “straight” world that pays enough to support them, or find a “straight” job at all.

        Do you have any idea how many trans people of color, disabled people, nonneurotypical people, people with substance abuse disorders, people with mental illness- are able to work and thrive and be financially independent instead of broke & homeless on the streets?

        Do you have any idea how many BIPOC & LGBTQIA people support themselves with sex work because good old fashioned racism & homophobia kept them out of anything but menial or poverty level jobs?

        Do you have ANY f’ing clue how many women in abusive, controlling, toxic marriages (with & without children) are able to find FREEDOM from their abusers and a new life for themselves due to the financial independence achieved through sex work?

        But YOU think that people who are already marginalized, oppressed, and victims of bigotry & abuse should be “punished” by draconian fines because they aren’t policing the behavior of the GROWN ASS ADULT MEN who freely made the decision to break their own marriage vows?

        Why aren’t those GROWN ASS ADULT MEN responsible for policing their OWN behavior? Why do you think it’s ANYONE ELSE’S JOB BUT THEIR OWN? It’s not even the job of a partner to police a man’s behavior- if he’s doing shit you cannot tolerate, and he refuses to stop when you tell him, you LEAVE. You don’t get to pile your internalized shame & anger over letting them chump you over & over on anyone but the person who broke your trust.

        FFS, cheaters don’t cheat because AP & sex workers exist, they cheat because they are unmitigated assholes, and if no willing partners exist, cheaters will MAKE one by lying & manipulating & grooming them into their control.WTF is wrong with you that you can’t understand this?

      • Those funds likely went to the sex worker’s pimp. That industry is far darker then just being the AP.

        It’s more like “immigrant woman who by ended up in that situation but now owes her pimp a ton of money to give her back her vise” or “trafficked woman from a broken neighborhood” then conniving mistress.

  • Once you file for divorce, your attorney can file for child support AND alimony pende litum. Alimony pende litum is “pending litigation” meaning you can receive alimony while you go through the divorce process. You should also get documentation of his affairs and if you live in a fault state file for fault. You can also call divorce firms and ask if any of their attorneys do pro Bono work, some do and that could help you as well.

    • I noticed No Ducks writes, “I don’t want to depend on him financially in any way, I don’t want to give him that control over me or the divorce”

      This is wrong-headed thinking. No Ducks, you are correct that you don’t want your CheaterHusband/STBX handing you a fistful of greasy money every week. But you are ENTITLED to child support and probably spousal support through the court system. This money can be sent through the court system. As CL says, if you get temporary assistance (TANF, what we used to call “food stamps,” etc.), the state will take that money in what amounts to reimbursement. Once you are able to be more fully available for work, the child support will likely be adjusted. But these are HIS KIDS. He is morally and legally obligated to support them. And certainly, if he’s made staying married untenable (multiple affairs, spending marital assets), you are entitled to spousal support as well until you are able to work full time.

      So please adjust your thinking on this. The laws around support and custody are never truly fair or easy to navigate, but still the laws around support are designed to protect children from abject poverty.

      • LovedAJackass, this is perfect. I collected child and spousal support for 2 1/2 years. Still not quite divorced. There’s no way I could live and fight a legal battle for that long without it, and with him holding the lion’s share of marital funds.

        I don’t feel embarrassed or diminished by it at all. I feel proud that I finally stood up and demanded a fair share. He still thinks of it as his money, but he’s the only one. Under the law it became OUR money when he chose to get married and father children.

        OP, I also worked (work) and bore the vast majority of childcare responsibilities. Don’t sell yourself short. Take what’s rightfully yours and use it to set yourself free.

      • I agree. The FW has a legal and moral obligation to support his children, and the woman whose life he upended, their Mum. Ducks. I get that feeling; but if you get the legal support your children and you are entitled to from him, that won’t be him ‘giving’ you the money, that’s the State taking it from him for you. He’s not in control of that at all. Please continue to post – I’m worried about you and wish you very well, stay mighty, lovely Ducks x

      • Absolutely dead on, LovedAJackass!

        No Ducks, I absolutely get that you don’t want to be financially dependent on this man but at the end of the day, he helped make those children. This means that he has a responsibility toward them. The money you get from him isn’t for you but for the children, if that makes sense.

        Additionally, if the divorce decree orders that his wages are garnished so that the payments are made to you directly, then he has no control over whether or not to withhold payment.

      • Understood. I’ve just accepted that this person is capable of endless manipulation and didn’t want to put myself in a position where if he didn’t provide financially I’d be helpless… hope that makes sense. I need to have back up funds if he decides to take the even lower road…

  • #Sometimes — Asking for help from all the sources is imperative!!

    1. IF you Live in the US:
    – I totally agree with the CL there should be a State Bar and a Lawyer that will work for Free (Pro Bono)
    – If your Child is Special Needs (I Have One!!) — GET A Medical Diagnosis stating this!!
    – Take the Medical Diagnosis to your STATE Human and Health Services (There should be One Nearby)
    – IF You have Transportation: Apply for SNAP (Food Benefits) or WIC Online or at the HHS building

    No Ducks, when I got Divorced — I had to ASK for HELP from the (Michigan HHS) to help me feed my children!! Both Programs should be able to be applied for.

    Don’t worry about what your (Un)Husband is making APPLY for Child Support Immediately so you can Separate your Finances and KNOW How much Income will be coming in.

    It Is The Dad’s Responsibility to Pay for His Children’s Support. Don’t get Caught Up on HOW (HE) is going to take care of it!!

    SO SORRY NEW MOMMA!! Will be Praying you get LOTS of Good Advice!!

  • These are the services available where I live….maybe reading through the list will spark some ideas for your area. There are also some numbers of national services sprinkled in there.

    Start calling local social service agencies where you live. Don’t ask = don’t get. You don’t have to know how it’s going to happen before picking up the phone and making calls.

    Also, as Chump Lady says, DOCUMENT.

    I am so sorry. Your husband is a colossal jerk and I am glad you found us. This is the most heartbreaking letter I have read here in ages.

    Rarity, are you around? Rarity is an inspiring Chump Nation rock star with experience making it through something similar.

    https://centerfordomesticpeace.org/ccr/

    • Very sorry for your situation. This is heartbreaking. I am so thankful though that this blog is available to all chumps including you. Take chump lady’s advice and that of some of the CN members. This advice is a godsend. Get STD tested and please stop having sex with your husband if you have not already stopped. He has shown you who he is BELIEVE him! Best of luck to you.

      • “He has shown you who he is BELIEVE him! Best of luck to you”

        Sometimes I’m still in disbelief… its either this is who I married all along and he hid it well or he’s morphed into a stranger and alien. Either way this is all solid advice. Thank you all so much!

    • This story been on my mind all morning. Time to tell the tale of my beloved dental hygienist.

      She moved here to the US from Iran with her husband. She did not speak English. She did not drive. She had very small children (and may have been pregnant too.) She found out her husband was cheating. With all those obstacles and seeming disadvantages, she was able to get away from him and become a dental hygienist. That’s exactly what she said when I told her what happened, “Get away from him!”

      I have gotten a lot inspiration by reminding myself of her story when get gripped by fear and feel trapped.

      This is a step by step process, one moment, one day, one step at a time. With lots of help. But she reminded me with her story that it is very possible and I am not trapped.

      My feelings aren’t facts. They aren’t a person with a gun to my head. I can, and must, take positive action no matter how I feel. I can feel afraid and hopeless and trapped and pick up the phone and start looking for people and services and resources. I get spells of paralysis from fear and the first thing I do is call someone I trust to break me free. I can take a moment and list things I need to do, good ideas, positive actions I can take. My thinking and my fear can be my biggest enemies.

      I have not recovered by myself, or overnight, by a long shot. The cavalry doesn’t come unless you call.
      So reaching out and asking for help, and not giving up no matter what, has been essential for me.

      I am stunned and disgusted by the man claiming to be the husband of our writer today. He belongs to the team all cheaters play for. I am now a free agent who signed with Team Chump Lady with a lifetime contract.

      • “The cavalry doesn’t come unless you call.”

        Amen to that!!! Don’t suffer in silence. It’s easy to feel completely alone and isolated when you discover that you’re married to a cheater/liar/fraud. And it’s easy to feel embarrassed. But reach out! VH is right. Call in the cavalry. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know I continue to be grateful for my posse.

      • Your dental hygienist is bad ass. I’m always amazed at the strength of us women even in messed up situations like these. I’m still a bit afraid but this is encouraging. Thank you.

  • One tactic that has been brought up on this site before is the “pay it forward” strategy. If you are grocery shopping for the family, buy a gift card for yourself that you can save to use later. Set aside little bits of cash when you are able. These little tactics add up. Stash extra cash in your shoe and then stash your shoe somewhere–try to get to $500 ($1,000 is even better) so that if you need to leave with your kids, in a hurry, you have some cash.

    Another tactic I highly recommend is paying attention to the traveling, anyone-is-welcome food pantries in your area. Feeding America is one example. In addition, our school district distributed high-quality food and produce every single Monday over the summer using simple drive-through stations–no name required. As a single mom I have benefitted from these food programs and there is no shame in using them. Even if you DON’T use them for the time being, getting in the habit of checking for them will help you seek resources when you are single.

    You may never feel fully prepared to leave. The question is: what is a good amount of resources/preparation in order to be ready? Others on this page can hopefully weigh in on a threshold. I will say: I thought I was going to languish after my divorce and I’m now rocking my life. My ex is paying child support, I am working full-time, and I’m paying my bills and my kids are happy and my walls sing! You may surprise yourself with your mightiness. You can do this!

    • Regarding amount of resources, it really depends on where you are living or will be living and the type of resources in question. Money and gift cards, sure, but also stocking up on clothes for yourself and the children while you can. In my case, living in my current location is a tremendous resource for myself and my son. We both have friends and contacts in our neighborhood and at his school which are and will be so important for us. They put me in contact with attorneys and financial advisors. They have offered to let my son play at their houses while I get advice/see a counselor/take a break. I can’t put money on the value of support like I have here in many little ways. My son’s godparents, a married couple, live not too far away and are incredibly supportive. The godfather is a sane, stable masculine figure for my son. These people are irreplaceable so to move and lose them all would be an immeasurable loss. It’s a big reason why I’m hanging on by a thread waiting for klootzak to make his move.

      However, if I believed we were in imminent danger, I’d be gone. I have been offered to stay with friends until things get sorted out. I am very lucky that way. But I should say that I did not ask anyone for help. I stopped covering up for klootzak and when friends saw the situation and heard more, they offered help.

      Knowing the answer to “how much” depends on where you live and what the needs are. OP needs help sorting out child care so she can get a better job fast. I know how it is to have no family support. I hope OP finds a lot of help to get out of her situation.

    • I’ve been doing cash back with store purchases and saving them. I’ll add the gift cards. Great idea. Thank you

  • In my area there is a local Facebook Moms group where this topic comes up semi-regularly. The moms collectively are experts at connecting women to all of the local resources available, and you can bet we are all dedicated to helping another mother in distress. There is also a local single parent group, and a local divorce group.

    I know of women who have met other single parent roommates through these groups and now raise their children together.

    Some groups are private and you have to be invited, but if you start by searching FB groups for “moms” + “your city” you will likely find something to get started.

    Many of us stayed too long for similar reasons. Use your momentum to get away quickly and safely ❤️

  • Let me first say how sorry I am that you’re in such a horrible situation.
    As everyone here will tell you, it IS possible to get out, save yourself and your kids and build a better life. Not easy or fast. You’re playing a long game.

    Re-read what Velvet Hammer said:
    Don’t ask = don’t get!!!!
    Start asking (like you did here).

    My further suggestions…
    1. Sounds like you’re still together so DO NOT have sex with him under any circumstances. It undermines your credibility to a lawyer and the court. And get tested for all sexually transmitted diseases and document.
    2. Look for a local chapter of Shared Housing and a local woman’s center. Ask what they can do for you! Different than asking for just one service. You have no clue what they can do to help you and might be surprised. Many offer classes, job placement, meditation with childcare, emotional support groups, etc. FYI shared housing matches people who need help paying the rent with people who need housing. Very often that includes other single moms or an older person who would enjoy kids in their home again.
    3. Don’t be embarrassed to email or call every high-powered lawyer you can find on the Best Lawyers list. Lots of them hate cheaters and some may take your case pro bono. All you need is one to say “yes”.
    4. Keep copies of every statement, receipt and document you can find and store them outside of your home. A friend or relative. Perhaps not your immediate family as they sound like they won’t be on your side. That’s tough. I lived through zero emotional support and being told the cheating was my fault. But I got tough and found the knowledge and support I needed here.
    5. Read old posts AND the comments. You will be surprised by the nuggets of wisdom you will find.

    • “Sounds like you’re still together so DO NOT have sex with him under any circumstances. It undermines your credibility to a lawyer and the court. And get tested for all sexually transmitted diseases and document.”

      I came here to say this, among other things, for so many reasons. First, having sex keeps you bonded emotionally. Second, STDs. No more needs be said here. Third, you’ve got 2 kids under 3 and another on the way. A 4th would keep you tied so much longer. So move your bedroom. And remember, that STDs put your unborn baby at risk, too. No more. You had sex with him after knowing about multiple affairs, so this is a weak spot in your armor.

  • I waited until my sons were adults to leave. I regret that decision. I was scared to leave without the security nets of Tri-Care and a regular income. Now I wish I had trusted myself enough to leave.

    I saved money for years to leave him. It took me three years to save enough money for the lawyer’s retainer. Even then I left before I was ready as his abusive behavior escalated. It hasn’t been easy. But even a financial struggle is infinitely better than living with the threat of becoming another domestic violence statistic. It took him pulling a gun out as we argued to force me out the door.

    Be ready to leave immediately if he threatens you or the kids. Have a bag packed with the documents you need for the divorce. Keep that where he can’t find it. Leave him copies of the originals. Keep the car gassed up. If you leave take both sets of the keys to that car.

    Make a plan. Save every penny. Do not tell him what you are doing. Don’t tell anyone but your lawyer, your therapist and Chump Nation.

    Good Luck to you. You can change your life by leaving this evil fuck.

    • 33 years is offering sensible, practical advice.

      In addition to prioritizing your health care (and having a healthy delivery), put together that emergency bag/plan. Put together your support team. Do not tell him what you are doing.

      Tell your ob/gyn what is happening and see whether you are eligible for additional services before and after the birth, including therapy. Use the pre/post natal visits to cover contact with your local domestic abuse agency. See if your daughter’s developmental needs make your family eligible for in home therapeutic services (especially during covid).

      You’ll need your own smart phone to keep copies of important documents (especially his paystubs, bank balances, insurance policies, etc.) and to communicate with professionals. Do you have your own bank account?

      You sound strong. You need time to recover from childbirth – use that time to plan.

  • It’s good that you don’t want to be financially dependent on your EX when you leave because lots of people are bad at paying alimony or child support, so moving toward your independence with this mindset is smart. But, the divorce itself should allocate you a substantial portion of the assets (the quantity depends on state law and your circumstances).

    If you and your EX had to divide everything right now, how much would you get? Would you be able to rent an apartment or share a house with another divorced woman? Make your plans based on what you’ll have to work with once you control half the assets not on the portion you control now.

    Be prepared to run up some debt. The less debt, the better, but I think a lot of us found that once we were free of our EX and his/her bad spending habits, it was easier to manage on a budget. I paid my debt off (loan taken on a credit card to pay my lawyer) in a year. It took another 3 years before I was able to stop living paycheck to paycheck, but I had confidence my paycheck would cover my monthly expenses, and prior to my divorce we were going further into debt each month due to my EX’s selfish spending and disinterest in working very much.

    You say your family won’t give you any emotional support, and it is good you recognize their limitations, but might they still give you money or help you with a loan for the lawyer or provide housing because they love the grandchildren? Accept the benefits of your family even as you protect yourself from their limits. Asking might be hard, but you goal is to think long term and ignore the immediate pain of things like embarrassment or frustration.

    Talk to a couple lawyers anyway. Visit ones that offer a free consultation or a $100 fee for an initial consultation. Do your research first and find out what kinds of property settlements, custody arrangements, child support, and alimony are standard in your state. Build a list of what you’d like your divorce agreement to look like based on these norms and any extenuating circumstances you have. With the list in hand, ask the lawyers how much you need to have at the ready to initiate the divorce. Make it clear that you are a practical person and won’t be running up any billable hours talking about your feelings or waffling about who keeps the house.

    Look around at the people you know–even only in a distant way. I got some of my best advice about local lawyers and the timelines in my county court house by cold-calling a woman whom I’d heard had weathered a difficult divorce. I put it on the line–I told her I needed a divorce and didn’t know where to start, but I knew she was smart and capable and had navigated a tricky one. She was amazingly gracious and helpful. I had never had a one-on-one conversation with her before, but we share the same profession and knew of each other.

    Spend the time until your newborn is three months old learning about resources in your area, including other women who are doing what you hope to be doing soon–living independently and without a cheating husband.

    Good luck and have courage. It will be desperately hard at times, but so is the situation you are living in now.

    • See, I’m on the fence about trusting family members – depending on the specific circumstances.

      If No Ducks already knows that she can’t rely on or trust family members I feel like maybe she shouldn’t go that route. I only say that because, as much as I love and appreciate my parents, telling them what’s been going on has backfired on me. I kept my business to myself for a really long time before I opened up to my mother this past September and there were a lot of reasons for that. The main one was that my parents have health issues and I really didn’t want to put any stress on them over my situation. But another reason, that I didn’t mention when I initially wrote to CL, is because my mother has a big mouth. EVERYONE knows my situation now because she’s blabbed it to everyone. The whole family. Family friends. Neighbors. And I’m LIVID about this. I knew better and I talked to her anyway because I was going crazy dealing with so much, for so long, ALONE. Now everyone knows my business and I’m in a similar situation in which I can’t just pick up and leave immediately (rent prices here have gotten outrageous and I can’t even get approved for a 2 bedroom right now because my income isn’t 2 times the rent amount- so I’m looking for a full time job that pays more, as well as part time jobs). So STBX and I are both working on moving toward a divorce and separating everything but I’m still months out from being able to actually leave. And now everyone knows what’s happening and now my privacy has been destroyed.
      I regret telling the people that I (finally) told a few months ago. Even a couple of coworkers that I’m close with and confided in blabbed my business. I literally have no one but CL/CN to talk to without my personal business getting plastered out there for the world to know. So, long story longer, be absolutely sure that you can trust those you tell your story to. My own mother told every Tom, Dick, and Harry what’s going on in MY life and it’s cause a serious riff between us. I went from feeling relieved because I didn’t have to hold it all in to barely speaking to my parents at all (and there’s a whole story I could tell you about how disrespectful they were to STBX on Christmas Eve – in OUR home- with no regard to what I’d have to deal with when they took their happy asses back home).

      My advice – if you know you can’t count on that person, family or not, don’t tell them shit. That’s my main regret right now. Trusting my own mother.
      I’m sick over it and so angry I can’t see straight.

      • Sorry to hear this
        I hope you’re on our community pages (I know I just joined the Facebook one).

        Please join if you haven’t done so yet. We’ll be your tribe.

      • Sorry to hear this
        I hope you’re on our community pages (I know I just joined the Facebook one).

        Please join if you haven’t done so yet. We’ll be your tribe.

      • Telling family would be opening a Pandoras box of blaming, unsolicited advice, and pushes to stay in the marriage “for the kids”. Last things I need right now…. oh and it would spread like wild fire…I don’t need the whole world hearing of this 🙄

  • No Ducks,
    This is hard and it sucks. Being pregnant currently doesn’t help either. Please be sure you take care of yourself and you little ones. Also remember that he played a part in creating the babies so even though you may not want to, he is responsible for paying his share for their support. You did not mention any particulars but at least you are planning. The big part is getting documents together and organizing them. Find a lawyer who will take you at no cost or little costs or maybe on some type of payment plan. Being organized will help your lawyer and make you look good.
    You may be able to find some help with others in a similar situation. You have to try and get creative if you need to. I just hope you are not in any type of danger. You do need to get out for your sake and you children’s sake. I am older and my son is on his own so I am uncertain on the young kids part. You can do this. You have taken the first step. Now get wisdom from here and start the path one step at a time.

    • No ducks,
      I just want to say that you’re incredibly strong & brave. You may not think so, but you are. Many women with young children would stay & suffer (many have, I am one of them). Not you though. You’re getting out. By hook or by crook, you’re doing this! Sadly, I have no useful advice for how you can do that. If I could go back & tell my younger-self what to do differently: it would be to build a community around me. That would’ve meant not being ashamed or fearful to reach out to everyone I came across & invite them into my life. If there is anything useful I’ve learned is you often will find the biggest supporters in people you wouldn’t ever think of (sadly people you think will support you let you down). For example, many of my mom’s friends are big supporters & cheerleaders of my life. I’m no longer embarrassed to hang out with my mom & her friends lol. All the best, No ducks. Reach out for the helpers & gain your community & your tribe. You’ve already started here <3

      • Thank you so much navigator. I can already tell you CN has been a lifesaver after being made to feel like crap by the RIC. Nice to find people who get it.

  • Look for smaller non-profit agencies in your area, and various churches and church groups, which sometimes provide one-time assistance to non-members. Don’t hesitate to apply to food banks. Look for early childhood programs through your state, county and city.

    Get a credit card in your name only and a bank account in your name only. Although you will have to disclose these if asked in court, you will need these so cheater can’t lock you out from them. You might also need a safe deposit box for documnets and small valuables you don’t want cheater to steal. MAke sure your cellphone plan is in your name only, so cheater can’t suddenly block or disconnect you. Ditto for your emails. Get and use a secret password for your computer. MJy ex had access to everything, and was quick to lock and block both child and I from our own devices and accounts.

    You may find that there are programs for single moms, once you’re separated. In my city, there are various groups that provide help with clothing, disapers, food, home repair, haircuts, recreation, etc.

    Most communities are covered by United Way, which has directories of free and lowcost services. There’s also 211, which serves like 911 but connects you to community resources. To get to your local 211, you can call this number: (866) 485-0211.

    Some small community agencies will provide you, free, with a case worker or family support who will help you think through problems and find local programs and benefits.

    Employees are working remotely for many agencies, including county social service agencies. This is an advantage for you, since you often don’t have to go in and wait in line.

    Keep a pad, notebook or good notes online of the people and agencies you contact. Often, the person you need is in “info and referral.” It can be frustrating when one agency that supposedly offers help simply refers you to other agencies, but if you keep making calls and reaching out, you can find surprising resources.

    Look for support groups of women in similar circusmtances in your community, who can help with that essential emotional support, and also share information and resources. Ask the agencies you call, and check Meetup online.

    You mentioned you have to stay in-state to get help for your two-year-old’s speech and developmental delays. Why is that? Those services are usually available to kids who need them, even regardless of legal US status re citizenship, so I don’t know why you couldn’t move to another state. If there’s somewhere you want to go, call that state’s social services/department of health and a few agencies that provide the health services, and ask them if your child will be covered.

    Given the number of your children and your income, even with your husband’s, you may be eligible for Medicaid to cover medical needs for your children and/or you. Don’t delay, espeically since you’re expecting another baby.

    As the mother of a one and two year old, you must need rest, and that will only increase as your pregnancy progresses and after birth. Finding some help with child care will be very important, but you want to be sure the person is competent and safe. Can your family/extended family provide some child care, at your home or theirs? Some families are willing to take in a child for a short time; others are willing to do so for weeks, months, even years. Most adults will recognize the difficulty of taking care of three kids under three, especially if you explain that your husband is “unable” or unavailable. Some churches offer free or very low cost daycare, despite Covid.

    You said your family’s cultural expectations mean they’ll offer little emotional support and may even blame you for his cheating. If you haven’t already told them, have you considered seeking their help on the basis of being overwhlmed with two kids and the newest one, telling them that husband is too busy to help, without specifying what he’s busy with? Consider if they’ll be angry that you withheld the reason you need help, and if they’ll be angry about divorce, regardless of the cause. Perhaps you could ask them to take in you and the kids for the duration of your pregnancy and first few months afterwards, because your husband is unable, unavailable, and finds it tough to work from home with the kids there–use whatever reason has elements of the truth, if they would find his infidelity insufficient for your stay/their help.

    Is there help within that cultural group, formally or informally? Some ethnic/religious groups prefer to help themselves, rather than have members go to outside organizations.

    Are their neighbors who might be able to help with long-term or short-term needs? There may be some you can call if you need groceries/diapers/mergency supplies, or who will help with laundry, shopping/cooking/driving.

    Keep asking; you may discover support from some unexpected places and people.

    • You’re right in that the state services my 2 year old son receives are offered in every state, the only problem is that they take sooooo long to get started because there’s so much paperwork that has to be moved. It cam easily take 3-5 months for everything to start and even then it’s based on availability. If I was rich I’d find private therapists and services and not worry but since I’m depending on free state services you kinda take what you’re offered. I’m worried about moving because I don’t want him to regress while we wait. You have to be in state to start these processes so it’s not even like we can plan ahead and start him as soon as we move. He’s making progress and I don’t want him to lose that.

  • This makes me so sad and so angry. Being vulnerable as you are pregnant with two little ones, and no support from family. But just you writing this letter and making a plan and asking questions and knowing you have to leave and deserve more-you have the inner strength to keep the momentum up. Keep taking one little step forward every day. One day you will look back and wonder how you did it all and survived it and you will be so much better off. Keep a hidden journal of what happens every day- I know you don’t have time for this but stress for me made my memory mush. I wish I would have done this- evidence of affair, when and who I called, any time he spent making choices not in best interest of children – like a private detective would. Gift cards, cash – anything and everything you can squirrel away.
    Infidelity is abuse – and you are an abuse wife, and deserve to be helped as one who is leaving fists and boots.

    • Thank you so much. The fact that I even find strength to attend to my kids daily amazes me. I do have a journal. It hasn’t even been a year since Dday and when i flip through it I’m amazed at how far I’ve already come. Of course finding CL and CN was a game changer and definitely a turning point. Thank you!

  • In addition to all of the above, I challenge you to re-think some of your assumptions. Two stuck out at me as needlessly “fixed-mindset” (there’s a whole book about this). One is the need to stay in-state to access special education services for your child. I’m curious as to why you’ve come to this conclusion. The law that dictates that children have access to stuff like speech therapy is a federal law: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, so while it’s administered at the state level (in my area it’s the county that administers the preschool part, and then the school district takes over after age 3), those programs are available nationwide.

    The other assumption I saw was that you can’t stay with family for lack of emotional support. Yeah, that sucks, it would it be worse than the lack of support you have now? Presumably your parents wouldn’t be siphoning off your money plus emotionally abusing you? As CL says, sometimes you just gotta eat the shit sandwich. Sometimes the shit sandwich is smiling as your kindergartener gushes about daddy’s “new” girlfriend, or it’s accepting alimony and child support from a FW. Unfortunately, you’ve been dealt a shitty hand, and you get to decide what to do with it.

    • I can attempt to answer why the poster may want to stay in state for Early Intervention services. Even though the IDEA is a federal mandate, the way states (and even cities) implement is different. I live in the NYC area and the services are 100x better than that of neighboring states. Some states require legal status and a tiered fee. Also, it can take months to get services in place and at a young age losing 4-6 months of services can be devastating, not to mention the fact that EI providers vary greatly in quality and goodness of fit with your child. So whereas, it is NOT impossible, it is risky.

      But to Ducks I would share an observation as an EI Special Educator—when your walls sing, children reap the benefit of a language rich environment! Go be happy wherever you can and your child will benefit developmentally! This is not to lay blame at your doorstep, but depression effects a child’s environmental stimulation greatly and in your current situation it would be impossible not to be depressed. So if you need to leave states, do it. Your children will all benefit from you being in a better place. Hugs to you!

  • My divorce lawyer accepted payment by credit card. After the divorce was final, I joined a credit union and was able to get a loan at a much lower interest rate to pay off the card. It took 5 years to pay off that loan. Totally worth it.

    • Upon consultation with lawyer, I was advised to open credit card and was able to place retainer on card, when I deemed I was ready to file. This allowed me to save the cash I squirreled away for living expenses. He laid out divorce outcome expectations at that time too.

    • That’s a great idea. We already have no money…thanks to him 🙄 What’s another credit card…especially for a needed cause. I’m looking for lawyers and will be asking if they possibly accept payment plans. Thank you

  • Look at your food budget. Don’t but Organic. There is no oversight on how food gets a label. If you can, make meat a side dish. Eat beans. Seriously. They are a good source of protein and help regulate blood sugar. Make soup. The juices that come from cooking vegetables is loaded with nutrition. There is a form of “sharing and caring” somewhere close by you. Shop there if you can. I was delivering some dishes I no longer use and saw a Christmas tree that costs 50/60 bucks sell for two dollars. They have toys and clothing to sell. There are a thousand little ways to squirrel a little money away. Go to your local churches. A friend of mine is very involved in her church’s outreach.

    Don’t give up. You just have to do a little something as often as posslble. Your children will be in Headstart at some point then you can make tracks. Don’t look behind, look forward.

    Stop having sex with that POS.

  • Great advice here, the main thing I’d like to add is to download the Google Voice app. You can use it to make free phone calls over the internet so he can’t see all the phone calls you’re making.

  • Yes- make a plan.
    “Thoughts become actions and actions become habits. “
    Document everything, keep a short daily log – the faintest ink is better than the best memory.
    If sparkle dick was active on-line try to print things out- browsing history, e-mails, etc- without a hard copy things disappear on-line. ( I have 38 prostitution websites printed and my sparkle dick’s reviews of them printed – otherwise many don’t exist anymore – the whores age and wander off to new careers of extortion and shoplifting)
    So long as you are safe, making a plan allows you to see light at the end of the tunnel, it might be a faint light but it will keep you sane. It allows you to know that you are moving forward even though it feels like you are static – like a telephone cord sometimes you roll backward in order to move forward.
    Yes, reach out and apply for every bit of aide you can – CL is right – that’s what we pay tax for. Have no shame – sparkle dick is the one who is shameful. Pay absolutely no attention to gossip or people who thrive on other people’s misery – I found there are many people who enjoy turbulent waters. Stay strong and steady and know that this difficult time will pass – walk tall and keep your grace – before you know it you’ll be dancing at your kids weddings – the years will fly by – Don’t let the betrayal drive you crazy – the pain can eat you up inside- you had no control over what your husband did – they cheat because they can,
    This year I bought 20 copies of CL’s book – I gave them all away – a vet, banker, grocery clerk, so many women I met – strangers- who were struggling – finding CL and chump nation is like finding water in the desert – with the bonus of some wonderful unexpected giggles – Chump Lady can make the outrageous humorous.
    Good luck – you have lots of ducks – you are not alone.

  • there is good advice in the comments. thanks to all for taking the time for considered, measured responses. it’s great to see.

    if i could add one thing it would be to see your GP on a regular basis. you’ll soon have birthed 3 kids in 4 years, and pregnancy is a big physical demand on your body/mind. talk to your GP. they are there for you–reach out. i cannot imagine going through separation/divorce without the support of my GP, a woman i’ve known for 30 years but didn’t really KNOW until i went through separation/divorce, you know?

    check your iron levels and monitor your blood pressure. your GP will be monitoring the baby but you need extra care and attention right now. you’re worth it!

    PS i’m thinking of you, no ducks.

    • such good thinking! From my own experience, in addition to the BP and iron levels, I would add Vitamin D and a good thyroid check up. Just my one pregnancy wrecked my thyroid, and it was AWFUL until I got it regulated.

  • I’m all for not letting him know your plans to leave until you’re ready. Buying food store gift cards or Amazon for diaper stuff and stashing cash is a great idea. If you’re worried about announcing that you’re leaving and are still saving a nest egg to survive on, Think about confiding in your OB/GYN if you feel comfortable of your situation. Doctors see a lot. You have a spouse who willingly impregnates you soon after you recover from childbirth. You don’t want more children with him so you need effective birth control until you’re able to leave. They might recommend to him no conjugal activity ‘for medical reasons’ to keep him away. Because telling a man no sex might be dangerous. My parents were disapproving at first but they gave me help and money. My dad would always show up with milk, bread and butter he ‘got in sale’. I had one work friend who would loan me $50 til payday. Then I’d pay it back. Then she’d loan it again and then I’d pay it back. That same $50 got me through heck for a couple years. We are still friends, too. Let your employer know you will definitely be returning to work after this baby is born. Just remember that everything will be ok. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. Hugs and love little sister.

    • ” You have a spouse who willingly impregnates you soon after you recover from childbirth. You don’t want more children with him so you need effective birth control until you’re able to leave. They might recommend to him no conjugal activity ‘for medical reasons’ to keep him away. Because telling a man no sex might be dangerous.”

      Putting this out here for emphasis. Well said, good advice.

      • Ducks:

        Also please remember NO means NO. If your FW forces you to have sex against your will it is called RAPE in this country. You certainly do not want more children with him. You have to get out sometime and if you keep thinking it will take X# of months or years because of X & Y, in that length of time there will be something else that is going to keep you from getting out then. “Leave a Cheater and Gain a Life”! Also some people go to shelters until they can get a place to live. I have heard that people have good ideas on proceeding in shelters. Best of luck.

  • I had to move in two days because my ex wife was trying to get me arrested for DV. Would get into my face screaming until her face turned red and physically hitting me. I had to lock myself in the bathroom on more then one occasion. A friend offered a single room for my kids and I. My son and I slept on the floor and my daughter slept on the bed for a year. Eventually they got a room to share. My father took my inheritance and paid for my divorce. I have rebuilt my life. You will never do anything if you say “I could never do…”. I reach out to friends for emotional and practical help also. My ex wife told me she thought I would never leave and divorce her as I was disabled and she made 3x what I got on SSDI. Be mighty.

  • NoDucks, I’m sorry you have to go through this. It sounds so scary- and it also sounds like you have made some brave, strong steps already!

    Check out Second Saturday: (there should be one this weekend you can go to!) https://www.secondsaturday.com/

    I attended one of these sessions and it was an excellent “I’m overwhelmed, where on earth do I start?” Session. I believe it was a $20 donation to attend. They had a financial planner, divorce lawyer, and social worker all speak, and then stay after for questions.

  • A friend was badgered to have a third child. He left when she was 5 mths pregnant. She had a heart attack at 30, while giving birth. He came, saw the baby and left to be with OW. She has zero family. Her 4 yr old didn’t speak, was delayed. Turned out to be from stress in the house. She honestly didn’t know where she would live, how she would feed kids or if she would have another heart attack.
    She asked, people helped. She lived with another single mom for 4 years. Got a job with the city. Didn’t get child support for 7 years, he worked for cash in construction, so she couldn’t “steal” his money.
    Now she is remarried, owns her home, has a great job and kids are becoming adults.
    It sucks but you can do this, not easily but mightily.

  • I live in an area where are there are robust family violence prevention programs through various tribal nations (I’m in Oklahoma), and they’ve paid for a kick-ass attorney, therapy vouchers for my daughter and myself, and had housing assistance if I’d needed it. There is a bit more to my case than “just cheating”, but the DV advocates heard relatively little before they started handing me paperwork to fill out, they’ve been through it and just know it when they see it.

    It’s worth a shot to look over the Domestic Violence national website and think about how much it might apply to you, or your kids, and see if you can’t get some help in those channels locally.

    My direct family lineage is white, but living near tribal nation headquarters qualified me. I know all of them too try to reach out, and can pay for services, for any of their tribal members no matter where they are across the US. If you (or your kids!) qualify for a CDIB card, now might be the time to get it and they may be able to help with it. Don’t feel bad, these DV advocates are wanting to find and help their families even if you haven’t been involved with the community thus far.

  • The extra stress of money is really difficult. I took on about $6,000 of debt through the first 3/4 of last year in order to get free. I was able to pay it off when our marital home sold. It’s not the worst thing in the world and I looked at it as an investment in my long term healing and well-being. I can highly recommend the YNAB financial management system for staying on track, managing debt, and making your money stretch. (no conflict of interest, just a long time satisfied customer)

  • I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine the stress you’re under. There’s a special place in hell for people who place pregnant women in these situations.

    I recently assisted a woman who was similarly concerned about cultural differences stopping her family from supporting her. It was a speed bump but not a full roadblock. She was able to get help from family, even tho she had to put up with their complete BS to get it. But that too was temporary. Without knowing your specifics…you might consider reaching out to family just to see what might be provided…even if they’re A-holes about it, they still might help you bridge the gap between being with him and being on your own. Maybe it’s the lesser of two evils at this point.

    Best of luck.

    • I should add that the woman I helped made it clear to her family that, without their help, she was going to have to take her child (their granddaughter) to live in a shelter and other temporary housing because she was not going to stay with her cheater ex anymore. She believed he posed at least an emotional risk to their daughter. It was all true, he was terrible and threatened suicide regularly while watching their daughter. She believed the thought of her daughter in a shelter forced their hands to help. Again, a shitty situation all around but it got her what she needed until she could develop a Plan B.

  • I’m so sorry to hear this. You do not deserve to be treated this way. I was married 40 years because I was too afraid to take the steps you are preparing to take, now, while your babies are young.

    Once, I did get out of the house with both kids in the backseat, late at night, and after driving around a long time I stopped at a pay phone and called the local domestic violence hotline. The person who answered the phone told me to go back home. My ex wasn’t physically violent. He hadn’t hit me, so I should just go back home.

    Thankfully, our culture and protective systems are way better educated in imbalance of power and the various forms of abuse. I stayed an entire lifetime in a horrible marriage, and the worst outcome is that my adult children – one is an abuser and one is married to an abuser – and neither of them will see it for what it is. This stuff chews up generations.

    Attorneys and judges now have a good grip on what this stuff looks like. Choose a good attorney and do whatever it takes to pay her. You absolutely need a person who knows how to fight for you because it is something you are not capable of doing for yourself, YET.

    What I think has not been mentioned in this thread is that you could very well get a phone call tomorrow from him where he states HE is leaving, HE is filing for divorce, HE chooses schmoopie, etc. You may find that you do not have time or power in this mess at all. I wanted to inject that into this conversation. You are thinking about how to leave him. He may very well upset the apple cart and turn everything upside down on you anyway. Fuckwits like to do that. Most likely he would get maximum jollies by doing it to you while you are in labor or post-partum and can’t lift yourself out of bed. Maximum hit of narc power to completely destroy you and wipe his feet on your crumpled body as he waltzes off into the sunset with your stuff, your money and his latest twu wuv.

    So, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s upcoming day of service…… “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

    The steps will open up to you one at a time as you move forward. Just take the first one. Please. I will be thinking of you.

    • So much wisdom in this post. You are right people that see this daily can clearly see who has the power and control. My FW spent years on and off devaluing me and working to create a preemptive smear campaign, that I am “crazy”. Setting up arguments to video making himself look victimized by his “crazy” wife. I’m sure I did appear crazy to any one that saw his videography. However it only takes on peak bending the curtain to see who held the strings to the puppet.

      These abusers are the gift that keep giving though generational pain. I’m sorry for what you are dealing with now.

  • There are services in every state for children with disabilities. Early Intervention is provided no matter where you live free of charge.

    • Yes, Early Intervention is provided everywhere, but it is also different everywhere. For example, my daughter had EI in North Carolina but no therapies were included–they were all paid out of our insurance. If we had been in Pennsylvania, all therapies would have been free. However, NC had something called “Developmental Daycare” which was super important so I could work. If we had been in PA–she would not have had that service, and I would have dad to pay for daycare out of pocket. I say this because it’s important to look into any state where you may want to move to learn how they implement the programs! There can also be waiting lists. Each state has Medicaid Waiver programs for kids with Special Needs, but each state implements them differently. We had a waiver for services when we left NC and then waited for over 15 years on the waiting list for those services in PA!!

      • For school aged children, public schools are bound by the ADA to provide needed services, like speech therapy.

        You can request an IEP meeting with your child’s school, and then request evaluation. If your child has a disability or delay, the school by law must provide services, or pay for your child to receive them at a different school.

        The system isn’t perfect but it exists in public schools nationwide under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • 1. While you are working from home, start going through bank and credit card statements to document that he has used marital assets for his affairs. If you can, make both hard copies and PDF of everything.
    2. Be sure to document the financial assets you brought to the marriage. What was “yours”? What did he use that was yours?
    3. I think it was our chump colleague AllOutofKibble who made excellent exhibits of these documents for her attorneys and saved all of the money it would take to have a paralegal in the lawyer’s office do it.
    4. Do the same for bank accounts, taxes, mortgage or rent payments, utilities, investments, retirement funds.
    5. I like the Google voice option suggested above, but consider buying a pre-paid cell phone and use that for any divorce-related calls. That also insures that if he cuts off your cell service, you have a phone you can use.
    6. Wipe your browser history before your STBX comes home. If you have an iPhone, close all tabs.
    7. Tell the people you trust to keep your secret. Your best friend, a sister, a cousin, your doctor. What worries me about your situation is that, first, you are making some assumptions that are keeping you stuck (you don’t want his financial “help” when you are entitled to child support) and second, that it will take 2 years to get the money for a divorce when you haven’t yet talked to an attorney. For example, I did the property transfer myself, once a lawyer drew up the documents. I walked it through the courthouse. The whole thing cost me $80, plus the court filing fee, plus parking. So you don’t know what you don’t know.
    8. You mention cultural influences in your letter; I’m not sure whether the “baby every year” is part of that cultural expectation or whether you wanted to have 3 so quickly or whether your CheaterHusband wants to keep you trapped and isolated. It may be a bit of all of the above. But if you WANT more kids, do what you need to do not to have them with this guy.
    9. Run a credit check. Make sure he’s not opening credit accounts in your name.
    10. As someone above stated, open a bank account in your name only. Get a debit card for the account. And open a credit card. Back in the old days, I had a Sears card; I loved it because I could buy appliances if something broke! You probably get an offer in the mail every day. But ask the banker when you open your account. I opened an account with a LOCAL bank and now have a long-standing relationship with them that came in handy when I wanted to refinance my house. Your banker is a potential ally and advisor (so long as you remember they are selling you things!). But they know how to get around the financial system.

    While you don’t see your family as “emotionally supportive,” they may offer a place you can land with little ones while you get on your feet. They are probably safer for you than a man who would cheat on his pregnant wife, over and over.

  • I don’t really have any practical advice to add to the excellent suggestions already made by CL and CN. However I just wanted to reiterate that child and spousal support are your children’s and your money, not your ex’s. One cannot morally and legally walk away from their family and you should not feel bad about taking what is yours. It took a divorce and an attorney for me to understand I should have gotten half of everything all along. Don’t underestimate that you deserve help. Even if you are not physically abused, financial abuse, cheating and neglecting you while pregnant with young children is abuse. Also talk about your situation with organizations set up to help women in your situation but also reach out to people around you who might be sympathetic. Parents at your kids’ school, your MD, your OBGYN, pediatrician, church, women’s group… Don’t keep quiet, don’t feel ashamed, you probably underestimate how willing people around you would be to help if they knew. It seems like a lot but do one thing a day, even if it is just picking up the phone and talking to one person.

    Good luck. ((Hugs))

  • Don’t tell him you are leaving. It can get dangerous when he knows it is over. Open your own bank account. Stash away gift cards for grocery stores and baby supplies. Even if you can’t stay with family see if they send you a small amount of money every month. My father did this and it allowed me to buy diapers and gas.
    Put aside important documents (birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, etc.). They should be in a place where you can grab them fast if you need to.

  • My list (some are redundant):
    1. Make copies of everything
    2. Open your own bank account, if there is any money left in a joint, take out half and put it in your personal one before he spends it all
    3.Get STI checked BEFORE you have that baby in case he gave you something that can be passed onto the baby during birth
    4. If you can, remove your name from utilities – when I left FW he did not pay any bills that were in my name and I was on the hook even though he was living in the marital home – he expected me to continue to pay for half his utilities.
    5. Find a lawyer who will let you make partial payments. Mine did and I paid him $50/month, then $100, then $200. Took me 8 years to pay him off and as long as I paid monthly he never said a word. He was my angel!
    6. I was surprised what I was eligible for in terms of services – SNAP, Medicaid, free membership at the YMCA through Medicaid – they also have free child care so I went to the Y and sat in the lobby while kids were in Child Watch just for a break. Sometimes I used it to take a shower all alone!
    7. Accept the possibility that you may lose the house, if you are helping to pay the mortgage I would stop and save that money. You will recover your credit – took me 7 years but now my score is 804 from 540.
    8. If you are worried about him getting a good lawyer to try to screw you interview as many lawyers as possible, this will eliminate them from being able to represent him. This will not be possible if you live in a large city but those small counties do not have many lawyers.
    9. Join Facebook group – usually called “where you live” Single Moms, they are great resources (in my local group some moms have gotten together and rented a home to share expenses, some go on vacation together, most have great advice and are amazing resources even if to only vent to).

    • My XW joined a niche “Single Moms” Facebook group and then proceeded to get AP’s XW banned from it. Which was ironic, since – because my XW had just poached her husband – AP’s XW was actually single while my XW was actually not.

    • Be careful with Facebook. My FW had his GF (OW) join the divorce groups I was in and stalk me, taking screenshots and sending them to him. I would make a fake account with a different email (specific for this). If you are worried about getting rejected from the groups for having a fake profile, message the administrators and tell them briefly about your situation. Most will understand. I didn’t post anything I considered problematic, but if you are looking for places to go, etc. you probably don’t want your husband to know.

  • First of all I’m sorry your in this position. Your husband is an ass and he did this to you on purpose, to control you and keep you stuck. Financial abuse is awful, it’s putting you in a powerless position. I was also financially abused, and that is one of the hardest things to overcome. First of all, some women’s shelters have help for financially abused women, contact your local shelter. For example, they may match money you save to a certain amount. Second, get your own bank account at a separate bank (do not access this account on your home WiFi it personal phone or computer, this FW love to track what we do— I know it sounds crazy and paranoid but better safe). Save as much as you can, sell things for money. Money = freedom, he knows this already. At the same time your doing all this consult an attorney, get your name on the list. A consult with a good attorney is worth the money, even if you don’t retain them. They may say to file now, or to get a better job or not depending on your situation.

    If you have family that can help, now is the time for favors. If you can’t afford an attorney the local women’s shelter has advocates that can point you in the right direction. All the proof you have of your husband using marital funds on AP, save it. Any proof of affairs, save it. Tell him nothing!

  • Another option that my parents just told me about. I their retirement community, there are several older women who volunteer as grandmothers. They do stuff like watch kids, take them out and so forth. Not long term but enough where you could go on interviews, see your attorney and so on. My parents say many of them have kids who they rarely see for whatever reason but they are always willing to help out. Not sure how you find them but some of these ladies post cards on bulletin boards and so forth and some thru our church. It is another alternative will prevent you from bringing kids and them possibly getting sick or whatever. I know when my son was young, I used to worry constantly about taking him where he could catch something.

  • No Ducks

    You never, ever have sex with this man again. There are modern STD’s that can lead to cancers, you have 3 children relying on you and you don’t want to risk your health for a cheater.

    You treat him like an roomate, he has betrayed you and the kids, I would give him nothing emotionally, Civil, polite and matter of fact communication. He will try to shame you, blame you and seduce you, don’t fall for his cons and emotional manipulation.

    You make your plans and get out according to what Chump Lady has said above

  • Get over the “I don’t want to be financially dependent on him” stuff. Look at it as he is just repaying you for the money he stole, for the lies that got you into this situation, for paying you for child care, for downgrading your career and income, and for the money he owes HIS kids for the next 18+ years. This guy f*cked you over royally, so get over your ego, your culture to keep his cheating and stealing quiet, and get back what you’re legally and morally entitled to. You can give him the finger (financially and otherwise) later. Time for some payback where it counts. His wallet and reputation. Get angry. With three little kids, not the time to make things harder on yourself. He is now the enemy. Tell him nothing, secure your valuables, and document (very secretly!). He played you, now you play him back.

  • Yesterday, Eilonwy asked me a question about when to be a mamma bear, and I shared with her a story about one of the most vulnerable times in my life when I was financially abandoned at 18. FW’s try to pick the times you are most vulnerable so that you will succumb to their control. It is possible to thwart them, but it will probably take all your strength and require resources beyond your imagination. The experience will ultimately make you stronger, IMHO.

    One of the things I learned was that even though there are monsters who walk among us, there are angels, too. If you do not seek out those who are willing to help you, and provide things for you, you would go through life not knowing they were there. When I absolutely did not know what to do, I asked for help. That action saved me. I found out there were many good people around me, and resources available to me.

    Chump Lady and Chump Nation let you know you are not alone, others have had similar experiences, FW’s are not original or all-powerful. They are nasty, small minded, self-centered pockets full of evil intent. You have a temporary, seemingly overwhelming problem. Use the resources available, get through this situation, and when you are on the other side, pay your experience forward.

    One day soon, maybe a Tuesday, you will realize you are in a better place. Just believe in yourself, and believe it is possible to get better. Oh, and buckle up. It is sure to be a bumpy ride!

    • Portia, I totally agree that asking for help usually turns into a blessing.
      I was so isolated and felt alone even with family within a 20 min range. I was so afraid to tell them anything and to this day most is still with a therapist.
      I knew I had to leave and felt that was my only window of opportunity I would have for months at the very least and I wasn’t going to make it months. I was at the women’s shelter and said I can’t do it alone. The counselor encouraged me to reach out. I sat in that parking lot and began making calls asking for help that night. Not one person asked for an explanation. The only question they asked was what time. Honestly, I have some blank spots in my memory that day. I rented a truck and left it at my brother to bring to the house but don’t know how I got back home from his house since he was working and didn’t know about it. It was all surreal. They worked, cleaned, and documented. I tried followed the shelters advice to have things wrapped up in two hours because that was the distance he was but ended taking a harrowing four hours mainly trying to get the kids rooms empty. 33 yrs accumulation of my life.

  • Seems most everything has been said. I was a single teenaged mom – my husband was a very abusive alcoholic. I had less than zero money. When my X propositioned my gay sister and sexually abused my 11 year old sister I had it. Anything would be better than that. I moved into a tiny apt with a girlfriend and shared my room with my baby. I applied for school and got grants, including for childcare. I worked at a woman’s health clinic where everyone was super supportive. I took 3 years to finalize the divorce but once I filed I got child support (garnished by the state and paid to me in my bank account) and that includes child care expenses my school grants didn’t cover. It took 6 years but I became an attorney — my child was 8 when I graduated. There were others in my classes with 1-4 kids – some with no support, like me. We worked the smartest and hardest— we had to.
    Get through this pregnancy, do what you can, once you recover you will be able to do more. We are here for you.

  • Dear No Ducks,

    since I am a male chump I can hardly know what it feels like to be in your shoes right now. My mom felt forced by circunstances (one then undiagnosed autistic son and then me, while being a SAHM) to stay with my verbally and emotionally abusive serial-cheating dad. She is very sad and angry all the time and has spent her whole life feeling financially and emotionally unsafe. I do not live in US, so I am short of practical advice regarding sources of support. I have little to add to what has already been suggested above, but would like to comment on a couple of points you made.

    B – our families sometimes suck, hard as it is for us to admit. Also, cultural expectations (sigh)… I know it is not the same, so please forgive me for even daring to draw a parallel here, but the assumption here where I live is that since my XW cheated on me, then I was probably not “man enough for her”, if you know what I mean. The very fact that I didn’t hurt no one over being betrayed is in some circles considered as a confirmation of this (moronic, I know). What I am trying to say is… fuck cultural expectations. You did nothing to drive your STBXH to cheat and should not internalize the blame some people will throw at your direction. Cultures are flawed and more often than not reflect the values of oppressors. Blaming the victim is always easier than dealing with a bully and functions as a defense mechanism for people in denial about their own problems. Don’t fall for that shit.
    In anycase, your family of origin could be a source of support when your child is born if you can tolerate their shortcomings (not always tolerable, I know). In my case, I found the most valuable support from a few close friends that knew me from before my almost 20 years marriage. It was a very welcome surprise that they were/are there for me through thick and thin after a long time of not being “pals” anymore due to adult life obligations and physical distance. If you can think of someone like this in your life, maybe you could reach out for them.

    G – since you have to live with your STBXH while you line up your ducks, hold your cards very close to your chest. Document everything (I know this is very tiring). If possible, move any physical evidence you may have gathered of his infidelity (financial infidelity specially) to a place he has no access to (your family’s home or that of a trusted friend). Beware of electronic devices logged in and use a new, secret email account to deal with everything infidelity/divorce-related. Be secretive about your game, just like he was about his infidelity. Please have no qualms about deceiving him, he started the game and rigged it in his favor. And he is a cheater. Don’t confront the fuckwit, they usually get off from this. I hope this POS is at least not currently abusing you. Oh, and don’t pull your punches when the time comes for delivering consequences. Go for all you’re entitled to in terms of custody, child and spousal support and division of assets (I didn’t and sometimes regret it). I hope you end up with a good lawyer, even if not an expensive one.

    One last thing I would like to say to you: be sure you’re eating enough and getting some rest and sleep. It can be challenging sometimes. Also, childcare can easily make us neglect our own most basic needs. This weakens our health over time. I cannot even imagine how exhausted you are right now, expecting child, taking care of small children, managing the house (I bet the fuckwit doesn’t help much), working your job and worrying about your family’s future, all after being repeatedly traumatized and empoverished by someone who should be your life partner. You probably have already done so, but let me say you could talk to your doctor about what you’re being through (everything), so that he can help you and your baby better.

    I wish you strength and better days ahead. Your children have a great mom.

  • Absolutely get sti panel ASAP! My FW gave me trichomonas during 2 pregnancies. It is likely why my water broke early with one child. I am thankful it wasn’t too early and baby was fine. I was totally asymptotic. Dr’s never said hey you have an sti… I ended up getting some mumbles and antibiotic.

  • Attorney here. I would ask a few attorneys if they would offer a consultation, either for free or for a small payment like $100 or $150. It would be great to get the lay of the land and some of your basic questions answered. They can let you know what the major traps are to avoid, where you are. It’s different, place to place.

  • Just a quick note, my 2 cents here, as I’m sure you’re already getting brilliant advice here, but PLEASE make sure you DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT every single penny he is spending on the affair partner!!! This will help you in the divorce. Hugs to you!

  • I think you need to reframe the idea of depending on him to being compensated by him. You’ve earned financial support, you deserve it and your kids need it.
    This guy is a disgusting creep who used you and your kids as a front to hide his depravity behind while stealing marital assets. He owes you. Make him pay. Look into legal aid and financial assistance in the interim. Don’t let pride force you to stay in a horrible situation. As CL says, there is no shame in getting the help you need and deserve.

    When I was a young single mother I shared an apartment with another single mom for several years. It worked quite well because we could watch each other’s kids as well as share expenses. There are lots of women in your kind of situation. Look at ads, post your own ad. Meet for coffee to guage compatibility first. I’d take you in myself if you lived near me. I’m not the only one who would. Maybe there’s even somebody on the private CL groups who lives in your area.

    I’m sorry he did this to you and your kids. I’d like to beat him to a pulp as well as all others of his ilk. Somebody who mistreats a pregnant or ill partner is one of the lowest forms of life. Please keep us updated on how you are doing.

  • I haven’t read all the comments here, so maybe someone else has already said this-

    If you are very poor, and there are almost no assets to fight over to begin with, you might consider getting a divorce without an attorney (this is what I did). Paying $5000 in legal fees to recover $3000 in squandered marital money makes no sense to me.

    At least when I divorced, 7 years ago, if you are receiving SNAP (which are food stamps) or TANF (which is financial support) you qualify for a FREE divorce. The child support for your ex husband will be calculated by the state based on his income. You will need a divorce to apply for welfare (so they don’t count your husband’s income as yours), and if you get welfare your divorce should be free.

    Will your husband contest the divorce? Are there any assets valuable enough to justify the expense of retaining an attorney?

    Definitely go to at least one consultation with a lawyer where you can get some free advice without paying for a retainer (a retainer usually starts at $3500 and goes up from there). If you go through a service for low income it should only cost $35 for an hour consultation fee. I did this several times before applying for a no contest divorce with my husband.

    Beware that housing services for domestic violence victims are temporary at best, and might qualify you as homeless, which could be considered a reason for awarding custody of your children to your husband, so be VERY careful. Have more permanent long term options (your very best is finding a roommate situation, preferably family or another single mom) ready.

    With this in mind DO reach out to all services, because every area is different and they have plenty of other services besides housing to offer. Also, if you are in danger, leave first to a domestic violence agency, then make plans because your life (and your kid’s lives) are worth everything.

    WIC is also an extremely important resource and you could get signed up for that this week, married or not. If you receive WIC or other services without telling your husband, keep the cash you would have spent on milk/cheese/cereal aside in a place he won’t find it (I stored mine in a book, I knew he would never find it there lol, and he didn’t!).

    I have lots more tips for getting free when you are so broke that you have no money to even buy toilet paper. Financial abuse is real.

    Good luck, I know you can do this, because I did! Lots of planning and information gathering!

    • “If you are very poor, and there are almost no assets to fight over to begin with, you might consider getting a divorce without an attorney (this is what I did). Paying $5000 in legal fees to recover $3000 in squandered marital money makes no sense to me.”

      Good point. Unfortunately there are other legal issues she will need help with, like custody and visitation. Even if the fw agrees to pay child support informally, how can she insure he pays?

      I like the option of getting another single mom as a roommate too. It worked for me when I got away from my first abusive cluster b creep.

      • A good lawyer will tell you upfront if you can manage things for yourself or what things you can and what you should have counsel for. I filed on my own but I had several consultations with a lawyer to make sure I was handling things appropriately. I think I paid $1000 total. Lawyer, filing fees and all. One tip the attorney gave me was to get the FW to agree to arbitration. We came up with a very reasonable custody agreement which he then refused to sign. But when we went to court I was able to give that agreement to the judge who then said, since you agreed during the arbitration to this I’m making it the court order and ordering you to reimburse her for the arbitration fee and filing fees, so his refusal to sign backfired on him. Also, many states will start collecting support by garnishing wages even before the divorce is filed if you just apply. I did that and was awarded support immediately. I got months support for the whole year of our separation. (My state requires a one year separation before they will grant a divorce.) You should look for what ever agency / department enforces child support in your area. Make an appointment. Explain your situation to them. They were so helpful to me. Here it was DCSES. Department of Child Support Enforcement Services. My GP, my son’s pediatrician (I also have a special needs child) and my church were also a huge help. I am also very independent and was sure I could not ask others for help but I fond out that swallowing a little pride and asking for help is a whole lot easier than chilling an a daily serving of shit sandwiches from a FW. You CAN do this.

  • I am so sorry you find yourself in this situation. As someone that became financially vulnerable after my husband recently died while I was 23 weeks pregnant (bye bye baby savings to pay for the funeral and hello credit card debt to pay for lawyers and then the birth), I understand how scary and overwhelming it can be to stare at your finances as you try to work out a way to viably move forward.

    The advice from CN is invaluable so please listen to it. Yes, it is very humbling to ask for help if you’re as independent as I am. But sometimes that temporary help is exactly what you need to keep you from drowning. My life looks completely different and scary and lonely. Yours is probably looking and feeling a bit the same right now. Please reach out for help. There are likely some community charities that may also be able to help with groceries. Buy nothing pages on Facebook can help you get furniture and a baby nursery set up at no cost or very minimal cost. Reach out to charities and the may give you even more names of charities or organisations that can help you further. Do not be afraid to ask for help. It’s hard…I know it is. I asked the Street Pantry I volunteer at for some help getting to medical appointments for my pregnancy and they came through. They also gave me coupons, nappies, bottles and formula when the organiser found out I’d given birth but my milk wasn’t coming in so I had to formula feed – which I wasn’t even vaguely prepared for.

    There ARE good people in the world even though it feels like a cold and hard place. And those good people are willing to help if you let them. So please let them
    . You may find that you can leave your cheater faster than the two year time frame you currently have.

    Good luck and best wishes. Xx

    • I’m so sorry for your loss 🙁 please accept my sincere condolences. I’ve been in contact with an organization here that is linked to a Diaper bank and that also supplies free baby stuff. They’re so friendly and helpful. Thank you all so much again!

  • No Ducks:

    I may have missed this, but do you and FW own your home? Do you have job skills? One thing to rethink: You are already financially dependent on your husband or you would not still be there. You really have no choice but to get child support as if you apply for public assistance, the state will go after him for child support for you (as they should). Also IMO one should not deny their children the support of the other parent as much as one might want to forget he exists. Your children will need everything the two of you can give them. Also remember if you stay with him, it does not seem like this situation is behavior that one would want to model to their children. Every time you think of a possibility that might work, write it down in a notebook, keep adding to the list and reviewing your options. i.e. If you are in a bind for very long, you might apply to get a Habitat for Humanity house–it would take a while but would be worth it if something like that would work out eventually. IMO you really probably do not have the luxury of being financially independent of FW and since he is the father of your children he has rights regarding visitation etc. If you get to where there is just absolutely no money and not enough help from food banks, low-rent housing, etc., please consider a Go Fund Me page. Best of luck.

    • Yes we own a small townhouse that will sell quickly should we have to sell. I’m adjusting my mindset concerning being financially dependent on him. I was just afraid he’d use that to manipulate/ control the situation but you’re right, it’s his job to take care of us especially given he’s the cause of this mess…

  • A. Getting money from your fw via child support, settlement, continued current financial support is what you and your child deserve. You not wanting to have to take money from him is a terrible position to take, and is rooted in emotion rather than logic. You deserve and need the money, which is for your children even more than it’s for you. As you have already surmised, you’re not ready to be financially independent at this time due to your kids. No fairy godmother is going to be able to change that. So you have to accept financial assistance from others, and that includes, first and foremost, the financial assistance that you are ENTITLED to from your fw.

    B. Don’t move in with your extended family. Stay right where you are. The financially unstable wife moving out after discovering cheating is a huge mistake. Why should you move out? You’ve done nothing wrong in this marriage. I know you don’t feel like staying with him, but again, because you have 3 kids to support including one with special needs, this situation is not about what you feel like doing. It’s about what is going to be best for you and the kids. Stay where you are and file for divorce while still living at home. This will show the judge that you are financially dependent on him and strengthen your claim that you need financial support in the settlement.

    C. Use a free Legal Aid lawyer. Done. You’ll never save up enough for a private attorney. This case is really simple so it’s okay, anyway. Neither of you has much money, and the divorce issue of his repeated cheating is cut and dried. Your kids obviously need support. A plan for child support and visitation will be drawn up.

    D., E., & F.: See B, about how you’re not moving out. Your fw will move out sooner or later after you end the marriage.

    G. See C, about how you’re going to use Legal Aid rather than trying to save up for a private attorney that you can’t afford.

    Bottom line: You feel “stuck”. The following is not a criticism at all, just a factual observation: what got you stuck is having children with him. The more children you have with him, the more stuck you will be. The most important thing in this situation is to stop having sex with this man (who could also give you a disease btw), so that you can’t possibly have any more of his children after your current baby in waiting is born.

    You are not going to wait 2 years to try to get in a good financial position to get a great lawyer and bury him in court. Even if you had an expensive lawyer right now, family law is messy and there is rarely a clear winner. He is their father so he will always have custody and rights over them. That also means that he owes you child support. None of that will be in dispute in court, no matter if you go now via legal aid or wait 10 years until you’ve saved for a private attorney. The end result would still be a visitation schedule being drawn up and child support being ordered.

    Don’t wait in an attempt to be in a better position to play a great game & be the “big winner”. That’s about ego, not your kids. You have 3 children who need support now. He will be ordered to pay child support by the family court. So go get that support that you need. It’s going to be awkward living in the same house with him after you’ve dumped him and taken him to court. Oh, well. As you mentioned, you’re in no position to move, so if he can’t stand it, he’ll have to leave.

    • Wow, you’ve brought up so many good points. Thank you Jennifer for the detailed response! All noted and taken, especially the points on not moving. Moving with my extended family would be emotionally detrimental, that much I know. I’ll stay put, like you said he’ll probably move soon after the legal proceedings start.

  • Dear No Ducks

    Asking for help is the hardest but most necessary first step – congratulations on taking it and choosing an excellent place to ask. There is tons of great advice already posted for you.

    My one thing to add is to be on the watch to recognise and seize unexpected opportunities – and sometimes take calculated risks.

    My gxh’s holiday away from me turned from a heartbreaking rejection into a golden opportunity when I realised it gave me a 2 month window to set myself up to walk out the day he returned.

    A sister I hardly spoke to ended up being my greatest support and champion when I confided in her and she also introduced me to Chump Lady’s site.

    You might find that once you start, things happen for you much more quickly than you thought.

    My exit ended up being so fast I was reeling for weeks getting my head round actually having done it.

    Courage to your heart and strength to your arm. You are mighty.

    • “You might find that once you start, things happen for you much more quickly than you thought”… thank you. I was waiting until after baby but thanks to you all I’ve started planning. I’ll be in a much better position once baby comes… thank you.

  • I agree. The FW has a legal and moral obligation to support his children, and the woman whose life he upended, their Mum. Ducks. I get that feeling; but if you get the legal support your children and you are entitled to from him, that won’t be him ‘giving’ you the money, that’s the State taking it from him for you. He’s not in control of that at all. Please continue to post – I’m worried about you and wish you very well, stay mighty, lovely Ducks x

    • I’m so grateful for the advice and support I’m receiving. I think you all are being much kinder to me than I’m even being to myself. I doubt he’ll have an issue supporting his kids but then again I doubted he’d ever cheat and here we are…

  • I’m with CL, if you feel in danger call the Domestic Abuse Hotline! FW like this go out of control when they loose control and typically take it out on the ones closest to them. Other than that, your local YWCA is an excellent resource. They can help you create a plan, find a lawyer, find a better paying job, find shelter, etc.

    You may need to think out of the box a little, for example: having a roommate, work from home job (which you are already doing but find a better paying one), find a Mother’s Day out program (less hours but cheaper than daycare), etc. to help you get by but make sure they are all decisions that will help you not hurt you. Like, as an example, don’t settle on your drunk family as a roommate just to help get rent paid….find a qualified and responsible roommate. Lastly, document EVERYTHING!!! Surveillance video is even better (especially if he is physically abusive).

  • * Act quickly head over heart
    * Be decisive
    * Have courage
    * Ask for support- family friends welfare women’s refuge groups domestic abuse hotline
    * Protect your finances
    * Why should you and children move out? He should go
    * If he is physically abusive report him to the police and have it on record
    * If necessary a restraining order
    * Know that many single moms thrive
    * You will be fine

  • Community Colleges have childcare at 1/2 price. If you don’t find it at the first one keep looking at another college. Good Luck

  • If the money equation were solved, the shackles would be off and him in your rear view mirror.

    Sometimes during a split these guys will purposely work for lower pay or not look too hard for something better. Some dead beats try working for cash to report low incomes. I’d guess yours falls somewhere in there. He’ll get tired of peanuts and get diligent about back to usual $$ after the divorce so in that sense I can see more child support monies in your future.

    In my situation I asked my brother to help with the lawyer retainer. He will get paid back out of the settlement. My lawyer said stbx would have to pay legal fees since I have no income and he does or my fees lumped as marital debt.

    Whatever your faith I recommend to reach out to your local Temple, Church, etc… They are a big help and a place to find friends. A few have food pantries there and are quite good. Check into the ones that do have one. You can get food, diapers, formula ect… for free or just pennies. They also have clothing exchanges rooms and when your baby outgrows an outfit then you give those clothes back to the exchange and pick out the new size needed for the baby or kids. My daughter did that and expected ragged clothes but they were good quality designer baby clothes. So all this. If you get your food basically free and clothing that helps a lot!

    Look for creative ways for extra money. I am doing the local farmer market next year selling honey and eggs ect… Im bringing baked goods too. A person there who brings garden veggies in said they make enough with farmers market and a stand by their house to not work all winter. I was shocked!

    I’ve looked into Airbnb my home. Or advertising my spare room to another senior for monthly fee. I don’t know if that is something you can do but you see the jist.

    Ask yourself what you enjoy doing? Or what are you good at? What do you have around you that you aren’t seeing that is speaking to you? Just some food for thought.

    • I’m getting creative with earning extra income. I’m quite the baker so I’m going to ask the farmers market down the street if they’ll allow me to sell some cookies and homemade bread for a small fee. I’ve seen others selling homemade goods there..

  • I’m so embarrassed to ask my obgyn for std testing or to even tell her what’s going on 🙁 this is so shameful… im still trying to gather the strength…I know this isn’t my fault but shame is something I deal with constantly…

  • “If the money equation were solved, the shackles would be off and him in your rear view mirror”….DITTO! I often find myself wishing I had a rich friend with a big enough house that would take me and the kids in for a while. A good friend of mine likes to say that a lot of problems disappear once you throw money at them… very true

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