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He Cheated Me and His Employer

Serial cheaterDear Chump Lady,

I think my D-days happened in reverse order and I’m having a really hard time making sense of things. It seems like most chumps discover the affair first, and then financial abuse. I found the financial abuse first, so by the time I found the affair, I already had a clue that I wasn’t being treated fairly.

A year and a half ago, I discovered that my husband of 25 years had blown through $50k in our savings account. I was livid. He said he wasn’t happy, and found us a marriage counselor. I was confused-I thought he needed a credit counselor! Wasn’t I the one who should be questioning if I wanted this marriage?

Then more than a year later, I discovered he’s been having an affair with a coworker for THREE YEARS. I told him he could have his family life or his girlfriend, he chose the girlfriend and moved out less than a week later. Our 2 almost-adult sons were blindsided, as was everyone else. I told him if he didn’t tell them about the affair, I would, so he came clean. I picked up the pieces, got an attorney and a full STD panel. It was very hurtful to be replaced by a woman much like me, with kids the same age, doing very boring things-they go to costco, the hardware store (no wonder why I didn’t notice any odd charges), they go to lunch. It seems like a very mundane affair but hey Covid right? His plan, to the extent he had one, was to keep wasting money on marriage counseling, do more with the kids to make things easier for me and offer them stability, and then divorce me once the youngest was off at college. Nobody would ever have to know about the affair, or that we didn’t drift apart. He never tried to reconcile, he never even apologized, and he only does Sad Sausage.

So there I was, chugging right along, reeling but hanging in there. Crying, reading your blog, going to therapy. He filed for divorce and I got his disclosures. He opened a checking account in his name 9 months ago in order to attach it to his ebay sales account! From what he has sold, it looks like he is stealing from work! Expensive, tech things. He is in charge of inventory and nobody else at this company really understands a lot of this hardware. There was more than $10k flowing through this account in under a year, along with a lot of lunches, a few thousand in motorcycle gear and a payment to American Express. So he stuck to his budget for about 6 months after I found the missing savings account $$ and then went straight back to spending on whatever he wanted, hiding it from me.

At that point, I went Full Forensic Accountant and tried to figure out how much we spent servicing his Amex and what was on it. I couldn’t get into it and will probably never know for sure. But as I painstakingly went through the home computer I discovered old hookup accounts and a secret email he used to send emails to craigslist personals (remember those?) back in 2017. It looks like those were too hard, so he moved onto hiring ESCORTS on business trips. Which seems to have evolved into escorts during the workday close to the office. The emails stopped in 2020–lockdown? the affair heating up? or moved to texting escorts because he knew them already? Who knows? The AP is literally the first woman he didn’t pay to have sex with him! Somehow it’s tragic AND stupid.

I don’t know why, but I am having a much harder time now. Finding out my life was a lie for three years was horrible, but I recognized that man. The AP thinks he’s a devoted family man, too! He found the marriage counselor! He filed for the divorce! He’s in therapy! But stealing from his employer? To fund a me-first lifestyle? Who spent more servicing his Amex than on the college fund by about 500%? (Tip: don’t put hookers on a high-interest credit card!) Did I mention the HOOKERS? (Excuse me, escorts.) I just cannot process this. Because in my state I will only get 50/50 if we go to court, my attorney has suggested that I continue being persuasive, which some days seems like more than I can handle. Although I did move about 6 months closer to Trust That He Sucks.

I have good legal advice and a therapist. What I need is the voice of experience–How do I keep doing this for a few more months? Why is cheating with hookers harder for me than cheating with an affair? Do I stop digging? Every time I dig a little deeper, I find more horrible stuff! Where is the bottom and how do I extricate myself if I can’t go No Contact and have to be persuasive?

Please help me!

Trapped In His Head

****

Dear Trapped,

What exactly does your lawyer mean by “persuasive”?

Because from where I’m sitting, that looks like your lawyer’s job to LEVERAGE this. Caveat: I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.

It’s not your job persuade your creepy soon-to-be-ex of anything. Stay NO CONTACT. I worry if it comes out that you knew about his siphoning of monies from his employer, you’d be an accomplice.

Your lawyer needs to be strategic about this goldmine of malfeasance.

“Gee FW, I’d hate for this to go to litigation. Because then we’ll have to do a deep dive into your finances and all your sources of income, depose your employer…..”

Let the shifty bastard sweat.

A legal professional should know how to walk this line.

Your ex is clearly someone who operates out of pure self-interest. It’s in his self-interest to settle with you and avoid prosecution and losing his job. It’s in your best interest to get a settlement while he still has a job.

Press hard on theft of marital resources. Yes, many states are no fault states and don’t care who fucked around on whom. Judges don’t care about your hurt feelings. They do, however, care about evidence. Create a big tally sheet of what the mofo owes you.

If your lawyer isn’t up to the job, find someone experienced in high-conflict divorce. CN can weigh in here on this. You don’t have a Kumbaya we-drifted-apart divorce. You have a criminal with a long history of deceit. He won’t be an honest broker. He’ll be fuckwit, because fuckwittery is his basic operating system. A good lawyer will find the advantage in that.

At that point, I went Full Forensic Accountant and tried to figure out how much we spent servicing his Amex and what was on it. I couldn’t get into it and will probably never know for sure.

Why aren’t his credit card statements part of discovery? You were married then, RIGHT? That’s your marital money that’s being spent, correct? TALLY UP THE COSTS OF HIS AFFAIRS.

I found this Googling “Dissipation of Marital Assets” (from Colorado law firm Griffiths Law. Check your state laws.)

Marital asset dissipation occurs when one spouse has consumed, given away or otherwise transferred, mismanaged, converted, or otherwise adversely affected property that, had it been before the court, would have been subject to equitable distribution. This commonly takes the form of spending marital funds for the benefit of paramours or wasting marital property. Under Colorado law, dissipation is also called “economic fault” and is considered different than “marital fault.” See, e.g., In re Marriage of Jorgenson, 143 P.3d 1169, 1173 (Colo. App. 2006). Marital fault is when someone has an extramarital affair. Economic fault is when a person spends money for the benefit of the person with whom they are having the affair. A claim for dissipation is valued at the time the asset once existed. See In re Marriage of Finer, 920 P.2d 325, 331 (Colo. App. 1996) (“marital assets are dissipated by one of the parties, they must be valued as of the time when they existed.”).

When making a dissipation claim, a spouse only needs to prove that the expenditure was made at or during the time of the marriage breakdown or spent for a non-marital purpose, (such as significant gifts, hotel rooms, air tickets, etc for a mistress,) during the marriage. Once the spouse proves this, it is the burden of the other spouse to show that they spent the funds on a legitimate purpose. If the court finds that dissipation has occurred, it will appropriately adjust its division of property to offset the dissipation. These points may be useful to you if you think you may have a claim for marital asset dissipation.

As we say here at CN, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.

How is he going to show the funds were legitimate? Or the income? He’s not, because it wasn’t.

This ends the Perry Mason segment of our blog post.

The AP is literally the first woman he didn’t pay to have sex with him! Somehow it’s tragic AND stupid.

Well, he didn’t pay you. Schmoopie is just his new chump decoy. Of course she sucks, because she knew he was married, but she’s just the new banal front for his double life. He’s not going to quit buying sex. Do you really think he’s going to find a life of contentment and balanced checkbooks? No. The deceit is a big part of the high.

He’s a freak who has to stick it to someone — you, his employer, now HER. Rejoice. You’re soon rid of him.

How do I keep doing this for a few more months?

You do it as long as it takes. We’ve been there. You’ll survive. As my old divorce lawyer used to say about dealing with FWs: “It’s like a pebble in your shoe. Painful as hell, but once it’s gone, you’ll forget it was ever there.”

Why is cheating with hookers harder for me than cheating with an affair?

Because he’s a misogynistic creeper who enjoys sex with people who don’t want to have sex with him. Hookers need the money. He loves the power imbalance of that. And hookers don’t have needs. (Not ones he must concern himself with anyway. Who cares if they’re human, or trafficked, or addicted.)

With an affair, you can think, oh The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants. He has feelings! He fell out of love!

With prostitution, the ugly is much more unvarnished. But look, it’s all ugly. Soon Schmoopie will soon find out exactly how un-special she is.

Do I stop digging? Every time I dig a little deeper, I find more horrible stuff!

That’s a good question for your attorney. It all sounds like leverage to me. I’d press hard on discovery.

Where is the bottom and how do I extricate myself if I can’t go No Contact and have to be persuasive?

There’s no bottom. You’re dealing with someone who is all id and zero conscience.

You CAN go no contact. You are paying your lawyer to be the firewall. You’re also paying your lawyer to be the persuader.

If you find yourself untangling his skein, STOP. If you want to take up sociopathy as a hobby later, okay. Right now, you need to focus on yourself and sane parenting your kids. That’s ENOUGH.

Why did he do this? Because he can. Because he’s not that deep. It really is all about his dick and his entitlement. You can’t understand it because you’re a normal human who bonds. Stop trying to figure him out, and put your energies into SAFETY.

It takes time to recover from this level of betrayal. But you’re going to triumph in a new life.

Meanwhile, he’s stays that syphilitic supply closet guy selling dusty keyboards to support his hooker habit.

You win.

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.
  • “Meanwhile, he’s stays that syphilitic supply closet guy selling dusty keyboards to support his hooker habit. You win”

    CL for the Win!! Thank you!!

  • dear trapped, i’m sorry that you’re here. i’m sorry we’re all here. but you’ve received some good advice from CL about lawyers and no contact. carry on.

    i know that there was a moment in my first year post D-day when i realized how deliberately my X hurt me. that was painful. it sounds as if you’re in a similar moment. it’s truly a gut punch when you fully take in the deliberate and intricate lies, the hurtful words, the lack of caring that your partner has exhibited and continues to exhibit. the fucking number he’s doing on your kids. it simultaneously takes your breath away and makes you wonder if anything was real? did he mean anything he said and did?

    the answer is: who knows? you don’t know this guy.

    as for the forensic deep dive, leave that for the lawyer. and go walking. walking is a way of mapping your world. you’ve entered a new, unknown territory but you’ve got your two feet and, i hope, some good friends to accompany you on long walks. walk it off. gain strength.

    and fuck that guy.

    • Thank you so much! Yes, the years of intentionality, the sheer EFFORT it took to do this, continue to astonish me. Of course I didn’t know! This was a really HIGH level of deception, sustained for many years! But some days that’s hard to remember.

      • A domestic violence researcher and criminologist wrote that “While not all criminals are batterers, all batterers are criminals.” Financial abuse as well as potentially exposing a partner to deadly disease without consent are increasing viewed as forms of intimate partner violence. On top of this, the fact that this guy isn’t just criminal and abusive at home but also outside the home puts him into a singular category of criminal. He sounds like he’s sporting a genuine case of anti-social personality disorder with a side of criminal psychopathy. That means the only thing that motivates him is staying out of jail and cake so I’m not sure why your lawyer thinks you could or should try to be persuasive. Appeal to his better side? He doesn’t have one. Instead of appealing/persuading I’d be looking into a solid home security system, a forensic accountant and a high conflict lawyer like CN and CL suggested.

        I’d be very concerned about the theft from work because, as far as I understand, anyone receiving stolen goods may be liable for the value of stolen property whether they knew the goods were stolen or not. https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/criminal/types-of-crimes/receiving-or-possessing-stolen-property.html
        I would consider consulting with a criminal lawyer regarding what to do to protect yourself, whether you need to report the theft to avoid being eyed as an accomplice (I’m guessing your ex would fabricate that you were guilty just out of spite), if being regarded as innocent might reduce the quantity of assets potentially seized from you.

        If you saw fit to report the crime to preemptively clear yourself, my first gut instinct is that FWs tend to trash their chumps to anyone who will listen. A criminal attorney might be able to advise you on whether it’s better to report the crimes directly to police in the presence of a good attorney rather than having you report the crimes directly to the business in question in the case FW’s bosses and workmates have been primed (by a lying FW) to view you as a bad person who’s only reporting the theft out of retaliation and not because you’re innocent.

        Though your ex’s theft may not have been in the millions, there’s a site called “White Collar Wives” started by the wife of a white collar thief providing advice for people who find themselves in this situation. https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2019/02/25/ten-things-every-spouse-of-a-white-collar-defendant-should-know/?sh=463d75be2f21

        Too bad the laws on receipt of stolen goods don’t apply to Schmoopies and hookers. Sometimes I daydream that if I ever got involved with lobbying for legislation, one item on my wish list would be to make Schmoopies and hookers liable to repay embezzled marital assets. But depending on how much she financially benefited during the affair or afterwards, Schmoopie may be on the hook with the IRS if your ex is busted. Forensic accounting may not turn out to be such a useless time suck in that case. Even in a no-fault state it should be possible to determine what the value of gifts or amenities received by Schmoopie were. This could be to your benefit in the case any resulting IRS tax lien due to the thefts could reduce the amount the IRS could potentially seize from you.

        I honestly don’t know the answers to any of the above because the law and enforcement of it vary from region to region. It’s also quite scary because reporting the crimes could be opening a can of worms that could harm your own finances, while not reporting could be worse depending on whether your ex is busted later. But if it were me, I’d be asking the questions.

        I’m so sorry you’re going through any of this. I know how hard it is to function while still in shock. But I also know that getting pissed and counter-predatory is like strapping on a jet pack. It’s energizing. So is a group of supportive friends who can help you find the gallows humor in this otherwise bleak and terrible series of events. If you have to take FW down to protect yourself, you’re going to need regular doses of gallows humor to prevent you from mistakenly internalizing even a sliver of guilt or shame for this disaster. If it comes to protecting yourself, channel you’re inner Elizabeth I from the film with Cate Blanchett when she issues the fatwa against all her enemies: “…let it all be done.”

    • “…it’s truly a gut punch when you fully take in the deliberate and intricate lies, the hurtful words, the lack of caring that your partner has exhibited and continues to exhibit. the fucking number he’s doing on your kids.”

      And their lack of remorse for all of it, including for their lack of remorse!

    • Just adding an observation here. Most of the FWs don’t recognize that they are hurting YOU. YOU aren’t a concern or a priority while they go about doing whatever that want; you are not even a consideration for them. It’s hard to wrap your head around honestly. Sure there are some sadist FWs who get off on hurting chumps and kids and for those cases getting away to safety trumps any and all other considerations. But most run-of-the-mill FWs are just self centered, shallow and entitled. We are just the spouse-appliance; easily replaced. Trust that they suck and remember that they will not likely get a character transplant. Whatever has been revealed as their mask comes off—what they did with you will likely keep on happening. You just won’t be there (hopefully) to see it OR the karma-bus running them down. You dogged s bullet! Work on healing and building your own life.

  • Honestly think you need to change lawyers, now! With a pit bull and some arm twisting, you could walk away with everything. He gets to not be arrested, have a criminal record for theft. He wanted hookers, you want the house and all it’s equity. He wants co-worker you want 50% of any retirement and all savings. He wants to 💩on you, you want all assets furniture etc. He can sign it off right now, divorce taking just long enough to be filed. He gets to keep his job and coworker , period. After it’s all done, you can hint about spilling the beans to employer, let them both sweat.

    • I second that. A badass lawyer will make him look like chump change by the time they’ve finished with him. You may have to pay for an initial consultation with a badass lawyer, but they will be worth every penny in the end, and give you peace of mind as they know every trick in the book and have seen IT ALL.

      • I will look into that TODAY! I would love to be more in control of this. I had assumed his employer might ask for a resignation, and that was about it, but you’re right, there may be more I don’t know about and I don’t know how they’ll react-so I shouldn’t assume.

        • And you need to protect yourself legally. It’s possible that if you know, and don’t speak up, and you are married to him, you may be legally liable. You have no idea whether his employer would simply let him go quietly or decide to prosecute.

          I had a colleague who had to divorce her husband, a concert pianist and academic, because he put her–and their children–in legal jeopardy when he ran a (fixed, fake) contest for composers with the prize being him playing the composition and used her name as the contact person and their home address for submissions.

          I’d say talk to a lawyer: you might be able to use your knowledge to get a hell of a settlement and keep what you know to yourself. But you might also have to report him to this company, whether before or after the divorce. If your current lawyer hasn’t thought of your legal liability and talked it through with you, get a second opinion.

        • I think your present lawyer sounds a bit lazy. You’ve uncovered a goldmine of info and for your lawyer not to be all over it is disheartening.

          • Trapped:

            I’m following your last paragraph of your letter where you ask CL and CN this:

            How do I keep doing this for a few more months?

            You’re in the gauntlet now. You have to run it to the finish line. Your future depends on it.

            Why is cheating with hookers harder for me than cheating with an affair?

            Likely because you didn’t expect the Cheater to go so low. You had expectations and still do.
            Don’t harbor expectations of him; he’s out for #1 and it isn’t you. Govern yourself accordingly.

            Do I stop digging? Everytime I dig a little deeper I find more stuff.

            See question number one. You’re in the gauntlet now. You have to run it to the finish line. Your future depends on your contribution to making your case. It’s temporary and will end.

            Where is the bottom and how do I extricate myself if I can’t go no-contact and have to be persuasive?

            There is no bottom for the Cheater. He will deep-dive further into the abyss until or unless he desires change. I question your attorney asking you to be involved to the degree that you’re persuading a Cheater to act in your best interests. You need a high conflict attorney that knows this type of case you’re involved in and can take the reins and drill it to conclusion – without you persuading anyone. This legal representation can be very costly. However, what you spend on the front end will come back to you on the rear end by way of making up for itself – and more.

            Good luck and best wishes!

        • This is fired for cause territory. There is zero advantage for an employer to ask for a resignation.

          I say this as an experienced senior person for Fortune companies. If the employer is of any size they WILL prosecute.

          The only companies I have ever seen skip the prosecution are family owned ones.

          • I worked for large-ish company at one time (maybe 1000 employees?) and found that someone I supervised had charged nearly $20K on his company credit card (new computer, furniture, etc.) just before leaving. (I had asked the HR person to ask him to surrender the card when he resigned–sensing I was about to have him fired–because I didn’t trust him during the 2-week notice period. She said no.) When I discovered the charges, I was told by one of the company’s lawyers that if it had been only a couple of grand, they would have probably let it go–I presume because they would feel it wasn’t worth the time and resources to take action. But since it was a large amount, they would sue him if he didn’t pay–and the company credit card agreement always said that the employee would be responsible for charges, so he had no ground to stand on.

            So I explained to American Express what had happened that he was responsible for the charges and I didn’t hear anything further, so I assume he had made arrangements to pay off the debt over time. I ran into this employee a couple of years later at a conference in our field and we found ourselves standing on the same line to get into a meeting room. He asked me if there had been further repercussions. I told him not that I was aware of, fortunately for him.

            Oh, and during the 2-week notice period? He didn’t do a lick of work and completely stopped responding to my emails (he worked in an office in another city). I finally asked the HR lady to go into his office and collect his laptop because he was doing no work and I couldn’t trust him. At least she complied with that and shipped his laptop to me. I had fun reading files he never intended for me to see–which I had the right to do because it was on his work computer, the stupid ass.

              • Hmmm. It’s been a while. He seemed to be writing porn as a side gig to make $. I think he wrote something to a friend about growing marijuana plants in his apartment (this was in the early 2000s, so it would have been a non-trivial offense). He semi-joked to a friend that he was thinking of taking a chemistry course on the company dime so he could make drugs (he was a smart guy, so I think he was capable of that). There was other stuff, but you get the idea.

                He shouldn’t have been doing drugs at all, because he had a form of bipolar disorder. He came clean about the latter when I started the first steps of taking action to fire him (documenting performance issues) and he realized what I was doing.

                I believe in second chances, so I worked with HR to make some accommodations to his illness. This was complicated by the fact that our company had two locations, hundreds of miles apart. They were more than fair and pretty basic, and he agreed to them. But he still wouldn’t meet those conditions–hence, perhaps 6 months later, he realized I was done with “accommodating” and starting to shift into documenting with intent to fire. He resigned first, and when I asked him his reason(s), he said it was because “we had butted heads.” No admission of being a jerk.

                My BF said he might have been a jerk because of his mental disorder, or he might have just been a jerk, period. The bottom line was that he jerked me around to the point where I couldn’t work with him, and I also didn’t trust him. He was the only person who has ever reported to me for whom I felt the need to scrutinize their expense reports because he really took liberties that I had to squash. The funny thing was that the very top person in my division (who was very shrewd about people) advised firing him on a previous occasion when he fucked up, but left the decision to me. To her credit, she didn’t say “I told you so” when things unfolded as they did.

              • I meant to add that he worked at a different location, so I had the added challenge of managing him remotely. Remote management only works if the person is trustworthy. He was not.

              • Actually, I recall that HR got documentation from his physician as a condition of making accommodations.

            • This case is stealing company property; your situation was unauthorized card use and I can understand why your company took the position that it did. Corporate credit cards come in two varieties: company backed and employee backed. His was probably the latter. I would not believe there were no repercussions for him–I think it is more likely he was fishing to see what you knew. American Express is notorious for going after collections and normally will not EVER issue a card to anyone who has ever had charge off or bankruptcy involving them.

              I have been adjacent to 3 different embezzlement situations in my career. The only one that was not prosecuted happened at a family owned company and the thief went on to work in banking. The other two: one was at my company for $50k at the thief did 5 years in prison. In the other situation the embezzlement was discovered because the thief was promoted and the successor in the role figured it out and reported it. That thief also went to jail.

              • My impression was that American Express held him responsible and he paid the full amount. Who knows how–maybe borrowed from his parents. I assumed that our company lawyers didn’t go after him because the company was off the hook for the $ and he paid the full amount.

                I just remembered that he managed to get some contract work with a different division with my company after he resigned. When I found out by chance, I went to HR and they put an end to it. When I filled out a post-employment evaluation for HR after he left, I had indicated that the company should NOT rehire him. I assume since he was doing contract work rather than being hired as an employee, it slipped through the cracks. As far as I know, though, he got no further work from the company after I blew the whistle to HR on the contract work.

        • Trapped, in my experience, it depends on the company. Some companies will just quietly fire the employee and let it go without filing charges to avoid having bad publicity connected to the company name. Some will prosecute as a matter of principle.

          There’s no way to know, so I second the suggestion that you should talk to a lawyer to discuss whether or not you have any exposure to criminal charges in this situation.

        • You need to dump your lawyer even faster than you dump your Fuckwit. Get a pitbull lawyer. *I* shouldn’t know more about how to divorce your Fuckwit than your lazy, incompetent lawyer does.

          • Trapped: Okay, I just saw your last post detailing your lawyer situation. Looks like you have it under control now!

          • And the lawyer shouldn’t want Trapped to do the “persuading.” That would be anathema to a pitfall lawyer. It’s a fantasy for a spouse to think you can control a psychopath.

    • I second that. I think you need a better lawyer. There’s no reason in the world you shouldn’t know what was spent on the AMEX card. A good lawyer will subpoena the credit card company if your FW fails to produce the discovery.

      And I would absolutely try and get attorney’s fees for any forensic accounting you have to do because FW was not forthcoming in discovery paid BY FW as part of your settlement. That might “encourage” him to just produce the required documentation.

      You can depose his schmoopie, too.

      And don’t let him forget that anything that is in the divorce goes on record and becomes public knowledge.

      • So true. I tried to keep the names of FW’s mistresses out of public court filings because our children knew one of them. Then he filed something with both names. Hadn’t he hurt them enough?

    • You need to accept that any settlement requiring future payments from his is unlikely to happen or be enforceable. His employer will figure this out and best case scenario he gets fired for cause no unemployment. Worst case he goes to jail. Take assets now not alimony.

    • Adding my 2 cents about the lawyer…

      The statement that your state is 50/50 so that’s what you will get..FULL STOP 🛑

      Question before I go further, did you hire a forensic accountant or do it yourself? No criticism just trying to understand.

      Luckily or unluckily, I know a lot about crappy lawyers and what you can achieve with a really great one.

      I suggest finding the toughest, best pit bull lawyer with the greatest reputation you can find. Hire them asap. I don’t know your state but I do know what’s possible in a no-fault, 50/50 state and it is NOT 50/50 if your spouse is a scumbag. Yours is a scumbag.

      A great lawyer would have immediately gotten all the credit card statements, bank statements and used the other woman’s financial info as a possible ask. Who knows what he gave her to stash? When time goes by, it gets harder to get those credit statements. There were some I was never able to get. A great lawyer would have listened to all these red flags you found and jumped on them quickly. If you needed a forensic accountant they would have worked with you to find the right person. It sounds like you hired a lawyer who thinks they can just play this process along and not fight for you. You want to be seen as a person who deserves tough representation and not just seen as billable hours.

      If you have a balance due with the existing lawyer, ask the new lawyer about your fighting the old bill due to a crappy representation. I had a $20K outstanding balance. I also avoid confrontation at all costs. But I did refuse to pay the bill due to incompetence. It was uncomfortable but I was sick of being taken advantage of so I dug in right up to the head of the firm. And I won. Got my files delivered to my new lawyer and the bill ripped up. Talk about satisfying.

      Don’t give up! Don’t feel discouraged. You can still fix this and take control of the fight. You have college payments ahead and you definitely want that covered or at least mostly.

      I was at the same point in life when I found out I was getting divorced. I can tell you that as life goes on (and it will) you will be very happy you fought for every penny.

      You cannot get satisfaction or answers but with the best representation, you can get a comfortable future. Please trust me that it’s worth it.

      • I tried to imagine my ex sh*tting himself while reading my lawyers bio. He is licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Hire the awesome lawyer!

      • 50/50 doesn’t mean 50/50. In many states, it’s “equitable distribution.” And any “50” starts after you get paid back what he stole from marital funds. Your lawyer is an idiot.

  • Trapped – The deceit is always the most painful part of cheating. Followed by the devaluing and gaslighting of “we just grew apart”. And there’s the grief of losing the marriage/family you thought you had. And the anxiety of a future you didn’t plan for.

    So, start planning. Take back your future and put your team to work. You are (for now) in a position of strength. Use the most effective shield we chumps have found against more pain – NO CONTACT. Hugs – you can do this!

      • Agree. And, even now, almost 3 years from D-Day, I’m still often hit by some memory that stuns me. And there’s no predicting when it will pop up.

        Years ago, I found a cute white shirt-jacket at our lake house. It blended into the white sheets so was easy to miss by someone packing up to leave. I remember that when I’d found it, I emailed a photo to everyone I knew who’d used the house (my kids and their spouses included, of course) to find the owner. No one knew anything about it. So it remained a mystery.

        After a while, I just started to wear it. No big deal.

        But when I reached for it yesterday, I thought, “Shit. Was it the AP’s? It probably was. Hers or another woman’s. Fuck it.” I’m sure I’d already washed it, but yesterday I washed it again.

        My only comfort in all this is that x was probably sweating bullets when I was trying to find the owner. At least there’s that.

        I probably should donate this piece of clothing. I’ve found that ridding myself of triggering items helps.

        Memories are harder to get rid of. And, if you’re like me, they pop up uninvited and often at inconvenient times.

        For instance, I’m not sure why I thought of this yesterday, but I wondered why the best man at our wedding ghosted x years ago. It occurred to me that he might have discovered cheating and been disgusted.

        But letting my mind make up stories is probably not helpful.

  • I live in a community property state. By going to court the worse I could have done was get 50/50. Turns out the serial cheater ex continued to lie and steal marital money during the divorce (the divorce took 2 years and was during the Covid lockdown). Turns out he pissed off the judge in our divorce and I got a very good settlement (way more than 50/50).

  • Trapped in His Head,

    Please listen to CL. That’s great advice to go no contact and make your lawyer do the work — that’s what you’re paying them for.

    Also, please give yourself some grace. Yes, you’re stuck in your head over this. And having trouble dealing with all the FW bullshit you’re discovering. Of course you are! Because it’s crazy! And traumatic. And hurtful.

    But here’s what many of us forget — the real healing comes AFTER the divorce. Once you don’t have to deal with all the garbage front and center and are finally free of a FW, it’s easier to free your mind and get to meh. Hang in there. The best part is cutting a FW loose and getting your life back. And you will.

  • I’m right there with you! It literally feels like a kick in the stomach and getting the wind knocked out of you. So sorry you’re here, but you are doing an amazing job. You may need a new lawyer who doesn’t tell you to go do the work. They shouldn’t be telling you to ask FW nicely for anything.
    The hookers add a different level of pain, and you’ve got both with that and an affair. You are one strong mamma! Definitely get STD tests. Then get them again in a year, explaining why to your dr.
    If it’s a comfort (it was for me to help organize everything) keep digging. If it’s stressing you out hand it over to someone else to do. Focus on you and what you need to keep going. You’ve got this!!

  • Trapped, I can’t offer advice re an attorney, but I can recommend getting a therapist who is trained in PTSD, and who, hopefully, is familiar with Dr. Minwalla’s work on trauma experienced by cheater’s spouses. Ask if they are familiar with the CL’s book.

    What your FW did is ABUSE, make no mistake. He unilaterally risked your health, your financial and mental well-being.

    My xFW, BTW, was proud of himself that he was able to talk every hooker he went to out of using a condom. I don’t know how may there were, but, apparently around 30-40. Interesting that none of them were able to bring him to orgasm, after a half hour of working on him. Also interesting that, according to him, none ever had time to see him a second time. Duh. He can thank his robust porn habit for that.

    The xFW also referred to his vacations with the AP as “playing house”. Whatever. When it is a REAL house, with REAL adult upkeep, that is where they fail. I think many of them want to be children forever, but with hormones.

    • It’s so true that it’s “playing house.” The real house, with the real wife and kids, wasn’t exciting enough. But her house, well, maybe he needed the deceit? The sneaking around? It’s an eye-opener, for sure.

        • Exactly. When he loses money in the divorce, and loses his job for stealing, he will steal from the OW.

          Trapped, I would consider freezing your own credit and/or making sure you have credit alarms set. I wouldn’t trust him to not try to use your credit again.

          • He will also steal from anything or anyone else he can. Guys like this are notorious for getting involved with organizations so they can steal. Churches , HOAs, small charities etc.

        • Yes most likely. They can’t change their “character”. I know that before I quit looking my ex was all over the “dating” sites looking for hookups still even though he was with HER who he’d been seeing for 18 months before I found out for the last time. I’m transitioning to thinking that he’s found someone who clearly is ok with deceit, cheating, and physical endangerment. You and I and others here have standards and self-respect.
          Love is conditional! Like don’t gaslight and abuse and rape..

    • The playing house comment is spot on! During one of our post-dday fights, my ex said that he cheated because I wasn’t fun anymore and his OW gave him porn star sex. (Eww)

      Fast forward to him having a newborn at 50 with his 24 year old OW and their “relationship” falling apart before the child turned a year old. I guess she wasn’t fun anymore, either, once real life and a screaming baby joined the party. Karma is a sweet, sweet bitch.

      • After 26 years together, 24 of them married, My x remarried a woman 20 years younger. He’ll be 56 when baby arrives. I’m hoping his marriage falls apart then. He didn’t even bring his camera to our sons wedding last week (and he was always taking pics before). I am just now catching glimpses of meh after almost 3 years post divorce and 4 post separation 🥰

  • this is for everyone

    when you are a married you are responsible for your spouse’s debt. during a divorce you can try to separate who owes how much to which entity, but the credit card companies do not care about your divorce. they will go after you if you spouse stops paying.

    everyone is entitled to one free credit report yearly from the top three credit companies. get one of those for yourself yearly and if you are going through a divorce have your lawyer get one for your spouse.

    my latest advice to everyone is: don’t merge your finances, don’t get married and get everything in writing – keep your financial independence

    it doesn’t matter who you love or who you trust, eventually anyone is capable of screwing you over – romance doesn’t protect your credit and that has long term consequences even outside of any affair

    • I will never again entwine my finances with another person. Ever. I’m still repairing my credit after a decade married to someone who had no idea how to handle money. Married, we were always broke. He blamed me (I was a stay at home mom for a couple years, and had some health issues). But it was AMAZING how much money I had after I separated my finances from his, even though my expenses didn’t really go down (a two-bedroom apartment is a two bedroom apartment, whether there is one adult in the bedroom or two, and I have a kid). I paid off all my (our) credit card debt, put money in savings, have enough for a nice apartment, I’m going on vacation, etc. Meanwhile, he was still broke (despite having a good income and a girlfriend with a comparable income splitting expenses with him, while I was on my own). FW neglected to pay the utility bill on our marital home (where he was living) for 6 months! I found out only when the power was shut off while we were in the middle of selling it. That was fun. He had thousands of dollars in unpaid traffic fines and flags. His GF gave him $30,000 and he still was up to his ears in debt. I honestly don’t know how he managed it. Even paying my lawyer a hefty sum every month, I have enough to cover all my expenses and then some.

      I’m happy single at the moment, but even if I found a new romantic partner, I don’t think I’d get married again, in large part for the financial entanglement.

      • I had to pay more in taxes because I got married! For two excruciating years until I filed and got divorced. I still owe on taxes even now because I’d rather have the interest on the money than give it to the government, but it’s less than with him and I try to donate enough for a slight decrease.

    • Don’t assume any inheritance you might come into is yours alone. Some states treat it as marital property. And even those states that don’t treat it as marital property automatically may treat it as marital property if you place it into a joint account. Likewise with any property you inherit: it it’s in your name only, but you pay the taxes on it out of a joint account, it might be considered marital property.

      Even if you don’t keep your finances separated entirely, everyone needs an account of their own.

    • I don’t think I would have fully merged my finances. But I was thinking of having a joint account with him. Turns out I never got that chance because I found out on our honeymoon that he was cheating.
      When I finally filed for divorce much later, I told him that we should just each stick with our own finances. I had a lot more than him so I didn’t want him to take any from me. As far as I know he still can’t do a decent job of saving what with all his sex needs and bribery to his now-wife and those that will have sex with him. (She makes decent money also so he’ll lean on her.) And when his mother dies he will inherit a big debt as well. I’m so glad that’s no longer my care!

  • I have found that there’s a lot of pain that doesn’t have the opportunity to surface until a lot of the dramatic interactions with the cheater subside.

    I am much better in many ways than when the shitshow began in 2017, but also nowadays feel a lot more pain because the divorce process took up a lot of my attention.

    When the rumble was over and things quieted down, that’s when the feelings became more noticeable.

    I don’t think he replaced you. I think you found out who he really is. Those are very different things.

    If there’s any replacing going on, it’s him swapping out an unwitting person he was using and abusing for someone willing to be used and abused, who is also a user and abuser.

    • Wow. I don’t want to hear that the pain gets worse. But I do think he discovered who he really is. I’ve been so confused by all of this, because it’s so far from how he always portrayed himself. But he has said as much- he said the life he was living with me and the kids felt empty, he gave up too much of himself, even that he wanted to start over with someone who doesn’t know him and his history! You can imagine my reaction to that! But it’s kind of true- he figured out who he is and is going to see where this takes him. Not content to be a cheater in one aspect of life, he will see how many others he can cheat in too!

      It still sucks.

      • It has helped me enormously to know what to realistically expect. I can wrap my mind around reality and apply the right solutions, whereas unrealistic expectations keep the wounds open and feelings of despair and frustration.

        The healing process is individual. My experience of pain continues to morph and is different from the beginning, but it is still there. It comes and goes, and it varies in terms of how it feels, and in intensity and frequency, like a physical injury would.

        Many people are familiar with “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” when a baby is on the way. This blog is “What To Expect When You’ve Been Cheated On”, and the truth and reality spoken here has more than adequately equipped me to effectively deal with everything that goes with infidelity, especially pain and anger management.

        My winning strategy is JUST FOR TODAY, do the next right thing, one moment at a time. It’s always a good idea but more so during tough times.
        Practicing staying in the moment, caring for and loving yourself.

        • It’s maybe a little cheesy, but my kid was really into Frozen II during my divorce, and the song “The Next Right Thing” really hit home for me.

          I’ve seen dark before
          But not like this
          This is cold
          This is empty
          This is numb
          The life I knew is over
          The lights are out
          Hello, darkness
          I’m ready to succumb
          I follow you around
          I always have
          But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find
          This grief has a gravity
          It pulls me down
          But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
          “You are lost, hope is gone
          But you must go on
          And do the next right thing”
          Can there be a day beyond this night?
          I don’t know anymore what is true
          I can’t find my direction, I’m all alone
          The only star that guided me was you
          How to rise from the floor
          When it’s not you I’m rising for?
          Just do the next right thing
          Take a step, step again
          It is all that I came to do
          The next right thing
          I won’t look too far ahead
          It’s too much for me to take
          But break it down to this next breath
          This next step
          This next choice is one that I can make
          So I’ll walk through this night
          Stumbling blindly toward the light
          And do the next right thing
          And with the dawn, what comes then
          When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again?
          Then I’ll make the choice
          To hear that voice
          And do the next right thing

      • There’s plenty of good feelings to offset that pain–relief of cutting him loose, being able to call the shots in how you want to structure your time and money, sweet, sweet independence. And you might also get a little schadenfreude if you hear news that he’s not faring that well.

  • I live in a no-fault state, but was still able to leverage some of his financial BS into my settlement. The court especially frowns upon one spouse emptying an IRA account 3 days before moving out of the marital home and spending the money on themselves! According to my lawyer, that shows an intent to deceive and was able to get my half back in the settlement.

    Also agree with everyone saying to interview new lawyers. They should want the best for you, not for you to be “persuasive” with your ex and try to nice him into a good settlement.

    • Same here. I had cc statement and bank statement that anyone could see he was spending hundreds (likely thousands, but I only ran a short history. It was enough for my lawyer to use as leverage. I only wanted six months of temp maintenance, but ended up with a year. FW stalled after six months, but as long as he was paying I was fine.

      The reason I didn’t want three years is I didn’t want to stay legally separated for that long. Even in my weakened state; I knew I had to move on after saving a little money.

      I am glad CL is getting the word out that “no fault” does not cover fraud.

      I also think that this lawyer is not doing their job if they are asking client to “persuade”. My lawyers statement to me was do not talk to him about any legalities or the settlement, and to let him know if fw pulls anything.

  • I live in a 50/50 state—unless “fiduciary fraud” is proven. If so, I can receive a bigger percentage. If you can, retain a forensic accountant. They can sort through what’s what, and help protect you if things get sticky with taxes or employment issues. It’s the best money I’ve spent in this mess.

    Because adultery is involved, I also get a portion back of any community assets spent on the AP. This includes the trips, gifts, flowers, whatever. And, since there’s no legal separation in my state, as long as he continues to spend on the APs, he keeps adding to the tally until the day the divorce is final.

    At the beginning of all this, my attorney said, “A divorce is financial. Except in certain cases, the judge will not and does not care about who did what to who. Get a therapist to deal with your emotions, you have me to deal with your assets.” It took me a bit to get it, but he’s right.

    • Well done!

      50/50 state here as well. My lawyer argued financial fraud as well, and I got a 55% of everything. The retired judge who served as our mediator didn’t give a rat’s ass about infidelity or emotional abuse, but her ears perked up when he mentioned fraud. “Did you hear that? Do you hear what he’s arguing, ” she asked me.

      .

    • Your lawyer’s comment about “except in certain cases, the judge will not and does not care about who did what to whom” makes sense. It’s probably an impossible task to sort through the dynamics of a marriage because people lie and make claims that can’t be proven to be true or false. But the numbers don’t lie, so if they tell a story of misappropriation of marital assets, that’s something a judge can sink her teeth into.

  • “my attorney has suggested that I continue being persuasive, which some days seems like more than I can handle”.
    Excuse me? What, you just need to continue to be soft and yielding to get 50%? Absofuckinglutely not. I’d strongly consider firing this lawyer if you’re PAYING to be told to further compromise your values, your health and to stay a soft target. They’re basically working for FW at that point.
    Get a female lawyer who is an absolute shark if you can, preferably one who doesn’t ask you to do THEIR job for them.

    Addendum to this, how does your lawyer expect you to have any kind of emotional leverage over a person who steals, cheats, puts his children last and lies with this level of sophistication? If emotions never incentivised him to be a good person, they’re not going to work now.

    The only leverage you have against FW is consequence. Lucky for you, he’s doing so many screwed up things that you can pretty much take your pick. His entire life is a house of cards that is one fart away from collapsing; believe me, if he isn’t a psychopath, he lives his entire life in fear of that one fart. So crack open that prune juice and start tooting.

    “Do I stop digging? Every time I dig a little deeper, I find more horrible stuff!”
    Yes and no. You personally should stop digging because it’s keeping you miserable. However, in this case, there ARE things you are finding that are of use. Delegate the messy work to a professional, get a P.I. You will then have cold, hard evidence from a 3rd party professional.

    “Where is the bottom and how do I extricate myself if I can’t go No Contact and have to be persuasive?”
    You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Don’t reclaim control from a fuckwit husband just to hand it over to a fuckwit lawyer.

    Communicate largely through third parties and greyrock if you must engage directly. This twat is not your job anymore.

    • I still don’t understand what “continue being persuasive” means. Does this lawyer understand what it means to deal with a liar of this severity?

      • i wonder if it’s a variation on keeping him calm? my lawyer told me that she thought our going through mediation (non-lawyer based) probably kept my narc X calmer. it inevitably came to end with the spousal support section of the agreement, so i shifted over to my lawyer to do the remainder.

        it was VERY TRYING. but i kinda think my lawyer was right?

        • PS not that this is an endorsement of said lawyer. it’s just a perspective that i heard from my own lawyer. what i did was go through mediation but i called my lawyer every now and again for advice, reassurance, guidance. i knew that eventually i would hand it over to her to finish.

          my X got madder as time passed.

          • I suspect it’s a variation on keeping him pacified like a child, yes. A fool’s errand and, again, just reinforces FW’s view that his feelings are paramount.

            I say stay civil but make no further effort than that. If he poos the rug because no one is catering to his delusions, shouldn’t that strengthen any case a chump has? Why kill yourself to weaken your own position.

        • Yep. It’s mediation, and right now he’s representing himself. I go to mediation without my attorney, and see her in between for advice. So we are trying to keep him from hiring an attorney by coming in too aggressively. If I go to court, for me to buy him out of equity is $400k. It’s way more than he spent on affairs, and way more than I have. He’s doing Impression Management, doing the Right Thing by letting the family have the house. I could spend a bunch on an attorney and it would feel great, and I’d get the Amex, but I’d still have to sell.

          It’s very discouraging!

          • You cannot mediate with a liar and cheater.
            You will regret doing so and won’t get the best settlement.
            Please don’t mediate.
            Most divorces never go to court. They settle.
            Settlement between 2 lawyers is way better than mediation!

    • “His entire life is a house of cards that is one fart away from collapsing” – love it!
      I had a PI and the info they got was extremely helpful, but the nitty gritty details were easier for me to obtain myself – I definitely had a more vested interest in getting as much info as possible, than my attorney did. But it was definitely difficult and painful. I remember sitting on a friend’s couch while I went through bank accounts – just having someone there with me helped me to focus and stay on track.
      There will be a sense of relief when you are no longer in the same home, and much more after the divorce is final.
      I’m still processing the aftermath. My trust has taken a huge hit – including my trust in myself. How did I not call out BS when the red flags went up?

  • What a chilling and heartbreaking discovery.

    I hope you do find a lawyer who is as pissed off by all this as we are, and who can refer you to a professional forensic accountant who will leave no stone unturned.

    At least knowing all his various disordered behaviors, you can realize that you were “replaced” with someone who’s just like you except more gullible, less perceptive and maybe not as smart. Someone who’s easier to manipulate. Lucky her.

    • “you can realize that you were “replaced” with someone who’s just like you except more gullible, less perceptive and maybe not as smart. Someone who’s easier to manipulate. Lucky her.”

      Amen to that! My XFW said to me in the “I Want a Divorce” letter (yeah, he wrote out a letter and read it to me! — not smart and hope to run it through the UBT one day!), “I want to be with someone who trusts me 100%. You can’t give me what I want. Trust.” Yeah, I’m the one who WAS trustworthy in our marriage, and he was the one who WASN’T as I caught him out on a date with a newly divorced whore. But the problem was that I didn’t trust him anymore and he needed to be trusted! See how they do that? They turn it around and make us the one with the problem! Man, did this and more have me so confused in those early days. He did a real number (abuse) on me.

      So, yeah, we are “replaced” with someone who trusts them. Why wouldn’t they? They are starting off with a clean slate just like we did in the beginning. The whore he replaced me with is “gullible, less perceptive and maybe not as smart”. She meet-up with him for coffee, lunch (and more?) dates while she was married. After she got divorced, she didn’t realize how vulnerable she was to a predator like my XFW is. Her divorced papers were barely dry, and he pounced in as the “helpful friend” who just wanted to “help her” through her divorce. Yeah, going out for drinks until 1:00am sure looks wholesome. She’s stupid, because she fell for his charms, manipulations and all the bullshit lies he told about me and our mirage.

      I used to say I was “discarded” and that made me feel like I was garbage. Not a good thing to feel about yourself! Then I changed it to “replaced”. Improvement, but that just made me feel like I was some sort of replaceable Wife Appliance, and I’m not replaceable! I’m a unique individual and theirs no one else like me in the world! I’m not perfect, but I tried really hard to be a GREAT wife and mother! The “problem” wasn’t me; it was him, the FW! He wanted the wife at home who took care of everything, loved him and tried her best to meet his needs. He wanted the front of Churchgoing Family Man. He also wanted a harem of women on the side. I now say I was “delivered from evil” and also “liberated”! I’m FREE! It took some time to get here.

      I follow someone on Facebook whose name is Patrick Weaver. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea as he’s a Christian. But he has lots of wise and helpful things to say:

      “The key to resisting the temptation to confuse narcissistic discard with being rejected or unwanted is to understand that you were not in a relationship, you were in a narcissistic arrangement beloved. There’s a huge difference. The arrangement was, unbeknownst to you, between an unsuspecting giver and a diabolical taker, and the taker — the narcissist, was determined to drain you of your goodness by manipulating your emotions — for fuel. The narcissist believes that people are created to serve their egotistical, entitled and self-absorbed mentality and therefore, narcissists manipulate and coerce people for fuel. The narcissist believes their deceptive, manipulative tactics are superpowers and as diabolical as it might seem, they are very proud of their behavior.
      Post-relationship rationalization is often based on the idea or belief that the narcissist was in a relationship, but they weren’t, they were in an arrangement — for their selfish gain. You were in what you thought was a relationship and you believed that the narcissist had the good intention of being in a relationship with you — based on the deceptive tactics used to convince you that they were.
      Relationship for a narcissist is about control — controlling their target’s emotions to get the benefits of love and loyalty without the responsibility of genuinely loving or being loyal. You were serious, they were acting. A narcissist is skilled at Future Faking or purposely making promises to their partner to manipulate the partner into jumping into a serious “relationship.” In addition to future faking, the narcissist will use mirroring or transform into the person of your dreams based on the details you provide them regarding your past, hopes and desires. As well, once the narcissist latches on, they will love bomb or shower with behavior that feigns intense, deep love for the purpose of emotionally blinding their target — which often results in truth, caution and red flags being overlooked.
      Here’s the thing beloved…you weren’t discarded — though it feels like it based on your belief that you were in a relationship, you were delivered. In other words, what you thought was true was a lie. You were delivered from a lie. That’s sometimes hard to swallow but that’s the truth beloved — no matter how long the narcissists performance lasted. For the narcissist, arrangements only serve one purpose — fuel, and when that runs out or is cut off, they have to move on.
      You weren’t rejected beloved, you were rescued. God made sure that you wouldn’t be their type…the narcissist needs someone they can break but you are a diamond, so the narcissist was never going to be able to survive with you. You can’t be rejected by someone who wasn’t real and someone who God knows you can’t win with beloved. They wanted the privileges of you without the responsibilities of you…you didn’t get left, you got liberated.
      Carry On!

      • “I want to be with someone who trusts me 100%. You can’t give me what I want. Trust.”

        Geez, Martha. That’s outrageous, even by fuckwit standards. Does trusting he sucks count?

      • My ex’s new squeeze is better than me…at believing his lies, at giving him trust, at giving him money, at being dumb, at thinking she got a good guy. Apparently those are his biggest must-haves, you know, the important stuff. She’s 2 days older than me, 40 lb heavier than me, “runs” races slower than me, has worse taste in clothes than me, and thought she’d meet a quality guy on Tinder. She must be his dream girl!

      • “So, yeah, we are “replaced” with someone who trusts them. Why wouldn’t they? They are starting off with a clean slate just like we did in the beginning. The whore he replaced me with is “gullible, less perceptive and maybe not as smart”. She meet-up with him for coffee, lunch (and more?) dates while she was married. After she got divorced, she didn’t realize how vulnerable she was to a predator like my XFW is. Her divorced papers were barely dry, and he pounced in as the “helpful friend” who just wanted to “help her” through her divorce. Yeah, going out for drinks until 1:00am sure looks wholesome. She’s stupid, because she fell for his charms, manipulations and all the bullshit lies he told about me and our mirage.”

        This is pretty much exactly what my ex did. Except she didn’t divorce her husband until several months into their relationship.

        One thing that really helped me with being discarded/replaced is something I heard on a video where the person (I think it was a Dr. Ramani) said “They didn’t discard YOU. They discarded their construct of you. They didn’t even really know YOU.” It’s true and it helped me a lot. Watching my husband groom another woman and seeing her turn into someone completely unrecognizable from the person I met (she was a coworker) was eye opening. She wasn’t even his type, but she turned, basically, into ME. At least, me ten years ago. That made me realize that he didn’t give a shit about HER or who she was. She was an easily-manipulated person who he could mold into his ideal woman. I had been exactly the same (he had been my first boyfriend, so I was quite inexperienced).

        “you are a diamond, so the narcissist was never going to be able to survive with you” – I love this. One of the biggest compliments my ex ever gave me was during my discard when he said “you can’t be manipulated”. Damn right. I was learning to stand on my own two feet and he HATED that.

  • Trapped, I’m also in a community property state. I was blindsided by Dday and what I learned afterwards. 25 years married to a serial cheater and liar— no clue! As soon as his mask slipped, his true nature was revealed and he was pure evil. I went all the way through trial. Judge made an unequal property distribution (gave me 82% of all assets and 6 mos of maintenance and full child support) and said he wished he could have given me more because XH had such higher earning ability but judge didn’t want me tied to years of payments from such a disordered person. Do not despair! Fight for what you want! You can process all the feelings later – that’s what I did and I think that’s what VH is alluding to.

    Fast forward 8 years— XH has devolved terribly. His life is a complete shit show. I’m so lucky I am free of all of that abuse. Still recovering from a lifetime of deceit but doing well. Life is good.

  • Trapped – Putting in another plug for No Contact. If your children are nearly adults, their relationship with their father is up to them. Protect their education and living expenses through a good divorce settlement. You need the power of the court to deal with this crook. Show your children that you will not pick me dance or live in denial. The cheaters’ sad sausage act is part of the abuse. You don’t want to be present for the charm or rage, either.

  • Leverage is a beautiful thing; the cheater not knowing the extent of what you do know is power on a silver platter. Or in my case a large briefcase filled with old newspapers when he finally showed up in court lawyer-less after a year of no shows/extensions.

    Yes, speak to your attorney. Gather that evidence. Never speak about it directly or put anything in writing to FW.

    The statement I used was that we can do it the easy way or the hard way. There were no real assets to speak of, yet I listed what I wanted and I won. When in the conference room with my attorney and FW I put that heavy briefcase on the table. And the result was getting what I wanted.

  • Get a new lawyer asap – a lawyer with an end game – a strategic plan – a lawyer with experience that has your best interest in mind with a timeline for resolution – a lawyer who isn’t afraid to take your FWit down-
    – Sadly, sounds like the lawyer you have is just interested in billing billing billing dragging this out – sucking as many dimes from you as slowly as he can – dump him.
    -And so sorry you are living this nightmare – we all experienced similar scenarios- After discovery it’s like living with that “ I lost my car keys feeling or where’s my purse? feeling for years. Little gut punches of shock and anger and fear – it’s a shattered reality – and then it passes – you feel a little meh- then you find a great movie to watch and oh…there’s a sex scene and you turn the channel –
    – There will come a time when you don’t have to turn the channel – live your best life in spite of his actions – he did this – he created this – he’s not thinking about you – don’t give him the satisfaction of knowing you even wonder about him – you are paying a lawyer to be his adversary and your advocate. Good luck to you “ Living Well Is The Best Revenge”. Keep your game face on. Life will get better.

  • Get yourself financially separated as soon as possible. My ex’s financial behavior was not too illegal but it also was not the right thing to do. Chasing down his money trail was just an energy sink that I was not willing to go to. Instead I make sure if anyone asks to let them know about the financial abuse on top of all the other abuse.

  • To everyone commenting on my lawyer, I was trying not to be too specific (and identifiable) but BEFORE I discovered the employer theft and HOOKERS, she ran the numbers based on “only” the adultery, and told me what I was likely to get in court. Her advice then was to stay in mediation; going to court and getting all the credit card statements wasn’t worth it, based on what he was willing to walk away from in home equity. (The home equity thing is crazymaking-the longer they keep secrets, the home value just goes up and up and UP until chumps can’t possibly buy them out).

    My biggest goal was to keep the house, not to discover the details of the spending. In mediation, spouses are only asked for ONE month of credit card statements- the month of separation. I think I would have to go to court to get years of back statements. Do I want the house? Or the satisfaction of knowing the details of that card? Because whatever he spent, it probably isn’t 15 years worth of home equity.

    She was on vacation during this recent discovery, and I talk to her today. Hopefully her advice will change! If it doesn’t I can shop around some more now that circumstances have changed.

    Thank you to everyone who has walked this path before me and given wonderful advice and support!

    • I asked for three years of statements…

      Honestly, letting the house go was one of my better decisions. Yes, it hurts, but the freedom, the extra money, the starting over somewhere that isn’t a constant source of bad memories and doesn’t have the skeeve factor (FW stayed in the house during our separation and he had OW over there constantly) was worth it. I loved my house, but letting it go was like a weight off my shoulders. (Not saying it’s the right thing for you, but it is something to consider.)

  • I was married to one of these men. He was also planning on leaving me when our son became an adult but then I inherited some money so he put it off another year trying to figure out how to get that money. But I angered him by demanding to know what was going on and he lost his temper. I found out he really wanted me dead. He wanted to kill me. That would be easier on him than a divorce. We were married for 20 years. I thought he was my best friend.

    I did not know him at all. I want you to let that sink in. You do not know yours at all either. You said it was a fake marriage for 3 years. No, it was a fake marriage the whole time. I’m so sorry. I know how much that hurts. You have to accept it though and I know fully accepting that is a slow process full of screaming agony. But it gets better when you get there. A lot better. Hang in there. I wish I could say something to make it easier because I know how bad it is but it just takes time and working on accepting the truth and doing what you need to do to get safe and stable. You will get there. There were times I thought there was no way I could go on and deal with more but I did and you can too.

    The man is a criminal. He’s a thief, he sees nothing wrong with buying abused women, nothing wrong with exposing you to disease, nothing wrong with cleaning out your savings and putting his family in a poor financial position, and he can have two different lives and smile and go about his day with you like nothing is wrong. And like you said, his life with her isn’t really even that different. No, but he gets to lie and that’s exciting to him. He got to get one over on you for years. That’s one of the few things that actually makes him feel something in life.

    As for the divorce, I threatened mine in order to get it done quickly. I told him what I could get and what I could go for and how I could drag it out for years if I needed to and I told him I’d rather give every dime of my inheritance to lawyers than give him a penny. He got all upset and said, “But that would hurt you too! Why would you do that!” I told him that he could agree to my terms (which were reasonable but less than I could get in court) or I could spend $50,000 doing everything in my power to destroy him. He accepted the terms but pouted during the negotiation so I drew him a chart to show him how his life is going to be so much better than mine with his salary compared to my salary and then he got happy again. Really drove home how I never knew him at all. You’re probably going to have a lot of those moments too. If you can stop looking and digging and get a divorce settlement, do it and get it over with. As long as you are safe and stable, you can rebuild. Lawyers are just looking at the money, you have to worry about your mental health too and ripping the bandaid off may be worth losing some money. Rebuilding without a monster attacking your finances is going to feel shockingly easy. I’m mind blown by how easy budgeting is without my ex around to foul it up.

    I’m going to recommend you read “Why does he do that?” by Lundy Bancroft. It’s written by a man who counsels abusive men but focuses on the safety of their partners. He tells you how they think. My ex husband never hit me but I saw a lot of his thinking in those pages. It helped me understand some things, it might help you too.

    Another book is the sociopath next door. They’re like 4% of the population, maybe more now, so they are everywhere. Your husband is probably one. My ex husband is probably one. That book is hopeful and helped me because it tells you how they think but it also underlines how horrible the way they live is and how wonderful it is they we are not like them. At one point it talks about a sociopath who was married with children and how he will go to his grave never knowing his life could have been filled with warmth and meaning. It’s such a waste. I never thought I would feel sorry for my ex husband but two years after the divorce, I feel sorry for him. What a terrible way to live. I’m so thankful I’m not like him. We get to escape and have real lives. They will only have their little games and empty souls.

    • Agree with you, Katie Pig. Our exes sound so similar and those 2 books made me understand what I was dealing with. Gosh, I did the same thing during the divorce–showing him the math that he will always, always make more than me and his siblings. It truly cheered him up enough to cooperate. It was eye-opening to see him soften because of that.

    • “I did not know him at all. I want you to let that sink in. You do not know yours at all either. You said it was a fake marriage for 3 years. No, it was a fake marriage the whole time.” AMEN. Realizing that the “good times” were just as abusive as the bad ones, because he was manipulating and controlling me all along, really helped me emotionally detach.

      “I’m mind blown by how easy budgeting is without my ex around to foul it up.” YES. I was basically penniless and lived with my mom during our separation, but once we got the finances completely separated, I paid off ALL of my credit card debt, built up my savings, and got back on my feet in short order. I am now in better financial shape than I ever was while we were married. (FW had blamed me for us always being broke, but once we each had full control of our own money, I started on an upward trajectory and he spiraled downward.)

      I give a hearty second to “Why Does He Do That”. It was eye opening in so many ways. Like a textbook description of my husband and my marriage. The entire thing is available online for free. I also found “Psycopath Free” to be a helpful book. I’m pretty sure my ex was a sociopath. Definitely a narcissist (ticked EVERY box).

      ” At one point it talks about a sociopath who was married with children and how he will go to his grave never knowing his life could have been filled with warmth and meaning. It’s such a waste. I never thought I would feel sorry for my ex husband but two years after the divorce, I feel sorry for him. What a terrible way to live. I’m so thankful I’m not like him. We get to escape and have real lives. They will only have their little games and empty souls.”

      Same. I do feel sorry for him. My ex didn’t know what happiness or contentment were. He didn’t know what real love was. He discarded me, he discarded his family, and chose people who fed him empty flattery. He decided that being left by OW, losing his reputation (since both she and I were accusing him of domestic violence), and being in dire financial straights (about to be evicted) was too much and he took his own life. He spoke with our son (age 9) on a video call only hours before killing himself. And so he will never get to see his son grow up. That is tragic, really.

  • LW, you say you are getting “good legal advice” but you don’t actually say that you have a lawyer. All of your good legal advice should be coming from “my lawyer, who specializes in high-conflict divorces”.

    I apologize if I am over-reading your comment, but I am a lawyer, and I talk to a LOT of people who drive their lives into a cliff wall, Wile E. Coyote style, because they acted on “good legal advice” (which wasn’t actually good) from their hairdresser’s nephew who’s a second year law student, or a ‘legal advice’ site, or similar sources that were not an actual lawyer with actual experience in the subject matter who actually worked for them.

    Print/screenshot/copy everything you are finding out about your STBX’s financial misbehavior. Give that to your lawyer. They will be able to advise you on next steps – a police report, telling the employer, whatever, but you need solid advice *from your lawyer* on this.

  • Trapped, actually be glad you have become a forensic accountant. It is a valuable skill especially when dealing with a FW. I live in a fault state but yet everyone always went on about 50/50. Of course, there is the whole dissipation thing. I went full on accountant too and I started tracking the dissipation. Gave that and the adultery pictures (FW was stupid to have “accidently downloaded pics of he and Schmoopie doing the act to our adult son’s shared photo account) to my lawyer. I have a decent settlement because FW did not want adultery on public record and he was shocked at my knowledge of his dirty financial dealings. I am getting back close to the full amount he spent on Schmoopie (over $150K). The rest of the settlement is pretty good. Schmoopie can have him now and since she is 32 years younger than him, I am sure she will get as much money as she can out of him and then dump his ass. I will be doing well. Everything should be final the end of October. My parents, adult son and I already have plans to celebrate the finalization with a nice vacation (I am already picturing all of us with nice cool, fruity drinks in hand toasting my new freedom).
    SO track his spending, stay on your lawyer to expedite matters, don’t ask for alimony, get a lump sum settlement and do discuss his work situation with the attorney to make sure you will not be considered an accomplice. More than anything, you need to work on not trying to untangle his mess. It will only make your head want to explode. Make your new mantra something like ” I trust that he sucks and he is a complete Fuckwit”. Go No Contact and let your lawyer handle it from here on. My atttorney used my evidence to et FW to settle. It works.

  • In addition to CLs pearls, I’m loving Robert Torbay on Quora’s witticisms about narcs atm including “they think their balding spots and snaggle tooth are actually very attractive, just the rest of the world hasn’t realised it yet”. I constantly have to remind myself I bred with a deluded madman! How stupid for me to go along with it for decades it. It helps to have a good sense of humor because if you didnt laugh….

    I hope the American legal system is better than the Australian one at preventing litigation abuse. I’m 18 months into property negotiations and havent got past step 1 yet “what is the asset pool”. You cant get into court before you’ve taken “genuine steps” to resolve a property matter. Genuine ~ ha!

  • Trapped, everybody’s advice is so perfect, I’ll just cover a small part of your letter that got me. “The emails [to the ESCORTS] stopped in 2020–lockdown? the affair heating up?”. Well, I am of the opinion that he got busted by his three-years affair partner, and went into deeper deception (Snapchat anyone? Any new game’s chatting room? I am no expert nor do I wish to become one). What a prize she gained! Yes it hurts to discover all those lies. It hurts like hell! Somebody in CN wrote that the pain lasts around one month per year of marital mirage. I hope to get to the other side soon. I wish you the same 😘

  • Dear trapped, what a horrible thing, I’m so sorry. Xx

    I’m in the UK, so obviously don’t know anything about American law, except that every state seems to have different laws.

    What jumped out at me, though, (apart from the fact that your stbxh is a monumental bellend) is the somewhat strange advice your lawyer is giving you. You are paying this person to be *on your side*. It doesn’t sound to me as if that’s the case – as CL says, why on earth is it up to *you* to be ‘persuasive’?? 😡😠

    I think you should get yourself another lawyer. Xx

  • FWs really are the dumbest people. In anticipation of divorce, FW and I split some cash we were sitting on, 100K to each of us. He put his into a joint account with the gold digger schmoopie! What an idiot. This woman had already shown him she’d turn on him in a heartbeat (she actually tried to work with me and my attorney to screw him over after they had a fight and broke up for a while. She also tried to have him arrested, but that’s a long story). Anyway, she could have cleaned out his cash and it would have all been totally legal. She didn’t, but what a moron he is. Idiots, all of them.

  • The YEARS of financial abuse were the number one reason I filed. Honestly, I probably would have put up with more affairs if he hadn’t been so financially abusive to both me and his children. The nail in the coffin was draining the joint account. I HAD to file because I couldn’t afford to feed my kids. That was over 3 years ago and he’s been paying the bills ever since (“alimony”) and the divorce will be final soon. I was lucky in that Fw’s father is wealthy and was constantly (unbeknownst to me) giving him money. FW wisely (nafariously? sneakily? assholey?) put that money in a separate (NON-joint) account and spent it on various women and alcohol/bar bills. While FW’s father is a sociopath, he probably saved me from being in horrible debt during the marriage. I’m certain FW told his father he needed money for the kids or the house or various other sad sausage stories (LIES). We saw NONE of that money. FW is a professor and program director (I also used to teach at the same university) and has a credit card and budget to go with his job- I’m SURE he has abused that “budget” for his own gain. I have no proof nor do I care anymore, but for the people that I worked with that think he’s “all that” I hope they enjoy cleaning up his fiscal mess. Thankfully I no longer have to deal with it!!

    • chumped48 similar experience ~ as one example 50k handed out by his mother to help with school fees, and do you think the school fees had been paid. I didnt even know about that money until MIL casually mentioned it one day, and then later was notified by school we owed x amount. They lie to everyone.

  • Trapped, you have so much leverage on this clown to get what you want in the divorce. Use it, but be very careful. He sounds like a sociopath and not above violence to hide his larceny. Dealing with criminals is inherently dangerous, so stay away from him and watch your back.

    CL is right- the hookers bother you more than the affair because it shows how deeply depraved he is. You were living with an abusive, misogynistic creep and didn’t know it. That’s scary and it makes you feel dirty because he touched you. That’s a normal reaction and it will get better.

  • I had the opposite situation with my lawyer…I wanted to take the “persuasive” route where I just get him to agree to be reasonable and avoid court. My lawyer wanted to file motions for sanctions, court orders, etc. In the end, she was right. I spent almost a stupid year on the persuasive route and got nowhere. It wasn’t until my lawyer sent a legal letter with all the facts and law, and the realistic outcome, plus a hard date/time for our filings that he finally signed the papers, literally a half hour before the cutoff he had been given. The lesson here is: let your lawyer do the talking. A strong legal letter outlining his transgressions, and what that will mean in a court of law, along with a deadline for signing the settlement you provide, will likely speed on this process immensely. It’s also handy to have your lawyer inform your ex that, if you file certain things in court–evidence of his spending on hookers, company theft, etc.–it will all be made public, in that the court filings will be publicly accessible documents. So, his dirty little secrets will be secrets no more. This type of threat can often get an impression-management type moving, real fast.

  • Dig dig dig at least 10 years back. Save every statement to pdf. Work with your attorney to hire a forensic accountant. Find every calendar. Get all of his paystubs showing vacation taken (mine took about 3-4 weeks off per year without me knowing – it paired nicely with surges in spending). I got $80,000 more in assets and more than 50% of assets plus spousal maintenance (without dependents) after a 4 day trial. The key thing was to identify money spent without your knowledge or consent, and not to the benefit of the marital estate. Be strong during mediation! Don’t eat any more sh*t sandwiches. I walked out of mediation when he refused to negotiate on anything. He thought he would do better in court. Against a 1,600 page forensic accountant’s report and her 3 hours of testimony? Not so much. Hire yourself a very good lawyer. It will cost you, but it has been really useful to have a Ruling of the Court showing that he committed fraud. No one can accuse you of exaggerating or dismiss his depletion of assets as “not a big deal.”

  • Dear Trapped,
    I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It was very hard to read your post because it is very similar to my story. Creepily similar. I hope that knowing that there is another man out there behaving just like your husband will convince you that this is a thing. There are people out there who absolutely delight in deception of all kinds. Lie, cheat, steal, rinse and repeat. That’s all they do day in and day out. They look normal but they are not. These are sociopaths who need normal people (like you and me) around them to lend them credibility and make them blend in with society.

    My ex was quiet and shy, an all-around nice and humble guy. Such a hard worker. We were married for 23 years. He is a traveling physician and he frequented a small town 5 hours away. He was there so frequently that his contract was changed to 0.5 FTE for that hospital, not just a traveling sub. He was reimbursed for staying at a local hotel–but I found out later that he had a gf there, he was staying at her house with her kids, playing house, and they were making fake hotel receipts, and collecting all the reimbursements from the hospital. This went on for 3 years until I found out one day and kicked him out. The shock was too much for me. I absolutely had no clue. But once the mask was off, the evil came out. During separation, I learned more and more darkness about him. He steals computers from work. How do you walk out of a hospital carrying a desktop computer? Apparently he did it more than 10 times. He steals laptops, watches, calculators, stethoscopes. He was cyberstalking our friends using fake email and social media accounts. He created lots of fake receipts for various reasons. And I am positive it is only the tip of the iceberg. He is a criminal. The divorce process was pure hell but I finally got out after a year. His mask cannot stick back on and he has gone full-on psycho. He is refusing to pay alimony and child support, he is trying to divert our kids college money, and has already dragged me to court twice. He tells everyone I cheated on him. You need good friends, a good lawyer, and a good therapist. And rock-solid boundaries. You need stamina for this. There is so much darkness in these people and the abuse will keep going.

    • Similar story here. As if infidelity isn’t enough, finding out that your husband was also a thief is so awful. In my case he didn’t necessarily get caught by he confessed to me how he’d been skimming money “here and there” meaning at home and our business. Also it hurts like hell when you find out they bought hookers and also had girlfriends – in my case ones that got lots of gifts. I had a hard time proving things even though he confessed so I lost a shit load of marital $$ over the years. Also no financial support or child support – I took a financial hiding to get rid of the fucker in the end of it all. One thing that still pisses me off to this day, is how he chided me over my weekly bottle of wine habit. He said my Pinot noir each week cost $15 and he felt it was a bit extravagant of me to buy a bottle each week. He spent $400/week on hookers. It winds me up so much when I think about that because I stopped buying my wine 🤬

      • I hope you’re good to yourself now. A $15 of pinot noir per week is what–roughly 4 glasses of wine for less than $4 each? That’s self care, and cheap at the price! 😉

        • Thanks 20th! I do buy that wine now and it’s a damn site cheaper than hookers 😂 I can’t believe what I put up with.

    • chumpupthejam your ex sucks, i hope he goes to jail

      You have to wonder how many of these freaks walk amongst us. It cant just be the ones that get caught. The cheating is in some ways an irrelevant side show to the overall depravity. I read an article the other day in our local rag that the swingers scene is rather vibrant in our small city. A local historic property was advertised with the tag “once played host to (our city’s) biggest sex parties”. Ew. I hope the carpet has been thoroughly steam cleaned.

      One of my lawyer colleagues (mid 40s) said he got invited down a dark alley into a doorway one night after work for what he assumed was an underground sex party. He intended to smash a few quiet ones at the pub and head home, not participate in an orgy of middle aged freaks feasting on each other’s rotten old flesh. He beat a hasty retreat, and headed home to the wife and kids.

      What do these people do when they see each other at the local supermarket, or the kids sporting event, the next day? Perhaps they dont recognise each other with their clothes on.

      • Yuck. My ex was deeply into the local S&M scene here in our mid sized city. He told me he wore a mask and many other people did too in order to protect their identities. But it didn’t help that much because two of his very young women from that scene made their way to our family home looking for him. He lied and told me they were from his Magic card group. This was from a 48 year old man. Pathetic.

        • FKA Good grief – Ive never been much of a hornbag but if I saw a naked middle aged dude wandering around in a mask I’d fall about laughing. I’d have the opposite of an orgasm. Was it a clown mask?

      • “You have to wonder how many of these freaks walk amongst us. It cant just be the ones that get caught.”

        I think about this daily, weedfree. The shift in perspective has caused a major change in my personality — and as Dr. George Simon asserts, my skepticism is not merely paranoia. I do not trust easily, and while I don’t assume the worst about every person I meet — I do believe it’s possible. In some cases, probable. Even (especially) if someone’s a Nice Guy. I don’t know that this knowledge keeps me safer, but it sure does keep me vigilant. I refuse to join my friends and family to worship at the alter of good intentions, and I think it’s naive and foolish to trust easily. I actually feel angry and defensive when people empathize with predators and perpetrators. I don’t feel this way because I’m a negative Nelly. I feel this way because of my lived experience, which I fought like hell to deny and spackle. I lived with a con artist for 15 years. I was betrayed by the love of my life, and he still goes about his charmed life, being worshipped — in spite of what people witnessed and know. In this new community, at my new job, around my friends’ partners, I cannot shake the feeling that someone must be up to something evil. (Ok, so maybe I have become a wee bit paranoid.)

        Trapped went through/is going through hell. That fuckwit STBX of hers IS a scary sociopath. It’s outlandish, yet there are elements of her story that are eerily familiar to all who read here. We chumps were once the *most committed* to giving the benefit of the doubt. We are a trusting, loyal, loving bunch. So if we suspect someone is untrustworthy… come on, maybe listen.

  • I’m a UK lawyer. Family law is not my area of expertise. The ex is a lawyer, also not a family specialist. The ex was stealing money from the marriage from its start to its end nearly 30 years later. The ex saw me as a useful cash cow and got his kicks elsewhere, primarily in alcohol. He was also having an affair, emotional, and then physical, with his exgf, mostly long distance. I had two lawyers acting on my behalf. I instructed them on recommendation from lawyers who I trust and both came from highly-respected firms. The first was female, the second male. Neither fought for me. Both were lazy. Both saw me as a cash cow. It was all very sad. I blamed myself because I was the common denominator and I was ready to blame myself for everything because I felt so worthless. With hindsight I can see that I kept trying hard to make the lawyer relationships work just as I have tried hard to make every relationship work throughout my life. I’m a ‘very good girl’. I don’t cause trouble. Which makes it easy to do work for me or to live with me. It’s comfortable to become complacent while I’m running around photocopying, scanning, digging, redrafting, being helpful, paying thousands up front and keeping the money on account topped up. And then to charge me for reading what I’ve dug up, including sending two word emails saying ‘thank you’ and then not offer firm clear advice on what my options are. EXCEPTIONAL LAWYERS WHO WILL DELIGHT YOU GIVE YOU CLEAR ADVICE AND DO NOT SIT ON THE FENCE LEAVING YOU TO DITHER ABOUT WHAT TO DO. EXCEPTIONAL LAWYERS TRUST THEIR EXPERTISE AND JUDGEMENT. EXCEPTIONAL LAWYERS ARE NOT FLOPPY AND WOBBLY. This is something I feel very strongly about so no apologies for shouting.

    I sacked the first lawyer quickly. The second I stuck with because I was so beaten down (and the ex was very obstructive). I kept crying during Zoom sessions with the second lawyer in lockdown. And this lazy person sat there with his head on his hand and could barely make the effort to say anything useful. It felt like a further betrayal. My tears were of frustration at being let down by yet another human being who was supposed to be fighting for me. It cost me about £30k without a court hearing. My regret is that I did not stand up for myself during the legal process. I did do so at the end when I refused to pay bills. I did ok, I can live with where I ended up. But my advice to anyone who has doubts about their lawyer is TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. And don’t be too good, too reasonable, too understanding. Be as hard and as tough as you can muster up or find someone to be that tough friend to deal with the lawyer on your behalf while you relax a little.

    • Sorry MW, I felt fucked by the legal system too. I didn’t fight hard because I was so beaten down by my ex and felt completely alone. My country is hard out 50/50 and no fault. I got a not very good settlement and ended up using my child support as leverage to get rid of him. He wasn’t paying or helping anyway and was doing everything in his power to punish me, be unhelpful and obstructive. He fought the system completely and lied to dodge child support. It was so stressful I just needed it to end. My future looked like being dragged through court all the time to try and get child support and fight or just give up. I gave up. What kind of person just doesn’t want to help pay for their child? He moved cities and hardly sees our daughter now. I agree with you- the legal process can be very very defeating.

      • I ended up ashamed of the system of which I am a part, which was not a good place to be. UK society’s view of affairs doesn’t help. We have a new prime minister as of yesterday. A woman who had an affair a few years ago with another Tory MP and whose stay at home husband has stood by her. I looked at the pictures of him ‘standing by’ her yesterday. His eyes are dead.

        Formerly, big hugs. All you can do is live and learn.

  • Leverage is a powerful tool. It’s the only one that saved my assets.
    My first meek lawyer was pretty much ‘let’s get this divorce over with … you’re in a marital assets state … you’ve been married 9 years … that means he’s legally entitled to 45% of your pensions, your 401Ks, and your savings.’

    I used this meek lawyer who didn’t fight anything to remain as a shield while I engaged a shark. My meek lawyer called me to say FW’s lawyer wanted to move up the asset split meeting by a month so the FW’s lawyer could go to France on vacation. She did not have enough balls to tell them tough nuts. Meek lawyer had already calculated the 45% and thought the meeting could easily be done over the phone in 30 minutes.

    My leverage tool was his reputation. He was a public figure who had held public offices. The first meek lawyer saw nothing in this to our advantage. My shark lawyer did and I waited sleepless for a week while a deadline approached hoping my ex would be lulled into thinking I was pretty stupid to be using meek lawyer (FW was a lawyer who had at least 1 case go to the Supreme Court).

    While my leverage could never erase the fact that laws made it legal for him to get about 50% of my assets from 50 years of working … it did mean that he proposed that I sign a do-not-disclose agreement in exchange for keeping his mitts off all but $100,000 of my 401K.

    None of FW’s activities were illegal — that’s pretty powerful leverage. FW’s activities that he didn’t want in a public document were more unsavory and abusive.

  • I wish I hired a forensic accountant. My lawyer later admitted that dealing with my ex wife wasn’t his forte. But with cheaters, it’s never just the physical act but many other ways that they are dishonest.

  • “Why did he do this? Because he can.”
    This. I have to keep telling myself this constantly, every day.
    My FW STBX is hurting everybody. Me (obviously), the kids, but even their own FW self.
    It’s sick, it’s stupid, it’s self-destructive. But that’s what it all is. All the way down.

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