I have a question as to your to line up one’s ducks. A little about me: currently 6 months pregnant, working part-time from home, have a 2 year old and a 1 year old. Husband spent thousands on the affair partner, of course my money was in there, we now have nothing. I took this work-from-home gig so I could watch our 1-year-old and not have to pay for daycare. Husband also started a new job around that time. Both of our incomes have been reduced due to job changes since his affair was discovered.
How do I even begin to line up my ducks when:
A. I don’t want to depend on him financially in any way, I don’t want to give him that control over me or the divorce.
B. I can’t stay with family for long. I’ll receive no emotional support and will possibly be blamed for his cheating due to cultural expectations.
C. I can’t even afford a “cheap” lawyer.
D. I’m expecting soon and can’t really make any major moves for at least 3 months after baby.
E. My 2 year old has speech and developmental delays that require her to stay in state to receive services, moving out of state isn’t an option.
F. I have no money to get my own place right now.
G. I don’t want to stay in the marriage for too long, but trying to save for a lawyer or my own place might take a while… at least 2 years I predict.
As for his affairs, let’s just say 6 years of marriage plus 3 sexual affairs and one emotional one have convinced me it’s enough. I just keep drawing blanks on how to go about this.
I feel so stuck. From your experience and the things you’ve heard/read, are they any tips/advice you can give me?
Where do I even begin?
Dear No Ducks,
You begin by making a plan. You may have to wait to execute your plan. You’ll probably hit multiple roadblocks and have to adapt your plan, but right this minute you can start figuring out how to escape and become self-supporting.
Caveat: Chuck the plan if you have any sense that you’re in danger (aside from the fuckwit squandering all your money on affair partners, which is financially abusive — as well as isolating you). If he’s threatening in any way, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (in U.S.). That’s one way out — a shelter and professional help escaping.
In any case, the way forward is letting people know you need help. Yes, it will feel humbling and mortifying, but there is ZERO shame in it. Even if you ask and get rejected, keep reaching out. This shit calls for creative problem solving and doing the things you didn’t think you could do.
I’m also counting on CN to weigh in here on how they managed these hurdles, because they are, sadly, common hurdles. Financial vulnerability keeps a lot of women stuck. But consider in your case that staying doesn’t guarantee you any financial security either, as your husband is okay blowing all the money on fuckbuddies. Staying is not sustainable. So here are some options to consider.
1.) Get on assistance. As appallingly inadequate as our social safety net is in the U.S., there are services you can avail yourself of as a single mother. Generally, benefits last for two years, but that’s a good amount of time and space away from a fuckwit. You’re already working part-time from home, that could actually qualify you for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). There’s also Medicaid, Food Stamps, child care assistance and housing subsidies. A good summary of available programs is here.
THIS IS WHY WE PAY TAXES. Please feel ZERO shame about using these services. Situations like yours — a temporary crisis until you can get on your feet — is why they exist. Some people are not blessed with supportive families, or deep wells of financial support. But this vulnerable moment is just a window in time — you can train toward a self-supporting career and raise kids. It’s much harder than it should be, but you’re made of tough stuff, as chumps are.
Oh, and another thing — if you do go on assistance, the state enforces your child support FIRST. Any way they can get him to pay versus the taxpayer? They will do it. So, if he can afford fuckbuddies, he can afford child support.
2.) Get legal help. Call your state bar association and ask about pro-bono or low-bono legal services in family law. Law schools in your state may have legal aid clinics. RESEARCH divorce laws in your state. Womenslaw.org is an excellent resource. Also they break down all the resources available by state Places That Help. Given the unequal financial status you’re in with your husband, and having soon three small children, I’d err on the side of legal help over do-it-yourself options like LegalZoom. A good article here — 25 Ways to Divorce Without Going Broke. You can petition the court yourself and get the fees waived, to get the ball rolling. (I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice…)
3.) Raise cash. Hock your jewelry. Ask a family member for a loan. GoFundMe. There’s even divorce financing these days (but beware predatory lenders). A good article on financing a divorce and how to do it when you can’t afford it here: Everything You Need To Know About Divorce Loans. (This is from a loan provider, STILT, so keep that in mind. However, it’s a good overview of options.)
4.) Get creative. Can you live with a friend? Do you know another single mother you could cohabitate with and share child-care? Do your parents have a basement apartment? It’s time to dump all the “I Could Never” thoughts out of your head. I could never do this alone. I could never ask my parents for a loan. I could never live with a roommate.
The way you’ve been living — with a man who’s been abusing you — is much harder. You’re much stronger than you know.
I’m going to open the floor up to CN now. How did you escape? Do you have pointers for No Ducks? Pep talks?