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Divorce folks, I need your help


Carol in Cal.
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Usually if you are still married the lawyer money has to come from your joint marital assets which if you talk to a lawyer they can explain to you. He can't keep all of your marital assets to himself so that you can't pay your lawyer. This is one of the many reasons you need a lawyer involved asap. Just find any good family law attorneys who do free consultations and at least meet with them because at least they can explain some of your rights to you at this point

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Joyce, my understanding is that most divorce lawyers require payment out of the settlement, not on the front end, except a retainer which many will waive for hardship. Don’t let finances stop you on this count.

 

 

This. Divorce lawyers know your situation well. They deal with it every day.

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I want to add--you are not alone. All the things he is telling you, so many of us have heard. It's like there is a book, "how to make a woman doubt herself so much that you can even take her kids from her". The very first thing you need to do after you call that lawyer is read this thread and write down what you know to be true:

 

* I am a loving mother who has dedicated her life to her family.

* I have built this family and our wealth with my husband.

* I am worthy of respect and the mental illness or bad behavior of ONE PERSON (even my husband) does not affect that.

* No matter how many other people believe him, I know the truth, and I believe in myself.

 

Write it down and remember it every day.

 

Again--you are not alone. I have been there. You will make it and you will make it with your kids. Don't give up, and don't give up on yourself. You are worth the hard times that may come in the short term!

Edited by Tsuga
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One day I realized... I would totally spend a month in a women's shelter to help another woman escape an abusive situation. I would totally beg a lawyer to work with her pro-bono, for her kids!

 

So why not do that for myself???

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Keep working at it Joyce! It's going to be the hardest thing you've ever done.

 

You are going to think of 85 things that won't work, and try 50 of them, and hit walls, and feel like crap -- and then you are going to try 50 more things. A few will work. It's going to be the hardest thing you have ever done: and you are going to do it.

 

The whole process will take a year (at very least!) and it will be exhausting piled on top of terrifying piled on top of gut wrenching pain.

 

And then it will be over... eventually the world will turn right side up again and you will thank yourself for doing what had to be done.

 

Because it really does have to be done.

Edited by bolt.
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I can stay at a womens shelter. My kids can't.

 

 

Look for a shelter that accepts children. Also look for a shelter for survivors of abuse (sometimes they are separate from women's shelters). Knock on every door imaginable. Contact people at your church (I think you mentioned upthread that you have a church) to network with you. Someone will have a solution for you.

Edited by Liz CA
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Have you looked into filing for a restraining order? It will vary by state but in mine if someone files for one they automatically grant a temporary one and then there's a hearing for a permanent (not actually permanent but longer-term) one. If you have any way to prove that he's stalking you that would be good to document yourself or file a police report on if you can. He would be required to leave the home if you are granted a restraining order.

 

You may want to think about recording interactions with him or his interactions with your children. Check the laws on your state first...a few states require 2 party consent to record but most don't. There are apps that will record anything near the phone.

 

Your local domestic violence hotline can be a good resource for help. There's a national number too if your local one isn't helpful. If you call definitely ask if they have any suggestions about the way he's restricting your access to money.

 

You may be able to get some sort of financial assistance from a local church to help you pay for food and stash away some of what he's giving you. Yours may or may not be a good resource for you if your husband is a member...some churches are pretty terrible in the way they deal with domestic abuse victims but some are good. I would be *very* cautious about how much information I told them (ie about plans to leave, trying to save money, anything like that which could potentially be reported back to him) until I had a better idea of how supportive they would be.

 

The book "Why Does He Do That" by Lundy Bancroft is an excellent resource if there's anyway you can read it. I would be happy to send you a kindle copy if there's a way you can safely read it.

 

Maybe you could find a house-sharing arrangement with another single mom as an alternative to an apartment in a bad area? I know of people who have done this. If you could find something like this maybe your kids could go to school and you could find a job during school hours. Sometimes just getting out of a situation is preferable to staying for financial reasons but only you can make that decision.

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I can stay at a womens shelter. My kids can't.

 

There is more than one type of shelter.

 

That said, i still think that if he's threatening you, you should leave. Again, doesn't matter if the house is in his name.

 

Please speak to a lawyer. If you have a restraining order, he may be forced to rent an apartment.

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Keep working at it Joyce! It's going to be the hardest thing you've ever done.

 

You are going to think of 85 things that won't work, and try 50 of them, and hit walls, and feel like crap -- and then you are going to try 50 more things. A few will work. It's going to be the hardest thing you have ever done: and you are going to do it.

 

The whole process will take a year (at very least!) and it will be exhausting piled on top of terrifying piled on top of gut wrenching pain.

 

And then it will be over... eventually the world will turn right side up again and you will thank yourself for doing what had to be done.

 

Because it really does have to be done.

Thank you so much
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Joyce, my understanding is that most divorce lawyers require payment out of the settlement, not on the front end, except a retainer which many will waive for hardship. Don’t let finances stop you on this count.

Maybe it is different in different places, but here what you describe is almost unheard of. Most family law attorneys require a retainer and are paid by the hour, actually by the minute, as they go.

 

The only time I have seen a family law attorney take a case without a retainer or hourly agreement is if they know there will be a lot of money to go after in a community property state. And even then they don’t wait for the settlement, they motion for the other party to pay their fees as they are going and another motion to get their client access to marital resources. In most divorces, there aren’t the assets available to make that feasible.

 

That’s not to say don’t see a lawyer. Please, see some lawyers. The free consults can be helpful information, they may have a way to represent you or be able to recommend you for pro bono to their firm or to a colleague. My brother did a consult with an attorney who took an interest in his case and that is what led to his pro bono lawyer. (He’s a SAHP without an income leaving a difficult same sex marriage)

Edited by LucyStoner
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I haven't used online options for school, but wanted to say kudos to you for finding and connecting with your case manager and the church program. Those sound like great resources, and there are more out there for you. We're all rooting for you here, and there are lots of people in your area who have professional experience with these very issues, and will be in your corner.

 

Your husband's lawyer is providing him with legal advice to protect HIS interests, not yours. I know it's so hard to make the shift from thinking of yourself as part of a couple. But given what's happened, it's clear that you need to shift from that mindset into one where you prioritize taking care of yourself and your children. You need your own lawyer. A previous poster made the point that you have a right to access marital resources to pay for a lawyer, just as your husband does. And a lawyer can give you more specific advice on that, as well as how to protect yourself and find more local resources to help. 

 

Please call local lawyers to find a few who do free consults. You do not need funds immediately to get some professional legal advice--just find out which ones offer free 30 or 60 minute consults. And talk to the lawyer about how you feel unable to access marital resources for payment. Be completely up front about what has happened, why you are afraid for yourself and your children, and what special needs your kids have that may require specific housing/food/social environments. The lawyer will tell you what your rights are, and very likely may suggest some options you didn't know you had.

 

It is a long process but you have already taken so many good steps. And I hear that you're continuing to look for ways to manage and improve your situation.

 

Amy

 

 

Edited by Acadie
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I have $100 in cash that I have to use for groceries then give him receipts so that he will pay that back. I have no access to any other funds. There are no savings or retirement accounts. Our only asset is the house.

This is financial abuse.

 

Can you get a restraining order that requires him to leave the house? If he’s made threats, paired with the financial abuse, it may be enough for a temporary order.

 

Ok, catching up on the thread. Yes, you almost certainly have enough for a temporary restraining order. That would get him out of the house but it sounds like you may need to be in an undisclosed location for your safety.

Edited by LucyStoner
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For kids education, you may want to consider some sort of school.

 

During a divorce, there will be attorney meetings and court dates. Even if you have good child care, it can be stressful to arrange things. Nobody needs more stress.

 

Schools can often provide resources, or help steer you to good resources, for the children. Lots of parents go through divorce, and most schools have experience helping kids who are in tough situations.

 

You may even make some new friends yourself!

 

I totally understand if schools are awful in your area, or if there are medical/religious/other considerations. I'm just suggesting that you might want to think out of the box, for you.

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Maybe it is different in different places, but here what you describe is almost unheard of. Most family law attorneys require a retainer and are paid by the hour, actually by the minute, as they go.

 

The only time I have seen a family law attorney take a case without a retainer or hourly agreement is if they know there will be a lot of money to go after in a community property state. And even then they don’t wait for the settlement, they motion for the other party to pay their fees as they are going and another motion to get their client access to marital resources. In most divorces, there aren’t the assets available to make that feasible.

 

That’s not to say don’t see a lawyer. Please, see some lawyers. The free consults can be helpful information, they may have a way to represent you or be able to recommend you for pro bono to their firm or to a colleague. My brother did a consult with an attorney who took an interest in his case and that is what led to his pro bono lawyer. (He’s a SAHP without an income leaving a difficult same sex marriage)

 

 

When I filed for divorce I was a SAHM who had not worked in 10 years.  An excellent, well known attorney let me pay a $500 retainer.  He collected the rest at the end of the divorce.  My total bill was around $5K.  Judge ordered XH to pay $1500 of that.

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When I filed for divorce I was a SAHM who had not worked in 10 years. An excellent, well known attorney let me pay a $500 retainer. He collected the rest at the end of the divorce. My total bill was around $5K. Judge ordered XH to pay $1500 of that.

This is definitely the part that varies. Here a low retainer is $2000. Expect that to be spent before depositions are scheduled for the trial.

Edited by LucyStoner
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This is definitely the part that varies. Here a low retainer is $2000. Expect that to be spent before depositions are scheduled for the trial.

 

 

My attorney knew there were assets to pay him.  And we didn't get as far as depositions.  Funny how fast my XH folded before that happened.  

 

Which is another reason she needs an attorney.....her husband is a bully and she needs the strong voice of an attorney to help her stand up to the bully.

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This is definitely the part that varies. Here a low retainer is $2000. Expect that to be spent before depositions are scheduled for the trial.

My attorney asked for $5000 retainer. In total it cost me $11,000. No idea why except that it took us 1yr and 1/2 to finish. We never actually went to court either.

 

Best advice I got from this board was get a lawyer though.

 

Sorry, I hate to put that total out there for someone new to divorce but the reality is without my lawyer it would have been awful. He tried so much intimidation and it was good to have her there to stop it.

Edited by mommybee
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For kids education, you may want to consider some sort of school.

 

During a divorce, there will be attorney meetings and court dates. Even if you have good child care, it can be stressful to arrange things. Nobody needs more stress.

 

Schools can often provide resources, or help steer you to good resources, for the children. Lots of parents go through divorce, and most schools have experience helping kids who are in tough situations.

 

You may even make some new friends yourself!

 

I totally understand if schools are awful in your area, or if there are medical/religious/other considerations. I'm just suggesting that you might want to think out of the box, for you.

 

I think changing from an assumed SAHM homeschooling lifestyle to an assumed schooling lifestyle is a bad idea until lawyers are involved and a separation agreement has been made.

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My attorney asked for $5000 retainer. In total it cost me $11,000. No idea why except that it took us 1yr and 1/2 to finish. We never actually went to court either.

 

Best advice I got from this board was get a lawyer though.

 

It is quite necessary in most cases to get an attorney.  It shouldn't be....but generally if a divorce is happening two people aren't going to be able to decide on things in a reasonable way.  Sometimes though once you get an attorney a bully spouse will suddenly become more reasonable.  That happened with my dh and his XW....she was totally, ridiculously unreasonable about visitation and cs until dh gave an attorney 2500 and took her to mediation.  After that she became easy to work with---relatively speaking.

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My attorney asked for $5000 retainer. In total it cost me $11,000. No idea why except that it took us 1yr and 1/2 to finish. We never actually went to court either.

 

Best advice I got from this board was get a lawyer though.

 

Sorry, I hate to put that total out there for someone new to divorce but the reality is without my lawyer it would have been awful. He tried so much intimidation and it was good to have her there to stop it.

 

 

Ha. As you were editing I was making the same point.

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I think changing from an assumed SAHM homeschooling lifestyle to an assumed schooling lifestyle is a bad idea until lawyers are involved and a separation agreement has been made.

 

 

I agree with this 100%.  She can be getting her MIND ready for the changes that might have to come, but I would not change anything until I speak to an attorney.

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Mobymax has free online schooling. All subjects, I believe.

 

Mystery science is free online science, and is excellent.

 

Prodigy is free online math practice.

 

Spelling city for free spelling list practice.

 

CNN student news is good current events.

 

(Hugs).

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I think changing from an assumed SAHM homeschooling lifestyle to an assumed schooling lifestyle is a bad idea until lawyers are involved and a separation agreement has been made.

I see your point, and wouldn't suggest doing anything without an attorney's advice, should have included that caveat as part of my post. ☹ï¸

 

But, in some states/cases, courts can assess a spouse's contribution based on what he or her *could* be capable of earning. For example, if one spouse quits a high paying job and then earns less, the higher salary could be imputed to him/her. And if a non working spouse is capable, by virtue of education/experience of higher earning, a certain income might be imputed to him/her.

 

I don't know, state by state, if homeschooling gets a spouse more support or not....

 

Even just leaving can be problematic. I have two friends (in different states) who faced charges of desertion when they left. I attorneys got around that, but it could have been tricky.

 

I think it was mentioned that the wife was a bit isolated, iirc? So I am trying to think what might be of most help to the children.

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Include all the specifics you know about your financial situation. Ballpark salary for your husband, value of your home (check zillow.com for starters), how much of the principal you still owe. I know you said you have no other assets, but with financial control it is not at all uncommon for there to be secrecy as well, which means there could be a bank account, credit card, retirement plan or other investments that you don't know about. 

 

Amy

 

 

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Joyce, before you talk to any lawyers, you might want to write down as much as you can and organize it so you can get the most out of the free consult.  I know that whenever I have to talk to lawyers or doctors and such, my mind usually goes blank for part of that time, costing me precious time.  It helps to have the questions all written out, with space to scribble answers if you have the time.

 

:grouphug:

 

This is such wise advice!

 

My first meeting with a lawyer turned from consult into therapy (unintentionally and at cost to me!) It was just so different and freeing to have somebody removed from the situation just LISTENING, and I went way off-tangent and gave too much detail in answering her questions. She tried to steer me back on track but it was just one of those things where the emotions came bubbling up like lava from a volcano and were unstoppable. A free 30 minute consult turned into almost 90 minutes of (pay) appointment. 

 

I had already set up multiple consults. The remainder of consults I came with an outline, two printed (one for me, one for the lawyer) with the highlights of what I needed information on and the gist of our financial and home situation (dates he left, etc.) That was at the first lawyer's suggestion. LOL 

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He is being reasonable now. Giving me time... the kids do very little school sporadically and stay up all night very often. I'm trying to change that but it's incredibly hard with our health problems. We have doctor appointments every week not counting counseling.

 

Reality. It's hard. So hard. He is acting like we aren't splitting at all. And it just seems like I have no choice again. I start thinking that this life is purgatory, and at this point I no longer care. I dont want more refining. I just want relief and I dont care what form it comes in.

 

I cried so much last night that my eyes got swollen. They look like they are infected now. And I'm supposed to pull myself together and do more now than I was able to before. It's so so hard. Maybe knowing about women's rights is a bad thing. Because reality is reality. Some of us really do have to be sex slaves to survive. Then again, that was breaking me too.

Edited by Joyce Gripe
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He is being reasonable now. Giving me time... the kids do very little school sporadically and stay up all night very often. I'm trying to change that but it's incredibly hard with our health problems. We have doctor appointments every week not counting counseling.

 

Reality. It's hard. So hard. He is acting like we aren't splitting at all. And it just seems like I have no choice again. I start thinking that this life is purgatory, and at this point I no longer care. I dont want more refining. I just want relief and I dont care what form it comes in.

 

I cried so much last night that my eyes got swollen. They look like they are infected now. And I'm supposed to pull myself together and do more now than I was able to before. It's so so hard. Maybe knowing about women's rights is a bad thing. Because reality is reality. Some of us really do have to be sex slaves to survive. Then again, that was breaking me too.

 

 

((((Joyce)))  Please do not think that it will be harder without him than with him.  Sure SOME things will be more difficult....but you must trust me that once you are free of him you will be amazed at how many things are BETTER.  

Edited by Scarlett
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Because he is in the honeymoon stage i think things would be easier with him. Honeymoon stages sometimes last a long time, and we could get counseling.

 

But after he assaulted me I just can't imagine ever being able to handke sex with him again.

 

Thank you Scarlett.

 

Use it well.

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He is being reasonable now. Giving me time... the kids do very little school sporadically and stay up all night very often. I'm trying to change that but it's incredibly hard with our health problems. We have doctor appointments every week not counting counseling.

 

Reality. It's hard. So hard. He is acting like we aren't splitting at all. And it just seems like I have no choice again. I start thinking that this life is purgatory, and at this point I no longer care. I dont want more refining. I just want relief and I dont care what form it comes in.

 

I cried so much last night that my eyes got swollen. They look like they are infected now. And I'm supposed to pull myself together and do more now than I was able to before. It's so so hard. Maybe knowing about women's rights is a bad thing. Because reality is reality. Some of us really do have to be sex slaves to survive. Then again, that was breaking me too.

 

 

:grouphug:  We are not meant to live in bondage. Even if you suffer through this sham of a marriage, your children will suffer even more. Don't think for one minute they will not know that something very deep and fundamental is wrong.

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I can’t presume to tell you what is the best or safest thing to do. So I will just share some thoughts, gleaned from seeing several people leave DV marriages up close and personal.

 

Do you have a smart phone? Can you download the app “Document the Abuse� It steps you through documenting everything that has happened or continues to happen.

 

One option is to use the honeymoon stage to seek a restraining order, change the locks and then get him bounced from the house. Even at that, I would only do that to be staking a claim to the house, not to live there right after he’s been removed. You could take the kids to a family shelter and not move back to the house until he’s simmered down.

 

Does he own firearms? If yes, the surrender of weapons should be something that can be included on the request for a restraining order.

 

Couples counseling IS NOT appropriate in situations like this. Individual counseling for you is a good idea. Contact with your counselor can also be used as documentation of the abuse later in if needed for court.

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Couples counseling IS NOT appropriate in situations like this. Individual counseling for you is a good idea. Contact with your counselor can also be used as documentation of the abuse later in if needed for court.

 

Wherein you tell him the best ways to hurt you, and you create a situation where he sits and smiles while you do the work of giving him proof that you're mentally unstable.

 

 

Don't go to couples counselling. 

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Just an FYI . . .

 

My mom was a divorce attorney. She was excellent, and was one of the best (if not the best) in her high-income/high-assets area. Her clients were mostly wealthy and/or had access to family funds (elderly parents fund a LOT of divorce cases, especially custody fights) as those were the folks who could afford her, but . . . 

 

That said, she routinely, throughout her long career, took cases pro bono or very highly discounted. She typically chose them from the initial consults she did. Sometimes she fell into them accidentally after initially expecting payment (or a modest retainer), but often enough, she knew from the get go that she was doing this case for free. This was not advertised AT ALL, and was kept as quiet as possible, as she clearly couldn't afford to do much/most of her work for free, and didn't want or need the publicity of doing free work. But, she did hundreds of thousands of dollars in pro bono (or vastly discounted) work over her career. She also *often* took cases without substantial payment until the final settlement . . .

 

Some cases would have billed 100k+ in a single case. Totally free, including court fees and hard costs. Once, she sent her legal assistant out, with Mom's credit card, to take a client's kids back-to-school shopping for clothes and school supplies when the STBX husband was preventing the mother from accessing funds. 

 

Mom was a great and generous woman, but she isn't alone in this sort of secret pro bono work. My husband and I do the same sort of stuff through our vet hospital. It's one of the perks of owning your own business . . . And, it's kept super secret (I swear folks to secrecy when I direct free services to them) in order to avoid having a flood of hardship cases that make it impossible to keep earning actual money.

 

So, anyway, I'd encourage those in need to see as many initial consultations as possible in hopes of finding a sympathetic lawyer. Meanwhile, those consults will likely result in plenty of free advice, too, to get you by for a while.

 

If there's any way to scrounge/beg/borrow 5-10k for a substantial retainer, that'll open more possibilities, too. 

 

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Use it well.

 

I agree!

 

Joyce, please use this time to get your ducks in a row so you can file for divorce. Make an appointment with a divorce attorney TODAY.

 

If this marriage is truly as bad as you say it is, it's time to stop making excuses and take action.

 

I don't mean to sound harsh, but if you keep waffling and delaying, your life will never change. If you're okay with that, it's fine, but you seem miserable, and your current home environment sounds toxic for your children.

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If the kids aren't doing school now, and haven't been for some time, would it be possible to put them in the local public school?  It doesn't have to be a forever decision,  but could give you space and time to get other things settled, and would also probably be in their educational best interests if you're not able to homeschool in this environment and don't know how much longer you'll be unable to, or what life will look like after you are divorced.

 

I agree that you might call around to lawyers anyway, even if you don't have funds right now, just to see what the situation is.  We run a small business (a very different sort from veterinarians or lawyers) and we also do charity work for free when it's a cause we feel like helping out.  I would bet that most small businesses do this in one way or another.

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I have to delay because I have very little proof of anything and it just looks like a clear cut case of a lazy and neglectful mother right now. :'( besides feeding my kids, which wasnt easy due to special diets, he took all my time and energy.

 

I have no experience with divorce or abuse, but the highlighted part sounds like your husband has you brainwashed. He likely uses that same statement over and over to describe you, convincing you that's what you are. But what you've told the women here who here is enough for them to tell you to get an attorney. You don't hear them telling you you're lazy and neglectful. Your words on this forum don't sound like a lazy or neglectful mother, they sound like someone who has some things she needs to do to get out of an abusive marriage. Don't believe what he tells you; do what you need to do.

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He is being reasonable now. Giving me time... the kids do very little school sporadically and stay up all night very often. I'm trying to change that but it's incredibly hard with our health problems. We have doctor appointments every week not counting counseling.

 

Reality. It's hard. So hard. He is acting like we aren't splitting at all. And it just seems like I have no choice again. I start thinking that this life is purgatory, and at this point I no longer care. I dont want more refining. I just want relief and I dont care what form it comes in.

 

I cried so much last night that my eyes got swollen. They look like they are infected now. And I'm supposed to pull myself together and do more now than I was able to before. It's so so hard. Maybe knowing about women's rights is a bad thing. Because reality is reality. Some of us really do have to be sex slaves to survive. Then again, that was breaking me too.

 

Do not believe this. You are tired and hurting, but you are not destined to a life of purgatory just because this is your current reality. 

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I have to delay because I have very little proof of anything and it just looks like a clear cut case of a lazy and neglectful mother right now. :'( besides feeding my kids, which wasnt easy due to special diets, he took all my time and energy.

You don't have to delay. You don't need proof of anything right now.

 

You need an attorney.

 

Please be honest with us. Do you really want to get out of your marriage? Because based on your posts, I'm not sure you do. If you want to remain in the marriage, that's your decision and we will respect that, but I wish you would level with us because it seems like you complain about your dh, but then you immediately backpedal as soon as people give you specific advice on how to proceed toward a divorce.

 

I feel very badly for you because you seem very unhappy, but I'm not sure how to respond to your posts because I can't figure out what you really want.

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You don't have to delay. You don't need proof of anything right now.

 

You need an attorney.

 

Please be honest with us. Do you really want to get out of your marriage? Because based on your posts, I'm not sure you do. If you want to remain in the marriage, that's your decision and we will respect that, but I wish you would level with us because it seems like you complain about your dh, but then you immediately backpedal as soon as people give you specific advice on how to proceed toward a divorce.

 

I feel very badly for you because you seem very unhappy, but I'm not sure how to respond to your posts because I can't figure out what you really want.

 

I understand where you are coming from, Cat, but you're asking a very unreasonable question. 

 

If you don't know what support to give, it is perfectly reasonable not to respond with anything more than a huggy smilie.

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You don't have to delay. You don't need proof of anything right now.

 

You need an attorney.

 

Please be honest with us. Do you really want to get out of your marriage? Because based on your posts, I'm not sure you do. If you want to remain in the marriage, that's your decision and we will respect that, but I wish you would level with us because it seems like you complain about your dh, but then you immediately backpedal as soon as people give you specific advice on how to proceed toward a divorce.

 

I feel very badly for you because you seem very unhappy, but I'm not sure how to respond to your posts because I can't figure out what you really want.

If you’ve never been in a DV situation then you aren’t going to understand.

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