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13 year Relationship Ended and one confused Dad

(65 Posts)
DarthDad Wed 31-Jul-13 05:54:08

Hello all, first post so I'll try and keep it brief but I would love for some advice and perspective about my recent problem.
Myself and OH have been together for 13 years, married for 7 and have a wonderful 3 year old DS.
When DS was one there were significant strains happening in our relationship, arguments, tension and general ill feeling. We were living in Yorkshire with our respective families from Manchester and the Midlands. OH was so desperately unhappy and wanted to move back to the midlands.
We put the house up for sale in 2011 and I began looking for a new job. As things progressed the tension grew worse and we decided that she and DS should move down to the midlands and I would follow.
We got her setup in a tiny house in the same village as her Mum and I would work up North during the week and stay with them from Friday until Monday and obviously when I had any holidays. It was difficult but the changes soon made themselves apparent and OH was a lot happier and was getting back to her normal self, we got DS into a fabulous nursery and all I had to do was keep looking for that elusive job.
5 weeks ago I started my dream job, it let me work from home, pick DS up from nursery and spend more time with OH. Life was finally getting back on track.
Last Sunday after a family day out she announced that she didn't love me, wanted to be on her own and wanted me out of the house.
That has been all the explanation I've had, we spoke about seeing a councillor when I moved back in order to address any previous problems but now she will not entertain the idea. So I find myself in pieces, in a town where I only know her family and back to square one.
So much for keeping it brief, I'm lost and broken and would love for your thoughts and advice, you seem to be a friendly bunch on the whole.

NatashaBee Fri 09-Aug-13 14:24:34

That is great advice from stepmooster. Aim high in terms of where you need to live, who gets what share of any assets and what you want her to pay towards any joint debts, and work downwards if you have to negotiate. That's not being unfair to her, that's taking equal responsibility for debts incurred during your relationship and ensuring you BOTH have a reasonable place for your son to stay when he is with either of you.

DarthDad Fri 09-Aug-13 13:23:46

Thanks all for the advice and help, it means an awful lot.
I went to see a solicitor this morning and that's helped me a lot in terms of what I need to do and get from this now. My main hurdle is getting her to agree to mediation. If she truly wants to keep it amicable then it shouldn't be a problem but as many of you have pointed out, she's clearly had this planned for months/year but hopefully I have a handle on it now.
3 weeks ago I really didn't know where I was but now I feel like I have a plan and goals to achieve. Thank you all so much. You should all run the country or something? Perhaps start a mumsnet coffee shop and build the empire from there?

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sun 04-Aug-13 17:03:34

Hello Darth,
I don't have any experience or advice to offer.
I read the thread last night and have been thinking about you and these awful circumstances you are enduring. I can only offer sympathy/empathy for how devestated you must feel at having been so thourouhly betrayed, tricked, and played by the mother of your son.

From what you have written, you do not have anything to apologize for; that is all on her.

Good luck to you and I hope you will have peace in your life with your son very soon.

stepmooster Sun 04-Aug-13 09:50:47

OP my DH ex tried to screw him for absolutely everything, she too checked out of their marriage, established a new partner and then tossed my DH to the kerb.

She even got DH to take out loans in his name when she was already having an affair.

DH was too nice to start with, but after a bloody good chat with a decent solicitor he stood up for himself and never backed down.

We got together half way through a 3 year legal battle. Some things that may be relevant to your situation.

If your ex works and pays her own bills etc then she won't get spousal support. You were only married for 7 years and you could even say separated for 2 of them? My DH was married for 10 years and it wasn't classed as a long marriage so the assets got split 50/50.

What did happen in my DH case is that he got a charge on the former matrimonial home. But as it looks like your ex doesn't live there and covers her own rent (may have misread) I cant see why you can't split your assets and only provide child maintenance. Both parties are entitled to want money from the settlement to rehouse, and please this has to be somewhere suitable for your child to stay. Aim higher than some grotty bedsit, and work your way down from there.

Also my DH agreed as part of settlement that the ex pay him a set amount each month to cover the debts she made him take out. So I would say it doesn't matter whose name your debts are in but push from the beginning that she takes ownership.

DH also named his ex's affair partner right from the beginning as to why marriage brokedown, and although your ex may never move in with him, but if they do co-habit that will certainly make a difference.

DH ex denied their relationship at first but as the settlement dragged on as DH stayed firm and years started to tick by the ex had to finally admit to co-habitting, which they had started to do not long after divorce proceedings commenced. His finances were then taken into account when it came to the ex's housing needs. Of course I had to disclose mine as well, but the point is you want a fair settlement that is right for everyone.

I would from now on keep all communication business like, and preferably in writing. Don't discuss the divorce with your ex unless via solicitor or at least upon their advice. Keep direct communication about your son and make sure the only person prone to rants and silly demands is your ex. You need to be seen as being reasonable, the judge will soon work out if you do that it is the ex whose out to get everything they can whilst you are only being fair.

Good luck, and I hope you get yourself a good solicitor to fight your corner. X

onefewernow Sun 04-Aug-13 09:31:49

That said, kids are adaptable, and it isn't just about what suits her life. On the other hand there is no need to be difficult on purpose.

I think the OP is well advised to think through what would suit him too, as currently his ex wife has given him a muddled and dishonest story , and simply wants him to fit in around her life and financial plans.

onefewernow Sun 04-Aug-13 09:29:13

I agree.

crushedpetals Sun 04-Aug-13 09:25:47

It is not about what he wants and she wants as regards contact, though, it is about what is in the best interests of the child. A good lawyer will help OP keep that in mind, whilst protecting his interests.

onefewernow Sun 04-Aug-13 09:04:47

I think you need to put her wants and needs out of your mind for one minute. Right out! Blank.

Now, what do you want out of this divorce? Write it down.

Only now, and not before, compare what she wants and what you want.

If any bits match up, good. As to the rest, there will have to be compromise somewhere, on both sides.

You are not a side puppet in her life story. And definitely get legal advice, and also do ask the solicitor to separate your finances ASAP, so you don't get lumbered with more of her bills for running around.

drasticpark Sun 04-Aug-13 08:40:05

She sounds like she's got it all planned out. Very clever. She's probably already decided when she's going to tell everyone that she's met a "new" man too.

Stuff her. You are ds' dad, not the babysitter. Think about what is best for your ds, not what she wants now. See him as much as you possibly can. What you agree to now is not set in stone. These things can change and evolve.

crushedpetals Sun 04-Aug-13 08:35:04

See a solicitor before you agree to anything. Key for your ds is consistency, so you need an arrangement which works regardless of work commitments, I would suggest.

I'm so sorry - it hurts like hell when this happens. I second all the advice above, get proper legal advice as soon as possible, and maximise the time you spend with your ds. She doesn't sound like she is going to go down the amicable route, and you need to protect yourself.

When I was in a similar position my solicitor advised I was entitled to 50% of marital assets (more if I was the main carer for a child), spousal maintenance until such a time as I was able to re-establish my career (he suggested minimum 2 years), and child maintenance. It doesn't matter who's name is on assets and debts, they all go in the pot. It might be a bit different if you brought very different amounts into the marriage, I'm not sure about that.

Get legal advice - I went to a top London firm and they gave me a free initial appointment to discuss my situation, the legal process, a broad brush picture of my rights, and likely settlement.

I feel for you, no one can understand how this feels unless they have been through it. I'm an emotionally tough person, and find it easy to shut the door on my feelings, but my DH's affair ripped my heart out.

DarthDad Sun 04-Aug-13 08:15:56

Had a terrible nights sleep unsurprisingly and lots of things playing on my mind.
She works Saturdays and we have agreed that we will split the weekends 50/50 with advance notice if I have to work away, which I do on rare occasions. Obviously there's no way I don't want to see DS but she is expecting me to have him every saturday and on the weekends i'm not due to have him return him when she finishes work. I'm happy to do that when I have my own place but I don't want to spend any more time at her house than necessary. I'm concerned that if I don't agree this will affect things later down the line.

crushedpetals Sun 04-Aug-13 07:56:14

FWIW, you are talking about a marriage which was so bad your ex left to move back to her parents without you two years ago, and neither of you appeared to address the issues. You have essentially been a weekend dad since then, and you are saying you would not have moved had you known.

Hello? You are now close enough to see your son more, pick him up from nursery etc, and be part of his life. What if she had dumped you before you got the 'dream job' and moved? You would end up an EOW dad. So, what is important here?

Yes, it is shit to find out there is someone else (been there), but try and focus on your ds here. Get good legal advice. Be part of his life. Be glad you moved and can do that, because actually if you were still living and working away, it would be much harder.

Sorry if that sounds unsympathetic, as I know you must be shocked. But you can turn this around to be a good thing for your ds, honestly.

AdoraBell Sun 04-Aug-13 03:32:35

Sorry it's turned out that way. As already suggested concentrate at maintaining your relationship with DS and well done for taking him to the party. There'll be no reason to miss out on 'your' weekend because there's a party for him attend as you've set the precedent.

skyeskyeskye Sat 03-Aug-13 23:35:54

Sorry you have discovered that but it confirms suspicions that there was somebody else. If you get a chance to save it print any if it then do so. It will give you proof of adultery.

I am so sorry for you. Facebook and mobile phone bills was how I discovered contact with OW and my XH.

Stay strong now and concentrate in your D'S and how you can best see him etc.

Lazyjaney Sat 03-Aug-13 22:47:14

She seems to have structured the whole separation process very well to her advantage so far OP, and is still probably a few steps ahead of you, especially if she can drag out all these informal agreements that all play to her advantage.

I think you need professional help asap, and you must assume it will get unpleasant when you start wanting your way, and that her family will take her side.

Btw I am surprised at how few of the usually so active posters on this board have come to the OP's aid here.

perfectstorm Sat 03-Aug-13 20:37:51

Oh, and I doubt she left the phone out deliberately. It sounds to me as though DarthDad always trusted her completely and would never have looked at her phone/emails etc before, and as she won't like to examine her own behaviour, she won't see any reason for him to do otherwise now. I doubt getting caught out ever crossed her mind.

I think we should be more grateful to facebook and mobiles than people realise. They didn't cause cheating, they just make getting caught a lot easier!

perfectstorm Sat 03-Aug-13 20:34:20

I'm so sorry, DarthDad. I'm afraid there is pretty well a script you see over and over on MN when someone cheats, and ends the marriage as a result, and she is following it.

You need to focus above all else now on getting even a small one bed place where you can have DS overnight, and I think you need to as helpfully as possible suggest you have him from Tuesday after nursery to Thursday drop-off at nursery and every other weekend, to ensure she isn't doing all the grunt work of parenting - the tiring evenings and mornings as opposed to just weekends. Phrase it along those lines. It's true, after all. If she agrees and you establish that as the status quo, you then have two nights every week. You could also suggest you make it Fri pick up to Mon collection on the weekends you do have. That way, you have 5 nights one week and 2 the next, which is actually shared, 50/50 care, but stealthily asked for so she may not realise at first that that's what it in fact is. (But be prepared to negotiate over the Sunday night, especially - a good agreement is a lot more valuable than an angry one, because she's likelier to actually keep to it.) If she agrees now, when things aren't hostile, she will have a hard time arguing against it later - which is also why it needs to be via email.

In the same email I would explain that these days courts like people to use mediation instead, that the mediator listens to both and helps them work out an agreement over the kids that is fair to everyone, and then if both are happy, it gets stamped by a judge and becomes a court order. Would she be willing to attend a mediation session with that in mind, because you think certainty for everyone can only help DS, and help the two of you to move forward as friends and co-parents, blah blah blah? And that when the house is sold you can work out an agreement on the equity, hopefully with the same mediator. I would also take a look at the CSA website to see what you'd have to pay, and then offer a little more if you can possibly, by hook or by crook, afford that, straight away. It puts you in a strong moral position and unless and until in a financial order isn't something she can enforce - if she does go to the CSA they will actually award her less. And it will improve your son's quality of life.

She's been horrible, but the chances are as soon as money is involved she will start to be a lot less generous over contact with your son. Horribly, she is in a massively strong position there and negotiating contact patterns now, when she isn't anticipating you standing up to her over money, is likely to result in a lot better than you will get in a few months from now.

If you have paperwork that proves the loans were used to pay off credit cards in her name, and she's working, then ask the solicitor if they can be deducted from her share of the equity. Same with an income-proportionate (i.e if you earn double what she does, maybe suggest you should be paying 66%) of the bills and mortgage repayments from the point of separation.

I don't think you need to worry about a divorce as you're currently separated anyway and the only way to divorce is via either adultery or unreasonable behaviour, both of which require reasons and both of which will make her angry and hostile. The main thing is an agreed status quo of contact you can rely on later, preferably in the form of a contact schedule and shared residence order. (A sol will explain that that doesn't mean you have to have 50/50 care, it just means the courts recognise the child has two homes.)

Sorry to sound cold and pragmatic. You are in hell and I am so deeply sorry. Her behaviour is horrible. But the priority obviously needs to be protecting your relationship with your son, and then your financial interests, and you are so right in saying you need to play the long game in order to achieve both.

welshharpy Sat 03-Aug-13 19:48:58

Sorry Darth, personally it sounds to me like she let you see the messages deliberately to let you know that is an end to your relationship, she didnt want to tell you face to face and this was her second 'best' option. Promise us you will get some proper legal advice and do not let youself get screwed over, you really do sound like a very caring and lovely dad. Take care of yourself and ds.

drasticpark Sat 03-Aug-13 19:38:44

Sorry, Darth Dad. Hurts like hell but you will be ok. Hopefully, this will help you detach. Then you can start to heal. You don't deserve this.

WafflyVersatile Sat 03-Aug-13 19:38:05

If you can keep it under your hat, I'd agree with not saying anything.

I wonder if she was so careless deliberately?

Get legal advice asap.

The other thing I'd say is dont' agree to anything on the spot. Always say you will take time to think it over and get back to her.

DarthDad Sat 03-Aug-13 19:19:58

Well, I spent the day with DS and took him to his friends bday party which was a welcome relief.
And then she arrived home from work. Now I did something I've never done before and am not proud of this. She nipped out to the shop and left her Facebook account unlocked on her phone. And there in glorious black and white were all the sex messages between her and another fella.
And now although I feel sick to the pit of my stomach I'm not angry, I know what I need to do now. Play the long game and not let on I know. Which is going to be really difficult. I'm gutted she let it drag on this long, I doubt I would have moved if she had been honest in the first place. But hindsights a great thing and its done and now I have to get on with it.
Thanks all for your advice, I'll keep you updated.

perfectstorm Sat 03-Aug-13 12:11:18

luv4mykids - he's never lived there. It was the home of his ex, he visited at weekends. She pays all the rent and all the bills for it - she's telling him he needs to pay for another place AND their jointly owned house up north without her input, which is not fair, but she's also been clear that she will pay all the expenses of her current home. If he does as you suggest, she will be able to portray him as an aggressive, angry dad and his contact with his son will in all likelihood be reduced.

There's also the fact that courts don't care who left/had an affair/was Satan. They want the primary carer before the split to remain the primary carer. Fighting over anything else plays into any exes hands. At this point worrying about who's right and who's wrong is pointless. All that matters, in terms of outcome, is trying to keep things as courteous as possible while increasing massively his time with his son, especially overnights.

The saying "speak softly and carry a big stick" applies here. Basically, be as friendly and tolerant as possible, while taking damn good legal advice and doing everything you possibly can to secure a generous split of time with the child. Upping the anger and aggression can only end badly when one person has basically been a single mother for two years, there's been no midweek contact, and she is therefore in pole position to play silly buggers if things get nasty.

Having said that, it's reasonable not to want an ex in your home all weekend, I think. After a split EVERYONE needs boundaries redrawn. What isn't reasonable is to think she should benefit from the house they own up north, while expecting him to pay every penny of the expenses of that house plus rent a new one - not to mention pay the loan taken out solely to defray all her credit card debts. That's where good legal advice matters financially - but long term, the welfare of the child matters most, and that means at least an attempt to be civil, and a really increased contact schedule. A siege mentality is not going to help that happen in the least.

luvmy4kids Sat 03-Aug-13 08:32:24

Why have you moved out? Why hasn't your wife moved out? The person wanting to walk out and hurt their child and husband in the process should surely do the right thing and walk away. I would refuse, after an "access" visit just say you're not going and don't let your child go either.

ofmiceandmen Sat 03-Aug-13 01:47:50

Ps - being angry is not about being violent or verbal - it's about holding your nerve, understanding that its war, not being surprised by any lies or omissions, being clear headed about your final goal.
It's no longer being the pushover.
One word No.

If you're to see DS outside her home - that means week days are now permissible. So request them via email (hence forth keep a record of all requests- no more verbal agreements). Make an excuse - phone dead, can't talk right now, I'll email later.
Now push for maximum contact, mid week, weekend and do it when it's right for you and Ds.

Be civil, be respectful but this is now business .
Until and unless she starts to act more reasonably and with some compassion.

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