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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.

mayaswell Wed 31-Jul-13 07:51:50

You might get more responses in Relationships perhaps?

This sounds like a miserable turn of events, you must feel crushed. I've got no advice as its hard to know why she's done this, it seems very cruel from what you've described. Hope you are getting to see your DS, and coping with work, I think that's all you can do at the moment.

DarthDad Wed 31-Jul-13 08:16:00

Thanks, yes crushed is probably the best way I feel right now.

I do get to see my DS and get weekends with him but it now involves staying at her house while she stays at her friends or mums. I want to be fully involved in weekly life having missed so much of it.

Is there an easy way to repost/move this into relationships or do I just start anew?

mayaswell Wed 31-Jul-13 09:18:42

You can contact HQ and ask for it to be moved, or just start the thread again in Relationships. I think you are very brave asking for support, it must be difficult to see it all written down.

DarthDad Wed 31-Jul-13 13:40:13

Thank you for your help, it is difficult to see it in black and white but I have no support network here and the anonymity of this platform helps.

myroomisatip Wed 31-Jul-13 13:47:10

I am sorry that things have turned out this way for you.

Do you think that she has just got used to you not being around? Or is it possible she has met someone else?

MoreThanWords Wed 31-Jul-13 13:53:58

I would think she has just got used to being without you. That may have evolved into a situation where there is someone else now on the scene, or not. She is getting her social and 'family' needs met by being close to her mum, and probably feels you are surplus to requirement. I'm sorry you find yourself in this situation.

Would you be able to buy/rent close by so that you can have more time with your son?

(Just an afterthought looking at the timing of the move etc- did your wife have post-natal depression?)

NatashaBee Wed 31-Jul-13 13:58:03

So sorry for you hmm you say you get to see your son at weekends, could you also see him during the week since you mention you work from home? If that's something you would want, I'd work on getting it in place ASAP - courts generally tend to stick with the status quo. Some parents even split access 50/50 if it fits well with school and they live close together. So you don't necessarily have to accept seeing your son just on weekends. Could you go to mediation to see if you can work out how to separate amicably?

DarthDad Wed 31-Jul-13 14:27:03

Morethanwords - I think you've hit the nail on the head, she has been going out more with her old friends and has got used to me not being there. I also believe that post natal depression was the root cause of this but something we didn't see at the time. I'm trying not to think about "someone else" but she says its definitely not. I don't know what to believe at the moment.

Natashabee - I'm looking at some flats this weekend as that's the situation I'd love to be in, I think (hope) I'm a very hands on Dad and I don't want to miss out on anymore. I'd love to have him with me during the week. I'm apprehensive about doing this on my own but I'm trying to focus on work and DS.

I would love to go to mediation to get this sorted but she is not entertaining the idea, I am scared that it may well escalate at a later date if we don't.

MoreThanWords Wed 31-Jul-13 15:02:08

Is she viewing mediation as 'reconciliation'? Maybe you could outline to her what areas you want to get agreement on, ie contact, maintenance etc. and suggest that it would serve well to start as you mean to go on.

Chances are there isn't anyone else; but she has now been virtually a single parent for a while, and it's become the norm for her.

Is there something like swimming classes you can take your son to at weekends/evenings, so a) you get time with him; b) you go somewhere where you can meet other local parents (quite possibly other dads if you go at the weekend).

DarthDad Wed 31-Jul-13 18:49:40

Yes that could well be the case with the mediation, she's a determined girl and I'm not one for giving up but I'm struggling to get the message across. We've just spoken and she has agreed to meet me on Friday so we can collect DS from nursery together.
Also just been told DS has a party to attend on Saturday (she works Saturday) so that will be a baptism of fire for me! Although I'm quite looking forward to meeting some of the other parents.

MoreThanWords Wed 31-Jul-13 22:45:53

Yes, you need to get your face 'out there'! Build up your identity as an involved dad etc - there's bound to be other dads at the party - and if not, plenty of mums who will want to gossip take pity on you smile

ofmiceandmen Thu 01-Aug-13 07:37:13

Darth some actual practical advice.
Depression may have been the reason for all the tension and friction and ultimately the move but depression rarely changes the inner person.

What to do now, protect yourself. same thing MNetters would be telling a woman.
You need legal advice and quick, because you are now in a situation where she has set up a 'pattern'. DC in school, new home (who's paying for this) in a new location.
hence forth the courts will only see you as the non resident parent, the chances of 50/50 child sharing are non existent, no matter how good a dad you are. You will most likely have to pay for the home, and if you are the major earner you will most likely be paying for her upkeep (yes, no word of a lie). Of course as you are a loving dad you will naturally want to pay more than the minimum for maintenance and you should, just set it up now and maintain a record of what you contribute.

I gave up working away from home when DC1 was born (thankfully I was a partner so could do that), took care of all childcare at home, feeds, baths, play. got left as a single parent, whilst she went to 'discover herself', and a year later she waltzed in and after a few wins/appeals/lose etc she now has our DC's (her mother looks after them- as she is struggling) both under 3 at the time.

Take your head out of the sand. See it for what it is. right now it's over, deal with it as such. if things change then all you have done is set up a system that provides stability for your DC.

ofmiceandmen Thu 01-Aug-13 07:50:01

PS: read your own POST.. sorry to say this - she left you in 2011. she may not have said 'i'm leaving', but that's what happened.
She checked out mentally and physically and moved away.
You didn't decide together (stop kidding yourself), she drummed it in enough times for you to accept, made life uncomfortable, argued daily I imagine, cried and left with a smile. She hasn't looked back - except maybe with pity.

Time to accept it. you've been separated for 2 years almost with occasional moments of intimacy - I guess mostly when it suited her.

Lazyjaney Thu 01-Aug-13 07:58:52

Agree with getting legal advice, you risk being relegated to cash dispenser and weekend babysitter while she goes out. I think there is no chance of a reasoned, mediated outcome, she has everything running her way as things are - why change?

Vivacia Thu 01-Aug-13 08:13:53

Have I misread, or am I right in thinking you are now living at the new home, working from home? Can you not stay with the children and her move out?

DarthDad Thu 01-Aug-13 10:35:19

Wow quite a lot to take in there, looks like i've been a bit of a mug but I don't think my head is in the sand now. Yes we've had problems for a while and yes technically it's been a separation since 2011.
She is now paying for everything at her house with DS, I am attempting to set up mediation with the view of sorting out our assets such as the house up North.
I am living between friends houses at different locations currently as it is easier to get to DS. I will be spending the weekend at her house with DS while she stays at her mums. We need this mediation as we have never been able to discuss finances properly. Small backstory - she has twice racked up significant credit card bills that I am still paying off. I also have paid for the bills and mortgage on the house up North. I was hoping that we could come to some sort of amicable agreement until I manage to offload the house. I can't afford to take on the mortgage and rent a place so I am stuck in this situation currently.

ageofgrandillusion Thu 01-Aug-13 11:22:04

All i would say is get some good legal advice as to where you stand financially - pay for it if need be, it will be money v well spent in the long run.
She has almost certainly met somebody else, despite what bull she might feeding you.
Given her track record and daftness with credit cards etc, you are well shot.

skyeskyeskye Thu 01-Aug-13 11:37:56

I wouldn't say that you have been separated since 2011 if you spent Fri-Mon with them every week... you obviously thought that you were together at that time...

You need to get legal advice. Marital assets start at a 50/50 split and it works from there, depending on equity, where the child lives etc.

I also think that she has probably met somebody else. When they announce very suddenly that they no longer love you and they won't consider counselling, there is usually a reason why.

You need to sever all financial ties with her as much as possible if she is likely to get into debt. Mediation is a good idea to discuss everything

chamonixlover Thu 01-Aug-13 11:51:07

If I were the OP, I'd be devastated by some of these comments.

Being abandoned by your partner without an explanation is hugely traumatic, losing normal contact with the children must be even worse and YOU the innocent partner being asked to leave even worse again. I feel heartbroken on behalf of the OP.

I don't have answers for him, but you have my thoughts.

welshharpy Thu 01-Aug-13 12:31:50

Op, something very similar happened to my parents when I was a kid. My dad got the job of his dreams but it meant he was abroad for a few months at a time and this went on for a few years. My mum in the meantime raised us, got herself a part-time job and learned to drive and basically learned to live and thrive without my dad. When he eventually did come home permanently their relationship was destroyed. They divorced after a couple of years, it wasn't just down to him working away but that definately was a factor.

Op, get some legal advice and get everything done officially, you sound like a lovely hardworking dad and do not deserve to be treated like this.

ofmiceandmen Thu 01-Aug-13 12:43:36

Darthdad you are not a mug. being a caring person is not the same.

Some males have a X trigger that kicks in when they have children. You bend over backwards to protect and nature that family and some might even say you become less of a man (societies warped version of a man). but it means you accept behaviour you shouldn't all in the aim of the greater good (family) and you stand up less to what you know to be right or wrong.

Then the true character of your partner comes out - do they
A) see it for what it is and still respect you regardless or
B) take advantage, lose respect for you, feed you crumbs, and exit long before they ever admit it to you.

Your Ex (because that's what she is) falls into the latter.

Don't beat yourself up for being a caring guy. and please don't do the "I'm tired of being a nice guy" and go mess up some other person in the future.
Just find you again, know what you will accept and won't and work at being a great dad.

DarthDad Fri 02-Aug-13 19:00:43

I am most certainly not going to mess with anyone's head in that way, I don't have the energy.

We had a relatively amicable meeting, I am now in her house with DS whilst she has gone to her Mothers and its quite a struggle being here TBH.We spoke about access and the house up North, she is expecting something from it but won't take responsibility for the loans. She is also under the impression that I have a vastly inflated wage because of my new job and company car and alluded to the fact that due to this I can afford the mortgage on the house, rent and loan payments. She will not entertain mediation and thinks we can sort it with brief meetings like this afternoon.

I'm struggling with what my next move is? I don't want it to get ugly if I take it further and I need to keep her family onside.

skyeskyeskye Fri 02-Aug-13 19:58:12

You need to be honest about your finances. Everything will go on form E if it comes to divorce

All you need to provide to her is the CSA minimum, that's how it works. I'm not saying that's right but that is the law. You obviously want to keep a roof over your DCs head but she is in cuckoo land if she thinks that you will be able to afford to carry on as you have been.

She needs to face up to the reality if the situation. If you can't agree on stuff then mediation will be required before you can go to court, if it were to get to that stage.

welshharpy Fri 02-Aug-13 20:13:30

Dear god, she expects you to pay for the upkeep of your joint property plus rent (that you also unexpectedly have to pay now cos shes decided it over when you moved down) and then to top it all off, bills aswell?! That is one seriously greedy woman! peeps on here seem up on all the legal channels, get yourself covered with a solicior and the CSA and dont be pushed around! Good luck Op.

Lackedpunchesforever Fri 02-Aug-13 20:40:36

Who diagnosed her post natal depression ? What treatment has she had for it?

givvusaclue Fri 02-Aug-13 22:08:40

Tell her that since she is the one who wants to end the relationship that she should move out and you should keep custody.

I want to end my relationship and I expect to be the one that moves out.

Had you been female and writing this certain people would have been suggesting your partner is having an affair. Of course since you are a man they will stay clear from this thread.

Good luck with it all.

DarthDad Fri 02-Aug-13 23:16:07

I am at loss right now, the "amicable" arrangement where she said that I could use her house until I sort things out (I've stayed away during the week for 2 weeks now) means nothing,
She has asked me to take DS to a friends house on Saturday when I have him rather than staying in the house with him. I asked why she couldn't stay at her mothers or one of her many friends but got no response. I thought I had a handle on all this but am am feeling utter contempt for her and completely isolated, I really am at a loss as to what to do next. I feel like I have no energy to take the next step and look for a flat or house.
I know this will get easier with time but right now I am at an utter low and I'm so tired, I'm sorry for going on but I don't know what else to do.

tightfortime Fri 02-Aug-13 23:23:03

Time for legal advice I'm afraid if she is refusing mediation. Your relationship is over, time to prioritise the child and your relationship going forward with both child and ex, re money, access etc.

You want to be a good dad...protect DS's future, be dignified, calm but no pushover.

Harryhairypig Sat 03-Aug-13 00:01:22

Is the house she is living in jointly owned by you and her or just rented by he her. If you own it then you can stay there anyway. You need to get some legal advice quickly tbh.

WafflyVersatile Sat 03-Aug-13 00:03:08

Get some legal advice.

Her financial plans do not sound very fair. Just because she thinks it should be that way doesn't make it so. Sounds like the compromise is all to be on your side at the moment.

50/50 custody arrangements are more common now and with you working from home a lot I see no reason why that shouldn't be the case here.

WafflyVersatile Sat 03-Aug-13 00:04:51

Are the debts still in her name? If you need to rent a third property then you can't afford to be servicing those as you are currently.

That said don't play silly power games.

legal advice, legal advice, legal advice.

DarthDad Sat 03-Aug-13 00:18:35

All the debt is in my name, she was a year into self employment when she was pregnant with DS and during the pregnancy told me about the debt. I took out the loan to clear it as we couldn't get a joint loan.

Is relate a good place to start when looking for legal advice, I must sound pathetic but I don't know where to start?

QuintessentiallyOhDear Sat 03-Aug-13 00:21:45

Sorry to hear what you are going through.

I think you need to look a few years back to the time you started having problems. I think your OH opted for a soft end to your relationship where she maneuvered you out of her life before you even realized your relationship was over. I imagine for her the relationship has been over for a good few years, but this is news for you. I dont think you can stop it from getting ugly. This woman has moved on, she has no feelings for you, and is willing to bleed you dry, for the sake of her child and herself, giving nothing back. She is home, with her friends, her network, her family, her job, and her child is settled, without you. This is what she was aiming for all along, I suspect. She played the long game, and is about to hit her jack pot, while you are all confused and wretched.

Time for you to see a solicitor and fight back.

NatashaBee Sat 03-Aug-13 00:29:36

I agree. Time for solicitors, don't let her screw you over, and push for as much access as possible before a pattern of weekends only becomes established. Make sure you get to know your childs friends parents and go to school events as much as possible. If you move forward with divorce proceedings then assets/ debts will be looked at during that.

perfectstorm Sat 03-Aug-13 00:32:54

I'm afraid I do think she's probably met someone else. That's usually the cause when someone suddenly says they don't love someone and won't entertain counselling. I'm so incredibly sorry. You sound as though you have done everything imaginable to support her, and this must be unspeakably painful. But... you need to get your practical head on now.

You need legal advice, and asap. Can you prove the credit card debts were run up by her, yet being paid off by yourself? If so, take that along when you see the solicitor. But from what you've said, she has said all she wants is some of the house equity when sold, and you to repay the debts, and her CSA level maintenance, while she herself pays nursery fees, and all the expenses of her own home - is that right? As long as the debts are taken into account when the equity is calculated, that doesn't seem too terrible. And frankly I don't think you staying in her home when caring for your little one is ideal for anyone - too many boundaries crossed. Is there any way the house up north could be rented out - would that cover the costs? That way you might be able to rent locally and have your son every other weekend, Fri-Mon, and, with luck, at least one or two nights in the week. As things are deteriorating, and courts like to go with existing contact arrangements in case of dispute, I really, really do think you need to make having him regularly, and overnight, your absolute first priority. Start as you hope to go on, so any variation would be changing the status quo.

Solicitor, solicitor, solicitor. (And a family law one - not the local chap who does wills and contracts. One who specialises in arrangements on relationship breakdown. Resolution is a good place to start.)

I would also post on Legal. Free help from some family law solicitors is never to be sniffed at.

AdoraBell Sat 03-Aug-13 00:37:36

You really do need to see a solicitor and in the meantime keep any payments you make in terms of support traceable, as in write a cheque or do a transfer from your bank to her bank and print a record of it.

When my OH's ex left she used the DC to manipulate him and he paid all her living costs, she insisted on cash, then claimed he hadn't paid a penny in the two years it took to settle the divorce, sell the house etc. She got 97 per cent of the assets and her legal fees paid.

Be careful, get legal advice and be kind to yourself.

perfectstorm Sat 03-Aug-13 00:45:49

Just reread - her wanting to opt out of any share of the mortgage, while you're both having to run other homes down south, is grossly inequitable. Ask your solicitor what can be done there, but I do think renting the old house out, if you can, could be a temporary solution. The focus so, so needs to be setting up a schedule of having your child under your own roof as often and regularly as possible. And to do that, you need a suitable roof.

skyeskyeskye Sat 03-Aug-13 00:53:41

Yes, see a solicitor and soon. Google Family Law firms in your area and get some initial advice. Women are always advised on here not to let their ex's in the house for contact, to make the father take them elsewhere so in reality it should be the same advice to you, that you need to see your child outside of her home.

Get advice on equity split, debt etc. if you have statements that prove it was her debt not joint debt, keep it all safe. It may be useful.

Look up the CSA calculator and see how much you should be paying her per month. Stop paying her rent and pay the CSA money instead.

Go for 50/50 custody if that's what you want. Stick to agreed contact, don't be late or rearrange for no reason. Things like that really annoy and cause problems.

This is about what you want from now on, not about what she wants. I honestly do think that there is somebody else in the scene. You do need to keep that in mind.

Look after yourself, take one day at a time. It's not easy but it does get better with time.

ofmiceandmen Sat 03-Aug-13 01:35:41

Ok, I know it was hard to understand it when I first responded but I think now you're getting it. This is the reality of where you are.

Once the love has gone and they have moved on you are as significant as a bug on the road.

I said it earlier - get your head out of the sand.
This is now an all out war- hand to hand combat.
You need to feel angry - that was the advise that helped the most.
You need to understand what has happened.
You've already lost! Now pick up the pieces and fight back. Don't stay stuck in the past.

The first word you need to learn is - No

She is now just some person trying to ruin you.
I struggled to understand how the mother of our children could suddenly become this person.

It's not sudden, she's been working on it since 2011.

Put your children first - You're not a weekend baby sitter and cach machine. Say no!

Advise - private message me - I can get a chap to help and advise.
I realised too late what was happening - playing the nice guy and trying to do the right thing will get you screwed.
She will lie again and again and they will believe her. They want to believe her. File for divorce before she starts down a path of claiming Emotional abuse or worse.
Once she sets that ball in action you'll be labelled that through out.
Initiate proceedings. File for custody.

Nb family court has different rules. Evidence is less important, it's as much about who they believe more.
A crying mum or a bloke who hardly sees his kids (regardless of how it came about).
You need to live within 2 miles of her home to get 50/50 due to your DS's age.
That means hence forth you will have to live and be near her - tethered to her every action.

Your DS needs you to fight for him now. After this it's going to be playing catch up. Act now.

Sadly all the A holes that have treated their wives badly have made the family courts a hard place for dads that have done the right thing. You will be the umpteenth man infront of them and chucked in with all the bad ones.

Man up! She's gone forever! It's now soley about your DS.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 09:29:13

I agree.

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

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