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To separate or start divorce proceedings?

(5 Posts)
blackhearts Wed 15-Feb-17 04:36:58

I think I've reached the end of the line with DH. He is an alcoholic and though he acknowledges this and is seeking help it's affecting me so much now that I feel I cannot continue to be with him.
Yesterday we had a huge argument centred around meaningless Valentine's gifts which escalated rapidly. I said some hurtful things and our DS heard it all. I know I'm completely out of order to have argued with DS around and that is the main reason I want to end things; he cannot grow up in this toxic environment.

I really think that the alcoholism is affecting my physical and mental health too. I regularly feel panicky and unable to cope with minor things such as emptying the dishwasher or going to the supermarket. The day can start well then quickly become insurmountable in my mind. I have been suffering minor physical ailments that I don't normally have issues with, I believe they have been brought on by stress.

I really do love DH but I don't think I can be with him any longer. I have a real fear that splitting up will destroy any hope of him ever recovering from alcoholism, but I feel I owe it to our DS to give him the peaceful upbringing he deserves.

We have been together 20 years, married for 10 and have one DS. I work full time shifts and have been the main, now sole, breadwinner for many years.

The question is do I separate from him, possibly leaving the door open for reconciliation should he manage to get sober, or do I just start divorce proceedings as the damage done can never be forgotten?

How do I go about splitting up? I won't leave because it's my house (he has contributed nothing to the deposit or mortgage), I don't want to jeopardise my ability to live in the family home in future by leaving now, I pay all the bills and I know he wouldn't, even if he had an income, mine and DS's lives are here, we have pets so it would be difficult to rent, and I couldn't afford to run two households.
I know he wouldn't leave as he'll claim he has nowhere to go and no money.

I have taken legal advice over the phone (legal helpline through work) regarding this and it seems that I can't make him leave the marital home but if I go then my claim on the house will be jeopardised as I left voluntarily. I feel trapped.

So where does that leave us?

Of the two, I'd suggest divorce proceedings. There srr so many stages to it, and you can stop it at any point, so you might as well stsrt, so, if he doesn't improve (likely) you have already made progress in the right direction.

BTW, I'm assuming UK, hut if you're based elsewhere, some of this will need to be honed.

You've taken some legal advice, so this might not surprise you, but as you're married, its probably immaterial that he hasn't contributed much/anything to the house; it's a marital asset and will go into the pot. Can you afford to buy him out? Talk to your mortgage people, maybe shop around for a re-mortgage.

The main worry you might have is, as you work full time and he doesn't, would he be able to establish that he is DS' primary carer? So you need to start building your evidence: who does school runs, cooking, cleaning, DS' clothing shopping, bath and bedtimes, children's parties and activities, who provides most/all of DS' emotional support, etc. See, it's not going to be enough to just say "I'm the mum and he's an alcoholic", sadly. You need evidence.

Any evidence of domestic abuse/violence needs to be noted as well. General bad behaviour, its effect on you and DS (you've done a very good start in your OP). Has his alcoholism put DS in any immediate physical danger, for instance? Has police ir docisl services ever been involved? Etc. If you can build up a timeline it'll help your case, not to mention your own clarity!

Talk to your GP wnout how you are feeling; start to get a paper trail going (and GP might be able yo help you access services, counselling, etc). Talk to Women's Aid or your local domestic abuse people (check with your local council); they can hellp with all sorts of emotional and practical support, and will probably have access to specialist divorce solicitors. Esp if there's any domestic abuse involved, you do not want a genetic solicitor - you need one who understands and even anticipates what your DH might be capable of. If you think there's anything to report to your local police domestic abuse team, do so.

Collect up paperwork: bank accounts, mortgage, savings&debts, pensions. Marriage cert, birth certs, passports, etc.

As to who moves out, well, you make a good case for you staying, but what could be your H's case? See above re: primary carer. You might have to both stay in the marital home until you can convince him to move out. Him having any other place to stay isn't relevant (or your problem), but it might, yes, be helpful to give him enough money to set himself up elsewhere (obviously making a note of this in your eventual financial separation).

However, if you fear violence, do take steps to protect you and DS.

Hope that's enough to get you started! blush Best of luck.

blackhearts Thu 16-Feb-17 02:19:44

Thanks for your reply smile
Yes I'm in the UK. Despite the work situation DH would struggle to prove he is DS's primary carer. When he was working we used a childminder who we've continued to employ in the hope that DH would get, and retain, another job. Sadly his alcoholism has prevented that. He does provide child care for the extremes of my shifts, I used to do the same when he was working. When I'm not working I'm very much DS's primary carer and I don't believe DH would dispute that.

As for DV, there were a couple of incidents over a year ago when everything started going downhill for him. The Police were involved and nothing like that has happened since. I do not feel that DS and I are in danger, though I haven't forgotten what happened. Knowing what I know now, I sometimes wish that i had ended things then, but at the time I believed he was severely depressed. He got help and his mental health improved so I thought everything would be alright. More fool me!

Regarding our home, I could afford to buy him out (if I remortgaged). If we were to 'separate' but he insisted on staying in the house it would be very difficult as I would either have to rely on him for some of the childcare due to my shifts (which I hate doing now due to fear of him getting drunk while in sole charge of DS), or employ a nanny to work in a household where the parents have separated but both still live, and one is an alcoholic. I very much doubt anyone would want that job which would force me to rely on him, or if he refused or was unable, affect my ability to continue to work as I do, potentially jeopardising my job. Would that be seen, legally speaking, as a good reason to make him leave?
Also, are increased childcare costs as a result of him leaving taken into account when deciding the settlement?

Another concern is that I'm 'allowing' DH to care for DS sometimes when I'm at work and DS is not at the Childminders. Would that be considered to be neglectful of me given what I know DH to be like? I don't see it that way as DH always takes good care of DS and is never steaming drunk if I'm not there (though he is sometimes hungover or has had a couple of cans once DS is in bed before I get home).

I have a lot of fears regarding starting divorce proceedings. If it causes me to lose my home, puts my job at risk and possibly calls my ability to make appropriate decisions regarding DS's care in to question then I don't think I could do it. The situation is intolerable but I wouldn't be able to deal with any of that sad

Definitely talk to Women's Aid: they can help you sort out logistics.

I didn't mention the Entitled To weblink. That might help you to get an idea of what your financial situation would be like without him - for instance, working tax credits, reduced council tax if you're the sole adult in the house. I'm not sure if a live-in nanny counts as another adult, btw.

The history of police intervention will help you, actually. If you worry at all about him kicking off, they can help.

PigletWasPoohsFriend Fri 17-Feb-17 16:22:42

How do I go about splitting up? I won't leave because it's my house (he has contributed nothing to the deposit or mortgage)

It isn't your house. You are married so it is a marital asset to no matter who pays the bills.

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