This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Husband primary parent(42 Posts)
Hi all, my marriage is really on the rocks and has been for some time. My husband suffered a MH crisis almost 2 years ago and was off work long term sick for over a year before accepting redundancy.
He’s not looking for a job right now. So he cares for the 1 and 4 year old with them in childminder 2 days per week.
I work all the time, I have three different jobs since he’s redundancy as I was so concerned about our income.
The view of a lawyer I saw for some free advise was that he will get a lot more out of a divorce if we do separate as he’s the primary parent. I’m so scared of loosing my home. I have no family in this country. Help!
Well I think it depends on various factors. This is not a scenario in which one parent gave up work to look after the children and support the other's career, which is how the solicitor is treating it. He is at home because of his mental health issues and/or because he chooses not to work. You are working to support the family because you are the only one willing and able to.
Why do the children go to a childminder if he's the primary carer but doesn't work? Can he not cope with them full time? That could give you some leverage. Is he abusive at all? Does he have any addiction issues? Is he ever unreliable regarding parenting?
While I don't like the idea of using someone's mental health against them, by the sounds of things he could well use it in the event of divorce to try to take everything from you.
You have my sympathy, living with someone with mental health problems is very hard.
He’s a brilliant dad, when he was really in his dark days he obviously wasn’t so great but never abusive. No addictions etc. He’s generally a good man who really fell down a hole. A lot to do with self esteem identity etc he says he lives day to day which sounds like a ridiculous luxury to me but there you go. He was signed off for quite some time. The childminder enables him to help out in my business (it’s small, not massive but really helps us survive financially) and also helps by taking some load off him. He’s always talking about how much he loves being with the kids but he also struggles with it- who wouldn’t - they are hard work. (We only pay for the baby my eldest got free hours)
I’m so worried about my living circumstances. I wouldn’t have anywhere to go and I love my home which I pushed for us to move into. We were in a tiny terraced house we majorly had outgrown but he never wanted to move. The mortgage is a lot more so I do worry about the bills but I am paying them all myself right now, he put up the deposit for the old house which was in his name and his parents gave us a cash gift to help with this move which I know means he feels a real sense of ownership over.
The issue then is the only way I could afford to be a single parent would be to keep up the insane working hours I’m doing and I would need his help to do that.
I feel really really stuck. We are both unhappy. Very unhappy. We are booked to go back to therapy on Monday and he is already very negative about that. It’s hard for us to talk anymore and I worry when we argue his way out could be suicide which he’s mentioned is a thought process.
I feel like the only thing keeping me in the relationship is finances.
I’m sorry to read this, it sounds really hard. Would he manage the children if they weren’t with the childminder? You’re having to spend money there when you don’t need to.
A solicitor I spoke to said that ‘they’ prefer the children in the family home with the mother, perhaps you need a different solicitor who will fight for that ?
He could continue to have them 3 days, childminder 2 and you the rest.
You say that the only thing keeping you in the relationship is finances, but he also appears to be keeping you by his actions when you argue.
What I'm getting from this is that your wanting a divorce cos your husbands Ill.
Mental illness is not a choice.
He'd be better off without you.
He can find part time work easily enough, it will be good for him to get out of the house, as someone who suffers mental health issues, this is fact.
You need to see where you can tighten your budget as well, see what expenses aren't necessary.
Work on the practical parts as well as the emotional.
I ink you're in a position that many men are in re divorce fippertygibbett' s comment relays an underlying sexist view that women are entitled to be mum. If you leave and have the children you'll have the issue of still having to work (without whatever help he gives) plus caring for the children.
Well I’m sure this won’t be popular opinion but I’d be talking to him first about getting back into work even if I set time.
Yo need to talk to him - aside from your relationship concerns you are shouldering all the financial burden ( which is fine if you agree as a family to that set up) and you need to discuss his options to return to the workplace and childcare
Unfortunately currently you are in the situation many men are in - you will come away with less assets and importantly possibly less time with your children as he is now effectively sahd with no income
Smiliboo I think that's a bit harsh. I'm sorry you have suffered, but it affects everyone greatly when a family member suffers mental health issues.
Mental health issues would put a strain on anyone's relationship, surely you can see that. The OP is seriously under pressure trying to keep a roof over their heads, working constantly while looking after her sick husband and, at least when he was very unwell, looking after the kids too with no support. She's had enough.
Mental health doesn't just affect the person, but those who love and live with them too, and as I'm sure you know, there is very little support in this country, and there is no cure.
OP says they're both very unhappy, if that means they must separate in order for the family to be happy again then maybe that is best for everyone.
@Smiliboo wow. To paint a bigger picture... is it ok for my husband to be signed off from his mental health team but have no inclination to even find a part time job because it’s somewhat beneath his multiple degrees? Is it ok for my husband to refuse to go for a drink with me, discuss or plan any kind of time out/holiday/staycation? Is it ok for my husband to tell me I’m
An idiot and life with me is miserable and that our relationship is fucked, yet do nothing to fix it? That’s the reality and the reality is maybe my husband is this unhappy because he is married to me?
I have 2 wonderful kids I’m trying to keep everything together for. I don’t have any family support and can’t even visit my family or friends in my home country because of Covid. I’ve been locked down with this man since March and he’s extremely happy never seeing anyone having any friends or life. And that’s not a future for me. I feel incredibly angry when you say I’m leaving my husband because he’s sick when in fact I’ve stayed with him in spite of it for years and now I can see the toil it’s taken on us all and I’m not sure where we go from here. I do not want a divorce !
I’m not worried about paying for the childminder right now because he’s helping in the business. If we split I really can’t understand how it would work, financially at least. He would stop helping me... I might have no home as he would be the primary parent with the kids in the house and i would prob get 50% access when I’d have to be bloody working anyways. I feel like I just have to stay in the marriage until both kids are In school maybe. I don’t know what else I can do.
That's kind of the hazard of Mumsnet,
Is he on medication?
Does he gets pip (I have assumed your in the uk?) or any other benefits that contribute to the household?
Just because he doesn't want to go out, doesn't mean you can't go out with friends? Take some time for yourself to chill and have fun.
Have you considered a trial separation?
I wonder if this may make him wake up to wanting his family intact, especially if he's home alone for a couple of days a week with no wife and children around him.
Would he consider working from home?
And where would he go if we had a seperation? And who would mind the kids so I can continue to pay the bills? I try to see friends but he insists only after the kids are in bed which can make it quite late and then I’m shattered. I had one evening out since the lockdown and everyone was there at half six and I turned up at 9 :-/
We receive no benefits I believe I earn too much maybe, I had to do the work of looking into this because even mentioning it to him threw him into a spiral
@Smiliboo Mumsnet or not you made a judgement that was really harsh and affects MY MH own your actions.
I would be questioning whether he could cope with being the primary carer. I think a court would too.
I say this from experience, not from any prejudice against mental health.
I don’t entirely understand your financial/house situation - but if he left, would you be able to pay the mortgage? Is there much equity in the house? Would you be able to buy him out?
I’ll also note that courts tend to like to keep the children where they are if the house isn’t being sold - so they’re more likely to grant primary care to whoever is still in the house.
Have you looked into any benefits you might receive if he left? Help with childcare costs etc.
Has he been signed off work by a doctor/deemed not fit for work by DWP? Or has he just chosen not to work? If he doesn’t end up with the kids full-time I’m pretty sure he’ll be expected to look for work if not.
What happens when you sutvdysn and try to discuss his MH and getting back to work? Is there a plan than he is tackling it etc ?
You’d need to have a view on current assets with regard affordability in event if split in term of dues house get sold and what share etc but if he’s not working and you are it’s likely he’d get a higher share of assets and possibly higher % of time with children. These are not a given and no one here can possibly say as we don’t understand assets or earnings available
It’s fine to say he has MH issues - but what he is doing to resolve these ? Unless you earn lots he’s unlikely to get the house ( as hell need to demonstrate he can afford the Mortgage and bills ongoing and a mortgage company wouldn’t approve that currently it would seem ) , it’s unlikely he’d get spousal from you ( again if you’re not on a big income) so reality is he’d be on benefits
You both need to be housed and have adequate room for children - that is also given consideration
What’s his view on all this ?
Who handles doctors appointments? New kids clothes? Does the kids laundry and changes/cleans their bedding? Paeds dentist? Play groups? Organises family visits? Buys/wraps birthday and Christmas gifts? Buys and decorates the christmas tree? Researches, books, organises family hols? Who cleans the fridge, toilet, cupboards and oven? Who dusts?
Who arranges the car MOT? Who calls around tradesmen for quotes and to do jobs around the home and have gutters cleaned? Who logs into their bank account to pay council tax, tradesmen, tax bills? Who opens the post? Deals with any issues arriving through the post? Sits on the phone to change your address to banks, change utilities when you move house? Who organises any tax returns? Etc etc etc. Who does those things - you or your husband?
The answers to these questions can be enlightening.
One thing you need to try and afford is getting the kids in childcare for at least another half a day but preferably the day.
Plus trying to get your husband to do some work outside the home that isn't dependent on you.
Then it is clear to outsiders you have a 50/50 split of childcare so he won't be primary carer.
@RedRumTheHorse thank you this is the type of advice I need.
@PicsInRed I do. I do them all. Including putting up the Christmas tree 2 years ago with a newborn literally 2 weeks old in one arm and my toddler while he took to bed. This weekend I cleared out clothes grown out of, moved a chest of drawers worth of clothes to another location, emptied all towel and bedding from cupboard too. But because he cooks or bakes he expects lavish praise. Tbf he did the car but I have three letters on the fridge. Home insurance, council thing, and gas and something else which I’ve asked him to address... when I give him tasks to do he says I’m managerial.
If you’re unhappy together then of course you should consider separating. But, I think it’s unfair to nitpick about who currently does what as he’s the primary carer for your two young children. So, he’s doing something useful for your family.
Obviously he’ll need to find work if you separate, and you’ll need to work out childcare together. it’s probable that he’ll get primary custody if he’s the primary caregiver and can demonstrate that he’s capable of caring for them....as you’re OK with him caring for them right now, I’m assuming he is?
Re. Your post about him taking to his bed two years ago. He’s improved since then, right? He does take care of the children while you’re working?
If not, that’s a whole different scenario.
OP, don’t over worry about him keeping the children, with that level of involvement, I am pretty sure he would prefer to have the children with him for as little time as possible.
You may need to pay maintenance but, how much? Use the CMS calculator and see how much that is. I can assure you not enough for him to be able to stay at home. You will not need to pay the childminder for the days they are with him, just the days they are with you.
Obviously, the big fallout would be about who keeps the house but you shouldn’t stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of bricks and mortar, a happy life is far more valuable than that.
OP if your husband isn't sectioned while you are arguing over who takes care of the kids then you can't use his mental health as a reason why he can't take care of the kids. Women on here in the UK your husband's position get told all the time that their ex can not use their health including MH conditions in this way.
In regards to the house he may be awarded it but he needs to be able to afford the mortgage on his own. You don't sound like a wealthy or older couple so he is unlikely to get spousal maintenance so how is he going to afford the mortgage payments?
If you need to wait 2-3 years until the kids are at school due to the cost of childcare then you have time to get your ducks in a row. This includes ensuring he has absolutely nothing to do with your business so he can't make any claims on it, doesn't have any idea of what it earns, and hoping he works outside the house plus sorting out anything else financial so he doesn't have any other financial claims on you. Make sure you start putting financial things including bills , credit cards in separate names and have your own separate day to day account. The first thing you will need to do if you split is freeze any joint accounts and credit cards so any debts he runs up are solely his.
Please login first.