Back story: Married 15 years. 3 children(7,11,13). Our marriage has been rocky for a while… I have been sleeping downstairs for ten months, etc. I am wanting to separate from my husband. He has told me I am free to get out, etc but the kids he will fight for. I have no family or friends within several hours of our home and no financial means to get my own place in town on what I make at work. Family (two hours away) has offered to let me stay with them while I reestablish myself. I am worried that if I leave my children… even temporarily… or for part of the week, as they are all school age and we cannot split the week in two separate towns… he will say I abandoned them. This has been going on for months. He knows I cannot afford to live nearby… so I cannot risk losing my children. So I am forced to stay married. I am trapped because he will not agree to anything once I leave. What can I do?? I cannot possibly afford an attorney on my own.
Sometimes it can be helpful to negotiate the terms of a separation before actually separating if both spouses are agreeing to a physical separation. You would agree to property distribution, alimony, child support, and child custody in a separation agreement (see our sample separation agreement) before either spouse moved out. That way, once you do begin living separate and apart, you will already know what to expect in financial support, what your obligations are, etc.
If your husband has committed any acts of domestic violence against you or the children (attempted or intentionally caused bodily injury, placing you in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, or continued harassment which rises to a level of inflicting substantial emotional distress), then you can file for a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) at the clerk’s office in your county’s courthouse. If granted, the DVPO would require him to leave and stay away from the marital residence for so long as the order is in place.
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