How do I leave an Abusive Spouse?


16 yrs of marriage. 16 yrs of being bullied, verbally abused by my wife (yes my wife). She constantly undermines and puts me down in front of our girls (13 & 7). I have no fatherly authority, nor say in my own home. She sleeps with our daughters mainly the 13 yr old and confides in them everything about our marriage issues.
Every decision is “her way or hell to pay”. No compromises.

This is my plan:
*** Please tell me if a Judge would frown on it / it work against me if we went to court ***

  1. Leaving without warning while everyone else if out for the day.
  2. Packing up a Moving Truck with half of furniture.
    Plan to take our King Sized bed, as she has not slept in it for 3 years.
  3. Taking all MY things.

I seriously considering:
4) Taking items of my wife’s and our children’s that mean a lot to my wife. I’m talking about boxes of the girls memories in storage, not any of the girls’ toys, furniture, etc. Also framed pictures in our house and Photo Albums.
My thought is to use theses items as use as Leverage to get her to :
a) agree to sell the house (as it is in both our names and she refuses to sell it).
b) to work with me on a civil separate agreement.

  1. Stop paying the mortgage as leverage again for reasons “a & b” above, and so I can pay for a small, cheap apartment.
    I want the clock on my One Year separate residences to begin ASAP, so I can get a divorce.

She does not work. Refuses to.
I have been working 2 to 3 jobs for the past ten years ! to accomodate her lifestyle !


(Jeez. You sound like my BF’s ex, only a lot more bitter. He too had an emotionally, and occasionally, physically abusive wife who was a stay-at-home mom.)

Here’s my opinion, just an opinion:

If she’s volatile, yes, you may want to leave while everyone is out for the day, however, be aware that this may traumatize your kids, and they may feel abandonned. I don’t know a way around this (maybe others do) unless you return to the house after you’ve moved stuff out to explain to them that you are leaving, that it is nothing they did and that you love them and will keep seeing them. Prepare yourself that they will be very angry. It’s natural as their whole world is now upside-down.

I’d also immediately file a motion for 1/2 custody of the kids. Show them that you intend to stay in their lives. Create a peaceful, non-chaotic home for them and they will eventually see through their own eyes that you want the best for them and that you love them.

Do take all of YOUR things that you plan on keeping and think would be awarded to you during a divorce. As far as photos go, I would take them, make copies of everything, then send back either the originals or 1/2 copies-1/2 originals. It shows good faith. You might want to take 1/2 the girls’ mementos too.

Immediately separate all financial accounts so that she doesn’t have access to your 1/2 of the money. (and yes, technically, she owns the other half of what you have in savings/checking accounts). Since she has a record of abusiveness, I’d also put a block on my credit so that she’s unable to acquire credit through you and use it.

You will have to pay alimony probably for at least 8 years, so plan on that. You will also have to pay child support. Use the calculator on this site, put in minimum wage for her gross income, and immediately start paying her the amount calculated for child support. It will also show good faith and that you don’t plan on abandonning your kids. They don’t deserve to suffer for what’s going on.

Do not exceed your income as it could prove that you are capable of supporting that amount over the long haul. Not sure what Erin would say about this, but I’d say, if you can swing it, keep only your one main job that can support you and your kids. If you work a 2nd job, that will go into figuring your income for alimony/support purposes from here on out.

Not sure about the mortgage stuff, but put yourself in an apartment first.


You may move out of the house at any time and you may take up to one half of the furniture and all of your personal effects. I do not recommend that you take property out of spite, as this will not get you anywhere in the pursuit of your claims. I suggest that you also continue to pay the mortgage to ensure your children have a safe place to live, and to protect what is likely the largest marital asset, not to mention your credit.

Once you move out you need to file suit for Equitable Distribution and Child Custody. I suggest you meet with a lawyer prior to moving out in order to ensure you have plan of action to move forward on these issues at the on set of the separation.


Is it okay to take at least Half of our girls memories boxes (boxes of childhood clothes, special items, etc).
I do not trust she would not throw out some of them without consulting me.

Concerning taking some of her items, it is Not out of Spite, that I’d be taking them, I’d Not throw out Anything. My only motivation in taking the items is to help persuade her to work on a sep agreement (me seeing our girls) CIVILLY and to pressure her to sell our house.

I know from many past experiences with her, that if she is not getting her way, or if I oppose her, she go to any length to have her way, inlcuding using our children.


I am so very sad for you. I believe that any parent that uses their child(ren) as pawns in a game the doesn’t involve them is cruel, and they should not have the children as primary custodian. I feel very badly for your children as I’m sure they’ve witnessed her verbal abuse of you and HOPEFULLY they understand that this is NOT how to treat a spouse. Hopefully, they won’t follow in their mother’s footsteps.

That being said. Although it will be super hard…and they may be super angry/sad…you need to do what you need to do for YOU. Your children will forgive and understand one day…if they don’t immediately. Why don’t you write each girl a heartfelt note to them. Put it in a spot that you KNOW they’ll find (sock drawer?). Make copies (cause the Mom may destroy them if she finds them).

Immediately get legal counsel. I would, as Erin suggested, do so before you leave so you can get all your ducks in a row. ONCE YOU LEAVE, YOU CAN’T COME BACK WITHOUT PERMISSION. The courts CAN rule that the house be sold. With that said… hopefully she’ll comply with doing what is necessary to SELL the house since you will not be allowed back in. I’m indirectly dealing with that issue now. This is why you need to talk to a lawyer ASAP.

Good Luck.


You may take one half of any keepsake items, family photos ect. The children’s property should remain in the home with them until a custodial arrangement is in place. I do not recommend that you take any of your wife’s personal property for leverage.


Thank you Erin, athos, and comingclean2 for your replies. I am not envying this road. But I just can’t take it anymore. I love my girls more than anything, but can’t continue staying.