I do have an attorney but right now we’re in the 30-day waiting game and I would like some questions answered without padding my attorney’s bill any further than I already have.
Let me see if I can sum things up without boring everyone. Married 11 years with two little girls, age 8 and 9. I worked from home most of the time when I could in order to take care of the girls and raise them. I was and still am the primary care giver. Done all the volunteer work at school, took them to doctors, dentists, school, fed them, bathed them, etc. I was mommy and still am. Only now I’m working full time. However, my Mother lives right around the corner and picks them up from school and I get them when I get off work. They’re very much loved and very well cared for.
I asked my STBX for a divorce over a year ago. Unfortunately I have had difficulty finding full time work so neither of us could afford to separate so we’re still under the same roof for now. I cannot afford to leave and he has already threatened me and said if I try to leave and take the girls, he’ll have the police here and that I’m not allowed to (I know that’s not the case but I still don’t have anywhere to go). He has been emotionally, mentally and physically abusive. He has hit me on several occasions, called me names, plays mental mind games, etc. In the past year, I was able to catch SOME of these incidents on video / audio, including times where he’s blocked me from leaving a room, laughing at me when I told him he left bruises on my arms, etc. Last December, the night before my 40th birthday, I had to call the police due to the fact that he was starting another fight, kept grabbing me around my arms to try and take my phone (he knew it had video evidence of the argument) and my flip video phone. The girls woke up, heard a lot of what happened and they were screaming and crying. I told them to put their shoes on and tried to get them out of the house but he physically restrained them. I tried to call the police but he kept taking my telephones and taking the batteries out, breaking them, throwing them, etc. Twisted my arm at one point (which I’m still having trouble with but haven’t had the money nor time to go get it looked at). I finally got the police to come and they basically blew the whole thing off and said that they could take BOTH of us to jail because of domestic violence. WHAT!!?!? Of course I had no marks on my arms but two days later, I had bruises, which I took photographs of. Said that “one of us had to leave”. I told them that I wasn’t leaving my daughters so he played “hero” and left and “spent the night in his car”. Next day said he was moving out but he didn’t. He said we’d do mediation but instead he had his attorney send me a letter with a separation agreement stating that he keeps everything, including the girls and I pay him child support. I lost it. I threw the papers at him and told him it’d be a cold day in hell before he got anything. So my Mom and Dad are paying for an attorney right now, he’s been served with papers (separation) citing assault, abuse in front of the children and making life “unlivable” (I don’t have the paperwork in front of me at the moment). He has continually come up with excuses where I have had to pay certain bills and not save any money because if I didn’t pay them, he wouldn’t. Then we’d lose the electric, phone, etc. etc. I have to take care of my girls so I’ve paid bills that I can but haven’t been able to save a DIME to leave.
Now he’s not ENTIRELY at fault. I’ve been bad with money. I had a business that tanked and we had to declare bankruptcy. He didn’t know how far in debt we had become until it was too late in the game to do much to fix it. He scared me (and still does) and I was never able to discuss anything with him about it so basically I did hide the fact that we had that much debt. We also are about $8,000 behind in the mortgage because he left me in charge of the money AGAIN with no help from him and whenever I would tell him we didn’t have the money for something, he’d blow up and it would frighten me so I would skip paying the mortgage and then call the mortgage company and try to work out payment arrangements. I looked for full time work outside the home for over a year before I finally found a job. He had an affair, which I said ok to at first because it kept his anger at a manageable state. However, when it affected the girls, I told him it needed to end and he said “No, you’re not taking away the best thing that’s ever happened to me”. So I left. My daughters were with my parents in Myrtle beach for a week so I packed and went to a hotel. Told him he needed to make some decisions. He begged me back, promised things would be better but they weren’t. He has attempted to control me, bully me, etc. so a year ago I asked for a divorce and I haven’t looked back. Never wavered. It’s been hell and still is but we’re nearing the end.
I tried to negotiate. He has $35k in a 401K, the house is in both our names, he makes more money. My final offer was for him to give me $15,000, the girls, the chevy cavalier and all of my personal belongings and the girls’ items from their rooms and my dog and I would waive my right to alimony, PSS and sign away the rights to the house. He could have it all. I just want OUT and AWAY from him. So far, no agreement. I’ve undergone SOME counseling for domestic violence but haven’t been able to continue it due to working full time now. He smokes pot, has had a series of mini-strokes that has done some damage to his brain, clearly has anger issues and road rage to the enth degree. The girls have told me that they just want to move away with me. He has scared the girls more times than I can count, denies them snacks at night if they’re hungry (I refuse to let a daughter cry herself to sleep because she’s hungry). He has had NOTHING to do with the girls or their school or their friends until this past year and that’s only because I said “divorce”. He says he doesn’t want to lose his daughters. No, he doesn’t want to pay child support and I do NOT want him having a hand in decisions I make regarding the girls because I can’t trust that his judgement is sound.
I had him served with divorce from bed and board, citing abuse, unlivable conditions, etc. and the paperwork prays for distribution of marital property in my favor, custody of my daughters, child support, alimony and PSS, possession of the house, for him to vacate the home and for him to pay attorney fees. He has NINE days left to respond to being served.
So, what happens if he doesn’t respond? He DOES have an attorney but as I said … we’re down to nine days and nothing yet.
Does it look bad that I’ve remained in the house and not gone to say a battered women’s shelter? I can’t go there because I’ve been told by counseling and by legal aid that my “case isn’t strong enough to get an emergency custody order in my favor” even though I have video and audio of arguments, photos of bruises, a journal that I’ve kept from the past YEAR of EVERY LITTLE THING, every fight, every argument, every email, every problem I’ve had with him and it spans 40+ pages. So I basically have nowhere to go. Also the home is deeded to us both but the mortgage/financial obligation is in his name only.
If we go to court, what are the chances that I’ll be able to get sole legal and physical custody of the girls? I don’t care if he has visitation. I’ve even set up a visitation schedule in the separation agreement.
He keeps threatening me with “you should see my witness list”. Well I really don’t care because I haven’t done anything that he needs to have a witness for. He doesn’t even allow me to go to church or take the girls to church! But he says he knows all the “men I’ve been with”. Well I’d like to see 'em! I do have a singing partner who is my BEST friend and who has been my one MAJOR support through this whole thing and yes, he’s a man. I have not had an affair with him but I do love him very much. The STBX okayed me spending time with him because we had singing gigs and of course, because it brought money into the home. He even let the girls meet him and spend time with him but when I said “divorce”, all of a sudden I’m not allowed to see him (though we text all the time) and the girls are NOT to ever spend any time with him. What is the process for divorce “court” of this nature and how long does it normally take?
STBX admitted to stopping his anti-anxiety meds and going back to smoking pot (which I have NEVER EVER approved of). I do not smoke, do drugs nor drink alcohol. Can I have a drug test issued on him if we wind up going to court? What happens if it comes back negative (ie: he lied about smoking pot).
I’ve had about all I can take of all of this. I’m an emotional wreck (also stated in the papers served to him), I can’t sleep because I’ve slept on the couch for over a year now and he comes out and makes every kind of noise possible to wake me starting at like 4am and on (I don’t have to get up until 6am). I’m exhausted, I’m beaten down and I can’t take much more. I really just need some answers and my attorney, even though I have emailed him on several occasions recently, hasn’t gotten back to me. All I want is some money to move out, our things and to be away from him. I have a temp-to-perm position with an excellent company but he still makes more money and holds benefits on all of us for the time being.
I’m so sorry this is so long but thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope someone has some answers for me. Thanks again!!!