I am trying to be very organized about making sure I do everything I need to in dividing two lives that have been together for 20 years. I know what I am doing hiring an attorney, working out custody/visitation but what are some of the day to day things I need to think about? I know I need to get the bills that need to go to him out of my name and get the bank accounts seperated. I am trying to avoid suprises and situations we may not be thinking about right now. Any hints appreciated.
Divorce To Do LIst
Divorce to do:
1.) Empty all the joint bank accounts and hide all the money
2.) Tell all your family and mutual friends every bit of dirt you could possibly twist into making your STBX look really bad.
3.) Scream profanities in your STBX's face and make sure he knows you hate him and that it's all his fault your marriage failed.
4.) Threaten to kidnap the kids and declare him an unfit parent.
5.) Attempt to kidnap the kids before the divorce papers have been filed with the court and the other person has been served.
6.) Pretend to be really nice and ask to reconcile.
7.) Cancel the divorce and carry out steps 1-6 again, in no particular order.
8.) Scream, beg, whine, and threaten when your STBX files for divorce against you.
9.) Change the locks on the house and lock him out while he still has the legal right to live there.
10.) Do everything you can to buddy up to his friends, to coerce them into giving you information about him.
11.) Act crazy and weird until you go to mediation or court to finalize the divorce to try to get his lawyer to think there's no way to reason with you.
12.) No matter how mediation goes, once it's over, get drunk & smoke a cigar in the back yard in celebration of how you won.
13.) Act like nothing wrong ever happened and you're the nicest person in the world.
14.) Ask repeatedly to change visitation days constantly even though you fought so hard to get exactly the times and days that we agreed upon in visitation.
Oh wait....no, that was my ex's to-do list. I just did what my attorney told me to. She gave me instructions once I filed and he was served. Good luck with yours. This is not a fun process.
It's not fun at all. There's good days, and bad days, and I have to remember to be really gentle with myself. I'm slowly working my way through the process, taking baby steps and puttering along. I read a lot, but most of the stuff I find pertains to two people that can still behave rationally. If he was rational, I would have never filed, or hid out where he didn't know where I was while he was served, or had to file a temporary order to get him out of the house, or had to call the police after our first child exchange, or had to have all child exchanges moved to the police station, or still not have seen any child support because he would have informed the court of his second job at which he makes just as much as the first, . . . . It's long, and tough. And even the really tough spots remind me why I am doing this.
Especially in the first month or so, you are going to have to screw your courage to the sticking place, and not back down. And a good attorney will give you very good advice about what the next steps are. Do what your attorney tells you, come here or talk to a different attorney if it sounds screwy, and take care of yourself.
Thank. I was lol at the to do list but I know it is not a funny matter when you are living it. I am up on all the legal stuff. I have worked in this area before and know how things can go bad fast. I am a list maker and a type A personality and not knowing what is going to happen, how he is going to react to things is driving me insane. Some days I think he will be rational, other days I think he will trash me to the kids first chance he gets and burn anything of mine that he finds. He has been gone for almost a month now and plans to come back in about 2 weeks. On one hand, if he acts like an adult, it will be good for the kids to have a routine visitation schedule begin. If he is a jerk, he will do his best to make my life miserable. Sigh. Can't wait to be on the other side of the divorce.
Going through this now. *sigh*
Change all of your passwords on email, etc. Change your account-reset "secret questions" if he would know the answers.
Move utility accounts to your name and ask about putting a password on them.
Change beneficiary/guardianship information on any existing life insurance, wills, etc.
Get your own bank account and credit cards if possible.
Get copies of ALL financial info-- debts and assets, including retirement accounts.
Estimate all of your monthly costs in preparation for a financial declaration (ask attorney for guidelines).
File for financial restraints as soon as possible (ask attorney).
Get your own cell phone account if you don't want him to be able to see records of your calls.
Change locks, secure windows, etc.
Think about what you would like for custody and visitation guidelines for parenting plan (great thread here on that).
Look into counseling options/divorce support groups for you and/or kids.
Depending on age of children, check out library books to read with them about separation/divorce/any other specific issue involved.
Try to eat well, exercise, and get good sleep (I find medicinal-grade chamomile tea at bedtime helps, no joke). Taking natural anti-depressants, too.
Try not to expect too much of yourself in other areas-- all of the above plus massive legal crap has been a huge time/energy sink, the equivalent of a part-time job, and then there is still the grief.
Ask for and accept help.
Know that even if you check all of the above boxes, you cannot control this process.
Add to the pp
1. have your mail sent to a p o box- this way no crazy ex can steal your mail.
2. get copies of birth certs, passports, marriage certs, etc and get a bank depo box for the time being to store those papers in
3. start to look for a different place to live- just to get a sense of how much this will cost if nothing else
4. make sure you have access to any custodial accounts for the kids
5. look for employment if you are a sahm (you will need income at some point)
6. look for childcare - see #5
7. quote your own auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance etc
8. update your medical files to 'do not release info to stbx' same with financial)
9. start to mentally divide the friends
10. if you are employed and you have the slightest feeling your stbx will be crazy please let your HR/security department know.
11. check with your benefits department to see if you qualify for 'life benefits', some companies offer legal services/hours, EAP, etc.
I was married for 20 years, too, and I am an older mom of two young kids (mine are now 7 and 9--just about 5 and 7 when it all began). I live in Virginia and where I live there was this WONDERFUL workshop called "Second Saturdays"...you might want to google it. See if these clinics are in every state--I don't know if they are. But, it was this divorce clinic for women only and it was $40 BUT you could go back as many times as you wanted. Attorneys would lecture and answer questions and I went often--and I took notes and free literature and read and read. That helped me a lot. Look on Amazon for literature about divorce and what to expect. See what you can find. Educate yourself. I say that as a woman, not as a PhD (I am). I worried A LOT...if there is anyway for you to stop the "what ifs"--try. That was the worst part for me. My ex wanted out--and literally walked out on us--leaving me to sell our entire life--house and 25 years of stuff (all together) by myself. So I did whatever I could to "triage" things--sold furniture, decorative items, stuff--knowing my new "life" would not include our huge house--and did things like open my own bank account and credit cards, etc. Look back at my old posts and you can follow the history of what I went through. Some of it is just tragic, but it's all OK now. I sold our mcmansion by myself and we split the profit (in our case, we were financially stable--my ex met someone younger in our case). I even had to give up my beloved bunnies--but I got two of them back (that's a long story, too).
I made it. I bought my own house; I made my way. I did it. I've been divorced since March--but the whole thing went down over the course of two years...and now, I'm truly coming out on the other side. I bought a house (I think that was incredibly empowing for ME) and I am learning how to do things all by myself that I never thought I could do. I know this is not what you asked about...but I guess since everyone's journey is so different---you have to do it the way that you know you will feel most empowered. I also did not fight the ex. I allowed the legal system to handle as much as possible and didn't take my ex's word for anything when it came to what to sign or what he expected out of me. In other words--it was better financially to do a no-fault divorce instead of charge him with adultry. Even though it would FEEL better to fight over things--it would COST LESS in the long run. Try to work on things as much as possible--the less you fight over, the more money you will have in your pocket and less in the lawyer's pocket. In fact, mediation was recommended in that clinic I mentioned. Save every penny.
Advice for later: tell people you could use hand-me-downs for your kids, allow people to help you, learn to cut coupons and stay away from people from your soon to be "old" life. I had to give up the country club lifestyle and now when I run into those people who look down on me, I just smile and get away as quickly as possible. I'm doing fine. I really did make it through. You can, too. But darn, it just seems so darn unfair!
"Know that even if you check all of the above boxes, you cannot control this process."
That is probably the hardest thing about the situation. And I am just looking at it from the begining - my stbxI as been gone 4 weeks today. I cannot imagine still going through this a year from now, much less 2. We have worked out a good settlement for both of us, I hope. It allows him to move back to the house because I do not see myself wanting to live here anymore but I know the kids need the stability of our home at least part of the time. I also think the kids would be better off with him closer and having routine visitation. I don't think he will fight the divorce - he is the one that walked out, moved to Alaska, litterally, and I am willing to give him a fair settlement because I want it over with as little cost and time as possible. He knows if he fights, he stands to lose much more than I do.
I do not want to fight over this, as mad as I am, I know I want out asap more than I want to rip him up. In our case, he did not and will not find another woman. He is 30 yrs older than me and I am 37 and I really doubt he will ever re-marry. My life has just been spent under his thumb, doing what he says, what he wants, when he wants. Things rocked along with me going along with everything until the last year or so when everything made him mad at me. I can look back now and see that as I pulled to do things he did not want, it really set him off. The more he would order me around, the more I was resisting against it. And then he started taking his anger at me out on two of the kids, especially my teen daughter, she could do no right either. One kid he started playing as a favorite, obvious to everyone, so that child is having a hard time now. Everything was one huge complaint. And we were soooo isolated, I was not really allowed to talk to anyone - certainly not to talk about our problems. He left when I re-connected with my sister (he STRONGLY disaproves of her lifestyle) my brother (he has drug issues) and several friends, one of which was male (who really is just a great friend at this point - he is married, no plans to leave his wife and lives 6 hrs from here.) And though I could totally fall for my old friend and we passed a few flirty emails, my stbx did not know about that when he left - he left because he was angry at his lack of control over me. Of course there are soooo many more issues, I think I could write a book!
I think he may have thought that if he left, I would beg him to come back, that I would think I was not able to do this alone. But my heart is gone from that place, it hurt more to consider him coming back than gone. And I can do this alone. And my kids and I have been happier in the last 4 weeks than we have the last several years. I am so stressed, depression is a hairs breath away sometimes right now but then I am in the house, packing up a lifetime and as much as I know being out will be wonderful, it is still so sad. I should have left a long time ago and it is sooooo hard for me to face that, to know how different my life would have been if I did, I think that is the most depressing thing of all. Ok, guess that was a vent and pitty party more than anything.
I am doing what I can to get my professional licenses up to date (the one thing I do have is a great education), have taken him off my (tiny but at least I have it) savings account, have picked up paperwork for changing my mailing address, have changed my email accounts and passwords, have moved in with my mother and am looking for an apartment. I have a small income through social security and it is enough for us to live on right now, though I do have to budget. It will last well through me getting on my feet, probably in the spring I will start working part time again, out of my home. I have also told people at our church that he is coming back, not sure how that is going to work for him since he will have been gone 6 weeks and everyone knows it and knows why. He will probably tell everyone I had an affair (can't convince him otherwise) but at this point i can't help what he says. People know me and they know him. It is what it is.
I really appreciate the list of things to do ladies, I have added many things to my to do list. I am so trying to stay organized, take one thing at a time. It is super easy to get overwhelmed right now and not get anything done. As he wants to be back in the house in about 2 weeks, I can't afford to get sidetracked.
I have been married for 16 years and separated for 2 1/2 months. No family locally except for my 2 small children. The first 8 weeks were an absolute flurry of activity; I was so exhausted and each day my to-do list seemed to grow exponentially. Thee last couple of weeks have been quieter, not that everything is settled, but I have pretty much done what I can for now. I am struggling more now that I am out of crisis mode-- emotionally it has been a lot harder, and some days it is all I can do to feed/talk to my kids. I am surprised to realize what a long process this will be (years? ugh). But I am definitely benefitting now from being so detail-oriented earlier this summer. Depression plus a time-sensitive to-do list would make today even harder.
Being proactive will serve you well, and so will being kind to yourself if you fall apart later.