Advice from those who have BTDT - Mothering Forums
Single Parenting > Advice from those who have BTDT
mamatoemily's Avatar mamatoemily 05:48 AM 03-17-2011

My husband has recently "walked out" on me and our 4 month old daughter (and 2 dogs) because he doesn't want to work on our relationship anymore.  I say "walked out" although he disagrees with this statement because he still will come and see our DD (for 20 mins).  I am exclusively BF so she is tied to me.  He says he doesn't care about the dogs and to give them away.  I am completely overwhelmed with what I am supposed to do next...get a lawyer...sell the house...etc.  For those of you who have BDTD what is your advice, and what are things you wish YOU would have known as entering this process.  I don't have any friends who have gone through this...


Thanks in advance....

Goodmom2008's Avatar Goodmom2008 05:57 AM 03-17-2011

Here is a list of what you need to do:


1.  Start a journal listing the dates and length of each of his "visits" with the baby. 

2.  See a lawyer and get temp custody and support set up through the courts.  Right now, he can take your baby and the cops won't be able to stop him.  He also doesn't have to pay anything for support, either.

3.  Take care of yourself.

4.  While it isn't the end of the world, it will feel like it.  And the ride will be bumpy before it gets better.  Get yourself a support system together, you will need it.


I am sorry that you find yourself here and wish you the best.

doubledutch's Avatar doubledutch 09:13 AM 03-17-2011

yes!  document the time he spends with her, and the time you offer him that he turns down.  you can keep it in a file on your computer, or i just write mine on a calendar.  definitely talk to a lawyer (or several lawyers) immediately. 


when you say recently, how recently?  days, weeks?  is he paying bills?  is there money in joint accounts that you could transfer to an individual account to make sure you can cover bills if he's not going to?  if you have any money or income of your own, make sure that's going to an account in your name only. 


if you can get counseling/therapy, do it.  if not, get support from your existing friends and family but also by going to things like la leche league, post-partum / new mama groups, playgroups, church stuff if you do that, etc.  this is a lonely time (both divorce and having an infant) and it takes effort to not become isolated, but the effort pays off in having that support and connection.

kryztuh's Avatar kryztuh 09:47 AM 03-17-2011

Hugs mama. My STBX walked out when I was 5 months pregnant with #2, and we also have two big, very messy dogs. It was not easy. But you will get through it.  STBX said he wanted to work out an agreement amongst ourselves and I wasted months and months doing that and voluntary mediation to avoid going to court. 


If I could do it again, I would have just filed for custody and child support right after he left. As it is, he's been gone almost 10 months and we don't even have a court date yet for a temporary order.


Also, don't be surprise if he starts out being amicable but quickly spirals down into a hot mess of anger, vindictiveness, and just general meanness, especially after you file.  I really wasn't mentally prepared to deal with a lot of the awful things STBX started saying and doing once I finally filed.


Finally, do keep lots of documentation on the time you offer and the time he declines. Those hard numbers don't lie and if he decides to fight for 50/50 custody to reduce his child support obligation, it will help you to show that he declines X number of hours or X percentage of his available parenting time.


I know this is not going to be easy but you will do it because you have to.  Good luck to you.

mamatoemily's Avatar mamatoemily 02:45 PM 03-17-2011

@ Doubledutch: He left Tuesday evening, so it's only been a couple days.  He has agreed to keep paying half the bills and mortgage until the house is sold and up until now I have been in charge of all of the finances, so today when he got paid he just put the money where I told him like usual.  


So, so far it seems that the only really big dispute is going to be percentage of custody.  He says he wants 50/50 because he doesn't want to have to pay the full amount, but I want FULL custody, so this is the main reason I think I am going to need a lawyer.  I have called one and they are going to call me back.  Right now she is so little and I am nursing so she is completely tied to me and he knows that.  Do you think I have to get a separation custody agreement right now or wait until I go back to work in November?  We both work the same job, shiftwork, so the plan beforehand was to go on opposite shifts so he could care for her while I'm working and vice versa...which does NOT work out to 50/50 considering days off and mornings or evenings depending on our shifts.  Also, every 5 weeks I get a whole week off, and I am not willing to give her up during that time either.  I'm scared for how much this is all going to cost me, especially since I am on maternity leave right now.  


I've started documenting stuff now and am seeing a counsellor.  I am also really lucky to have wonderful friends and family.  

MissLotus's Avatar MissLotus 03:06 PM 03-17-2011

If the only reason he wants 50/50 custody is because he thinks he'll have to pay less money, that's really gross and I would fight that every step of the way!  (Plus it would backfire on him anyway because if he has her that much time, he'd still have to get a (more expensive) place big enough for a room for her, etc., things that are not exactly free).  So your thing is that you need to be the Primary Caregiver (which is sounds like you are and will be, anyway!) and have physical custody of her.  Now, you could both share legal custody while you have physical custody.  Ask a lawyer what's common in your area; I'm lucky to live in a state where this shift to 50/50 has not been the norm.  And if worse came to worse and a court ordered you to do 50/50 custody, you could try to request that the shift in visitation increases gradually.


A lawyer can help you work specifics into your agreement (such as how you want to make sure you have your child those full weeks you have off).  Make sure you find a lawyer who isn't lazy about such things; shop around for one if you have to, the same as you would till you find the right pediatrician, etc.  Also, put in your agreement that you have the Right of First Refusal, meaning that if he can't take care of her during his parenting time, YOU have first dibs on her and he can't shuffle her off to a babysitter or something if you're available to take her.


I'm sorry you're going through this right now - what a time for a man to show his true colors - but the sooner things can be settled without his emotional garbage, you can really begin to enjoy life with your child, unhindered by someone like that!

bananabee's Avatar bananabee 05:28 PM 03-17-2011

I have sooo BTDT, and am still going through it. PM me if you'd like to talk. One thing you should keep in mind is that he has been thinking about this and researching it for a lot longer than you have. If he makes ANY requests of you, they will not be for anyone's benefits but his own. Don't fall for anything. ESPECIALLY if he asks you not to get a lawyer. Be prepared for him to bad-mouth you to his friends and family. That has been one of the most painful parts for me.


Also, don't freak out if you can help it. This process moves more slowly once you get it going. DO file for divorce and a temporary agreement ASAP so that he will have to continue to support you until the divorce is settled and so that he can't disappear with your baby (as mine thought he was going to do so he could say he'd been involved in her night time care).


Get a good lawyer. I've found my local YWCA to have some great people to talk to. They know by reputation the judges, lawyers, etc and can maybe point you in the right direction.


Yeah, paying for a lawyer can seem insanely daunting, but you will pay for this in one way or another. Either it will be stress, or money. Also, he may get stuck with the bill in the end. You need to be able to focus on your baby and all the joy she brings to you.


I'm so sorry this is happening to you. My STBX left, filed for divorce while I was pregnant, came back towards the end, and then did crazy things until DD was about 4 mos, and I filed for divorce. As a PP said, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Get all the support you can. You're going to need it. You can do this. You will survive. My daughter has been my little angel through all this.

mamatoemily's Avatar mamatoemily 05:59 PM 03-17-2011

I have a feeling he is going to be shocked when he finds out I have a lawyer (which I am not telling him I am looking into).  How do custody agreements work?  Are they flexible - time wise?  My concern is we are both police officers and work a set schedule right now, however there is always the chance to be moved to a different investigative branch and then your hours completely change.  Do you think if that every time that occurs we will have to go back to lawyers to change the agreement?  


Is it a good idea or a bad idea to figure out our house/finances stuff between us and not involve a lawyer.  He isn't the type to want to screw me with that, especially since I know more than he does...


Saddest part of my day today was making dinner for just myself.  I couldn't even finish it.  I'm trying to eat, but it's so hard to...

Goodmom2008's Avatar Goodmom2008 07:22 PM 03-17-2011

What state are you in?  That's going to play a major factor in custody.  Some states, it is automatic 50/50, regardless of nursing.  Some states, it's not. 


Some states, child support is the same regardless of whether or not it's 50/50.  And when the state does take parenting time into consideration, typically it's the overnights that count.   In regards to asset division, if the two of you agree, it will be easier and then it's just a matter of the attorney writing it up and a judge signing off on it.

mamatoemily's Avatar mamatoemily 05:34 AM 03-18-2011

I'm actually in I have no idea what the rules are regarding that here...

blessingscome's Avatar blessingscome 09:27 AM 03-18-2011

Definitely check with a lawyer. If they don't take overnights into account, it may work easier for you with regards to custody!