Formulating my exit plan...help. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 08-15-2013, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a long-time member here but needed to make an anonymous account in case my husband or anyone else starts poking around.

I've been married nearly eight years. I have two kids, age 8 and 3. My husband ("Max") has been overly controlling about money since we got married. This is something that won't go away. He's disrespectful of me as a SAHM, in spite of agreeing to it before we TTC. It's just been an ongoing downhill mess from the start. Our third marital therapist told him he was abusive (not physically), which of course he felt was nonsense. I can't deal with it anymore. Our son has become just as disrespectful to me. Our kids shouldn't grow up thinking this is the way relationships should be.

The odd thing is...Max has no idea I'm moving in this direction. Just this morning, he wanted to continue talking about buying a house together. He's cheating on me (or trying to -- he has an online dating profile) and knows I know. He thinks he should stay married for the kids, get his sex outside the marriage, and everything will be hunky dory.

For a long time, I hoped we could separate, because I really didn't want a divorce (still don't) and thought a separation would jolt him into action. But I can't figure out any way to make that happen. I have some money, but I don't have any income. It's very possible he would cut me off from the limited money I currently have access to, and for all I know, he'd find a way to get rid of money in the savings account (if he hasn't already). So I guess a divorce from the start is going to be necessary (right?). The element of surprise is to my benefit, I think.

I've spoken with one attorney, to get an idea how much support I might get. It's not impressive, but it might work. I'm really hoping to not work for the next two years, while I finish a college certificate and DD is not yet in school. After that, while I'd love to remain at home,I assume I'll have to work.

The cost of living is rather high where I live. There are a lot of rentals, but they're expensive. I'm kind of hazy on the order things ought to happen. Should I file and get the support established, and then move out? Should I try to get a rental place, move some stuff there, and then get the paperwork done? I'm 99% certain that he will fight me when it comes to me having the kids anywhere else -- even away from him at all. I've tried to get him to move out of our rental house, just to somewhere nearby, and he won't do it. He expects to see them every day. He also expects to have whatever place is nicer or worth more. He wants to control everything. greensad.gif

Obviously I need to speak to more lawyers. But what do you think you would do, or what would you suggest based on your experience?
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#2 of 22 Old 08-16-2013, 07:25 AM
 
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Sorry you have to go through that. Hopefully by bumping this up you'll get some answers. You might also find useful information on survivinginfidelity.com whether or not there is actual cheating, someone may have that knowledge. 


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#3 of 22 Old 08-16-2013, 10:21 AM
 
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I'm sorry you are going through this :( I just moved out at the end of June after years of a dysfunctional relationship, so I can certainly empathize.

 

In my state, you can file for custody while you are still living together, but you cannot file for support until you have separate addresses.  I don't know if that is true everywhere though, but you can probably just call the child support office and ask.

 

If you have the money, I would try to secure a place to live first, then move out with the kids.  If you can time it right, try to file for custody at the same time, so that ideally he is getting the papers VERY close to the day you are moving out to minimize conflict while you are still living together, but also so that custody is in motion so that he (hopefully) will not try to keep the kids from you.  Until a custody order is officially in place, both parents (assuming they are married and/or signed the BC) have equal rights to the children and it sounds like he might try something that. 

 

We were not married and did not share finances, so I can't comment on the legality of "hiding" money from each other or your taking marital assests from joint accounts to fund an apartment, but hopefully someone else can.

 

Good luck.  My situation ended pretty badly, and it's really hard.  Things have settled down for the most part now (well, maybe!) but it's been quite the rollercoaster ride and will still be for a while. 


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#4 of 22 Old 08-16-2013, 10:24 AM
 
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I just want to offer you my support. I don't have specific advice to give other than you will get through this. It will feel crazy and wild and frightening, but you will come through it and you will thrive. 

 

You will. 

 

xo

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#5 of 22 Old 08-17-2013, 08:20 AM
 
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Are you scared of him?  You sound afraid.  Are you fearing retribution?

 

I think greenemami has the right idea for the order of things to happen.  Anything legal is not a short process, and divorce and child support are no exceptions.  And despite your feelings one way or the other for him, it's HARD to get up on that stand and tell the judge that you truly do wish for the marriage to end.  It's hard to see the other people in the courtroom watching you get divorced and feeling sympathy for you.  Can you get a part-time job, maybe something you could take your daughter along with you for?  I babysit some neighborhood kids and I make out okay along with my child support so that I haven't had to work for 5 years now.  I also pick up odd jobs here and there like house cleaning and knitting and such so that I always have SOMETHING going to bring in extra money.  In the beginning of my divorce I was a full time nanny and that was good money.  Now that my youngest child is going off to kindergarten next week, I'm getting back into the workplace finally and thrilled to do it.  But I've had 5 years of time home raising my children and just being there for them whenever they needed me, which I really think was instrumental in keeping my family  happy in the process.  

 

 

I would try to get all your ducks in a row financially right now.  On the sly of course.  Scared or not, the benefit of surprise is always a good thing in a situation where you are being controlled.  You may qualify for some state help like food stamps and medicaid or section 8 housing so look into that.  Save every penny you can and try to open a bank acct for yourself at a different bank than what you use right now with your husband.  Do you have access to all the finances???  On the day you leave you could take half of what's in the accts for yourself and leave him the rest.  I don't know how comfortable you are with deception right now but when I was leaving my husband, a friend suggested to "inflate" the grocery bill and pay only in cash and get it as low as humanly possible and keep the rest.  Like say that you need $150 for groceries and use only $120 of it and keep the extra $30 for yourself to put away.  I didn't do it but maybe it would help you.  Also, speak to future landlords NOW to try to find something you are comfortable with and see if they will let you split up the security deposit over 2-3 months.  Tell them in brief the situation and some private landlords may show compassion.  That's how I got into the house I'm currently in.  It's hard to get an apartment with no job and little money.  I like to be up front right away and show a good rental history with on time payments and steady income and just cross fingers that they have mercy on me.  

 

 

 

Above all, just know that you may not be feeling right now like you can handle this but you are capable of more than you know.  Each day it gets easier and easier to handle and you'd be surprised what you can do on so very little if you have the drive.  My day begins at 6am every day with an early babysitting job.  I feed a total of 5 kids and get two off to camp.  Then my next job comes at 7am and I put more kids on the bus.  Then at 9am  I get an infant to keep all day along with my own kids.  I try to snatch bits of time to knit for money during the day or I walk to the neighbor's house to clean with a baby on my chest and 3 kids underfoot(sometimes helping, most times not).   I finally get around to my housework and such in the evening when the baby is picked up and I get my kids bathed and into bed.  My day usually ends around 11pm.  It's exhausting.  And sometimes weekends are included in this race because let's face it, I need the money.  But it's been 5 years and it's been worth every struggle and cup of coffee to get me through the day.  And you'll do it too.  And it will cease to be difficult and just become normal and you'll even enjoy it sometimes.hug2.gif

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#6 of 22 Old 08-17-2013, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have my own bank accounts and credit cards. I have enough money that I could start paying a lawyer and probably six months at an apartment/rental house, if necessary. But I don't have access to anything else. The majority of our savings are in his account. He doesn't provide a whole lot for me to pay expenses (groceries and other things the kids need) each month. I'm already skimming a bit each month to cover a small storage unit (where I moved a bunch of personal/sentimental things a couple of months ago), so I can't really take more.

Am I scared of him? A little. Like I said, he hasn't been physically abusive, but he's been getting nasty with the insults lately. We've spoken a bit in the past about separation options, and he was totally against being separated from the kids, even if he lived a couple of miles away. So I guess I'm most fearful that he will get to have the kids more than I'd like or destroy the living situation that I want for them. I don't want my 3yo daughter to go into daycare. I don't want her to be forced to spend weekends with him when she hates to be away from me at all. And honestly, with all the heartbreak he has caused me, and all the work ahead I no doubt face, I want him to have to pay as much as possible. I know it sounds shallow, but he has controlled the money and shamed me for eight years. I'm afraid of him making up stories about me in order to get what he wants. He's been such a #%&$ lately that I wouldn't put it past him.
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#7 of 22 Old 08-17-2013, 12:52 PM
 
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I sent you a pm, mama.  (can't post too much here)

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#8 of 22 Old 08-17-2013, 01:29 PM
 
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You have a professional who is willing to call him abusive.  

 

It seems they should be willing to put that in writing or even come into court and hopefully that would help with custody/visitation.  

There are phone hotlines for abused women.  I would think they would have the best ideas for you.  They also might help you assess how likely the verbal abuse is to turn into physical abuse if you try to leave.

Here in VA I've had 2 friends who wanted a divorce when there was no abuse that wanted to move out (both were going to stay nearby so they could come by daily to take care of their kids before and after school (all kids were in middle school and above) but just didn't want to be stuck in the house at night with all that tension.  The courts will consider it abandonment - I'm not sure if that just applies to house ownership or had other issues but its worth asking an attorney or abused woman support group.

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#9 of 22 Old 08-19-2013, 11:36 AM
 
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I hate to say this but I'm sure you already know.  Your daughter WILL have to spend time away from you with her dad.  And likely you'll need some form of daycare if you intend on working to support yourself.  It could be a relative or a homecare but it will be SOME form of childcare if you are going to leave him and live on your own financially.  If you are scared of him you may want to think about looking into a restraining order or speak to the therapist that labeled him as abusive into testifying in your divorce case so you can plead your case for supervised visitation.


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#10 of 22 Old 08-19-2013, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't plan on supporting myself for a couple of years if I can avoid it. He makes enough money that this could work if I'm awarded enough spousal support. But yes, our daughter will no doubt have to spend time with him. I'd like to think that he and the court would have the decency/intelligence to not try to get her to spend the night with him when she would clearly hate it. She nurses every morning and night and sleeps only with me. Weekends with him would be miserable for both of them (and our son, who currently has Max to himself at bedtime).
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#11 of 22 Old 08-19-2013, 01:32 PM
 
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Most abusive men will file for 50/50 custody. And will do all they can to make your life as financially challenging as possible. Some even use ongoing litigation as a way to control you and the kids...and sometimes to purposefully drain your finances. You could be looking at much more than just weekends away. If you can somehow get access to your savings in his account I would do so. What would happen if you told him that you would like to make his account joint, or insist on equal control of money?

Do you have access to a great counsellor who has experience with abuse issues? Can you go back to the one who identified his abuse?

I wish I could be more positive, but I'm pretty sure judges anywhere would order overnights for a 3 yr old. It's an awful position to feel like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. You may want to research a lot more, get more savings, establish very good credit rating, get access to his bank info so you can monitor and record his activity .... he sure wont cooperate after he knows you are really leaving. It's sad I have to say this, but it might be easier if he did find a new love and left (then he would have someone to distract him and feed his ego, and might put up less of a custody fight).

Big hugs and wishing you lots of strength.
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#12 of 22 Old 08-19-2013, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been asking for equal control of money for my entire marriage. It's never happened. The only reason I have the money that I do is because after our previous house sold, my therapist suggested I transfer some of the money (which was deposited to our joint account) into my own account. Max quickly put the rest into his. He has an online account with no paper trail. I don't know yet how I'm going to get it accessed.

Him getting 50/50 custody is disturbing. I can't understand how anyone would consider that to be best for our kids. Son, maybe. Daughter, not even close. And overnights would (at least initially) be downright traumatic for her! greensad.gif

The therapist who labeled him abusive has moved out of the area. She actually stopped seeing us because she didn't feel qualified to work with abuse issues.
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#13 of 22 Old 08-21-2013, 12:18 AM
 
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A couple things, even online accounts have paper trails. All banks are required to keep track of accounts and transactions.  Just because he 'opted out' of statments does not mean those statements don't exist. They exist.  If you have the bank name and his SSN you can subponea the info.

 

If your therapist moved out of the area, you can still request the old records and her documents.

 

I would begin to look up standard custody guidelines for your state.  Overnights are going to happen, even at 3 yrs old.  

 

You might want to think about what type of job you can do from home if you dont want to do daycare, how quickly you can finish your schooling, where you want to live etc.


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#14 of 22 Old 08-21-2013, 05:58 AM
 
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mama, I have btdt, I know how scary it is, but it will work out. I would say for now just stay living together. In the meantime, save up money, pay the retainer on a lawyer and get temporary orders in place. Temporary order can be established even if you are living together. My divorce was filed a little over a year ago in June, by August 1st exdh was paying me temporary support. Now the one thing for me that bites is that with spousal support (alimony) it is only a 1/3 of the length of the marriage= 28 months and that started August 1st of last year. I suppose a wiser way would of to let the ex move out and pay my bills for some time during a seperation, but for me, the safer route was to go with the court ordered support. 

 

I tried aimlessly to find a job for about 8 months and gave up, the pay was not worth it once childcare, commuting etc was factored in, in addition to the emotional state of the family. I have given myself a deadline of finding a job by August 2014 eventhough support doesn't end until November 2014. I am back in college getting certified to teach secondary education and if I don't get a teaching position I will try for a para or aid position in the school especially while my dd is still not school age. 

 

My ex wanted and still does want to see the kids whenever, and when we get along I do let him see them more, but he does not see them everyday. I stayed close to my old home for them to see ex more and to keep ds in the same school. I could not move out of state closer to family because ex was against it and I did not want to fight because i didn't have the money (out of state is 20 miles away btw)

 

I did not think I could move out and find place to rent with no income, but I did. I found an apartment that was ready to rent to me solely on support once the final papers were signed, but in the end found a duplex to rent which is much more accomodating to my family than an apartment. I could not keep the house, it was putting me about 900$ in the hole every month. My move took a ton of stress off of me,   I moved a few weeks before the divorce was finalized after my job search failed and my lawyer gave me the go ahead to give up the house. 

 

I strongly suggest you find support groups in your area. divorce care and single and parenting are 2 groups that are offered all around the country. I am 9 months out from divorce and still feel I have little to no support system and it is very disheartening. Seeks out help now, don't wait. It will help a lot in the healing process and you will not feel as alone. 

 

My biggest internal struggle is being stuck in transition mode, not working for me and relying on ex still has done a number on my self esteem. I still continue to sacrifice for the kids knowing this is what is best for them, me going back to school and hopefully getting a good paying job with stable hours vs. working at a low paying job shuffling them around to sitters and rarely getting to see them. Just remember, every situation is different and you need to do what is best for your unique situation and for you and your kids. Good luck..

 

 

ETA: do not move out of the marital home with kids and more importantly do not move them across state lines as it could be deemed interstate kidnapping. I was given this advice several times during my divorce. 


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#15 of 22 Old 08-22-2013, 09:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mamathunder View Post

The therapist who labeled him abusive has moved out of the area. She actually stopped seeing us because she didn't feel qualified to work with abuse issues.

Even if she's moved out of the area- you can get in touch with her, explain the situation, and ask her for help. Find out from a lawyer what sort of evidence you would need from her (would an official letter be enough for a judge? Could she send the records from your therapy?). If she wouldn't need to go in and testify, if just a letter or the records showing the abusive behavior would be enough to help, then I would hope she'd have no trouble doing that. If she would need to testify, that may get a bit trickier, especially since you couldn't finance the trip yourself, but there has to be something she can do. (although- how far out of the area? A 2 hour drive isn't as bad as a 5 hour flight)

 

That sounds like a truly awful situation- I hope that it works out!


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#16 of 22 Old 08-22-2013, 11:55 AM
 
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Depending on her qualifications she may be bound by freedom of information and privacy laws... And may be required by law to release your records to you. It's your information and you have a right to it. However, without your x's consent, anything to do with him would be blacked out. A lawyer would likely have to make application for the entire record. often things are said in therapy appointments that actually don't get documented. So it is important to know what the records actually say before assuming they may be credible evidence.
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#17 of 22 Old 08-23-2013, 02:26 AM
 
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I'm a long-time member here but needed to make an anonymous account in case my husband or anyone else starts poking around.

I've been married nearly eight years. I have two kids, age 8 and 3. My husband ("Max") has been overly controlling about money since we got married. This is something that won't go away. He's disrespectful of me as a SAHM, in spite of agreeing to it before we TTC. It's just been an ongoing downhill mess from the start. Our third marital therapist told him he was abusive (not physically), which of course he felt was nonsense. I can't deal with it anymore. Our son has become just as disrespectful to me. Our kids shouldn't grow up thinking this is the way relationships should be.

The odd thing is...Max has no idea I'm moving in this direction. Just this morning, he wanted to continue talking about buying a house together. He's cheating on me (or trying to -- he has an online dating profile) and knows I know. He thinks he should stay married for the kids, get his sex outside the marriage, and everything will be hunky dory.

For a long time, I hoped we could separate, because I really didn't want a divorce (still don't) and thought a separation would jolt him into action. But I can't figure out any way to make that happen. I have some money, but I don't have any income. It's very possible he would cut me off from the limited money I currently have access to, and for all I know, he'd find a way to get rid of money in the savings account (if he hasn't already). So I guess a divorce from the start is going to be necessary (right?). The element of surprise is to my benefit, I think.

I've spoken with one attorney, to get an idea how much support I might get. It's not impressive, but it might work. I'm really hoping to not work for the next two years, while I finish a college certificate and DD is not yet in school. After that, while I'd love to remain at home,I assume I'll have to work.

The cost of living is rather high where I live. There are a lot of rentals, but they're expensive. I'm kind of hazy on the order things ought to happen. Should I file and get the support established, and then move out? Should I try to get a rental place, move some stuff there, and then get the paperwork done? I'm 99% certain that he will fight me when it comes to me having the kids anywhere else -- even away from him at all. I've tried to get him to move out of our rental house, just to somewhere nearby, and he won't do it. He expects to see them every day. He also expects to have whatever place is nicer or worth more. He wants to control everything. greensad.gif

Obviously I need to speak to more lawyers. But what do you think you would do, or what would you suggest based on your experience?
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#18 of 22 Old 08-23-2013, 09:40 PM
 
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I really don't think relying on possible money that could be awarded is a good idea. It can take years to get money even if the court awards it to you. It is incredibly unlikely that you will be able to get permanent supervised visits, courts want to keep families together and I have seen several parents get off unsupervised visits for physical abuse of a child, his verbal abuse is not a good thing but is unlikely to make a judge question his ability to parent.

Working or going to school and taking out loans are your two realistic options. Will he care for the kids while you get a part time job? If he hates you staying at home he may be happy to do that and it will help both kids get used to being in his care so it isn't such a big shock when you divorce.
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#19 of 22 Old 09-29-2013, 11:25 AM
 
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One thing you haven't mentioned is your own family. Are your parents or siblings at all supportive of you? If so, you must call in their help, as well as close friends' help. You will need people to cry to, people you can fall apart on, too.

 

Beyond that: yes, you should expect to be locked out of accounts and for him to go to war, and make things up about you, as soon as this all begins. He will regard it as war and if he has stamina about these things it can go on for quite a long time. If he's abusive and nasty then there's nothing saying he won't go at the children to upset you; and if he's already dating, they will meet his ladyfriends, who will be told shocking lies about you. He may teach the kids to blame you for the divorce. I am sorry to be harsh about this. It's a good idea, though, to get your head around the likely realities first.

One important thing to remember, though you'll want to make sure it applies in your state: If you have a consult with a lawyer, he cannot then use that lawyer, because of confidentiality. Go to visit with the best, most aggressive divorce lawyers in your area. The top four or five if you can.  Go see the ones who're famous for fighting for dads, take them out of the game preemptively.

Finally, know there will continue to be radical unfairness for years. He will have money and freedom and enough sleep and sex, and you will not. He will be able to harass you, and you'll be too sensible to do it back. He will blow off the kids when it comes time to pay for expensive things, claiming he can't afford it while he buys himself and his girlfriend toys and trips, and he will use money to try to buy their affection and compliance. The very best thing that you can do is to finish school, get a good job where you're respected and supported, build your life, and leave that jerk behind. A lot of women take solace in the line about how the kids will figure it out when they're older, what kind of guy their dad is -- personally, I think it's incredibly sad. I think the main thing you can do is to live, make a life for yourself, raise your babies, and teach them what a good person is. If you have time and energy to address the unfairness, do it politically and legally. Work to get abuse, divorce, support, and family-care laws changed in your state. We are the only first-world country that does not support mothers.

 

I'm sorry, mama. It's a very tough situation, but that is life. I would also, if I were you, go make friends at whatever local friendly women's center or shelter exists, because you may need their help too.

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#20 of 22 Old 09-29-2013, 12:33 PM
 
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One important thing to remember, though you'll want to make sure it applies in your state: If you have a consult with a lawyer, he cannot then use that lawyer, because of confidentiality. Go to visit with the best, most aggressive divorce lawyers in your area. The top four or five if you can.  Go see the ones who're famous for fighting for dads, take them out of the game preemptively.

:yeah

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#21 of 22 Old 09-29-2013, 06:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamathunder View Post
The only reason I have the money that I do is because after our previous house sold, my therapist suggested I transfer some of the money (which was deposited to our joint account) into my own account. Max quickly put the rest into his. He has an online account with no paper trail. I don't know yet how I'm going to get it accessed.

 

If he got even a dollar's interest, he should have a tax form from the bank. Your lawyer will have to demand his entire return, forms and all, and it would be a good idea if you knew which bank's paperwork to look for; check his browser history. He should be warned that to hold back funds will be, at best, perjury, and that he will be prosecuted if discovery turns up undisclosed accounts. My guess is that more money is moving around than you're aware of.

 

A forensic tax attorney would be helpful. It's no longer possible to open a bank account without disclosing an awful lot of information.

 

The thing about a bully -- and he sounds like one -- is that if they realize they're overmatched, they'll just run. Get very tough people on your side and prepare to be very tough. Tough custody lawyer, tough financial person. Don't back down, and don't be sweet-talked into over-generous concessions. Stand firm and encourage the people you're paying to do the fighting. Also, talk to your family and see how far they can back you up as far as paying lawyers goes.

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#22 of 22 Old 10-01-2013, 05:18 PM
 
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There's so much good advice here. I'm in the middle of formulating my plan, and I think I am a few steps ahead of you so I can share what I have learned.

 

One of the things I found most helpful was realizing I didn't need to have it all figured out in advance. Every state has what are known as temporary orders, emergency orders that carry a family through until the final divorce, parenting plan, child support, etc.. is in place. It varies from state to state how long it takes the temporary orders to go through, a couple of weeks to a several months seems to be the range, a lawyer in your area will know. However, if there's abuse, and threats count as abuse, the court will push the orders through faster.

 

So you and a lawyer could draw up temporary orders for use of the family home during the divorce process, a temporary parenting plan, and a child and spousal support. These can be filed with the initial petition for divorce. Once those are in place, you can begin thinking about the long term plan. 

 

Moving out with the kids could be seen as disrupting their lives, which could have an impact on custody later, so get legal advice before doing that.


Mom to DD 7 and DS 5.
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