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#1 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My partner quit his job Sunday. He does not have a new one lined up. We got all our ducks in a row and determined he could do it--he's a student, he's got some learning disabilities (he finally acknowledged that the car accident that almost killed him several years ago made learning more difficult--he refused to acknowledge it for years because that would be letting the drunk who hit him "win"), his job was interfering with his ability to go to school. It was part-time, not in his field, no benefits, and we can make up the lost income through other sources. (I do think he quit too abruptly--he didn't give notice because he felt he was sinking fast in his classes and needed out NOW--but no notice was required, none would have been given to him if he'd been laid off, and what's done is done. He burned a bridge, but I don't think it's a bridge he will need--the only references the company will give is "he worked here from X to Y and had a final salary of $C.")

This will in no way affect his child support or my SD's ability to get health care (she's on a state program open to all children, regardless of family income). It will, however, enable him to do well in school, get his BA, and have a better chance at a good-paying job that will increase what he can pay in child support.

He informed his ex, per the requirement in the parenting agreement.

Well, she blew a gasket, telling him that because SHE can't just up and quit her job anytime she wants to, HE doesn't have that right either and he's setting a bad example, blah blah blah. This wouldn't be my business, either, except she's been leaving nasty messages on the household answering machine--we've received three messages since 8 pm last night on our answering machine.

What the heck is going on? Yes, we are very lucky and fortunate to have the means to do this, and she is underemployed and broke (my SO pays child support, more than the state requirement, but it's still not a ton because they have 60/40 custody time--we also buy most of SD's clothes and he's been paying the entire aftercare and prescription co-pays even though he doesn't have to, and no, he doesn't rub it in her face)...but does she really have the right to harass him? Her car and most of her furniture was inherited from his mother; her graduate education was paid for courtesy of his inheritance (money that is considered separately his, and money he'd gladly give back if it meant his mother didn't die young; however, it is not available for child support--or anything other than health care, education, and a few other narrow expenses--until he is 40, per the terms of the trust instrument).

What do you ladies do when you think your ex has made a bad move, when that move will not affect your children? I can see where she might disagree with his actions...but what's with the flying off the handle?

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#2 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:16 PM
 
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Wow, is that ever none of her business!

Our view is that the only reason they have to have contact is for the kids, so discussion is usually limited to the kids. My husband is switching jobs right now, and we don't keep her posted on it at all. Her checks still come, the kids are still insured, and in my book that's all she has a right to care about.

We got tired of angry phone calls, too, so long ago we changed his number and now she only has my number. This way, she can contact us if she needs, but she doesn't call to fight (she's usually more in polite stranger mode with me than battling ex mode like she is with him). Sounds like in your case she might have too much access right now and feels too entitled to offer her opinion on matters that don't concern her. I'd change the number and/or tell her to grow up.

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#3 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:22 PM
 
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IMO, as long as she is getting the support amount that was agreed upon and her daughter is being fed, clothed, and cared for, no differently she needs to butt out!
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#4 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sounds like in your case she might have too much access right now and feels too entitled to offer her opinion on matters that don't concern her.
This is a good way to put it--it does ebb and flow. During good stretches, she and my SO are friends. Talk is mostly about Kiddo, but occasionally veers into things like music (they have similar tastes) or TV or whatever. Superficial stuff, but it works. We're friendly, too. Maybe the access needs to pare down regardless, so during the bad stretches, there are no expectations.

He did have to tell her he left his job, though--not that she wouldn't hear it through SD anyway, they don't use her as a messenger but she does talk about things at the other house--but it's in the parenting agreement that they need to inform the other of any job change within 10 days. (I'm assuming that's for child support purposes. It's standard WI language.)

She's apparently had a bad run recently--my SD told us an ex-boyfriend is back "as a friend, because he doesn't believe in commitment" (SD is 5, you know she didn't make that up, why her mom is burdening her with that information, I don't know), and we know the job's not been going too well. I know it must be hard seeing your ex do comparatively well with what seems like little effort, and it must be hard seeing a strange woman come in and be your ex's partner and have a hand in raising your child and basically live the life you envisioned years ago. Still. Ugh...

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#5 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:36 PM
 
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This is a good way to put it--it does ebb and flow. During good stretches, she and my SO are friends. Talk is mostly about Kiddo, but occasionally veers into things like music (they have similar tastes) or TV or whatever. Superficial stuff, but it works. We're friendly, too. Maybe the access needs to pare down regardless, so during the bad stretches, there are no expectations.
That was our thought, too. She's usually fine, but those moments when she'd freak out completely we were so unprepared and felt blindsided. I suggested DH stop taking her calls -- let them all go to voice mail so we know if she's on the warpath. At first he resisted, since she's usually fine. But after a few outbursts he admitted I was right and we decided to limit her access. It has been a huge relief.

We've never let the kids do our communicating, though, just like you say. If we need to notify of a change in address or anything, we do it over email. No outbursts, plus there's a record that she's been told. It's all much more polite now than it was when the phone was our major communication tool.

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#6 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:37 PM
 
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You DP's ex has no right to tell him how to live his life, especially if it is not affecting your DSD at all.

I don't know if there is anything to do about the harrasment... but I would hope there is, because that many messages in that short amount of time is harrasment... and for no good reason.


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#7 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:39 PM
 
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My income is imputed to a 40 hr week, and yes my ex keeps trying to make me actually work that many hours. As long as I meet my imputed financial requirements there isn't much he can do. I was SAHM while married ....
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#8 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 02:46 PM
 
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Just a little genius I wanted to throw in here: DP and his ex almost always just text message. We will be driving in the car, and he will spend a half hour writing a tm, and I ask him why he doesn't just call her, and he says it is so important to limit verbal communications. I am thinking about doing that with my ex, even though our calls are usually good...
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#9 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 03:01 PM
 
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Just a little genius I wanted to throw in here: DP and his ex almost always just text message. We will be driving in the car, and he will spend a half hour writing a tm, and I ask him why he doesn't just call her, and he says it is so important to limit verbal communications. I am thinking about doing that with my ex, even though our calls are usually good...
We do that too, especially for things that need a quick response. Works great!

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#10 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 03:22 PM
 
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#11 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 04:39 PM
 
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Sometimes your situation sounds so similar to mine! Our dsds are the same age, partners are generally friendly with their exes but it can turn on a dime...

As long as your dp is making his CS payments, his life decisions are none of her business. Your dsd doesn't even need to know that he quit without notice. That is way more information than my dsd would ever get. He can just explain that he wants to focus on school, which seems like setting a pretty good example to me.

I wonder if she is a tiny bit worried that he will ask for a CS reevaluation at some point and that is what is truly setting her off. In MN, if your income changes by a certain percentage, you can ask the court to take another look at it.

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#12 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Your dsd doesn't even need to know that he quit without notice. That is way more information than my dsd would ever get. He can just explain that he wants to focus on school, which seems like setting a pretty good example to me.

I wonder if she is a tiny bit worried that he will ask for a CS reevaluation at some point and that is what is truly setting her off. In MN, if your income changes by a certain percentage, you can ask the court to take another look at it.
Oh, he didn't even tell his ex he quit without notice--that's my own little peeve.
He can ask for a CS reevaluation but the court would just impute the income (because he quit voluntarily) so it wouldn't do any good. He plans to pay what he's paying now until he starts making real income.

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#13 of 27 Old 03-04-2008, 05:50 PM
 
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none of her business.
My dds father just quit his job to go to school. It bugs me because he's only going to school 20 hours and I feel like he should be being a role model and working and going to school. It bothers me because he surrounds himself with enablers and someone has gotten suckered into supporting him when I think he should be working at least part time while he goes to school.
However, whoever is supporting him at this time is also paying his child support- at least for the time being. His girlfriend is taking care of my daughter while she's there so he can do homework- I am fine with that and so is DD. Therefore it is not having an affect on us and I have no right to say anything to him or my daughter about it.
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#14 of 27 Old 03-05-2008, 01:00 AM
 
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That is the weird thing about exes. Even though most of the time they are distant/polite/social relationship, when something goes down they/you feel you have the right to yell and scream like they are close to you. She wouldn't harass a friend or neighbor who quit a job. Who else in the whole world ever calls my dh names on our answering machine? There are just moments when you feel flashes of an old relationship. Anyway, my advice-- voicemail, voicemail, voicemail. And if you do happen to pick up, we had a no yelling policy. She yells, you hang up the phone. One day we had 10 crazy screaming cusing messages on our answering machine!
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#15 of 27 Old 03-05-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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Sometimes I feel like DSS's mom is still married to my DH. When she calls him for help about their son, or to gripe, yell and complain about something, she sounds like a wife talking to her husband. In a way, they are still intimate in their fighting and parenting. She also wants input on everything DSS does at our house. Including things like where he will sleep when all of his step siblings are here, which is a tough call cause right now we are in a two bedroom house.

I think your dh's ex is way out of line. As long as he is fulfilling his obligations towards his child, how he does that is none of her business. I think it is great he is going back to school.
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#16 of 27 Old 03-05-2008, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When she calls him for help about their son, or to gripe, yell and complain about something, she sounds like a wife talking to her husband.
Yep, here too--although sometimes, it's almost like a mother talking to a little kid. (Part of that is situational--see the above car accident; it changed their dynamic to caregiver-patient for a long time and it's hard to go back.)

No messages since the original ones, so I think it's blown over. She holds grudges, though--brings up things from years ago in regular conversation. So we'll see.

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#17 of 27 Old 03-05-2008, 07:40 PM
 
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Yep, here too--although sometimes, it's almost like a mother talking to a little kid.
In our case she even told him over email that she feels like she's talking to DSS. She definitely treats him that way (this is another reason we've limited her to email). And he's never done anything to warrant it. This is why we refer to her as "Mother Superior."

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#18 of 27 Old 03-07-2008, 02:58 AM
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i'm not saying that her way of dealing with this situation is a particularly mature one but i can completely sympathize with the emotion behind it. when i was still single my ex went back to school. i could not. it's a really crappy feeling to see other people going about their lives, doing what you wish you could do. eventually i got over it and got back into school but it's really scary to feel like you can't do anything that will improve things long term without totally messing up your current ability to meet your financial/ security obligations to your own child. it is completely human and understandable that she would fume/bitch/ even yell. the fact that she's doing it to you rather than to her girlfriends is the problem. i don't know if that helps but it might make you feel like there's one less thing to be angry about. perhaps, if there is a confrontation, it can be framed in those terms (stop coming to me with your "feelings" about this) rather than arguing her point.
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#19 of 27 Old 03-07-2008, 06:14 AM
 
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Yep, here too--although sometimes, it's almost like a mother talking to a little kid. (Part of that is situational--see the above car accident; it changed their dynamic to caregiver-patient for a long time and it's hard to go back.)
It's impossible to go back. If it was a caregiver-patient relationship, it's unlikely she looks at your marriage as the one she could or should have had.
And if that's the case, I can understand her freakout. If his impairments after the accident left her scrambling to keep their lives together while trying to find help for him, she may well read his news as "He's about to start dropping responsibilities left and right; I'll be the one left holding the bag and cleaning up the mess -- again." After all, even if income will be imputed, if he's not earning, she can't collect (did he make it plain that the cs would still be paid?), and there's more than money to think about -- will he be OK to care for dd, are you preoccupied caring for him, etc.

Being in that kind of a relationship also heightens the sense of responsibility tremendously. I recall coming across a photo my ex had posted on a dating site, and noting the date; while he was looking for women, I was busting my ass trying to get him services and keep our family together. I was actually much angrier about the disparity in work and commitment than I was about the infidelity. Adult caregiving is horrifyingly hard work, even without children to raise (alone) at the same time. It can really scar, and the exhaustion can last for years afterwards. To put yourself through that, and then to find yourself still working hard (you're not in a position to judge for her, btw) and being lonely, and then to see the guy you did all that for skip out of work....yes, I can see why she might be angry. I don't know how long she took care of him for, but serious disability breaks up most marriages in a hurry.

So you're right, it's not her business -- in one sense. But in another, if he were actually falling apart, physically or mentally, it would very much be her business, because she would have to pick up the slack wrt dd. My divorce decree includes access to my ex's medical records and the right to notification of med and treatment changes for that very reason. And if I got a call saying "I quit my job," the first thing I'd think is, "He's sick again." You can bet I'd be making some phone calls and trying to find out what was going on.

I hope sometimes that my ex will find some nice, patient woman who wouldn't mind spending her life taking care of him, dealing with his problems as they come, and not paying too much attention to what comes out of his mouth. But I doubt I'd be able to get across the kind of fear, dread, and exhaustion I lived with, taking care of him, and I expect my reactions to him would seem extreme to her. After all, for the first couple of years we were married, I sounded much like you, solicitous of my ex, supportive of his backing off when it seemed he was taking on too much, willing to do the legwork to help him get what he needed, a little chagrined/concerned about the old social skills and forethought, etc. If someone had called up freaking out at him, I'd definitely have thought she was some form of evil -- in fact, that's just how I thought about his bosses, who just seemed so harsh and unkind to him.

However, the caregiving...it was bad enough that I don't fancy marrying again; I don't want to take care of another sick man 20 years down the line.

Anyway, it may not apply. But maybe it does. Hth.
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#20 of 27 Old 03-07-2008, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thanks for the insight, mama41. In my negotiation workshop, we're working hard on seeing things from the other party's perspective...

I see this whole episode as: My SO and I sat down, ran the numbers, made some phone calls (to his money guy, and to the office that handles services for students with disabilities at his university), and made a decision together. I was proud of him for acknowledging that the jerk who hit him may have affected his learning. He wrote a script (including "I am making up the income from another source, and child support will continue to be automatically deducted from my bank account and deposited into yours, and reimbursement will continue as usual") and planned everything out.

Taking what you wrote, she could be very well seeing this as: "That's him, he can't hold a job, that accident cost us our marriage, and now it's going to cost our daughter her financial security, and oh lord what if this is a harbinger?" It was much more sudden to her than it really was. She knows this won't affect anything financially (she's aware of his financial situation), but gut reactions don't necessarily take those things into account. And my partner is a great dad, a great nurturer, but she really doesn't see that because she's so rarely together with SD and him, and when she is it's at a coffee shop or a mutual friend's get-together or something, and not for long periods where much parenting needs to occur. Sure, he makes mistakes, but so does she, so does everyone.

I would never judge her for how things went down after the accident--she really did nurse him back to health, and for a few weeks, he didn't even know who she was, and for a long time after that, he didn't really care. I give her a lot of credit. That's something women expect to do, if at all, after 40 years of marriage, not four months.

Also, when their marriage fell apart, he was three years out from the accident (although SD was deliberately conceived and born after the accident--so I guess she was optimistic then about his ability to take care of a child); he's now eight years, and every year things improve (brains don't grow back, but people adapt, find work-arounds, and hone the skills they had to relearn from scratch).

At this point, he doesn't need caretaking--the remaining impairments are some executive functions (getting bills paid on time is nearly impossible--so he set up automatic electronic payments for everything, including CS, and I handle the joint bills that can't be paid electronically), and some learning disabilities (which he's also getting help for). He's also more emotional than most men I know, but not really different from most women.

Thanks again--that's very helpful.

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#21 of 27 Old 03-08-2008, 04:14 AM
 
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I'm glad. It does sound strenuous all around. Three years makes sense to me for the accident-to-divorce timeline -- with cognitive and mental health issues, it usually takes the partner about two years to recognize and begin to accept that no matter how hard you're working at it, the problems are more or less permanent. There may be ups and downs, but a cure is not a likely thing. The fact that she stuck with him that long despite the fact that they were young and had no children at the time of the accident is somewhat remarkable. People usually don't do that. I can tell you that if I hadn't conceived when I did, I'd have left my ex long ago and not looked back.

I understand your take, too.

She may also be scared, underneath whatever tensions there may be between you, that if his problems are bad enough, you'll get fed up and leave. You're a stabilizing support for her daughter's dad, and besides, if you leave, that's one more loss for her daughter. The lack of control over those situations, the inability to protect their kids, is a real source of fear for a lot of single moms. Again, it may not apply, but it's certainly a common thing.

And I guess that's the one other thing I'd add, about control -- when you're in that caregiver role, you measure control on a totally different scale. I remember getting so angry at social workers who were basically telling me not to be so controlling, or just to get divorced. It would've been great advice if we hadn't had a family -- if he hadn't had the power to ruin us all financially, if our daughter hadn't been so young/vulnerable, and if I hadn't had limited stamina for putting out fires and taking care of him. But when a guy's out to lunch and you're yoked to him with a child, surprises...surprises are not good things. Really not. They'll drive you to nervous breakdowns. So you try to control however you can. (Of course you can't, which is why the spouses and children of seriously ill/vague adults look so haggard.)

The alternative is insulating yourself and your children from the spouse's problems; accepting that you'll have a bumpy ride; accepting that yes, there's some remote (you hope) possibility of real disaster; and moving on. It sounds like she hasn't quite gotten that together. The faster she does, the easier things will probably be.

Anyway. Sorry there's so much to deal with. It sounds like he's very lucky to have you. In the end his ex really does need to be venting all this fear & anger to a therapist, not to him, but it can take a long time to come to that recognition. Your willingness to be understanding is impressive.
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#22 of 27 Old 03-08-2008, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She may also be scared, underneath whatever tensions there may be between you, that if his problems are bad enough, you'll get fed up and leave. You're a stabilizing support for her daughter's dad, and besides, if you leave, that's one more loss for her daughter. The lack of control over those situations, the inability to protect their kids, is a real source of fear for a lot of single moms. Again, it may not apply, but it's certainly a common thing.
Interesting...I hadn't thought about that perspective. I know she's expressed (on her MySpace blog, so not privately) that it's upsetting to see me live the life she wanted--I get her ex when he's doing relatively well (i.e. after she put in years of taking care of him and helping him get there), I get to do the fun stuff with her daughter (whereas it's mostly get up-breakfast-rush rush rush-school-home-dinner-bed during the week), I'm doing well in school and financially (full scholarship including $14,000 a year in living expenses, $25/hour clerkship on top of it), I'm going overseas during spring break (for a class, but still), my SO and I get along better than they ever did (even before the accident--they're both naturally very temperamental, and I am not)...

But that's kind of the weird self-centered way I've looked at it, from a jealousy standpoint. I'm not sure whether your suggestion applies or not, but it's certainly possible and worth considering. She and I do get along when we're in the same room (it's distance that puts all kinds of thoughts in my head)...hm. Thanks for the something-to-think-about.

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#23 of 27 Old 03-08-2008, 11:28 PM
 
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Wow, that's a full plate you've got.

Yeah, it can be really difficult to look at a devastating situation like that and say, "I lost, I lost big, now it's time to move on." I think in some ways you have to have pretty good self-confidence and goals of your own in order for that to work.

It might calm her down some to understand that her experience is very normal for someone who's been caregiver to a spouse. Caregivers walk around seething because they turn themselves inside out taking care of the spouse, and then some relative walks in, gets to have actual fun with the suddenly charming spouse, and thinks the caregiver is out of her mind or some big pathological complainer. But at some point you really have to get out of that pattern, and of course losing the caregiver job makes that easier.

On the other hand, it's really tough to get out of the role. Even widows find that for a couple of years afterwards, they don't know what to do with themselves. It's taken me about three years -- and I've got my own work, a day job, a child, and a house to take care of. Even then I more or less had to have my hands pried off this caregiving job that I'd never wanted.

Anyway, there's an organization called Well Spouse where she might find some understanding (www.wellspouse.org). And also some suggestions that she get some counseling. I kinda doubt that particular suggestion would be welcome coming from you.

Oh. Given your situation, too, I'd put my foot down about the "I'm leaving for a week" kind of thing. It sounds passive-aggressive to me.

OK, I am done explaining The Woman I Don't Know And Is Probably Not Really Reflected At All Here. Good luck -
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#24 of 27 Old 03-09-2008, 05:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OMG! She just told my partner that him quitting his job was HER business and NOT MINE, because we're not married (never mind we have a joint lease, joint credit, and are each other's beneficiaries of insurance/401(k)/etc. accounts) and he is not supporting me (no, because we are supporting each other).

What planet is she on?!

ProtoLawyer (the now-actual lawyer, this isn't legal advice,  please don't take legal advice from some anonymous yahoo on the Internet)
Spouse (the political geek) * Stepdaughter (the artist) * and introducing...the Baby (um, he's a baby? He likes shiny things).
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#25 of 27 Old 03-09-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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What planet is she on?!
I don't know what planet it is, but I definitely know one of her neighbors there...

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#26 of 27 Old 03-11-2008, 01:35 AM
 
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I don't know what planet it is, but I definitely know one of her neighbors there...
Heh. Anyone who knows me from this board knows I have friends on that planet, too.

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#27 of 27 Old 03-11-2008, 08:41 AM
 
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Heh. Anyone who knows me from this board knows I have friends on that planet, too.
Hey, me, too!

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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