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Hello All -
I was informed about this site by a great friend two days ago. Wish I would have found it years ago! I've been married 22 years and have 2 kids - an 11 yo son and a 7 yo daughter. The marriage was deeply impacted by the premature birth of our son which, as my husband says, led him to increase his drinking. (He also blames me for my son's premature birth - because of my work schedule and/or my vegetarianism). He is an alcoholic/addict who has been in rehab 3x. If it is not one substance it is another (synthetic marijuana led him to his second stint in rehab). Over the last 11 years we've dealt with various crises - lots of illnesses of son, my PPD after birth of daughter the loss of his fulltime job in 2008 (which I believe was due to his drinking), the loss of my job in 2009 (I'm in higher ed and was the primary source of income), and a few years 'making do.' I now believe during these years he was emotionally abusive to me. I finally landed a great job in Illinois in 2013 and we moved from New York. He has his own business and, I believe, has not done all he can do to bring in income. And, his substance abuse continued when we got to Illinois (his last rehab visit was in 2014). He got very drunk when I was at a conference in September - prompting me to call police to check on kids who were terrified (which, by the way, they talked to my husband but NOT the kids!). He got very drunk in front of the kids in November at his Dad's house (I was not present). My oldest son is now very scared to be alone with his Dad. I'm exhausted and feel like there are more bad memories than good. I told him I wanted to separate in September but he resisted - saying he would have nowhere to go. About a month ago I visited an atty and he ran through the process of divorce in Illinois. My understanding is that I need to file for divorce and then file for 'temporary relief.' He did not say anything about a separation agreement. I feel like I need room to take care of my kids, focus on myself. Of course, as these things go, he is in a 'good' phase now .... very pleasant to be with. I've learned that this will not last. Any thoughts on separation agreements and why my attorney didn't bring up that possibility?
 

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In my state, there was no such thing as a separation agreement, really. If you were separated and did not want to divorce, you could make a support agreement using the same state calculators as you do for divorce. I'm not sure why one would not want to divorce, though. I guess this is because I'm Jewish and I knew that I couldn't have a religious divorce without having a civil one. (Also, in Judaism, there is divorce. Catholics have to apply for annulment. By the way, if you are Catholic, and your husband is a substance abuser who blames you for-- let me just say, I think from what I've read about annulments that the church would give you an annulment.)

I don't know what the situation is in Illinois. I checked using Google and found this: http://www.illinoisdivorce.com/family_law_articles/legal_separation.php

It sounds like the only difference between legal separation and divorce is that you can't remarry if you have a legal separation, and that Illinois divorce lawyers use this tactic only rarely.

What is it that you were hoping would happen in a separation that is different from a divorce? It sounds like what you want is a divorce. You may never want to marry again, I know. But perhaps you will want to. Maybe you will want to like or love someone new. I found it really hard to have my heart open to anyone while I was still married, even with my ex out of my house.

If what you are looking for is a trial separation, that's something you have to work out with your spouse himself.

Your reasons here are good. There is nothing at all wrong with saying that you don't want to be married to someone who abuses alcohol and other drugs. There are so many strong parenting reasons to get out of this. It's going to hurt emotionally anyway, but it sounds like the right thing. You don't trust him to take care of the kids. The kids themselves are scared. You know he can do better, but the fact is, you don't know that he'll ever do better with you.
 

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Welcome LWK. I'm sorry you are going through this. I can relate to divorcing an alcoholic (mostly functional though, but drinking while caring for the kids....so I basically didn't go out much because I was afraid of him not watching them closely enough).

It's really sounding like you are in the early stages of research about divorce, etc. Do know that it is very overwhelming at the beginning. If you think you are safe, then it's worth consulting several lawyers to get a very well rounded picture. Different lawyers have different listening/communication skills and different experiences. Many offer initial free or low cost consultation....and given that your h is emotionally abusive and a substance abuser - I don't want to scare you unecessarily - but I have seen that divorce can send them over the edge of entitlement, and they can have a lot of trouble letting go and make things very messy for you. So it's important to have a very well thought out legal strategy before bringing up the topic of separation again. Once it seems 'real' then it could trigger his drinking to get even more out of control and you could be in danger. So I think you should seek out a lawyer who specializes in substance abuse and domestic abuse cases, who really understands manipulators (all alcoholics are manipulative).

Also, I am detecting that he is a blamer (and that perhaps you may not have had PPD as much as "post partum tired of his blaming and drinking" stress....?) and cannot take responsibility for himself. That is also a red flag for a high conflict divorce. Educate and arm yourself before making any more moves.
 
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