Anyone want to talk divorce?

Things have been pretty rocky lately - and I don’t think there has been any mutual love for some time. I don’t know for sure who stopped loving whom. I guess I avoided initiating proceedings for a number of reasons - kids, embarassment at having a marriage failure, hope that things would improve, imagining it would be enough to continue as “business partners” in a loveless relationship.

But as of a couple of weeks ago she insisted that I give her a divorce. For some time I had been thinking what it would be like being divorced. Recently a switch kinda turned making me decided divorce would be a better future for me than continuing as we are. So I spoke with a lawyer.

To tell the truth, she’s going to have a rougher time of it financially than I, having been out of the full-time job market for 20 years. And that bothers me. Even though I don’t love her anymore, I don’t really wish her harm. And when she says I’m just casting her aside because the kids are grown - that hurts, and I wonder how much truth is in it. And even if true, is it entirely a bad thing?

But on the other side, I’m thinking that one of the reasons I’m going ahead with the divorce is to do what is right for me. And what is right for me is not really sacrificing myself and my future in terms of property and maintenance settlements. And I kinda think that if she realizes how much it will suck being on her own, maybe she should have appreciated at least the income I brought into the relationship all these years.

At what point is your decision to go through with a divorce final? When do you decide to just kind of steel yourself and proceed on your decided course? Because it isn’t as tho we came to this point overnight, with no thought.

I’m seeing the lawyer on Thursday, when I guess I’ll sign a representational contract. And she says she’d like me to move out as soon as possible. It seems kind of foolish to take steps like this, while still thinking there is any possibility of remaining married.

Sorry if this is disjointed. Just asking for folks’ thoughts and experiences. Neither of us cheated on or grossly betrayed each other. Just grew apart where I/we think we would be happier apart. But that decision is far from a happy one.

I don’t remember if you mentioned this before, but is this going to come out of left field for the kids? Or no?

Am currently in the middle of a divorce. No one to blame… or more to the point LOTS of blame to go on both sides. My wife is in the same financial place as yours, but of her own choice. She chose to work when and if she felt like it, usually part-time and only until she got bored with the place.

It’s hard, man it’s hard. It is the single most emotionally draining experience I have ever been through. It’s best for both of us, but damn, it’s hard.

Why should you move out?

She wants the divorce? She can get a lawyer (or not, she doesn’t need one), file the paperwork, and be on her way.

Unless you’ve got her chained to the wall in the basement she’s free to leave any time.

And don’t fret if the divorce goes through…being single is awesome.

I don’t know how much money you make, how many kids you have and their ages, but the financial downside of this for you may be far greater than you are assuming. Please make sure your lawyer is clear with you about what this might cost – in alimony, child support, home equity, pensions, and lawyer’s fees. It’s not a reason to stay in a marriage that’s done, but don’t think that divorce doesn’t just make you go back to being a single 25-year-old.

I would be wary of letting guilt drive you to give her more than what’s by law her fair share. If there is animosity between you, no matter how much “extra” you give, it won’t be appreciated.

That said, one of the best things someone I know did was to make a trade where he let his ex have a significant chunk of assets in lieu of alimony. He’s so much happier not having to deal with her ever, or be responsible for sending her a big check every month. He was able to readjust his financial obligations and change careers, something he wouldn’t have been able to do if he owed alimony.

The preceding was meant as anecdotal and not legal advice, of course.

Some marriages die with a whimper rather than a bang. It sounds like you’ve been ambivalent, but if she’s done the soul-searching and decided she doesn’t want to be married to you any more, then it’s irrelevant whether you want to work on the marriage or not. After being estranged (even emotionally, though living under the same roof), if either of you can’t get the feelings back again, then there’s nothing to save. IME the easiest decisions to make are the ones that are made for you, and she has done that here.

I think a lot of people in dead-end situations just numb themselves, for reasons like those you’ve described, and they learn to forego their own happiness. Relationships are work, and they go through bad patches etc. so it’s good that people don’t bail at the first sign of trouble. On the other hand it’s foolish not to bail at the 9,343rd sign of trouble and sometimes partners can’t be reconciled. Then it’s just time to move on, pick up the pieces, and enter the brave new world.

I thought, during my divorce, that it’s like leaping off a cliff in the dark. You don’t know how far you’ll fall or how hard the landing will be. It’s scary as hell but when you don’t have a choice, it’s all you can do. I’d encourage you, however, to look at the possibilities. I recall how very difficult it is to live with someone when relationships are strained…later, when I was alone at my new apt, at least I could feel some peace.

IMO nobody gets out of a divorce unscathed. In the most amicable of divorces, some will feel they failed or their partners failed them…others will feel a loss of youth and the dreams it held. The list goes on and on but I think everyone is affected in one way or another.

OK, some advice for you…

  1. Don’t “separate.” Some people do this “trial basis” thing and it’s a half-measure that gets you nowhere. Depending on what day it is, you’ll probably both vacillate between two moods: A) I want to work on this, and B) I don’t. If you’re in mood A) and she’s in mood A), you get your hopes up. Then you’re in mood A) and she’s in mood B) or vice-versa and it’s sooo difficult. I advise a clean break.

  2. Talk to your wife and stress the kids’ needs. Let’s not use the kids as pawns, badmouth each other to them, etc. You’ll always be their father and she’ll always be their mother. When they graduate, marry, have grandkids, etc. you’ll both be there to celebrate, so you need to make nice in front of them at all times. That’s how you make the best of an unfortunate situation, IMO.

  3. Value the kids’ feelings and tell them that you don’t hate their mother but it just isn’t working etc. Then politely invite them to butt out with regard to giving opinions about what happened or advising your course of action. This decision is between a husband and wife. They’re welcome to have all sorts of opinions and feelings about it, but you aren’t the person to tell.

  4. I’ll second the advice not to be goaded by guilt and give more in a settlement than you have to…once it’s in the decree, you’re obligated. Later on, when you’re calmer, you can give more if you choose.

I’d be way of a judge giving her more than what you think to be her fair share. It happens all the time.

First of all my condolences on your situation, it can’t be easy. Find a good lawyer whose well respected with divorce work.

From what you’ve said here and in previous threads, the marriage has ended all in name and this happened some time ago. Your kids have moved out already so at this point, why not end it.

Just remember to not lose sight of what makes sense for you. Don’t spend a lot of billable hours fighting over personal property that isn’t worth much.

Don’t give in too much, you still need to look out for yourself.

I’m sorry to read that you are struggling this way. If I may offer you any advice it would be to try to be as fair as possible to the mother of your children. I understand that you no longer love this person, but from my reading, you seem to be struggling with ending the marriage.

I think that if you are fair, things will be easier for your children, your wife will not be bitter and try to hurt you (either financially or emotionally) and you will be able to make a clean break knowing that you were respectful and did the best that you could in a bad situation.

In any event, I wish you luck. Cliche as it may be, breaking up is hard to do.

I’m sorry you’re going through this. There is no easy way. My experience is unusual to say the least. I’m a woman and I divorced without lawyers and gave up a considerable amount (house, boat, furniture, etc.)

He was the one only half contributing to the household. We have two children both in university now. I left 4.5 years ago. I had one key message as the marriage dissolved (we’d lived apart in the same house for many years before I left) and that message was, “let’s do this with dignity”.

I did speak to a lawyer about my entitlements - and under Ontario law I was entitled to what I came into the relationships with plus 1/2 of all assets. But, I’d also have to pay him support as he had no record of regular income - and a lump sum equalization payment.

I opted to give him everything (roughly $400k in assets) but I kept my pension and have no further payments to make to him. We drew up our own settlement terms and filed for divorce together.

It took a long time and there was some family drama at first - BUT I didn’t pay $100k + in legal fees to end up with lifelong support payments.

We were mostly dignified in our interactions, recognizing that the end of a 26 year relationship, regardless of whether we loved one another anymore, is extremely sad.

I wish you the easiest route possible Dinsdale. I have never been happier - but it took some time to get here.

Get a good lawyer, and be up front about exactly how you feel about the situation. Let the lawyer make the legal decisions about what is appropriate to concede and what is not, i.e. separate yourself (as best as possible) from the emotional attachments to stuff, which will allow you to address the emotional attachments (or lack thereof) to each other, children, et cetera.

And I agree with Heckity that (if possible) the process should proceed with dignity; be magnanimous (but not a pushover) so as to be able to at least maintain cordial casual relationship; that makes it so much easier when the kids invite both parents to some function like a wedding.

I can’t say much from personal experiences with marriage counselors, but it might be worth a shot, especially since no one has crossed an irredeemable line. In long marriages there are certainly times when people grow apart and then come back together, and you might just been in a low spot right now.

Whatever happens, keep your chin up; after all, tomorrow might be worse! :wink: Seriously, good luck to you.


Thanks all. It really does help to hear what you have to say. And thanks for not calling me a drama queen or whatever.

3 kids - the youngest is a HS senior, 2 in college. They are smart enough to know things have been rough for us for some time. I don’t know if the one at home has e-mailed or called her sibs as things have gotten more direct of late.

So the legal child support obligation would be 20% of my income for 1 year. That is if she lives with her mom. And of course I want to do whatever is needed, or whatever I can do down the road WRT college. I’d be happy for her to live with me - but I want them to do what will make each of them happiest. I can imagine the kid might prefer living with me, but I can also imagine that might devastate her mom. So they are going at each other…

I make a comfortable 6 figure income in a secure job, and we live in a very comfortable home that is paid for. Not ostentatious (IMO) but way more than anyone “needs”. Some savings, tho a large portion of those are currently earmarked for college. No debt of any kind.

So if we split assets 50/50, we’ll each have a tidy sum. Because I’ll always be able to make more money. Heck, it wouldn’t kill me to give her 55%, 60% or more. I’m realy not al that concerned with expensive material things. Tho I like nice tings, the things I consider nice tend not to carry big price tags. My main concern is that I be able to at least put down a payment on somewhere else to live. And I’d rather not go completely into hock helping my kids thru school. And I don’t want to condemn myself to a life of destitution.

My understanding is that I ought to expect support along the lines of 50% of my income for 5 years or so. It wouldn’t kill me to pay support for longer, but if we are divorced I don’t want to be paying support to someone I’m not married to for the rest of my working life. So the reality is, 5 years down the line I’ll be back to earning my comfortable salary, and keeping it all to myself. Whereas realisticaly there is no way in 5 years she will be earning anything near what I make. So that makes me feel bad - but not so bad that I want to commit to paying her alimony forever…

I can see the prospect scares her, and even tho I may not love her anymore, I don’t want to scare her or be mean to her. I acknowledge that I am far from perfect, and that I contributed to the demise of our marriage/love in my own way. I’m not at all interested in allocating blame.

And I’ll gladly move out if that makes things go most smoothly. Actually, if I am paying maintenance/support, the easiest way to maintain her in the style she has become accustomed to is for her to continue on in our paid-for house. And while the house is comfortable, we were planning on putting it on the market soon anyway.

Then it sucks to see the effect on the kid. (And to try to figure out how much the kid is truly hurt and how much she is trying to manipulate things to her advantage!) I’m pretty unmotivated and not driven. The one thing that I always thought was most important to me was my family. It sucks to see that ending - or at least changing under stress.

We’ve lived basically tolerating each other in a pretty loveless partnership for so long, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better in some ways to simply continue in that manner. I’m not kidding myself to think that all I need is to get divorced and I will be a happy man about town!

I think we are close to the same age and family situation. I have two kids, 12 and 17. I went through your situation, albeit six years ago. My ex told me one day that the day after our youngest graduated HS, she was out of here. I didn’t think that was much of a life to lead, so I pushed the matter. My youngest is still five years from graduating, and everything, and I mean everything, is much much better than it was.

There was no mental illness, no addictions, no infidelity in our marriage and divorce. We both worked. We committed to keep things civil and ended up using mediation, which cost us approximately $2500 between us.

To make a long story short, my life has been wonderful since then. My kids are great, athletic and popular and high achievers. I make close to 250% of what I did before the divorce, mainly due to taking the risks that she was petrified by and discouraged at every turn. I’ve had relationships and dated a lot, although I am still single, and just fine with that.

In short, it isn’t always a painful and soul crushing thing. It can be wonderfully liberating. PM if you want more info.

The difference between suffering in a bad marriage and suffering in a divorce, IMO, is that the divorce has a point. It’s finite; you will someday be ready to move on. You can stay in a dead-end marriage but then the suffering goes on forever and never pays any dividend.

You won’t be a happy man about town. Far from it. Not right away. But I can’t tell you the peace of mind that comes with contentment.

I am sorry for what you are going through.

I wish you the best of luck.

I agree with not going with a trial separation. Does this ever really work? In my limited experience women rarely change their minds once they say that they want a divorce. At the time, I was still mostly in love with her but things were going downhill bigtime for at least 6 months.
And I felt that I could use the break from all of the petty bickering. After I moved in to my swank apartment I did enjoy the peace for a month or so. But I was also lonely for her. So my cool self decided to pay her an unannounced visit just to say hi.

I can hear Dopers screaming right now. Idiot…Moron…loser! And of course you would be right. I drive past my house, hmmm what is this van doing in my driveway and why is my wife playing pool in the sitting room which I converted into an awesome recreation room complete with 60’s style juke box? And who the hell is this guy?

I knew she had been cheating but to have the nerve to blatantly throw it my face was too much. I talked to a lawyer three days later and the rest is history.

At least my blood pressure is down now.

I’m sorry you’re going through this, Dinsdale. It’s never easy.

The actual decision has already been made. A marriage flat-out requires two and your wife wants out. It’s over. Humans are only granted a relatively small, precious span of years. Life is way too short to squander on worrying what other people might think (usually–not a damn thing) or settle for business arrangement as a ghostly kind of shadow marriage. So, all that’s left are the parting terms.

I’m simplifying to clarify, not be mean, okay? While your wife doesn’t want you anymore she may want what you will earn. There are several schools of thought on that and a lot depends on what understanding you two had during the marriage. (I’m not talking about child support. I’ll assume you intend to keep supporting your kids, emotionally and financially, so long as they are dependent.) If you discouraged your wife from working during the marriage then at the very least you owe her a solid springboard into the workforce. Like, enough cold hard cash for some serious education or job training. If the choice to stay home was entirely hers, well, that’s more complicated. I’d say you still owe her a springboard but not anything too elaborate or expensive, frankly.

Your wife is not a child. It drives me nuts when wives are called ‘dependents’. She made decisions throughout your marriage, just like you did. She’s an adult and she has to live with consequences of her decisions, just like you do. She doesn’t have a magic ticket to toss the man but keep taking his earnings. She goes on her own when she walks away.

Her lifestyle will go down after the divorce. Big time. That’s what happens when marriages split. She is not entitled to the same lifestyle once the marriage is gone. This stuff seems so clear cut from the outside but you need to be clear with her, and your lawyer, exactly how long and how much you will pay for her springboard into employment and self-sufficiency. Setting a time limit, and money cap, will give you a threshold after which you’ll be clear of any obligation to her. (It’s called hope. “I can hang until X because then it will be over.” ) It’s also honest with her. She will have to work from now on. That isn’t being harsh on her. She’s an adult; she doesn’t have a magic ticket to just sit around passively and be supported for the rest of her life.

Shield the kids, yeah. Keep them out of it as much as possible. I wouldn’t lie to them about your wife being the one to demand the divorce. It’s just the truth. The marriage is over; fatherhood doesn’t die until you do. And don’t move out. She wants out of the marriage, let her find a nice little apartment she likes–and can afford. Leaving her ensconced in the family home encourages her to believe everything will be just fine and dandy once you’re gone-- but still pay all the bills for her and the house, of course. Unless you’re rolling in dough, in all likelihood the house will have to be sold anyway.

Most of all, listen to your lawyer. Even if you don’t agree, do what your lawyer says anyway. He/she is your advocate and you’re not thinking clearly right now. I’ve never–repeat, never–heard anyone bemoan they did what their lawyer advised in a divorce. I’ve heard plenty who kicked themselves for years, though, for ignoring good legal advice. You are sooooo not thinking clearly right now, and won’t for the foreseeable future.

Good luck, to all of you. It the end of an era and that hurts. But it also marks the start of a new phase in life. It’ll all work out.

My divorce really sucked because I was hurt and angry and I wanted to punish her. So I chose a fight and to make it as hard as possible to end it. So the only people who were happy was my lawyer and hers. No offense to any lawyers on this board but after about a year of bickering back and forth and nearing 3 thousand in fees I just got tired of it. I felt they were making matters worse in the nasty legalese

I decided to call my wife and see if we can work something out. The anger had subsided by that time and I just wanted it to be over.

She sounded almost giddy and told me to type something up on the computer that seemed reasonable and she would come over and look it over after work. She looked it over for a few minutes and she grinned.

We hashed out the details over a few beers at the kitchen table and we decided that we no longer needed two lawyers and that we would just use hers. Her lawyer seemed more competent compared to mine anyway.

I’m not giving you any legal advice because other Dopers can do it far better than me. If I would have let go of the anger I could have saved several thousand dollars in legal fees and end up at the same place with the same results.

Good luck.

I’m at a different place than these other posters. My parents’ divorce was a good thing, although it meant 4 years of absolute shit (DO listen to your lawyer; my father wishes he had).

It seems to me you’ll be better off at some point in your single future than you have been in your marriage of late. Your wife doesn’t come off as a kind person, and you do.

It is funny, the inequities between men and women. We want you and your money; you want us and our beauty. Your wife’s no longer beautiful, yet you have far more money than you did 26 years ago. But she’s a mother, and you gave her the luxury of being a full-time mother of means, who didn’t have to scrimp and who could indulge her children. Different equity.

Personally I think the big lump sum is the way to go.

I’m really glad you’re in a place of wishing her well. That’s genuine good news. Anger will kill a person (see reference to my father, above); don’t let that happen to you.

I am sad for your wife, though. It’s got to be awful, losing her marriage and her kids as they leave the nest. Everything’s changing. I hope she makes some good choices. She doesn’t sound like a terribly positive person, I don’t think there’s anything you can do for her, money or not. She has to make her life what she wants it to be. I doubt you were the obstacle she imagines.