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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy, all,

Need support, ideas, and maybe to be a lesson to others. Husband and I seperated Aug 2009. Married 20 years this May. Finalizing divorce now.
Back up.
Last 10 years, his alcoholism spiralled, and so did my depression. I got treatment, but not adequate, and he is in recovery after 2 DUIs and almost getting $*&+canned at work. He had an online affair (1 year min, details he would never disclose to me.) Did not help my depression, to say the least. We signed mediation paperwork, incl giving him primary cust of our 2 boys, while I was still in depression/denial/shock and stupidly believing the rosy picture he was painting me of how "fair" everything would be handled. Now I am trying to get custody back to 50/50 and support down to reasonable before it gets finalized and I am forever skrood. I have no money for lawyers; his family is loaded. I am stronger and more able to cope/stand up for my/my sons rights than I was (I actually checked myself into inpatient for 3 days 4 mos ago because I felt so depressed, hopeless, and stuck.) I have good therapists and the right meds and am *much* stronger now, but my lawyer is afraid to bring mental health issues into it at all because she thinks it will only hurt my chances (she says the judge will not hear whining about unfairness and we will lose credibility.) I am not asking for full custody--just a more fair share of time with my boys, who both want it, too. We live 6 miles apart. Shouldn't be so difficult, right? But number of overnights translates into $ka-ching$ that I have to pay him, so he keeps it minimal (per the "Agreement" I must have been on Rohipnol to have signed) to justify the $200/month excess I have been voluntarily paying. I would seriously appreciate any advice from anyone who has gone through or knows of a similar situation, and how I can *undo* the terrible f-up I made by signing that document. Also, tell my story to your friends who are separating, who you think might be too crushed to be thinking straight. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Take someone clear-minded with you to mediation so you don't get steam-rolled like I did.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Really. Don't all respond at once. Was it something I said? Should I use nicer language?

I am feeling soooo manipulated. Really. Help. Please.
 

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Well I think people are not responding because they dont know what to say. I dont think most people here would know how to protest a divorce that was mediated and signed by you.

You say you have a lawyer what is their console, I actually agree with the console of not bring in the depression and alcoholism into the picture that may actually get CPS involved and could get veeery UGLY.

I totally understand making poor decisions when going through a divorce, the best thing I did was get a lawyer to look out for my best intrests.

This is not the first time I have heard of a person getting steam rolled in mediation in fact it happens a lot that the stronger person steam rolls the weaker person but what one does if they cant afford an attorney I have no idea
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have a new lawyer; the first one really could care less. I am just really worried that I am going to run out of money before he and his parents (deep pockets on both sides) and not be able to fight him anymore. I am just sick on my stomach that my kids both want to be with me more and he is saying no over support issues. It's what made me *crazy* in the first place. My lawyer seemed to think we could fight it, and now is waffling. I don't know if I changed to public legal aid if I could postpone proceedings or if it would just "time out". So worried. Trying to be strong/level headed. Not what I bargained for when I said I do.
 

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I have a new lawyer; the first one really could care less. I am just really worried that I am going to run out of money before he and his parents (deep pockets on both sides) and not be able to fight him anymore. I am just sick on my stomach that my kids both want to be with me more and he is saying no over support issues. It's what made me *crazy* in the first place. My lawyer seemed to think we could fight it, and now is waffling. I don't know if I changed to public legal aid if I could postpone proceedings or if it would just "time out". So worried. Trying to be strong/level headed. Not what I bargained for when I said I do.
Well I dont know the laws where you are but here you could petition the courts to make the other party pay your attorney costs. Here there isnt a lot of protesting support its all based on income and off charts.

Why is your lawyer waffling? what are they saying? Legal Aid is pretty much a joke and your not going to get a good lawyer to fight a high powered attorney there. How much per hour is hubby paying lawyer? I dont need an answer but it tells you what level attorney your hubby has and he does have to disclose this. Do a search on line on your husbands attorney and see what that turns up
 

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How old are the children?

How was their time spent prior to split?
That is, who took care of them most of the time, with regards to child care, where would they need less child care?

Is there some win-win situation that would minimize the expense of child care and maximize the parenting time the children receive from both parents? Has one-one time with each child been considered for each parent?

Is there a guardian ad litem to represent the children's needs from an objective point of view? In our state, the GAL works on behalf of the children, and evaluates situation with each parent. A GAL or the equivalent would give you the MOST LEVERAGE for your limited $$$$$$$$$$.

You could also ask for a re-eval with the GAL or third-party child mental health/family specialist at different time intervals, with modifications as necessary down the road.

Focus LESS on the $$$ and more on time spent with your children. My ex picks our kids up from school one afternoon a week and takes them to an activity and out to dinner. It gives me a chance to work late and not have to be home to meet the bus, and to do something with my evening. He is flexible about it and also has offered to do more evenings during the week, I asked for more time on weekends and this was okay too. The last thing you want to do is to lock into a SET SCHEDULE. Ask for the time to be whatever % he wants, and with a schedule that's agreed upon for the start, but one that can be changed in future by mutual agreement, without the court's involvement. MAKE SURE THERE IS A MECHANISM FOR RESOLVING MINOR DISPUTES that doe NOT involve the court, such as a family counselor or children's advocate or a mediator. You can't know now what activities or events are going to come up in future, and the last thing you want is to have to say no to your kids about a sleepover with their friends or a camping trip or a birthday party invite, or an extracurricular activity. Also include a provision for if either party wants to move away outside a certain radius.

I would go with a GAL. Try to imagine how you would like the parenting to go. When you do not have children 1/2 the time more or less, you will get more 'bang' out of your parenting time, once you get the hang of it. You might find you enjoy the full days of being responsible only for yourself, and put those days to good use. Try not to focus on the %, but make sure you have the time with the kids to do the things you want to do as a parent. My kids do well with one parent or the other. They love us both. We use email to communicate about their schedule and other issues, and sometimes chat about current parenting challenges to make sure we are more or less on the same page with positive parenting initiatives. It hasn't been without its challenges, the co-parenting. In recent years I didn't take support but my situation changed and I asked for a $ contribution and he is giving me a fair amount each month. I put in a lot of sweat equity during the school week and handle medical appts which in past years were not trivial but also enabled my son to overcome some significant medical challenges (spinal surgery, thyroid disease). A court order would not have been able to foresee these things. Attorneys might focus on 'winning' for you, a good attorney will help you make the best of reality and not ask you to spend money you don't have or money that could be used in better places. Personally, I think in a custody case, the children should automatically get a GAL, and also have their own home, into which the parents take turns rotating. :D Yes, even my own kids would like that much better than the back and forth, I am sure.
Well there is a lot of good stuff in your parental plan. I think on paper the house where the parents rotate in and out is awesome except for most families have a hard maintaining 2 houses let alone a third.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for your input. Hope you like to read.

When he decided he was going to initiate a split, he started taking over running the household. Someone had apparently been coaching him on the "primary caregiver" aspect, and I was depressed and taking 4x the dose that works for me now (meaning, I had the wrong dosage and no actual cognitive behavioral therapy to go with it. The overmedication made me so tired I could barely get off the couch; I did not know I was supposed to get a separate counselor--found that out in the hospital.) He capitalized on this, as well as undermined my attempts to help make parenting decisions until my now 14 y/o, 190 lb older son thinks I have no more authority than a sister,and behaves accordingly. I am not trying to be a victim here; I'm just stating how it was/is.

I had stuck with him in his 14 years of increasing alcohol abuse, 2 DUIs, 1 night in jail, 6 mos with no license, and Intensive Outpatient when his boss gave him the choice of rehab or resign.

We both teach. No childcare to pay for now that both boys are in school. Youngest has PDD-NOS (atypical Autism.)

After 4 years of pleading and praying that he would disclose the details of his affair (which I caught him in 12-7-04 at 10:30 on the phone telling her he loved her,) to no avail, and him finally getting "on the wagon" due to work, I finally told him that I wanted to stay together until the boys were out of school, but if by then we didn't at least LIKE each other, we wouldn't be staying together. It was to let him know that I couldn't stand how things were because he had not let me have closure so I could trust him again. I thought we would work through it. I could forgive if he could show me he was commited to me enough to just be honest. He was actually done (over "us",) but played along and agreed to "try" marriage counseling a 2nd time. (First time-1/04-, he wouldn't go back after he found out the counselor coincidentally was a specialist in substance abuse...)

He tried to get me to leave. "If you're not happy, just move out." Someone had coached him (I later realized) that if he could get me to leave, I would lose all custody rights. Glad I listened to my heart on that one. No way I would leave them. And I wouldn't let him leave with them.

I didn't know then, that he was already in touch with and planning the "escape" with his lawyer. I didn't know that he had told the new counselor he just wanted help breaking it to me. He let me go on 6 more weeks just busting my .. trying to change everything he said was wrong (even though I never cheated in any way and don't drink, and he still didn't disclose.) Then he dropped the bomb on our 18th wedding anniversary, in his office, with his buddy (the therapist) to back him up. After that, I was just kind of numb. I think the term is dissociative. My lawyer probably could have told me he was selling me to gypsies, and I would have signed off on that, too. But I'm not supposed to talk about that in court, because we are all supposed to "treat your divorce like a business deal." I didn't realize when I got married that I was going to need an MBA and a lead box to keep my heart in. Sorry, I tend to get melodramatic.
Listen, when I was 8, I started a hope chest. No lie. Other girls spent their allowance on jump ropes and Barbies. I had collected 5 egg boxes full of measuring cups and plates and bowls and baby name books by the time I was 18. The only thing I have ever had an enduring passion to do is be a mom and wife. So excuse my dissociating. Divorce was not really in my vocabulary.
So? In mediation, we went into the building with the rosy promises. "I would never keep our kids from you," he said. (I never, from the beginning, saw the place of power I was coming from, until I was no longer in it.) We started out with 50/50. Then he said, no, no, that won't work, because it will be too disruptive to their lives. So I agreed to 120 days, "for their sake." Every turn of the screw that I let him talk me into, was done "for their sake." When he found out I wasn't going to owe him $800/month, like the online calculator had told him, he about soiled himself. "Oh, I don't know how I'm going to make ends meet...I'll never make it...(meaning my kids would suffer.) So I offered to store my crappy half of our crap (I gave him the nice crap--the new TV, the riding mower, all the furniture except "our" bed) in the basement of his stupidly big 3 story rental, (he had rented a 3000 sft house,) and pay him the 160 rent instead of a storage place. "That's very generous," he and the mediator said in unison. Yeah, generous. Later, his lawyer quickly drafted another sheet for me to sign and slipped it in. "Oh it just says you're keeping your things at my house and I'm not charging you." See where this is going? Now this becomes a permanent part of my support, even after I move my crap out, which I did last month. 520/mo. Plus half of medical/insurance/prescriptions. Plus, because I'm such a great mom, half of scouts, wrestling, camp, amusement park passes. Plus hundreds per month that I get to spend additionally on food, clothes, entertainment, the little time they are with me. I have spent 1/3 or more of my take home every month since 8/09. God, I'm a sucker. Here's my sign.

The boys went with him, because he works at one of their schools. Made sense logistically. He assured me Primary custodian only meant their primary address was with him. Would not make a difference. Told me he would definitely fight it if I tried for primary. (Flexing those big financial muscles. I have seen sibling after sibling of his funded through court for divorces and DUIs, and the pockets just seem to go on and on.) We short sold our house, which he was mad at me about. (If I had just let him live there with the kids, and me move out, his folks would have subsidized him and he wouldn't have lost anything at all.) You know, I didn't want a separation right now, I said. *You* picked the worst real estate market in known history, not me. (If I had had a pair-I should have borrowed my brother's-back in '04, and thrown his arse in the street with his clothes when I heard him on the phone, we could have sold then and doubled our money.) Hindsight, baby. I definitely want a do-over.



I moved in with my mom. Thank God for her. (I pay her rent, too, because I don't want to freeload, and she can sure use it.) For the first year and a half, the kids spent Thursday night with me. Then he got mad and said they couldn't anymore. I checked the papers, and sure enough, his on weeknights. (My little one with ASD-that's him blowing you a kiss in my picture- still asks ALL the TIME to stay over Thursday. I have to say, sorry, honey, Daddy said no.) That's when the full gravity of my predicament hit me in the face. Under his thumb, paying out the nose, credit wrecked, living with mom. Can't function at work; too sick about the mighty mess. And my friend took me to the ER, thinking I might jump. Man, I was just about ready. The therapy really helped, and I came out ready to go all Chuck Norris. However, the Agreement. A deal with the devil, apparently.

Listen, thanks for reading my novel. It felt almost good to dump it. I'm going to get an Ambien and a Lexapro and try to lose this for a while (both on DRs orders, don't worry.) If you pray, send one (or five) up for me. I can use all I can get. Thanks. And if by some strange chance (because the world is smaller than we think) you think you know me, keep it to yourself. Please.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks everyone. Will check into a GAL. No word from my attorney yet on how she thinks we should proceed. Back to having nightmares. Hope this resolves fast. Thanks for your prayers.
 

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Wow thats a fd story. You cant beat yourself up though, you were totally worked by someone who came up with an exit plan and executed it perfectly. If it makes you feel any better mine did the same to me. She open three credit card accounts had the invoices sent to her moms house maxed them out, she lent 3 thousand to her unemployed son. She tryed to get me to buy a new car when she new she was leaving and the biggest kick in the nuts she left me for another woman, talk about a shot to the ol self esteem.

The person leaving the marriage is always at an advantage because often they spend a lot of time preparing for the day they leave, the person being left doesnt know this. Sooo at the very least I hope the fact that your not the only one that has gotten screwed this way helps you feel less stupid, actually I think you must be a nice and trusting person along with the fact you were suffering from depression. You are not stupid you were vunerable and taken advantage of.

So I take it that your divorce has already been finalized?

To those considering mediation instead of a lawyer let this be an eye opener to what can happen and at least have a lawyer look over the final settlement agreement. Never give to many consections just to get it over with because that can cost you big time.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
No, the divorce isn't finalized. We have joint legal, he has primary physical, I have visitation. I didn't realize his having primary residence carried so much weight. My lawyer says if he doesn't agree to change the terms, (which he won't--why would he,) then I can't get shared. The best I can hope for, I believe, is an increase in visitation, and that will take some celestial intervention, I'm afraid. I am beside myself. The three most important things I've done in my life are give birth to 2 wonderful boys, and write my name on a line that keeps me from them. How on God's green Earth do I fix this? and If I can't, how do I accept that?? I just don't know.
 

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No, the divorce isn't finalized. We have joint legal, he has primary physical, I have visitation. I didn't realize his having primary residence carried so much weight. My lawyer says if he doesn't agree to change the terms, (which he won't--why would he,) then I can't get shared. The best I can hope for, I believe, is an increase in visitation, and that will take some celestial intervention, I'm afraid. I am beside myself. The three most important things I've done in my life are give birth to 2 wonderful boys, and write my name on a line that keeps me from them. How on God's green Earth do I fix this? and If I can't, how do I accept that?? I just don't know.
You dont accept this you fight this. So is this the first time you have had issues with depression? Do you have a Phychist that could vouge that you went into depression because of your Hubbys affair? Can you argue that you were in a depressed state of mind when that settlement was mediated and because of that you were not in a state of mind to negoiate a fair settlement. I know I spell like ass but hey Im a contractor not a english major.

You know under these circumstances I think I retract my statement of not using the alcoholism against him especially if he wants to use depression against you.

What if you tryed a bluff, what if you told him that if he doesnt modify this to joint physical custody you will go to court and bring his problems of alcoholism to light. Look I think you have to try anything to fight at this point because I think if you dont you may always blame yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I want to fight it. I am not getting a response yet from my lawyer. My depression grew from:
9/00 had second son
10/00 -6/01 had difficulty at work (my maternity leave sub left me a mess)
2/01 found out Dad had stage 4 cancer
11/01-6/02 second son had deafness and autism that I recognized, but husband, pediatrician, and his fam said I was wrong
6/02 different doctor told my h that my son had autism
6/02 got him checked by dev pediatric--diagnosed. Said to check hearing
9/02 first son starts K, has behav/attitude probs beg 2nd gr ('04) h completely disregards my (college trained) prof opinions on parenting/schooling of son. I am elem cert, he is middle. told me in front of son often that I was like a 12 year old. Disparaged sons teachers and undermined their authority often to my son. Took him to bars with him while they were having teacher happy hours. Had teachers over for poker games where they smoked, drank, and gossiped (same teacher he now has in middle school.) I disagreed heartily with all of this, but all my opinions were sharply dismissed.
7/03 audiologist diagnoses that 2nd son was deaf. tubes in ears corrected it. behind socially due to 1.5 years of deafness..
H having difficulties at work with female boss. Drinking-passed out every night-telling ME to go get a pill for my depression.
12/04 discovered affair. h would not disclose.
1/05 marriage counsling, h quit when focus went to drinking. I kept going
5/05 counselor sent me to psychiatrist for meds. began seeing psychiatrist bi weekly, but no cog behav ther. (did not know it was a necessary piece, psychiatrist "listened" to my problems but did not give books, homework, etc. Did not improve depression. tried diff drugs, dosages. often over medicated. h called me neglectful of kids and "took up the slack" to build his case. thought i was lazy, not depressed.
Dates get fuzzy for me here.
H picked up for DUI; reduced to reckless. spent night in jail.
H picked up again 4 mos later for DUI, lost license for 6 mos, had to stay in the state 12 mos, missed family vacation
H smelled of wine at work, told rehab or resign
Me-not functioning well at home, barely at work, not getting all of duties performed. Performance reviews falling.
Somewhere in here we went to a new marriage counselor. no help.
7/08 told him we wouldn't stay together if it didn't get better
11/08 he went to his lawyer (didn't tell me.)
1/09 m counseling-again-same guy
5/09 said we were splitting over summer
7/09 mediation
8/09 moved apart
11/10 told me i couldn't have thurs nights anymore.
i looked at agreement; he was right. Lost my F*g mind. (temporarily.) friend took me to ER, 3 days in, 14 days out,
got a new lawyer, and she said,
DAMN! YOU SCREWED! (basically.)
Yes. I want to fight it. I don't want to keep them from him. I am not into being unfair. And that would be unfair to them. But what he is doing is also unfair to them. If God, or Oprah or someone smiled on me and gave me a big check, I would use it all to make this right. But I don't know if it would help at this point. I wasn't raised to be religious. Actually, my Grandad was an athiest, and it has made it hard for me to access that for myself. But I am coming to realize that I have to send it up, because there is nothing Earthly to be done.

I want to know why it is, that a guy can get murder reduced to manslaughter because he ate too many Twinkies, and yet, in a situation like this, where divorce is intrinsically emotional and mentally incapacitating (unless you were only in it for the Rolls, anyway,) there is no protection for people like myself who make stupid mistakes due to lack of information, misplaced trust, and feelings of guilt for their kids? Where is the justice in that? I feel like I stepped in it with both feet, and the court won't let me scrape it off my shoe.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Sorry. Forgot to add in: Dad passed in 3/07. He was a 5 year survivor and it came back. He had been through so much, we were just relieved for him.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Everybody have a good night. Thanks for letting me dump. It really does help to know people are rooting for me. It makes me feel less nuts. This is going to get better, somehow. I'm going to go paint the bathroom.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So, to update you in case you were wondering..yes, I'm fighting it for whatever it's worth. Awaiting response to my settlement offer. Should find out in the next couple of days. Praying more than I ever did in my life. God, show me what you want me to do. Show me what is best for my kids. Soften h's heart so he will see what is best for them, too. Heal their hurting little hearts. Give us closure and peace.
 
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