June 15, 2008,
E.B. asks from Cheltenham, PA on May 22, 2008
What to Ask for in a Divorce?
So now that my husband has made it painfully clear he will not go to counseling and wants a divorce I need to know what I should be asking for?
We have 2 children and one on the way. A house, 2 cars, he has a 401K, retirement, and I have nothing, I have stayed at home for 10 years raising our children. So I feel like I'm going to get screwed.
He says he will not pay for 2 lawyers, that we are going to be civil about this. Thats nice of him to say, hes the one leaving. Yet he wont get out of the house. He stays here still like a daily reminder of its not going to work. So What should I be asking for so my children & I will be OK?
So What Happened?™
I wish I could thank you all personally for taking the time to answer my questions. Its has been a huge blessing to hear from woman of all walks of life. I do not want a divorce. I still love him. but if he wants this so badly then he better get another job, BC hes not going to have any money to live on. I looked over our finances, and in order for me & the children to live here, hes going to have to live with someone for free.
I don't think there is anyone else, but so help me god if I find out other wise.
Hes still living here, in the living room, I guess hes realized too he has no extra money to spend on the single life. Its hard for me to see him, but at the same time I don't want to let him go.
Regardless, I did get my own lawyer. So if this does all go down I am ready for it. I know what I am entitled to. I hope & pray it doesn't come to this as I told him I am willing to take as long as necessary to fix what ever it is so we can have a life together still. I know I'm sappy, but I'm pregnant and I need him. Emotionally, finically, for good & for the bad. Thats was the vows I took.
Again Thank you all. You have been amazing! Ill keep you posted!
S.M. answers from Philadelphia on May 24, 2008
Great a good lawyer, ask around for references. What you pay him or her will pay you back several folds since they know exactly what you are entitled to and we fight for you to get it!
B.M. answers from Philadelphia on May 23, 2008
I am sorry that you have to go through this. But I think you have to get a lawyer, b/c you will get screwed if you go with his lawyer. And he has to get out of the house. You wil be able to get through this.
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J.F. answers from Philadelphia on May 22, 2008
Oh man he is going to make this ugly. Don't leave the house whatever you do. You need to get a laywer and ask legal advice. He needs to pay child support for each child and since you didn't work you are entitled to some of his 401K but you really need to speak to a laywer ASAP and they will advise you what to do. I hope you don't get screwed either.
W.B. answers from Allentown on May 24, 2008
Okay, heres what I know, (my mom has recently received info for getting a divorce and shes also been married 10 years) In the state of PA, If you have been married longer than I believe 5 years, the one who made the most will have to pay alimony-even if there are no kids involved. Call the court house, they may be able to get you an attorney thru the state and some of them are extermly good. Though you never worked, I don't believe you will get screwed, after all he was the one who worked the whole time, so he will have to pay alimony and child support, not to mention slipt all the assests right down the middle you will get the majority because of the kids. congrats on # 3 I hope you have a safe and full term pregancy, For the kids, just keep reminding them that you both love them no matter what, I am a child of divorce, and my parents divorced by the time I was two. I hope this helps, and we are all always here if you want to talk.
1 mom found this helpful
B.W. answers from Erie on May 23, 2008
I'm sorry. I divorced after 5 years, but I was lucky, because I had a good job, and it kept me busy about other things, even though I was going through all the "imnot good enough" kind of stuff. There are so many emotional things to accomplish to be healthy as a person, plus you have the realities of divorce and life to accomplish.
My ex and I decided to divorce 50/50, which I thought was a good idea, because I didn't want him mad at me == so mad that he wouldn't see his kids. My sister said, You should split 75%/25% because he is one of 4 and you have 3 of the 4 of you to take care of -- me and 2 children. My sister was right. later on, I wished I had done what she said, because I did have the liabilities even though I also had their love more than he did. :-)
I think you need to be fair to yourself. And to do that, you do need to know some facts. You need to know what is reasonable, so you should call one of those lawyer referral places, or ask around, and at least spend enough money on a lawyer to find out what is reasonable for you to ask for in your state.
You should get child support, but you want the "right" amount, not just some amount he's suggested he will pay. You want to protect your custody of the children. They've had Mom 24/7, and only had dad when he's home, even though they've had his paycheck. If you want sole custody, versus joint custody, i would insist on it, and give him visitation rights. Frankly, I would prefer the visitation not be spelled out and pre-determined. In Maine, where I got divorced, the decree itself said, "reasonable visitation", and it worked out well, because he and i were able to adjust visits to Dad around whatever he or we were doing. He might have been more attentive, if he'd had an every other week set of rights, set in stone, but I doubt it. and it made our family lives easier in many ways to work it around our schedules.
He has the job, so he should be responsible to insure you and the kids. Certainly the kids. But I think he should keep you insured for a period of time, too. You have maternity needs, and there will be a period of time when you simply won't be able to get a job, because you'll be busy with an infant, and he should protect you during that time. It's HIS child, for pete's sake.
What do you have for education ? Can you easily get a job? And at how much salary ? You should expect some kind of alimony until you are in a position to get a job. and at that point, perhaps he should pay a portion of the daycare costs, in addition to his regular child support.
There are a lot of things that you will have to consider, living on your own, and I would be glad to correspond with you as you figure some of this out. I used to be a banker, and I'm now a tax preparer, so I might be able to help you figure out some of the "realities" of life.
I also think that perhaps he's not willing to pay for 2 attorneys. Perhaps you should ask him if he'd like to pay for just one: yours. ha ha Does he trust you enough to go to court with just you having an attorney, or is he thinking he should be the one to have the attorney ? If he doesn't trust you to hire the single attorney, then why does he expect you to trust him ? After all, he's the one who wasn't committed enough to you to even attempt to improve the relationship.
Above all, hang in there. Oftentimes, by the time people actually admit they can't keep the marriage going, they are too exhausted emotionally from trying, that they don't have the emotional stamina to correct the situation. Or, they are too afraid of their own shortcomings to see a counselor and let a 3rd party see them, and make them public. It's scary, because the counselor might side with -- oh, no -- the spouse ! He's afraid to be vulnerable, which makes it easier to walk away than to fix the problem.
When my ex and I separated, even while we lived in the house together, before separating, I think we were probably the most honest we'd been with each other since prior to our marriage. We both knew the relationship was falling apart, and we tried to be kind about it, but dumping the facade of the "happily married couple" helped us to admit who we were to each other, and work on having a "relationship" for the kids -- kindness and tolerance, which we've maintained at some level to this day -- although now that his set of "my" kids are adults, I have absoluely no contact with him. The girls do, and that's all that matters, really.
And, yes, there is life after divorce. I didn't feel that way at the time. I was a little suicidal, actually -- only I recognized it, and fought myself to win, because somebody had to be there to raise the kids, and I knew their father wouldn't be. I didn't want to add another tragedy into their lives. So no matter how I felt, I worked to be healthy. I have since met and married a man -- 80% of the people on this website describe their men as wonderful, so I won't use that term !! -- but he's very kind to me. He loved and helped raise my 2 daughters, and we ended up with 2 surprise children of his. They are now 13 and 14, while the older ones are 27 and 24. The younger of the 2 of them reminds me that she is really glad I divorced her dad, and she is really glad to have had Dave as her fathering parent. While i was afraid to get married again, Dave pushed and I gave in, and we tied the knot, and it's been tied for 19 years now. I am a stay-home mom 75% of the year now, but just yesterday I got the call from my oldest to go sailing with her for 2 weeks upon the Spirit of South Carolina -- a tall ship on which she works. I will go as volunteer crew, (because I sail as volunteer crew on a tall ship near my home), and I am amazed that my husband said, "Just go", as I moaned and groaned about the cost of airfare to and from the two ports where I'll get on and off. I am amazed that he loves me enough to say, "Just go", when other costs are skyrocketing, and we have to pay for braces in July for our 13 year old, and soon replace a car with a car payment. ugh yet, still, he'd rather do without, so I can be home most of the time, and he wants me to have the opportunity to spend quality time with my firstborn adult on an adventure at sea. I have been well blessed, even though I didn't believe it would ever happen again. I thought my life was over; that i would raise my girls to adulthood and then God could set me up to die because there would be nothing else to live for. But, while I was healing, God was setting up opportunities and experiences, and bringing people into my life, and it has been and is both full and rewarding -- probably more so than it ever was when I was married to the guys we "affectionatly" call, "the jerk". :-)
Get some REAL legal advice before you decide anything. It's worth the price to step out on the right foot, even if you save money by making the decisions together, rather than arguing through the attorneys. And ask around, if you know divorced people, so you find one that is both compassionate and wise. You will need both. :-)
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R.D. answers from Pittsburgh on May 29, 2008
Legally, you should be entitled to 1/2 of all the property acquired during the marriage(including the 401K) and child support and you may be entitled to alimony
You have 2 choices as i see it: you can hire divorce lawyers or hire a divorce mediator. I just received my certificate as a mediator, but i believe that i am not allowed to offer my services for hire, since i am replying to your internet query.
You can mediate your divorce and not fight in court. The mediator--and i would recommend you get one who is lawyer as well--is NEUTRAL and will explain the law to both you and your husband, but will not tell you "what to do". the mediator helps parties come to an agreement based upon the law and their own circumstances, without forcing parties onto opposing sides, which just creates more and more bad feelings in a situation that is already rife with them.
I worked in downtown Pittsburgh in family court while I was in law school, and i became firmly convinced that families should not let judges make decisions for them. I was successful in mediating many custody disputes BEFORE we got to the judge, so now I really feel strongly that mediation is the BEST WAY for families to go: sit down and settle everything rationally.
Cost is also a huge factor. The median cost for a divorce is upward of $60k in fees. Mediators typically charge $250/hr, and--no promises--but things can typically be settled in under 20 hrs--with both parties AGREEING--even if it's not your heart's desire, you can still make a bad thing better, not worse.
I would be willing to do this for free--I know that offering my services for free online is fine--but you can go to www.mediate.com and find many good folks there--also, I know the best family mediators in town (Pittsburgh), so i can recommend someone.
Actually though, I would love to help you and your husband work on your divorce as a mediator for free, since i am unsure that I can reply to a web-post for help and then ask for fees (the Bar Association has really strong anti-ambulance chaser rules, and this might qualify). I was very successful as a student mediator, but you would be my first private client.
please email me if you have any questions--i hope that you and your husband can agree to work together to make a difficult situation better for everyone.
1 mom found this helpful
L.H. answers from Allentown on May 23, 2008
Take out your phone book and look for an attorney! They usually offer a free consultation at which time they will give you a good idea of what you are entitled to. They will also tell you how much it will cost to retain them and most will accept payment by credit card. I know someone who went through this. Her lawyer told her to file for divorce and not to let him file? (I don't know why)
If you have been a stay at home mom you are entitled to alimony as well as child support for all 3 children. You are also entitled to half of all your combined assets.
I am not an expert, but I hope this helps!
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on May 22, 2008
I believe you should retain your own lawyer and, like it or not, your husband will pay for the service! Get a GOOD divorce attorney--ask friends for recommendations.
I think you would be entitled to the house (or at least half of the value at sale, a vehicle, child support, and half of the savings and his 401K as well as any retirement plan he may receive in the future (pension, etc.) He is most likely in for a rude awakening and may have no idea what this is really going to cost him.
I'm sorry you are going through this. Hang in there.
After reading a few other responses, I'd like to clarify what I mean by "your husband will HAVE to pay" for your attorney. This was not a suggestion for revenge but the truth since you have no income of your own at this time. You are entitled to good, experienced, legal counsel looking out for YOUR best interest. I would have to wonder if your husband's attorney would look at division of the assets in an unbiased way. Perhaps there is court mediation available to you that would be an impartial third party suggesting division of your assets. Remember, do not feel like a lesser person because you do not currently have/use your career as means for an income. If it weren't for you being at home, raising your kids, cooking, cleaning, etc., your husband and you would not have been able to acquire the assets you have TOGETHER in your marriage. Best of luck to you.
K.D. answers from Philadelphia on May 23, 2008
I don't really have any legal advice for you. My heart goes out to you and your children during this difficult time. I think it is wise to make sure you and your kids are "protected." I also think you should make every effort to seek your own legal advice....don't necessarily need to pay for a lawyer for all proceedings - but I do think you should get a professional opinion before following your husband's suggestions verbatim.
D.F. answers from Pittsburgh on May 23, 2008
I just went through this with my best friend. Her husband walked out on her and their 3 boys last august. If you have not done so already, you need to go to your local family court and apply for child and spousal support. You do not need an attorney to do this. There will be a hearing in which your husband will be required to bring in his W2 showing what he makes per year and the court will then award you a percentage of his monthly income. At this point, most employers will automatically withdraw the support directly from his pay check. I would also look into getting an attorney. Some will do this type of work pro bono. If you call your local bar association for a fee they will refer you to an attorney. Also, here in Pennyslvania the spouse is entitled to half of the 401k amount accrued during the marriage and they will take that amount once the divorce is finalized....I would check into that as well. Of course I would ask for the house or that the house be sold and the equity be divided so that you have money to start off with. If he wants the house, then have the house appraised and make it so that he has to buy out your half of the equity in it. Do you have friends or family around you that can be a support system? I have not experienced this first hand but watching my best friend go through it, I gained some knowledge. I know in her situation, she and her husband were married for 6 yrs and he decided he didn't love her anymore and he left her (she and the boys moved out and he kept the house they were renting). her boys were 5, 2 1/2 and 10 mos at the time. she was also a stay at home mom for the past 3 yrs and had no income. After she and the boys were gone and things got pretty nasty for awhile. He had an affair with another woman and they signed the divorce papers. Now he has decided that he wants her and the boys back and they went through counseling the past couple of months and after her oldest is done with school she is planning on moving back in with him. Maybe once he realizes what he has lost he will be willing to go to counseling. I am praying for you and your family.
T.Y. answers from Philadelphia on May 24, 2008
Hi E., I'm sorry things are not going so well for you. I don't understand why your husband is staying if he says he wants a divorce. Especially with your being pregnant with a history of problems. You should not be going through this stress right now. One thing that I will advise you is to get a lawyer for yourself. At the very least, do a free consultation with a good lawyer. I know one in Northeast Philly that doesn't charge by the hour, he's a really nice guy. http://www.larrythelawyer.com/ He's not your typical lawyer and he may be able to recommend someone to you if he's not in your area. Just because you stayed home doesn't mean a thing, you are still entitled to half of everything. And since your husband is abandoning you while you are expecting you may be entitled to even more. I think you should try to be civil for your own sake and the children's but you should also protect yourself. You do deserve to be taken care of.