A Stay at Home Mom Who Was Unjustly Treated at Divorce. What Would You Do?

Updated on June 24, 2010
D.B. asks from Aurora, CO
4 answers

I am looking for advice, resources and people with similar circumstances.
I am recently divorced (Dec '09) after an 11 year marriage, 10 of which I stayed at home to raise our two beautiful daughters. To me, this decision to stay at home had always been mutual and even a requirement based on our values. In our 2 day divorce trial, things did not go well for me. Essentially, I was denied access to funds to acquire an attorney, so went Pro Se. He on the other hand used marital funds without permission and had two attorneys and a vocational "expert" witness. In the end, I ended up with 2 years of maintenance at 20% of his income and child support of 3% for two children (He makes approx. $180k/year; we share 50/50 custody). I was not given any money for retraining and was even assessed an immediate income of $40,000 based on my career from 11 years ago in the IT industry. And was forced to move out of our family home in 45 days. Everything else was split 50/50.

The most hurtful thing I recall is when he sat on the stand and told the judge " if I (he)could carry the child to term I (he) could stay home." and that any sum of money I would get would be " no incentive for her (me) to go out and move on from this."

So, I am looking for advice. Should I pursue an appeal to this unjust judgment from the court? Are there others out there who have experienced a similar situation in their divorce settlement and if so, how did you deal with it? How do I deal with this man who has no integrity or courage yet has my daughters 50% of the time and is trying to alienate me? How does a mom "accept" not being a mom every other week? How does one move on to something else when you were once living your dream? What resources/support are available to me or women in a similar position?

BTW, I just recently moved into a small apartment that I can just afford, paid off all my debt and started my MBA. I have yet to find a job (either "overqualified" or "no recent skills"). I am a Christian and have found comfort in the Word and prayer.

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So What Happened?

Update: I found a great attorney through a reference and have an appeal filed with the court which is expected to go to the Court of Appeals on August 30. I am using the money I got from selling our home to pay for this. Boy, this is expensive! We also have a Parenting Coordinator appointed who we just started with - not so sure how that is going to work out. She did recommend us to use a divorce communication tool like Our Family Wizard which I think can really help alleviate hurtful communications between us. I am investigating the University of Denver's Law School resources for added help.
Thanks to all of you who responded and for those of you struggling with this, remember "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:4
More to come..

More Answers



answers from Denver on

D., in CO, child support has to be determined by a spreadsheet that is posted on the state website. also, you can find legal help through some low cost alternatives- Legal Aid or through the University of Denver law school. I agree with the other posters that you need an attorney right away.


answers from Davenport on

I'm not an attorney but I've worked with family law attorneys for years and you generally only have 30 to 45 days to file an appeal and said appeal has to be because the Judge abused his or her power or there has to be fraud. From what you have said, it doesn't sound like this happened. Had you hired an attorney at the time of the divorce, that attorney could have made a motion for payment of fees by your spouse. Since your divorce has been finalized you will probably have to pay for an attorney if you wish to pursue any more actions. A lot of attorneys offer payment plans and free consultations. Alimony or spousal support is rarely granted these days because you have the ability to get a job (easier said than done, I know) and because you were not married for 20+ years. So count yourself lucky that you got 20%. My SIL got $200/mo for 5 years (until the youngest child is in school full time). It is normal for income to be imputed for child/spousal support purposes so even if you had had an attorney chances are that the $40,000 number would have be used anyway. Usually child support is calculated based on income. They figure out what you would pay if he had full custody and what he would pay if you did and then they split the difference. They also factor in health insurance and daycare. As to the shared custody, this is becoming normal as well. Usually there is midweek visitation for the parent who doesn't have the kids that week. If you don't have this you could ask for a modification of visitation. Sometimes shelters have information or resources for divorced people and many women find personal counseling helpful. My advice, find an attorney who offers free consultations and ask him or her if you can modify the visitation and child support based on your current lack of income (possibly have minimum wage imputed). If there is no reasonable chance that this will happen, the attorney will tell you that. I know you feel like you have been treated unfairly but from my experience this is a pretty good outcome for you. Most people get far less.



answers from Detroit on

HI D.---So sorry to hear of your situation. While I have no experience with divorce and with only a couple of friends who have, I can't help much there...except to say that our guy friends complained excessively about how much $ their wives got in a settlement.

My advice is this. Hire an attorney who will get you your fair share. You shouldn't have been denied access to funds. A good lawyer will revisit that and I'm sure hiring him/her will more than pay for itself if this decision can be revisited. If he had a lawyer, I'm sure they pulled more than one trick out of the bag to play on you.

I don't know what you would be entitled to...but you need an expert to advise you on exactly that. Good luck and let us know how it turns out. D.



answers from Denver on

I would file with DOL for unemployment. Displaced homemaker is recognized under unemployment law. I would talk to a lawyer too. You may not have held a 9-5 job while married to your husband, but you did work. Childcare and domestic labor. I doubt he'd enjoy seeing what that would have tallied up to, in terms of cost, had the children needed full-time daycare, and if you'd hired someone else to do the cooking and cleaning. I wouldn't let sleeping dogs lie on this.

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