Separation mire

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racoakimboracoakimbo Forumite
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Hi. Posting this as I'm stuck and need to sort myself out.

So I've been married for nearly 20 years now. My wife and me are separated for 4 years but live on opposite sides of the building and don't really talk to each other ever. This came about after she became obsessed with one of my friends, then cheated on me with someone from her past spanning two years. She hid this and lied to me about where she was feigning seeing one of her friends (who contacted me, fed up of her name being used and told me what was going on).  During this period she entirely abandoned our three children and left me as basically a single father. She also put them in danger on a couple of occasions as her boyfriend was an abusive and threatened me and the children. Eventually I let her come back, probably a bad decision on my part. Then covid hit so we were stuck in limbo for two years. Now she works full time, contributes very little, promised the kids things, never delivers and spends her entire time staring at her phone in the back bedroom and ignoring everyone. She recently had another relationship and has also clocked up significant debt in her name. She is manipulative and emotionally abusive to me and the children. I have recordings of her doing it. The children all independently avoid her where possible despite trying hard not to influence anything myself and remain balanced. My eldest, now an adult technically speaking, said she wants to move out and live with her boyfriend rather than stay in the house with her.

We agreed last year that we'd get a divorce in April 2022 when the legislation changes. However she stipulates that she wants to remain co-parenting in the same property which is not something I can consider at this point. I need to move my life on and want independence. I am financially stable, have 12 months emergency fund, pension etc so I can absorb some risks easily. We are renting our current property which I am entirely paying for including all bills etc. We own nothing really of value. She has a significant windfall from a recent estate payment and a reasonably well paid job so is financially stable herself.

Thus I'm weighing up my options and asking for advice. How do I get out of this situation?

At the moment I am considering that I may have to do something drastic. The only option I can see is terminating the tenancy contract I have after the assured shorthold period is ended (our landlord has been amazing and I don't want to screw them over), moving to a different rental and offering the kids to come with me. Once that is sorted I will file a divorce then.

At the end of the day the kids need to come with me and I don't want her to have any financial ties to me either because that's quite frankly unfair after the last few years.

If anyone has any ideas or comments please let me know.

Replies

  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    I think I'd suggest that you find yourself a solicitor to handle the divorce, even if you're not yet ready to start the process. Several reasons for this:
    • I think it will help you feel empowered whereas you come across as quite demoralised; 
    • you'll know what your options are (and you have them, you are not limited by what she says she wants, which sounds absolutely ghastly);
    • you won't be the only couple waiting until April 2022, and if you wait, you may find there are long delays because of the sheer pressure of numbers
    If you have friends or colleagues who've been through divorce, ask if they've got recommendations. Phone around, get a few quotes, see who'll give you a free half hour. 

    Also, make friends with the Wikivorce website: https://divorce.wikivorce.com/ - if the divorce is amicable, some people find that they have minimal or no need of a solicitor, but I'm not sure yours will fall into this category. But in any case, knowledge is power. 

    I believe that you will be expected to do some mediation - you may think there's no point but you don't want to be the one refusing to do it. Finances need to be agreed between you, and your wife may not agree with your plan to move out and take the children with you. 

    How old is the youngest child, out of interest? It will make a difference to whether or not they are deemed competent to make their own decisions about where they live, regardless of what you or your wife want. 
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • racoakimboracoakimbo Forumite
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    Thank you for the reply. Much appreciated. Will join the forum at the link provided as that appears to be a bit more appropriate than here. Was recommended here by someone else. 

    Youngest is 9.


  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    Thank you for the reply. Much appreciated. Will join the forum at the link provided as that appears to be a bit more appropriate than here. Was recommended here by someone else. 

    Youngest is 9.
    That's a bit young for being seen as competent to decide about where they live, it's usually 12. So if you and your wife don't agree, you may find CafCass become involved on behalf of the children. As a dad, you may feel you have to work hard to establish that you're the right parent to have primary care. 

    Good luck!
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  • castle96castle96 Forumite
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    "As a dad, you may feel you have to work hard to establish that you're the right parent to have primary care."

    Such a shame that is the case !!!!!!!
  • TBagpussTBagpuss Forumite
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    castle96 said:
    "As a dad, you may feel you have to work hard to establish that you're the right parent to have primary care."

    Such a shame that is the case !!!!!!!
    Fortunately, it isn't. There is no presumption in favour of either parents based on their gender, it's simply that it's still much more common for the mother to be the one who gives up work or goes part time to care for children, and does the majority of child care when parents are together, so when they separate t's often in the children's best interests that that continues.

    If OP is the main carer then he will be in a strong position to argue that it is best / least disruptive for that to continue. The children's own wishes and feelings are likely to be relevant, and if there is a factual dispute between the parents about the level of care each provides then if necessary they will each be able to provide evidence - for instance the schools, doctors etc will probably be able to confirm who usually collects them /  attends appointments etc.

    OP, you may find it is best to start divorce proceedings now. Giving notice on the tenancy has issues as if you move out but she doesn't, you could still both be liable for rent and costs- if you start divorce proceedings then if necessary you can ask a court to transfer the tenancy (so could get it put into your sole name and then end it, or  at that stage, agree to bit being transferred to her sole name (if the landlord agreed) 

    It may be that once you actually start the process that she will be prepared to negotiate - as an example, something like offering to let her have the deposit from the current tenancy might give her an incentive to agree to it being ended and you each getting your own place, if you could afford that,  
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
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