I Ignored the Signs and Stayed With You…But Now I Choose Me!

When was it obvious that the relationship was doomed?  So many say they wish they knew their spouse was a cheater (or alcoholic, gambler, controlling, abusive …).  Was it really a surprise?  Probably not. Be honest with yourself. When did you know?

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  1. Was he checking his phone more often then you were comfortable with?
  2. Was she unreachable when you called, only to say she must have been in a spot with poor cell reception?
  3. Is your combined income good, yet money is unaccounted for?
  4. Do you feel you need to walk on eggshells around her?

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Be honest with yourself. Most of us knew, or should have known when the relationship started to go bad. My suggestion, when you see something, say something!  Willful blindness could only prolong the inevitable and even make the situation worse. Isn’t it better to address your concerns early, before resentment rears it’s ugly head?  If the problem is not able to be fixed, don’t you owe it to yourself to know it, confront it and move forward? Knowing your happiness is in your control is empowering. If divorce is inevitable, at least have some control over how you handle it. Make your happiness and self-esteem your priority.

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Don’t be a constant victim. Instead be a conqueror!

THE BUSINESS OF DIVORCE

Your marriage, your family, and your finances have always been a very personal matter.  When you go through divorce, all of these personal issues are suddenly the subject of very public court appearances. The court and the law are ordering how you will spend your money, communicate with your children and share your parenting time with your ex-spouse. This is the sad reality of divorce.

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My advice to my clients at our first meeting is always:

 

Today you can cry and mourn the marriage and family you always wanted.

 

Tomorrow it’s time to rethink the situation as a business partnership that is dissolving.

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The only part of the “business relationship” that is going to continue is the co-parenting aspect.  With this mindset, and the information a family law attorney provides, successful negotiations are possible.

 

Divorce is hard, and every divorce situation is different.  One thing that is true in a successful divorce situation is that although the parties might walk away from the marriage with less money, they will also walk away with an amicable relationship with the ex, a great relationship with the kids and a chance for happiness.

If mom is happy, everyone’s happy: The necessity of child support

So before you were divorced, child-support was not an issue. Your paychecks went directly into a joint checking account. From that joint account, the mortgage was paid, the water bill was paid, utilities were taken care of, and all household expenses were paid.  Your spouse had a debit card to take money from the account for food, clothing, cleaning supplies and all other incidental items for the family.

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Now that you, the working parent, are going through a divorce, a judge is going to tell you that you have to pay child support to your soon to be ex-spouse. In a word, what you will most likely feel, is “resentment.”
When a client comes into my office for an initial consultation, the most popular question is “how much do I have to give her or him in child support?”

The simple answer to this is really a no-brainer. There are statutory percentages which are provided under New York law. The working spouse will pay 17% for one child, 25% for two children and so on. The more accurate answer to the question is “you are not ‘giving’ anything to your ex.” I say this because there is a preconceived notion that contributing money to the mother or father of your children is some sort of charity or gift. The truth is, however, that you are not giving any gift to your ex-spouse, you are providing a contribution toward your children’s food, clothing and shelter.  Perhaps you are paying 17% of your salary to your ex for your child’s basic necessities, but you should remember that the custodial parent is providing the child with all of the basic necessities and much, much, more. How much would you pay for a babysitter or nanny to pick your child up at school, drive your child to soccer practice, to make sure your child eats dinner and showers or bathes daily.  How much would you pay for a maid to clean your child’s clothing and do the food shopping.  I advise my clients to think about how much it will cost for a tutor to sit and do homework with your child on a daily basis.  Finally, just remember that none of these people, not a nanny or maid, will ever love your child the way his or her own mother or father will. So the next time you are writing your child support check, be thankful that you are able to help to provide for your child’s basic necessities and that your child will reap the benefits of having a parent who is not constantly worried about finances.  As the working spouse, take pride in caring for your child. Just because you are no longer married to the child’s other parent, doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for providing for the child. If paying child support helps to alleviate stress to the custodial parent, wouldn’t it follow that the child will adjust to the divorce more easily than if his parents were fighting about who pays for the child’s clothing?  Isn’t it in the child’s best interest that his custodial parent is home and maintaining a flexible schedule so the child’s needs are met?  So you see, child-support is not about giving your ex-spouse money. Child-support is about being a parent and a provider to your child

Breaking the News to the Kids about the Decision to Divorce

So many clients, friends and family have shared their experiences on that first talk.  While no two stories are the same, there is no easy way to tell your children that you and your spouse have decided to split, there is one scenario I have seen that is certain to hurt your children.

                               “Its Not My Fault”

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In this situation, where one parent is unfaithful to the other, it is only natural to feel hurt, betrayed and angry.   The faithful spouse does not want the children to blame him or her for the sins of the cheating spouse.  Assume it is the father who was unfaithful.  It usually plays out like this:

 

Mother: Kids, your Father and I have something to tell you.

Kids:  What?

Mother:  We are getting a divorce.

Kids:  (sobbing uncontrollably) BUT WHY?????

Mother:  (staring at Father) well your Father has decided to leave us for another woman.

Kids:  Dad, is that true?

Father:  Well, your mother and I decided to divorce.

Mother:  I didn’t decide anything.  Your father met someone else and wants to be with her. It’s not my fault!

In this scenario no one wins.  The Mother is still very angry.  The kids feel rejected.  The Father is the villain.

While the marital relationship is ending, the parent/child relationship should not.  As a parent, it is our job to raise children who feel loved, protected and secure.  The children did not ask for the divorce so why should they feel rejected or unloved?  Simply speaking, a “bad”spouse can still be a great parent.  As a parent, why would you want to deprive your children of the benefit of having two parents who love and nurture them.  Isn’t that the goal of parenthood?

My simple advice, speak to a trusted advisor before telling the children.  Seek guidance from a rabbi, minister, therapist, books and anywhere else you can. Learn the best approach to achieve an outcome where the children understand that the divorce is the ending of the marriage, but not the family.  Reassure your children that they have two parents who will always love them.  Learn to co-parent.  Love your child MORE than you hate your spouse.

 

If you learn to forgive and move forward, the hard work will pay off.  Raising well adjusted, happy children is the reward.