Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another thing that sucks

We're splitting up.

After 8 years and God knows how many months of unhappiness, we have decided to call it quits.

I have to say, my feelings about it are mixed.

As many of you know, we are not married.  In many ways this is a blessing because we avoid all the complicated legal stuff and get to just part ways in a somewhat amicable way.  It is also perfect for him because everything is in his name so anything I take with me, I do so because he was kind enough to "let" me have it.  This part really sucks.

As the house is his, I am the one moving out.  I am moving into my parents' second floor flat.  I figure that this will make the transition slightly easier for the kid.  There are a lot of pros and cons to this, including that my mother will be downstairs (both a pro for support and a con because you've read my blog), but I have decided that it is the best move for me to make financially and practically, if not emotionally.  Everything in this house will stay here as Lila will be spending a lot of her time here and he is not willing to give me much of anything.  This means that I have to figure out how I will furnish an apartment on a part-time income until I can find a full time job.

The car is also in his name.  He has not agreed to sign the car over to me even though he told me it was a gift when I was pregnant because he has some plan to trade it and his work truck in for a new work/play vehicle.  He has told me I can "use" it for a few months until I can get something.  I say fuck him and keep working on him giving me the car as I feel it is the least he can do.

The worst part of this whole thing is that I have not yet told the kid.  My feeling is that we wait until a week or two before the move happens so that she doesn't have too much time to worry and she has a little time to ask questions and be reassured.  I dread this conversation.

Lila loves having us all together.  She makes a point to force us into the same room to be with her and insists on doing things like grocery shopping together.  I worry that she is going to fall apart and always cry for the other parent when she is with either one of us.  I worry that she will lose that trusting happy-go-lucky personality and feel like her whole world was turned upside down.  I worry that she will never forgive us.

I came from a household where my parents stayed together just for the kids' sake and remember knowing how miserable and angry they were all the time.  I don't want to do this to her.  But coming from an intact family means that I have no idea what to expect from her in the weeks and months after the split.  I don't know how long she will need to adjust or when I should expect her to stop crying to go "home".

I am not completely convinced that this is the right thing for HER even though I know it is the right thing for her father and I, and even though everyone seems to say that splitting up is better than staying together miserable. I just don't know that this will prove to be the case.

I would like to hear from any of  you who have had the experience of splitting with small children.  How did you get through it?  How did THEY handle it?


  1. First, I am very sorry to hear this. Do you not have "common law" marriages there? If you do, you're actually entitled to your half of this relationship, monetarily speaking. Second, I had kids of all ages when I got divorced and each one handled it differently and none of them escaped without being hurt and confused. Years later of course, as grown ups, they understand but as lit'l ones they didn't like any part of it..
    I know being with your mom is difficult but I think you may find that this is a blessing in disguise.. At least I'm hoping for you..

  2. How good, or bad, it ends up being for your child mostly depends on what her relationship with each of you ends up being after the split. Since she's still young, her concept of "normal" is still pretty flexible and she's not likely to have the type of how-dare-you-change-my-life angst that an older kid might experience. As long as her time spent with mom ends up making her feel safe and loved by mom and her time with dad does the same with regard to dad she'll come out okay.

    The best thing you can do for her is plan for and agree with your ex on a way to keep the adult stuff away from her. There will be a lot of differences the two of you will have to work out in the coming years, and shielding her from the arguments (and avoiding them when possible) is the best way to protect her from feeling like it is "her fault" or like she needs to choose sides. Make sure your mom really gets this too.

    As to the actual split your best bet is to present it to her together, working from a script that you've agreed on ahead of time. Stick to the facts- that the two of you have decided you'd rather live in different houses because you get along better that way, but that she's still going to see both of you, and the only thing that's changing for her right now is she gets two bedrooms and she spends part of the time with Mommy and part with Daddy. If you have a visitation schedule in mind, share it with her and talk about things she can look forward to doing with each of you. Keep it positive and answer any questions that she asks as truthfully as you can, but wait to see what she asks instead of answering the questions YOU think she has. You'll probably be surprised by what her priorities and concerns are.

    My only suggestion is that as far as her stuff is concerned, don't just decide that the "home" is where it should all stay. This is her move too, and she needs to be allowed to decide (within reason) for herself which things she wants in which house, and to designate certain things as so important that they need to stay with her wherever she is.

    BTW, my daughter was 3 when The Ex and I split, 9 now. It hasn't been easy and we've made many mistakes, but she's whole and happy. I am certain that would not have been the case had her father and I stayed together all this time.

  3. Remember it is better to be from a broken home than to live in one... You and I both know that is the truth. As far as you taking nothing? He is responsible for 1/2 of her expenses and care. If you do not have a car and he has an extra one he should give it to you! Does he want his child to walk everywhere?
    Just sayin...

  4. I agree with the other comment on common law-in most states if you have been together for 7 years you have legal right to joint assets (even if they are only in one name). Additionally, with a child involved you will want a break down of parenting rights-who decides on medical decisions, what if one of you moves out of state, is international travel allowed without the other's consent, how much child support is paid, etc. If you can't afford an attorney, most states have free legal aid for mother's getting a divorce. Or contact a few attorneys and see if they can work out a deal or recommend anything. It sounds like you ate going to get screwed in this split.

    As for helping your kid adjust, the best advice is to never put your child in the middle and always speak well of their father. My father is a complete jerk but my mother always spoke well of him until I was old enough to make my own decision. It prevented me from ever being torn between them and I eventually came to understand his true colors on my own.

    Good luck

  5. New York has no common law. I appreciate all the comments. Keep them coming.

  6. I finalized my divorce last june, after 1 1/2 years of going through the legal system. She left in december of 2010 a week before Christmas and my youngest's 7th bday. The oldest was 11. I finally had to file after 4 months. Both kids were angry and some of their school work suffered because of it. Their mother and I basically kept the kids shielded from our differences and worked together from a parental aspect to help guide them along. In Iowa, the parents must attend a "Children in the Middle" class. Basically you pay $65 to spend a few hours being told common sense- be the parent, dont blame the kids, dont bash the spouse, and don't use the kid as a go-between communicator. We still do all that, and get along better overall than we had before. The legal arguments took awhile because she wanted full primary care, whereas I wanted 50/50 physical custody. $12000 later and 2 days before court, she finally conceded. I guess she expected me to just roll over and give her whatever she wanted, which was the usual SOP for me. I took on most of the bills since I had been the only one with good enough credit to have a car payment and credit cards. I also gave her full possession of her 401k and other benefit packages she earned through her work despite being entitled to half. I basically wanted things to be over, and not her money. Financially this was stupid, but I think it helped us avoid more strife and financial woes.
    The kids come over after school mon, wed, and fri, staying late on wednesdays to have supper with me during the school year, and then the customary every other weekend. In the summertime, we do one week on, one week off.
    I think its still tough on the kids, and I think they sometimes think they can play one parent off the other, but they have adjusted well for the most part. School has improved for them, and I think they are good with maintaining the routine we set for ourselves prior to the divorce/custody decree that formalized it. Plus they know that they can go back and forth between the two homes whenever they want.

    Sorry to hear of the split, that really does suck. I grew up in a household where my parents are still together. My only real divorced parents situation came when my best friend's parents (pretty much mom&dad #2) separated. Hard to offer words of advice that don't sound cliche. Just do your best to raise your daughter, and work the best you can with her father when it comes to her. And don't be afraid to rely on friends and family when you really need to do so. HArd for me to summarize my thoughts, but if you ever have questions or just wanna vent, is my email.

  7. Please don't bash the child's father. And don't expect her to be your therapist, either. I had to listen to an endless monologue about how my father was an A**hole (as if I didn't know), and then she started to complain to me about the problems she was having with what ever man she was sleeping with (there were several one after another) who was not my father. When I told her I was her 16 year old daughter, not her friend, and maybe she needed to find and adult woman to talk to about that stuff, she found a million ways to punish me. And she started to emotionally bleed over my 12 year old sister. We no longer speak. Neither me and my mom, nor me and my sister.

    If you need to vent, find a therapist.

  8. My husband and I split back in August. We both moved, actually, so I think it was easier in that respect, that our daughter wasn't always going back to the place she thought of as home (she's 2 and a half). That part isn't going to be easy, honestly.

    The fact is, though, that the tension and fighting in an unhappy relationship is much worse for a kid than the months of transition time it takes for them to understand "mommy's house" and "daddy's house". It will take months though. She will cry for her daddy and her home and at first she won't understand and you will feel like an enormous asshole. But you have to remember , like so many phases, that shit is temporary. Caitlyn still has her moments. Her dad likes to pit her against us by never enforcing any sort of discipline. He gets to be the fun parent and I get to hear her cry for her daddy every time she doesn't get her way. But it gets easier.

    The other thing you have to keep in mind is that her life may be harder in the short term, but it will be so much happier in the long run. The major turning point in my childhood was when my parents split up. We went from constant stress and tension to my mom becoming her fun, energetic self again.

  9. Thanks, Jaclyn. That last line is all that I am hoping for in this whole thing.

    I really appreciate you all sharing your stories with me. It helps to hear that you all survived.


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