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Introductions If you're new to the forums, drop by and introduce yourself.

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Old 11-02-2010, 12:30 PM
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Default My introduction...

I've been reading this forum for awhile, and figured it's time to introduce myself...

I live in AB, a 43 year old guy in an 18 year marriage. 2 kids in the 10 to 12 age range. For a variety of reasons, I think my marriage is coming to an end. Things have been going downhill for awhile now, but getting worse over the last couple of years, and more so over the last 6 months. At one point, I thought about trying to hang on for the kid's sake, but I've given up on that idea... It was hard enough to hang on for the last month.

I had my first session with a therapist yesterday... No idea what to expect, but I wanted to have a one-on-one session with someone. One of the things that struck me that he said was that it seems that I've gone through a grieving process for my marriage already... Kind of hit home. Actually, the whole visit seemed to be the first "big step" to dealing with this, which left me feeling strangely positive at the end. I was expecting to feel more upset/depressed/whatever, but I wasn't.

Anyway, some of the things I've been going through are the obvious ones... How to make this as stress-free as possible for the kids (in particular)... They haven't been seeing us fight at all, so this could come as a relative surprise for them. I think my spouse knows something is wrong, but we haven't talked about it yet (next step). How we're going to work out the finances... All the potentially ugly stuff.

In our household, I make about 85% of the income (100K+), and have moved to a sole-proprietorship consulting company in the past few months. She works at about a 75% of full time hours at a local coffee shop (14K or so). We have some equity in our house (80K or so), but little else in terms of assets (2 cars, one fairly new but financed, one old but paid, not much for savings or RRSP's). In the end, I'm thinking that she will end up with majority custody of the kids, and I'd like for them to be able to stay in the house as it's right across the school that they attend. But she'll never qualify for the mortgage on her own. Any solutions on that? One of my thoughts was putting the mortgage in my name, paying CS and whatever SS is required, and having her pay me rent.

I'm hoping that we can deal with our issues through mediation or collaborative law, and if that involves some sort of creative agreement that I'm still protected, I'm all for it. I want to do what's right for the kids in particular. Still a significant amount of guilt for doing this to everyone, I guess...

Anyway, I'm sure things will come up in the next little while, and I'll be back... Sorry for the rambling.

C
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:18 PM
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Welcome. Couple bits of advice...

First off read THE LIST - It's a scarily accurate picture of what COULD go wrong.

Second: DO NOT leave the home. PERIOD.

Third: If you can be amicable with this, great, you are already better off than 99% of couples out there.

Best of luck....Protect yourself.
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:58 PM
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Thanks, NBDad! I've gone through the list once... Need to do it again.

In terms of not leaving the home... That's one thing I really struggle with, I guess. How do people handle living in the same house when you really don't want to talk to each other (assuming that's a side-effect of dropping the bomb)? Rhetorical questions follow... Am I going to spend the next however many months living in my office area, sleeping on the couch? Am I going to be eating all my meals separate from everyone, coming home just to sleep? Is this better for the kids to see us like this, or would it be better for them to start adjusting to us being two separate families?

That list posting is just depressing... Making it out to be such a war. Yet I'm sure that so many people start out where I'm at now, that "we can all be grown-ups, and work things out amicably", and end up wishing they'd followed that list...

BTW, my therapist's suggestion was that once things reach the point of deciding separation is the way to go (or even the most likely way to go, vs. trying to work things out, which I don't think is possible), we should see a lawyer jointly, with the clear understanding that this lawyer will not be used by either of us, so they have no motivation for getting a battle going. Someone who can discuss responsibilities and options in a hopefully neutral manner. Anyone have thoughts on that? Anyone gone the collaborative law approach, or even non-binding mediation?

I guess in my case, there's currently no animosity. Just a clear separation of lives and goals... If anything, I'm the dominant personality, making most of the "life decisions" simply because I get no input or assistance on them even when I ask. She hasn't filed a tax return on her own since she was 20; I've done all of them and just got her signature. Same with mortgages and any financial issues. The other issue (besides her lack of understanding of our assets and finances) is that she really has no resources to fight with, as it would be very easy for me to control the 85% of the income that is mine, leaving her with not enough to do much lawyering up, if it comes to that. Perhaps making myself a corporation now would be a good idea, rather than waiting till the next year, as then the money would be flowing into a corporate account, not even a personal account of mine?

I guess this leaves a significant possibility for a lawyer to push her to make a mess of things, if she found the "wrong" one... On the other hand, I know the lawyer friend that I believe she will turn to first, and would trust her to steer things in a least damaging direction.

To be honest, right now I'd be happy to get away with full table CS and SS as per the Delaney calculator (Calculators- Spousal Support With Children), giving up my share of the equity in the house if I had to, along with the majority of the contents of the house. Everything I want from the house will fit in my car and can be packed up in an afternoon. Heck, I'd even take the bulk of the "extra" debts with me (line of credit, credit card, etc). In exchange, I'd settle for joint custody and reasonable access to the kids.

Ah, what a mess... But thanks again, and I've got that posting bookmarked.

C
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:48 PM
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You have a lot of decisions to make. Sounds like you are doing the best you can and thinking things through...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConfusedInAB View Post
In the end, I'm thinking that she will end up with majority custody of the kids, and I'd like for them to be able to stay in the house as it's right across the school that they attend. But she'll never qualify for the mortgage on her own. Any solutions on that? One of my thoughts was putting the mortgage in my name, paying CS and whatever SS is required, and having her pay me rent.

Still a significant amount of guilt for doing this to everyone, I guess...
2 things popped out at me in your post that you may want to re-think.

First of all - if you are separating don't buy the house and rent to her. This will be one more thing that ties you together. You will always have some form of relationship to her because she is your children's mother. Don't add more layers to the relationship while trying to get out of it. Makes no sense & could cause an amicable separation to become a disaster down the road. Looking at it from your children's best interests - your wife will never gain the independence and self respect that she needs to be a good role model for your kids, if you don't let her do it on her own. It is healthier to move on as seperately as you can.

the 2nd thing is... Why do you not want 50-50 time with the children? If it is because you want them to continue in the same school, then the solution is obvious. Either buy your wife out of the matrimonial home and live there yourself or sell the mat-home and buy a home in the same area that they are now. From your wife's proceeds of the mat-home she will be able to buy a home in the same area that fits her income. Shouldn't be too hard for her since you seem quite affluent and you are happy to pay SS and CS. Even 50-50 would give her CS. Just be absolutely positive that you want to give up that 50-50. It is hard to get it back once it is gone.

Don't let guilt rule your decision making process. It takes more than 1 person to make a bad marriage.

Don't remember where I read this & I'm sure if I am wrong someone will post here soon! - but I think that you can also offer to settle spousal support with a lump sum payment (if you have that kind of money available). This could also help your wife out with buying a home.

BTW - the $ from your company that flows into a personal account will be split until the day that you officially separate. If things go according to the law - you will both walk out with 50-50 of everything (house, $, possessions).

I hope it stays amicable for everyone.

Cheers
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:12 PM
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Lumpy,

Yeah, the future ties together could definitely be one of the drawbacks to the whole renting the house back to her... On the other hand, it's the only way I can see to let the kids continue to grow up in the same home they've always had (at least, as far as they can remember). I really want to disrupt everyone else's lives as much as possible, especially if it doesn't impact me at the same time.

With regards to the 50-50 split... I really don't know where I'm going to be in the next 5 years, due to work/opportunities. I don't know what the answers are there, but protecting the kids with a stable environment seems like it should be a high priority.

The self-sufficiency and role model are good points... My daughter is the elder of the two kids, and if I can help her become a strong independent woman, that would make me a happy camper...

As far as the dollars flowing in... Right now, money gets transferred from my clients to a personal bank account, but I could easily incorporate and create a business account. And have my clients deposit the money into that account, where I can draw (through salary or dividends) as much as I need/want. I'm not sure if that protects me any more than what I have now, but it seems like it might. If nothing else, some form of financial separation is obviously on the way. For others that have been in this position before, is it enough to just open a bank account in your own name (not a joint account), or is it better to start a new relationship with a new bank?

Thanks for the note!

C
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:54 PM
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It sounds like you haven't had this conversation with your wife yet.

Remember that she will need some time to adjust to this. You are already seeking advice and therapy, and she may have no clue as to what you are thinking and what you are planning.

She will need time, she may be angry, she may be confused, she may be relieved. What ever place she is in she will need some time to sort things out herself.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:35 PM
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Frustrated, yes, you're right. I haven't had this talk with her yet. I chose to go to a therapist first. And one of the things he mentioned was that I've had time to go through a grieving process for our marriage already, whereas my wife will not have done that (most likely). So the sudden "bomb drop" can have a big impact, obviously.

But one of the other things he touched on was that the impact can be lessened if the other spouse is given a chance to go through a similar process... So rather than something like "Ok, I'm outta here... Here's my new address and I'll talk to you later", working through more gradually can allow them to get to the same place, or at least, it's not as big of a shock. In his experience, he suggested that typically that approach causes less anger (but there's no guarantees).

So I'm planning to sit down with her one day while the kids are at school (we have at least one day per week that we're both either off work or working from home) and have a talk with her about where I'm at... That things are bad enough that I've gone to see a counsellor. And asking if she'd consider either going to see one on her own, or going jointly. I've got another couple of sessions booked this month, and if she wants to see "my guy", she can take either of those sessions (and we can use the other one for a joint session, if desired). If she wants to see someone on her own, he can either provide a referral, or she can find one on her own.

That's my plan, anyway... I figure if I have that talk about a week before my next scheduled session, it will minimize the "friction time", but still give her a chance to get her thoughts together. That means next week... To be honest though, I have no idea if this talk is going to involve me moving to the couch in my home office or what...

All I know is that things have to change, one way or another...

C
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:26 PM
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You can look at doing collaborative law. This is like mediation, but done with lawyers who are trained to work together. It can keep some of the hostility down, and costs.

The Alberta courts are not father friendly. Be very careful not to be alone with her. Many men have been arrested over false allegations of abuse,and she will get the house, the kids, the car, and most of your money in support.
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ConfusedInAB View Post
Lumpy,

With regards to the 50-50 split... I really don't know where I'm going to be in the next 5 years, due to work/opportunities. I don't know what the answers are there, but protecting the kids with a stable environment seems like it should be a high priority.
You are rationalizing. If you were still together as a family would you know where you would be in 5 years? If you moved in 5 years as a family would that be any less stable for them? Is having their father change from being in their lives daily to being in their lives twice a month adding stability? Is going from having 2 full-time parents to having one and a visitor adding stability? Do you have a good, involved, caring relationship with them now? Is reducing or possibly losing that going to add stability to their lives?

Being separated/divorced is the new status quo. They will suffer for it, there is no way around that. The way to minimize the suffering is to allow them to keep part of the old status quo: to have both parents equally involved in their lives.

If that's not what you want, or if you can't handle that, or your career won't allow you care for them as a 50/50 parent, then it's your choice. Your choice to not change things in your life to let you be with them. But don't lie to yourself and say that it's for stability. Please don't, because when words like that spread around it makes it twice as hard for fathers who want to fight for shared custody.
Quote:
To be honest, right now I'd be happy to get away with full table CS and SS as per the Delaney calculator (Calculators- Spousal Support With Children), giving up my share of the equity in the house if I had to, along with the majority of the contents of the house. Everything I want from the house will fit in my car and can be packed up in an afternoon. Heck, I'd even take the bulk of the "extra" debts with me (line of credit, credit card, etc). In exchange, I'd settle for joint custody and reasonable access to the kids.
Read 'Surviving your Divorce' by Cochrane, a Toronto divorce attorney. It's at Chapters/Indigo or at the library. He compares the stages of going through divorce to the old 7 stages of accepting death. He points out that in the early stages many men are willing to walk away and give their ex everything, and then regret it a few months later. Don't make these kinds of decisions right now, learn your options and learn your rights. Make several plans for the future, one with your wife having full custody, one with you having full custody, one with shared custody. Write them out, put them away and then read them in a week.
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:41 PM
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Thanks, rwm and Mess... I'll check out that book. That's an interesting thought about how people's thoughts/goals change as the process goes on.

RWM, any thoughts how I can make sure I'm not alone with her, yet still stay in the same house? I guess that's where the voice recorder comes in, eh? And given a choice, the collaborative law sounds like a good starting point, at least from what I've read.

C
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