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Old 10-29-2009, 12:45 PM
beentaken beentaken is offline
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Default Separated 2 years, Should Financial or Support Motions Preceed Custody Agreement?

I'll try to be brief but there is a huge amount of history in my case, and I am looking for help on so many topics. We separated 2 years ago after 17 years of marriage and we immediately and mutually prepared our own amicable separation agreement to share custody of our 3 kids. We checked many web-sites including all the federal government sites for child support and spousal support guidelines and even did some calculations, but my ex would not sign anything or consider mediation. Instead, my ex sought out a lawyer to make sure to receive what is "deserved". So, I had to get a lawyer, right? What a waste of our children's post-secondary education funds that decision turned out to be.

Although more pissed off that I caught them having an affair than apologetic for having one, my ex was too comfortable nesting (week on/week off) in and out of our matrimonial home before it sold and living with the married manager from work every other week in an apartment they shared. My ex convinced me to never breath a word about the affair to the children unless they come asking questions (they are currently going on 11, 14 & 16). That was the only lie I ever had with my children, protecting my ex's reputation, until my middle child accused me of being a liar. That very night, I told my ex to admit what went on or I would tell them myself because I am not the liar here. My ex was trying to alienate my kids from me, even tried to get into psychological counseling with them behind my back. Through the lawyer, my ex soon-after blocked all communication between us in an attempt to stall until that manager separated as well. Eventually, my ex agreed to a 4-way meeting 10 months after separating claiming that my controlling ways prevented productive communication but there was no agenda for that meeting and it quickly derailed into a useless blame-game. I think it was, in a large part, due to the fact that I had moved on with my life, became more and more the parent I always wanted to be and found someone special who has remained fully engaged in my life until today, even though we live separately. Ironically, my ex was laid-off the same day as that 4-way meeting with the promise of a continued income for 12 months from that manager and the executives they both had lying to cover up what was grounds for both of them to be fired without severance. But of course, nothing was stated at that meeting except how we should be sharing common expenses given the nesting arrangement and how the marketing of the home for sale should be accelerated despite the cozy arrangement my ex was enjoying.

But, after my ex emptied the joint/common bank account and dug into the joint line of credit secured against the matrimonial home, I cut my ex off of my accounts so I found myself paying for practically everything for the kids and the home for months while my ex and the married manager took a 3-week trip to Europe to celebrate their newly found free-time when the manager was terminated as well. At that point in time, 1 year after separating, I had my lawyer draft a parenting/custody agreement based on the original amicable agreement we both prepared, but my ex absolutely refuses to even read it or comment even after having it for a whole year now. So, for my own sanity, with the matrimonial home on the market, I secured a rental home for the children and I in the existing school zone and stopped paying for the matrimonial home based on my lawyer's advice and my ex's agreement to live in the matrimonial home. Our children have been going back and forth each week; however, my ex and the affair person showed up at my home at 11 pm one night to remove the kids and threatened to not let me have them back. I asked if they would prefer it if I called the police, they said "sure" and I did. The officer told me I did the right thing in calling them, took my statement and then called my ex to take a statement. Of course, this was the classic 2 against 1 tactic which is why calling the police was the right thing to do.

Of course, you guessed it, that just lit a fuse for my ex to demand retroactive support payments and file for a case conference to get a child support order. Because absolutely nothing else, including custody, had been negotiated or agreed, I made sure to at least get a court order to hold all proceeds of the matrimonial home sale in trust. So, I assumed that my ex would live with the affair person at their apartment, once our home sold, and custody and financial settlement would follow quickly over this past summer before the children start back to school. The judge also recommended mediation to reduce costs for both of us and to speed settlement. So, I thought settlement was well on it's way. How wrong was I to assume that?

You see, my ex comes from a wealthy, emotionally controlling family who after knowing me for well over 25 years, now think that I have 666 tattooed on my scalp. And, the affair person seems to have a history of leaving his spouse and children at least twice before and is now the "savior" my ex's family was waiting for. So, with all that support in place, my ex feels well protected and was able to buy a home that I cannot afford because my ex's family pulled a financial "fast-one" to release the funds held in trust to my ex so a conventional mortgage could be secured by my ex who, at this point, had no plans to be employed going forward. Obviously, mediation just ended up with my ex's emotional and blaming outbursts when I asked for full honest financial disclosure and for co-operation for the best interests of our children both emotionally and financially. I wanted to negotiate the parental agreements while my ex wanted support and NFP settlements despite owing me a share of the common expense I single-handedly paid for several months. Even the mediator was dumbfounded, so the mediator suggested 1 more session but with both lawyers present for a 5-way meeting.

Once bitten, twice shy, I asked for an agenda to be agreed that was focused on settlement options rather than paying for 3 lawyers while my ex rants and raves. Even my lawyer agrees that my ex's family is paying for the house and paying my ex's legal bills in an attempt to financially ruin me before custody is settled as I will not be able to afford a home for my children and I, especially in the children's current, affluent, rural school zone where I'm renting. My ex bought a home outside that school zone but it's a short drive and they can continue at their schools so long as I have an address in that affluent area of town.

But, as my ex and her family got my ex's lawyer to play the blame-game on my request for a settlement-focused mediation agenda saying that I was the one delaying matters, my ex is now threatening an immediate motion for spousal support as my ex has not secured equivalent employment in over 14 months and is content working for below minimum wage making less than half of what was made when my ex was employed. Oh yes, and my ex and my ex's family got the mediator to produce a parenting custody agreement and want me to pay for half of it and sign it even though it is very different than our amicable agreement and the version my lawyer prepared including the removal of some of my several access and parental rights.

Closing in on $30,000 of legal fees later, enough is enough. I told my lawyer if my ex does a motion for spousal support, that I first want a motion for shared custody (at least the essential portions) to be settled. Shouldn't the courts put the best interests of the children ahead of spousal support? Shouldn't my ex have to prepare an honest and complete financial disclosure before requesting spousal support. Shouldn't my ex explain how a home was purchased without gainful employment or how they could afford a 3 week trip to Europe just before Christmas shortly after being terminated? Shouldn't my ex be responsible to provide the income at the same level as when we separated?

Am I out to lunch here? I also told my lawyer that I am willing to represent myself on "common sense" matters but he said I'd have to "fire" him first and that would be the fastest way to go directly to court. But then again, if I can count on justice, especially for the children, maybe court is the best way forward. Please help with any aspects or an overall perspective.

Yes, I do feel as though I have been taken, by my ex, by my ex's lawyer, by my ex's family, by my lawyer and by a mediator.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:14 AM
first timer first timer is offline
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Wow this sounds so familiar to my husband's experience for the last 2 years. The only thing his ex agreed to was an uncontested divorce, which I was glad for because I am now married to him. The rest of the outstanding issues of their divorce have been dragging on for what seems like forever. He finally did fire his lawyer on her advice since she realized after dealing with his ex and her lawyer that there was no negotiating with his ex, nor did his ex want to deal with the issues left outstanding. My husband still uses his lawyer for advice but she is no longer on retainer. Recently he started court proceedings and is still only getting lots of emotional responses from his ex, but at least he is moving forward with a case conference. This is further than he has gotten in 2 years waiting for his ex to discontinue with the emotion and deal with the issues at hand. My advice start court proceedings, on your own if you are willing to do the legwork. There is lots of help out there to get you through this.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:11 AM
DowntroddenDad DowntroddenDad is offline
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Two years later and you are still emotionally caught up in your ex's life. Get over it, and focus on what you need to do now, not what has happened in the past.

In an ideal world you can get an amicable agreement on everything at once. Wouldn't that be nice.

But custody should be the first priority. What is the status quo? Over the two years of separation, what has the pattern of custody been?

Financial can drag on especially if there isn't full disclosure. You should be able to negotiate custody based on status quo. And that impacts child support.

You have to let go of who your ex is sleeping with, the courts do not care at all, and if you drag it into court, you look weak.
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Old 04-18-2013, 02:02 PM
Pursuinghappiness Pursuinghappiness is offline
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First off...being emotional doesn't serve you well. You are far too-involved in your ex's personal life. Its immaterial to the things you need to do to make progress in your divorce.

You haven't been "taken" by anyone. You need to let that nonsense go too.

This is the family law process for everyone and the danger of mediation is always that it ONLY works with certain types of litigants. Personally, I would have pulled out a lot sooner than you did. She's clearly not a good candidate for a mediated divorce. Be thankful that so far you have a firm status quo of shared parenting to fall back on.

Shouldn't the courts put the best interests of the children ahead of spousal support?
The court can handle more than one issue at a motion. And generally, once she proves entitlement for SS, they'll calculate it based on the CS which is based on the custody/access arrangement. So probably you can and should lump everything together on one interim motion.

Shouldn't my ex have to prepare an honest and complete financial disclosure before requesting spousal support. Shouldn't my ex explain how a home was purchased without gainful employment or how they could afford a 3 week trip to Europe just before Christmas shortly after being terminated? Shouldn't my ex be responsible to provide the income at the same level as when we separated?
Yes she should have to comply with disclosure rules. If she doesn't then you'll have to compel documents to prove her income statements. This is part of the discovery process. You can look up the varying methods of compelling this information (Form 20s, motions, questioning)...

You're clearly trying to dispute her entitlement to SS...and so you should if she has the means (skills, education, experience) to make more money...especially given that she's done so in the past. And yes, you can also attach proof of her lifestyle extravagances. Ie. You have evidence of the vacation and the new house price. You would be arguing to impute a higher income to her...and that she doesn't have a "need" for SS based on the lifestyle she lives.

Again, let go of the emotion and prove your case. Keep your materials to relevant points...leave her personal life out of it unless its directly related to an extravagant lifestyle point. What she does with whomever she does it with isn't really relevant. (Although a "gray" area would be for you to add in affidavit materials that she was fired for a long-term inappropriate relationship with a co-worker...since she knew she was risking her job and did it, she's directly responsible and negligent for getting terminated).

Hopefully, you're keeping a daily calendar on your agreed upon parenting schedule because you want to show a strong status quo of shared parenting. Given her track record, the next thing will be her trying to get sole custody of the kids to raise CS.

The last thing is that she's right about keeping the kids out of it. You're not "lying" to your kids...what you're doing is not involving them in your adult issues. Clearly, she's made bad choices...but I sincerely doubt that your marriage was perfect from either side...that applies to almost every divorced couple. She handled the issues in an immature, irresponsible way, no doubt...but that's between you and her and should not be discussed with the children. Its not your place to damage the children's opinion of their mother...just like its not her place to damage their opinion of you. The children aren't a weapon for you to use to get revenge.

Your job as a parent in a divorce situation is to mimimize the disruption to the protect the relationships they need with their parents...and to provide as smooth a transition as possible to the "new normal."

If its any consolation...I'm around 40k in legal bills so far. Welcome to divorce...its expensive, complicated and takes forever.
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Old 04-18-2013, 02:19 PM
frustratedwithex frustratedwithex is offline
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You do realize oink bumped a post from 2009 just to comment on how long it was?
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:00 PM
Pursuinghappiness Pursuinghappiness is offline
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Last edited by Mess; 04-18-2013 at 05:11 PM.
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