How to cope with the unknowns during a divorce
July 6, 2010 10:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm ready to file for divorce w/ custody issues. What can I expect without the fear of the great unknown leading me to have a heart attack?

After a long hard look at our relationship and the dealings as parents, I've deciced that us being together isn't in the best interest of me or our child. History of money problems and not seeking alternatives (i.e. sticking with a dead end/failing business that fluctuates to much), irrational/abusive arguing style, and finally using weed and selling prescription pills for money, I just think it's best we break apart.

The problem will be custody. While I have no problem having our son in his life, the problem is his irresponsible choices when it comes to his marijuana use. He has no issue going off to another area with friends smoking while me and our son wait for him. His values are when I protested (repeatedly) about this behavior is he's not doing it in front of our son and I'm teaching our child bad values for judging his friends (i.e. I don't want us to be around it).

And recently he told me he sold his vicodin for money because he needed it and would do anything for money for the family. Um...we're not at a desperate situation like foreclosure, both unemployed etc. He just won't get another job/further his education.

Our lives go round and round into unresolved issues, denial, nasty fights, and threats if I say it's not working out and we need a divorce.


Seeing there are serious issues at hand, I don't want to diminish the issue of his usage/attitude about usage but I also don't want to play dirty from the get go with court ordered this or that. It will set him off. But our mutual physician is concerned about my safety however, due to firearms in the house so there's that little gem.

I've seen lawyers and the one I liked wanted to settle/mediate. But I just don't think that will happen.

I just don't know what to expect or even how to file without being hard hitting since we do have hard hitting issues. I'm all for my DH to see our son but no smoking, no loser friends in the environment. But I dont' want to get into court ordered random testing, supervised visits in a mutual location, etc because he will flip out and that will set up 18 years of hate, vindictiveness, etc.

The goal is not to mess up our child. I tried to work this out but I feel staying in an unfixable relationship with risks of weed use and selling of prescriptions, constant money issues, and arguing nearly every week is a bad environment.

Should I listen to the lawyer on how to handle this? I know I will have to file for temp custody w/ restricitons but I don't even know how to word this without pissing him off.

Hell, I don't even know how to tell him without him going nuts (and yes, I'm a little scared). But I know the safet way is to get a protective order and kicking him out of the house asap. I just feel guilty doing that as well as thinking it starts the ball rolling of him getting ridiculous over our son.

He's so far in denial that anything is wrong and he feels I have zero grounds for divorce because in his mind he treats me like gold. He will lose everything (thus this will be expensive for me since I have to pay 50% to him).

I have unresolved issues of child care, can I keep the house, visitation, and how fast can we do this if he gets unreasonable.

It's going to get ugly, really ugly and I dont' know how to make this to be reasonable, safe, and healthy for everyone.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Since you're expecting this to get ugly before it even really starts, I would suggest anonymizing this question in case your user account can be linked back to you.
posted by scarykarrey at 10:43 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

[Having just read through all your previous questions on this] I think you are really at the point where the Ask MeFi question you want is "Can you suggest a compassionate, sliding-scale counselor in the [city name] region?"

It is not, as you put it in one Q, "I know therapy is an option but I have to actually pay someone to get support?" You won't be paying somebody to be a pal -- you'll be paying somebody for professional advice. Same as with the lawyer. (If you like your attorney, definitely hit him/her up for names of good therapists.) It looks like there are a lot of complex issues involved.
posted by kmennie at 10:44 AM on July 6, 2010

Yes, find a lawyer you trust and listen to her/him. You're in a lose-lose situation here: if you don't take immediate and decisive legal action, you run the risk of him taking advantage of you and hurting your child, but you're also worried that if you do use the legal system to put restrictions on him that keep you safe, he'll flip out and fight dirty. You need a great lawyer who can help you navigate between those two poles to find a solution that will be best for you and your child. We can't give you any meaningful advice that will be better than what a skilled family law attorney will give you.
posted by decathecting at 10:46 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, get a good lawyer. Explain everything. This is what they do.

And prepare yourself: yes, this is probably going to get very ugly. Be strong, use whatever friends and family you have for support.
posted by dzaz at 11:45 AM on July 6, 2010

IANAL but I work in this field, that is nastily contested divorces. Right now what you have are allegations of drug use. You need evidence of drug use. You need evidence of his guns. And you need evidence of his instability. You gather this through discovery, depositions, court ordered psychological evaluations, affidavits and depositions from 3rd parties, and/or surveillance. The fact is you do need to try to settle this or settle it through mediation, but probably not before your discovery. If you go to mediation, you need to walk in with your evidence. A good mediator will be able to communicate to your husband and his attorney that his position is bad and he needs to settle on your terms. Court is a last resort-- it is incredibly expensive and will cause you much anxiety-- even more expensive and stressful than what you are experiencing right now. You also need to attempt a settlement before Court to strengthen your case that you should be awarded attorneys fees. All this discovery, though, is expensive too. Your attorney should always apprise you of what is being done on your behalf and how much it costs and what options you have. Throughout this process you need to keep your wits and keep a close eye on the costs. I've seen huge marital estates nearly completely consumed in divorces with an end result that neither party liked. Bear in mind you have two components to your divorce- custody and financial. I don't know what jurisdiction you're in, but in many your husband's drug use, while influencing custody, will not be a factor in the division of property. However, if custody works out that you have the children for significantly more time than him because of his drug use then you may see increased child support. Again I don't know what jurisdiction you are in and most have formulas for calculating the support.

I guess I'm rambling at this point, but I want to leave you with the importance, nay, necessity of attempting to settle. Like I said earlier, you don't have to do this from a position of weakness. If you have a good and aggressive attorney then you will do a lot of preparation and discovery before the mediation and you will win there. If your attorney wants to try to settle before mediation, your first offer should probably be the best case ending from your perspective. But again, I don't know all the facts in your case or even where it is. I know this is probably the worst place you have ever been in your life-- but I have seen hundreds survive it to see a better place than they were at any time during their marriages. My thoughts are with you and I hope you prevail.
posted by leonard horner at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

IANAL/IANYL I have been fighting a custody battle for 15 years, and have helped a few other folks through theirs.

Based on my experiences - The drug use won't matter. Unless he's dealing on a level large enough to warrant an arrest and incarceration, it just doesn't matter. He can be a drug dealer and still be a good-in-the-eyes-of-law parent. But talk to your lawyer. In your jurisdiction they may be more harsh about it than in mine.

Also, you're probably not going to be able to dictate who the father hangs out with when your son is present. You might be able to get those term into a court order, but I've never seen that work for anyone. He does after all have a right to freely associate and to inculcate in his child his own culture. The court will probably try to balance those rights against your concerns, but in my experience, those rights tend to trump.

I'm not saying this to dissuade you. I just want you to be aware of certain realities.

That having been said - in your case, I would call the cops about the drugs and get him arrested. And then I would get a protective order immediately - you wont need any evidence at all for it. After that, the ball will roll along.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:08 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also :

There is no way to what you want without pissing him off. Put that out of your mind, and think about how to get you and the child to place where you can begin moving on.

And - you will save yourself a ton of trouble if you never ever get into arguements with him. What I do is adopt a "Customer Service" voice. Pretend you're the poor service rep who has to deal with an angry customer; no matter what you must remain calm, cool, and polite - but there is no debate.

Make no threats. It is not your job to educate or to dissuade. Just look out for yourself, and if he does something stupid, let him suffer the consequences. It's not your problem.

And above all, keep your chin up and always be the better human.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:32 PM on July 6, 2010

IAL, IANYL, of course.

Mediation and settlements are par for the course in contested custody divorces. Many states in fact require you to attend at least one mediation session before they will give you a trial date. Settlement is always preferable (this is not the same as 'giving in.') However, with someone who doesn't make the most rational decisions you may need to spend some money and lawyer time applying pain and anguish before he's ready to settle. There are plenty of divorce practitioners who can do this.

Leonard above has it right. Drug use around the child WILL be forbidden in the final custody order / decree / judgment IF you prove the drug use to the court. A conviction is awfully powerful evidence of drug possession. Just sayin' and you've already paid the police and DA's salaries through your taxes. That's what they are there fore.

Don't know your economic circumstance but divorce with contested custody is EXPENSIVE for both sides. Many many cities have low cost or sliding scale legal clinics that can help. The ones I know about are all really great, committed, service minded lawyers so you'll pay much less than the going rate but they aren't "low cost = low quality" lawyers.

Sorry - not so much pinpoint data here. Just an affirmation:
custody fights are nasty
custody fights are expensive
settlement on reasonable terms is always preferable to trial
find a good lawyer through word of mouth
engage a therapist now for you and begin vetting ones for your child.
posted by BrooksCooper at 8:00 PM on July 6, 2010

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