Where I become a guest of Jerry Springer's
July 26, 2006 8:23 PM   Subscribe

I need survial strategies to make it through establishing residency in order to file for divorce. Melodrama inside.

Toward the end of last year, the spouse and I made tenative plans to move to a different state this year. The spouse conducted serial affairs when doing relief work in New Orleans earlier this year. The fact of the infidelity began to surface during the same week in which I was offered the job that made the move we just completed three weeks ago possible.

It should also be stated that the spouse has been aware of the fact that—thanks to family history—the one single thing the spouse could do that would cause me to file for divorce would be to engage in infidelity.

As part of the decision making process, I expressedly asked the spouse to confirm or deny the affair before I made the decision to accept the new position. I made it clear that falsely denying the affair would necessarily tie our hands in terms of options thanks to the new state's rigid laws concerning divorce and residency requirements. The spouse denied the affair.

So, obviously you see where this is going; now that the move has been completed the spouse recently admitted to the affair [after running out of non-contradictory explanations for various facts]. This means that I now have to come up with a way to survive the next year until I am eligible to file for divorce or legal separation. Complicating factors include:

  1. Our current domicile is owned by the spouse's parents which we live in for free in exchange for maintenance labor and costs (it is a farm).
  2. The financial situation is best described as sketchy thanks to the necessary purchase of a vehicle (we previously had none) and the substantial cost of making the house livable.
  3. The spouse is not particularly enthusiastic about finding employment by the looks of things.
All of which makes my moving out and our running two separate domiciles more or less impractical.

I apologize for the length, but such is nature of anonymous comments I guess. One last bit though... I find I still care for the spouse in a distant and abstract way. I find that I fall into established behavior patterns that eventually lead to awkward moments which I certainly do not enjoy. Ultimately, it would seem that the spouse is way more interested in "saving" the marriage than I am and that it has engaged in behavior in the past that would lead me to believe that it will passively work to make the path to dissolution/separation as difficult as possible while still seeming compliant with my wishes.

I have consulted an attorney who stated that there are no legal options until residency is established. I cannot move to a different state to establish residency as my income is the only source at the moment and it would be irresponsible and unprofessional for me to leave my current position after having just started it. As mentioned above, the spouse is not particularly motivated to help by moving to a different state because it is under the impression that "the marriage is still salvageable and besides, where would we get the money?"

All of that being said, then, I am looking for strategies to accomplish the following:

  1. protect my financial and legal interests
  2. motivate the spouse toward gainful employment so that running separate domiciles is a financial possibility and/or
  3. surviving until next July living under the same roof and next door to the spouse's parents
I have set up a junk email account at disposable4askme@gmail.com if you want to ask clarifying questions or otherwise contact me.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sometimes, when things are really shitty for me, part of the reason is because I've logically cut off all avenues of escape. Might I suggest, instead of thinking what you can do with X limitations, think about, for a moment, what you'd most rather do. Cut and run? Now think how you could make that possible (without of course committing to that). For example, regarding your employment, of course, sometimes bad things happen to people and while your current employer would be understandably pissed off, you're not indispensable (no-one is). In the case of your resume a gap can be explained better than a short term employment.

Anyway, try reframing your problem. Instead of saying, given this, what is possible, try I want to do this, how can i make it possible?

Someone will be along shortly with practical advice. Good luck.
posted by b33j at 8:37 PM on July 26, 2006

Can you not file for divorce in the state you moved from? It does make it a little more time consuming and difficult, but maybe not as bad as waiting for residency.
posted by illek at 8:39 PM on July 26, 2006

You work, but you seem to have no assets, other than a car which seems to be mostly debt, with no appreciable equity. You should separate. Spouse stays at the farm and decides for him/her self what to do about work. You find a place to live. You do exactly what you would do if you were divorcing. Any assets you accrue between now and the divorce are marital property and will be split; check with the lawyer, but I believe any debts accrued are owned by whoever signed for them. Get rid of any credit cards or other shared forms of debt.
posted by theora55 at 8:40 PM on July 26, 2006

You are living what mathematicians call an overbounded problem, which is a set of specified conditions, not all of which can simultaneously be true if there is any solution. If you can't move, can't quit your job, and can't start divorce proceedings, about all you can do is clam up completely, and share not a single thought or activity that is not directly related to obtaining a divorce at the earliest date, every single day for the next 365 days.

Hell of a way to live. But being civil, and cooperating with someone who doesn't respect you, has lied to you about intimate trust, and manipulated you selfishly into your current box doesn't seem to have worked out all that well.

'Twere me, I'd can it in the morning. Get in the car, head out, and don't look back, if there are no kids involved. The jobs bit is inconsequential compared to your sanity.
posted by paulsc at 8:47 PM on July 26, 2006

I think b33j has good advice for you.
posted by pointilist at 8:50 PM on July 26, 2006

You know what? Life's too short to spend a whole year in a marriage you don't want to be in. Just slip out the back, Jack.

Honestly, I don't understand what's preventing you from leaving. You have a job - just find an apartment and move into it. Your spouse lives on his/her parents land - it's not like he/she is going to be evicted. Also, in terms of your spouse's money situation I've found that not having any income is a great motivator for finding employment.

After a year, you can file your paperwork but you should start getting on with your life today. Life's too short man.
posted by peppermint22 at 9:47 PM on July 26, 2006

Can you file for a seperation in your old state and then file for divorce next year? Living together for the year seems totally untenable and as far as establishing two domiciles goes, methinks spouse has made their own bed and must now lie in it. Move out, get your own place and go on with your life.
posted by fshgrl at 10:12 PM on July 26, 2006

I would look at why it is that you have set up the situation as you have described it to us, i.e. with no possible alternatives to living with the spouse under these highly unpleasant circumstances for the next year.

What do you get out of this story being true?
posted by ottereroticist at 10:16 PM on July 26, 2006

It does seem possible (going by your framing of the situation) that perhaps you don't really want to end the marriage, but find that you have sort of backed yourself into a corner as a result of previous statements, and now feel you must follow through. All these complications might be serving as useful excuses for doing what you actually want to do - stay with your husband.

If you really do want to end it, though, my advice would be to simply leave. Sell the car, and move to an apartment near public transport... or just follow the advice of the attorney regarding the car and all other financial matters. Your husband has a free place to stay, and won't go hungry living next door to his parents. This isn't an "easy-for-you-to-say" answer from me... This is exactly something that I did myself, leaving with only my clothes and my books, and there wasn't a single material possession or situational obstruction that could have stopped me.
posted by taz at 1:15 AM on July 27, 2006

taz: anonymous was careful to never mention husband/wife.

on topic: i would leave if that is what you want to do. there is no reason to wait for residence status to be achieved just so you can file some paperwork. i will echo what others have said and suggest that the one year thing is a mask for you not wanting to leave. you will have to figure that out on your own.

if you truly want to leave there is no reason you should be taking care of a spouse who will not work. you leave, get a place of your own, what happens to them is in their own hands at that point.
posted by sophist at 1:37 AM on July 27, 2006

Check out this table that lists the waiting periods for each state. Perhaps there is a state neighboring yours where you could establish residency and get the divorce quickly. The neighboring state will not be able to give a property settlement, but you can get the divorce decree first, and then you could probably come back into your new state with it, and have the court immediately enforce it and do a property settlement before the new state's residency requirement has been fulfilled (full faith and credit, y'all).

Also, in protecting your financial situation, the best thing you can do is terminate all joint checking accounts and credit cards. And I wouldn't be putting any of my money into my spouse's parent's house, either.

It sounds like your marriage is over, so you need to find a way to legally end it now.
posted by MrZero at 5:58 AM on July 27, 2006

The two big questions, as people have pointed out, are whether you WANT to leave this marriage and whether you CAN logistically do it. Keeping in mind that the spouse is likely to be unhelpful, my advice is geared towards making plans to leave the marriage. Then if things change for some bizarre reason you have burned no bridges. It seems to me what you are looking for is a trial separation of some kind. This doesn't have to mean getting an apartment, though I would suggest that as others have, it can also mean "We are putting the marriage on hold while we both evaluate whether we want to be in the marriage" To this end, my actions would be

1. Get an apartment or even a room in a house that is not in your spouse's parents' house. You can stay there or not, but if the shit hits the fan you can go move there. If you need to make a point about your spouse's unwillingness to work on the relationship you can temporarily move there [taking the car, which you need for the job, or somehow making it work with public transpo] and see what they think
2. separate money. Work out a way to give the spouse an allowance that allows them to eat and live basically and then let them know they'll need to find a back up plan if they need more than basic needs met. Start your own bank account. This money may not ultimately be yours after the divorce but it can tentatively be yours beforehand.
3. parents. You can tell them that there is a trial separation going on and you can decide whether to tell them about the affiar or not. If it were me I'd probably explain that it wasn't the affair but the pretenses under which you moved to this new place that are really causing you to re-evaluate the trust you put in your spous. This might also avoid the inevitable "you are the bad person" thing that you get when people split, that parents have towards the splitter. Indicate your willingness to work on tyhe relationship but also the fact that you want to see CONCRETE steps, not just a hazy "we can save this" approach.
4. talk to your spouse and lay these things out.

These are the things that you do for a year. If things change, you go back to not being in a state of separation from your marriage. In short there are a bunch of priorities you need to establish.

Do you want to keep your job more than you want to get out of your marriage?
Do you want to not make your spouse uncomfortable (finaincially/eomotionally) more than you want to get out of your marriage?
Do you want to not make a scene more than you want to get out of your marriage?
Do you want to not move more than you want to get out of your marriage?

None of these questions have right or wrong answers, but the simple truth is that if you want to get out of a marriage you can. There are just repurcussions along the way, some of which will vary depending on whether you are the man or the woman in this situation (because of how the courts will likely treat alimony and so forth) and some of which you seem a little less than eager to deal with.
posted by jessamyn at 6:48 AM on July 27, 2006

If the spouse can stay in the current house for free, why not move yourself to another location nearby. Spouse should be able to get a part-time job of some kind to provide food for him/her self, and you can both get time away to think.

You sound really, really angry, and understandably so. Maybe some cool-off time wouldn't be a bad idea. If you both save for a while (maybe ask your spouse to save & contribute half), maybe you could consider counseling? If he/she's really committed to the relationship, contributing half the expense of the sessions seems reasonable.
posted by amtho at 7:08 AM on July 27, 2006

I think your question may have been more about how to make the most of this year, given the choices you have already made - you are going to live in the same house. I agree with the others who said to get out, but if you won't then some possible ways to make the best of living with him/her:
- develop as many outside interests as possible - try to be outside the house
- new girlfriend/boyfriend - if it comes along, that could be a great way to get out of the house
- stop supporting the spouse - s/he should be paying for everything s/he would be paying for if s/he were on his/her own. If s/he can't afford anything, s/he may actually get a job.
- don't sleep together
- is the spouse paying rent? If not, can you kick him/her out?
- set up your house as much as possible as roommates - have your own space, if possible
- for God sake, protect your finances - stop all joint debts

That's all I can come up with for now.....
posted by Amizu at 7:28 AM on July 27, 2006

Um. This is a silly thought. Or maybe not. While you're trying to establish residency in state #2....You still have residency in state 1, don't you?

Why not just rent a mailbox for 6 months or so, and start divorce proceedings in the first state? Why wait a year?
posted by filmgeek at 8:02 AM on July 27, 2006

Get out now. You aren't responsible for the spouse.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:29 AM on July 27, 2006

Consult with a lawyer in the state you got married in and lived in before you moved to see if you still have residency for divorce purposes. (It's not as simple as renting a mailbox...)
posted by footnote at 8:32 AM on July 27, 2006

I get your desire to be as anon as possible but sheesh the last of gender pronouns make this tough. You get to be Anon and your insignificant other is Spouse.

I think a lot of you suggesting the "just go" are overlooking some of the possible legal problems. Depending on the state it's possible that Spouse could run up a bunch of debt that Anon would be partially saddled with. There's a reason that the law provides for a Seperated status, particularly in community property states.

Mind you, someone who will betray your trust for the slap&tickle sure might run up debts and not tell you even if you're there. Checked your credit reports?

If you can still go back to the old state - as filmgeek suggests - so you can file and cover your ass there I think it's strongly worth a look. If you really think this person is so untrustworthy it's definitely in your interest to protect yourself. You may not have anything now but you don't want to be saddled with something for a long time past when your marriage ends.
posted by phearlez at 5:15 PM on July 27, 2006

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