What to do when your Wife wants a Divorce.

The client sat in my office devastated. He had taken his wedding vows seriously. He loved his wife. He wanted to stay married. She wanted him out. His Wife wanted a Divorce.

He went on to explain he had been married 10 years, they have two kids. She had been unhappy for years. He returned from his latest business trip to Texas after 5 days and she gave him the news. She liked being alone. She didn’t want to be married. She wanted him to move out and then maybe they could work on it. Maybe they could legally separate instead of divorcing. Maybe they could just live apart for awhile.

He described how she told him she never really loved him. Even on the wedding day she knew she was making a mistake. He was crushed. What would happen to his house, his children, the dog? He was the primary breadwinner. How would he continue to support his Wife and children and move out? He told me he wanted her to have the house. He could rent a room from a friend. Even though he planned to give her what she wanted, he wanted to know his rights.

Reality Check

The client wasn’t doing himself or his children any favors by moving out and letting her keep the house while he rented a room. By moving out and renting a room, he could never have real, adequate, substantial parenting time with his children. He would become a visitor in his own house. His family would find a new norm without him. He would set a precedent of exposing himself to a potentially high monthly spousal maintenance (alimony) payment.

Life was about to change. No, he didn’t ask for the change, but it was here. Failing to protect himself now could jeopardize his future relationship with his children and his financial security.

What can he do?

  1. Recognize that you cannot have a good relationship with a spouse who will not participate. If your spouse wants out, no amount of good behavior on your part will fix the other persons problem.
  2. Life will change. You no longer have the option of going to work and leaving the majority of the child rearing responsibilities and decisions to your Wife. You are an essential part of your children’s development and you want to share an equal role in their parenting. This most often means you will need to design a life where you have the children half of the time as a single parent. You will need housing where they can be comfortable.

But what about their stability?

When one spouse keeps the marital home that they cannot afford, lots of problems occur. First, the children feel like they are a “home” with one parent and “visiting” the other parent. Yes, selling the house is a big adjustment for everyone, but divorce is a big adjustment. If you want to avoid being the outsider parent, consider selling the house and everyone getting their own place.

Your standard of living will change

Everyone’s standard of living will change. Presumably, the same income that paid for one household will now pay for two. This will be a large adjustment for everyone. But kids move, life changes. They need to know that both parents are equally committed to them and their needs. The division of duties will change as each parent becomes an independent single parent.

Negotiation and compromise are best, with protections

You only get one chance to divide property and figure out spousal maintenance eligibility. It is not modifiable. Entering into an unfair agreement now can have lasting consequences for the whole family. The best outcome is a fair one that will protect everyone’s interest in the long term- not a quick fix that simply gets your divorce out of the way or appeases your ex.

By thinking about protecting your long term future both emotionally and financially, you can make the very best out of this truly awful situation.

Let us know if you have questions, we look forward to hearing your story and acting as your advocate.