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Living Separately Versus Divorce

Old 08-27-2011, 07:06 PM
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Living Separately Versus Divorce

My current situation: Filed for divorce 2 months ago and moved out, living separately from stbxah. we have two boys 10yrs and 8yrs. stbxah has been unemployed for about 4 years now and his unemployment benefits ran out last month. He has a little bit of savings (I divvied up our savings a year or so ago into exact half) left. After his unemployment benefits ran out, he has been using his credit cards and his savings for his living/drinking/eating expenses. He also had a period of unemployement of about 3 years, 10 years ago - patchy employment history and his career is currently in doldrums.

We lived apart for 6 months nov 2010 - may 2011, when he forced himself back home. Given this situation, I am filing for the divorce mainly for financial reasons and also to put an end to my involvement in enabling him in any way. This has been a hard road and took me a while to come to this place. When we were living separately nov 2010 - may 2011, I was quite happy living that way (since he was out of the country and I did not have to worry about him racking up debts, etc) and was not emotionally ready to file for divorce. His forcing himself back home and behaving unreasonably and hence dashing any remaining hopes I had of him recovering and coming back home a fully reformed, gainly employed husband and father (yeah right!!) made me finally file for divorce.

Now, stbxah and his family are saying since you are anyways living separately for now, why don't you continue this way and see how things work out in about a year's time... Kids get affected by divorce, especially boys and especially during teen years - they might end up going the wrong path, etc, etc.. I know they are trying to buy time and trying to use any thing (kids, etc) to make me stop the process.. But this is my biggest worry - my kids getting affected by all this and going down the addiction route (shudder, my biggest fear and nightmare).. This is giving me a little bit of pause and making me question - am I doing the right thing? Should I try this living separately instead of the divorce that I filed?

But I worry about financial consequences if I try this.. Would I be liable for any of his credit card debts? What about any drinking and driving related issues - would I be liable?

I don't know why I am even considering this
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Old 08-27-2011, 07:09 PM
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Yes, you would be liable. If you two want to get back together in a few years, you can do that just as easily if you are divorced. In the meantime, you won't be risking your own financial situation.
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Old 08-27-2011, 07:16 PM
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Thanks Suki - yes, thats what I keep telling stbxah - that we can revisit getting back together even after we are divorced and he (magically) recovers and becomes a mature, responsible person (again, yeah right!!!). We have had other problems as well in addition to his drinking - i suspect he has some kind of personality disorder (he has a difficult personality even prior to his driking history, in the early years of my marriage). anyways, thanks for the reply Suki..
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Old 08-27-2011, 07:25 PM
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No doubt about it, you would be financially responsibile. And, if he gets sued due to an accident, while driving drunk, you could lose everything you own.

To me, this hardly seems worth the risk.

Protect you and your children.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:03 PM
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I totally agree with previous two posters and only will add - I don't think at your kids' age the actual paperwork/legalities of divorce makes any difference. There parents are in two different houses. Everything after that is all the same to them. The only thing divorce will do is protect your/their financial security.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:11 PM
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I just want to add my "ditto"...

His family is just afraid that without you, they would have to step in and support him and bail him out, etc. It's much easier for them to dump the guilt on you and think "well, he has her taking care of him, so we don't need to bother."

Don't fall for it. Go through with the divorce.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:35 PM
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Every situation and circumstance is different for every person - so there is no one size fits all answer. Also, laws vary by state regarding divorce and separation as well.

My situation was complicated. When my AH's alcoholism grew unbearable and out of control ... I had to insist he move out of our home. The tension and atmosphere in our home had become debilitating and toxic. Having him live elsewhere solved the majority of the problems. However, due to a long marriage, property, a mutually owned business that provided income to support our children and required both of us to be involved ... and the overwhelming fear that my children very well might be forced into unsupervised custody led to my decision to just separate. However, if I did not have children, I would likely have proceeded forward with a divorce. Under those circumstances, you have the opportunity to move on with your life totally breaking free of the destructive insanity of the alcoholic relationship. However, this is not the case when children are involved. My husband hung onto the hope that he might find sobriety and to eventually move back home ... this hope kept him from aggressively demanding a divorce or unsupervised visitations and kept him somewhat placated.

Sharing children can make all the difference in making a decision. Sadly, our courts do not properly protect our children when divorce involves an alcoholic parent. And because of custody, we still end up in a long frustrating relationship with the alcoholic even with a divorce. My AH had proven in the past that he would drink and drive - and act irresponsibly while our kids were in his care. This would include passing out while caring for a sick child and erratic mood swings including unwarranted angry outbursts. My kids had always counted on me to intervene on their behalf, to be their advocate, when my husband was obviously acting inappropriately around them. I just felt I couldn’t willingly put my children in such an abusive situation with no supervision. Once I realized how out of control his drinking had become around my children, he was no longer allowed to drive them anywhere and he could only come over to visit when he was sober - with unsupervised custody all bets were off. Even with our situation of living apart, there were times where my AH had sounded sober on the phone and I agreed to let him come over to see his sons, but by the time he showed up he had become loud, obnoxious and offensive turning our quiet home upside down. Looking back ... my sons were never upset because they didn’t see their dad that much, however, they still remember and resent the times I allowed him to come over when he was drinking and obnoxious. I can only imagine their resentment if they repeatedly were forced to be left in his custody unsupervised. I can still remember terrifying situations when brother and I were left in with my alcoholic father’s care - it was rare, but dangerous and filled us with fear as he drove around with us blind drunk.

In our case, our finances were better protected by staying married. If we had gotten a divorce it would have given him half our assets to squander away instead of being used to support our children, and save for college. It would have destroyed our business and our income. I maintained legal rights to our assets, property, business and when he finally became sickly, confused and helpless, I could help manage his medical decisions when he could no longer handle it. Also, there also would have been a nice chunk of money used for attorneys that I preferred to use for college expenses . By the time we had reached this situation, he wasn’t lucid enough to try and take control of our money, but an attorney would have protected his potential assets. You would probably want to see a lawyer about things that can be done to protect your credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts ... and liabilities due to driving recklessly. One thing I was told to do was to put his car in his name only to help protect our assets in case of an accident. If we had divorced, in our situation, it would have created a big financial loss regardless.

When family members keep asking me what the best solution was to the nightmare we were living .... my answer was, there was no ‘win-win’ in a situation regarding kids and an alcoholic parent. I would have had to stay actively and anxiously involved about my children’s well being, whether I would have divorced or not. The only happy ending would have been would have been for my husband to find life long sobriety and return to the decent responsible person I married. It had happened with my father and it changed my family’s life dramatically - but I came to realize, my AH was incapable of this type of recovery. He couldn’t even stop drinking when he became profoundly disabled - eventually leading to his tragic untimely demise.

Like I mentioned in the beginning - every situation is different. Sometimes divorce is the best solution. Sometimes, the alcoholic does not push for custody or the courts provide for proof of assuring sober visitations. Sometimes it is better to just separate. Take some time and do some research, ask questions and seek recommendations from professionals.

And keep coming back to SR ... it has a so much information from those that have had to make the very same tough decisions that you will have to make. Maybe someday there will be better treatments and recovery for alcoholism - and we will have the third option ... keeping our familys intact with 2 sober committed loving parents.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:00 PM
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Thanks for the replies seekingwisdom, lilamy, thumper, dollydo. Like I said, I am not even sure why I am even considering this. After all the stuff that I (and even stbxah - I bet it wasn't fun to live with my huge resentment and anger and hatred) went thru, it would take a lot of work and effort for our long dead marriage to get back to life..Which I am not sure I have the energy or interest to invest in. It is much more peaceful living without him - it is/was always drama living with him sober/drunk..

seekingwisdom - thanks for your wise and thoughtful post. It gave me a lot of food for thought. The surprising thing is that the boys are not really missing their dad - we have gotten so used to living by ourselves and him being around is usually lot of drama/tensions involved..I am asking for supervised visitation but stbxah is very upset about this and he responded asking for joint custody. He sometimes tries to push my emotional buttons saying how can you stop me from seeing my kids whenever I want - why are you putting schedules and bringing lawyers into the picture, blah, blah.. When we do meet with the kids, aside from saying hi and chatting with them for a while, he is not interested in doing much with them..It would be really unfortunate if the courts do grant his plea for joint custody..As to the financial aspect, we don't really have much assets and whatever little that I have, I want to protect and not go into furthur debt due to his irrresponsible behaviour..
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:16 PM
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I feel your pain. These are tough decisions. I recently filed for divorce after 16 yrs with stbxah (5 kids, ages 7-15). It was a very very difficult decision. I had similar situation as we tried separation for 11 months.

I found that with separation and verbal agreements, things were still "crazy". For me, setting groundrules with an active drinker just did not work. 75% of time he would comply with rules of only coming to house sober , etc etc. But if he drank or drank too much, he just made his own rules. Showed up drunk. Would not show if it were sun and football on. Basically his feelings were still guiding force for family.

So now divorce filed. Yes it's harder financially. Court ordered child support less than what he voluntarily gave during our separation. We have court in few weeks to determine separation and that is scary cuz I do not know how that will play out. Driving with kids is my biggest fear. I hope and pray that is not allowed, but it's beyond my control what the court decides. But things were way out of hand and way beyond my control trying to maturely separate from an active alcoholic.

For me, divorce is hard and scary, but I wish I had the guts to do it sooner. It is sad and lonely, but it feels so true and right. I cannot explain the peace I feel in knowing that no matter what mine and the kids path is... It is def not living with alcoholism.

Good luck with your decision. Sit, wait, take care of you. Your path will become clear. God bless
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:22 AM
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From Lillamy: I just want to add my "ditto"...

His family is just afraid that without you, they would have to step in and support him and bail him out, etc. It's much easier for them to dump the guilt on you and think "well, he has her taking care of him, so we don't need to bother."


And if it were me, I would say that straight to their face. With any luck, they'll be both indignant that you figured them out and embarassed enough to leave you alone about it.

But then again, I have a gland in my neck that secretes profanity when people irritate me, so......
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:12 AM
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The state in which I live has no "legal separation;" Two people are married, or they are not.

In the mid-ninties, my father was charged and convicted of a DWI manslaughter. The criminal trial was bad enough; the civil suit was almost worse. The victim's family sued my parents for $750,000. (Interestingly, in the research their lawyer did, she mistook the stats of another man with the same name, from the same state, with my Dad.) This may have been the total worth of everything my parents had: their home, retirement accounts, state and government pensions, mutual funds, insurance annuities.

There was no lawyer who would take a case like that. A criminal defense lawyer handled the criminal trial, but no one, not him, or the auto insurance company, would touch the civil suit. Mom had to muddle through that alone, consulting my Dad each week at the prison.

The victim's family literally wanted every penny my folks had, and thought if they had to live on welfare or have their children support them, that was a fitting consequence for what Dad had done.

Visiting your 77 year old Dad in prison isn't fun, either.

If you've already determined to live apart, his family's argument that divorce will somehow damage the children seems a little silly. (Especially since so many families today haven't had a marriage license, ever) JMHO.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by PurpleSquirrel View Post
But then again, I have a gland in my neck that secretes profanity when people irritate me, so......
I think I have one of those too but I try not to let it get out of hand!
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:38 AM
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The longer you stay married to him the greater the chances are that you get stuck paying him alimony. Courts are increasingly gender neutral and might view 4 years plus of unemployment as a mutual decision. His family is sick of him and does not want to support him either so of course they do not want you to divorce him.

The longer you stay married to him the more stuck you are legally. I escaped paying alimony by a hair and my exah was not even unemployed just voluntarily underemployed.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by hadenoughnow View Post
The longer you stay married to him the more stuck you are legally. I escaped paying alimony by a hair and my exah was not even unemployed just voluntarily underemployed.
I was threatened with this too especially since for a long time he watched the kids while I worked. I had some standing as I a) had to get daycare before we were living apart because he couldn't watch them and b) he went to detox/treatment there by admitting he was an alcoholic. Alimony in either direction is not given easily in my state.

He didn't follow through so it was a moot point. Just more threats, emotional abuse, and manipulation. I should have known he would not as he didn't follow through on anything ever - and he was an alcoholic, jobless, and legal battles are oh so tiring when you are busy drinking yourself silly before noon. Anyway, it still scared me at the time.
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:32 AM
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I won't say do one or the other because it is such a personal decision based on your own needs, but I will say that living separately works for me...only because my RAH is sober and taking it seriously. If he were still drinking, we'd be divorced by now. I am not going down that path in my life, period. That's my boundary and I am stickin to it.

Set your boundaries and stand firm on them. No one else will do it for you.
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Old 08-29-2011, 04:44 AM
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Today I am seeing my divorce lawyer and giving her money. I'm going to go through with the divorce. Right now my AH is living in the basement.

Besides being an alcoholic he is verbally/emotionally abusive to me and the kids. He is physically sick also and is getting SSDI. I have a good job and have been here 23 years. My AH has worked but mostly under the table. Uuugghh. Right now he is working under the table and collecting SSDI.

His mother sent me an email over the weekend basically saying that it is my kids (they are 16) and my fault that he feels unloved, etc. That I put up my arms and let my kids do what they want. That us four should see a priest. That I didn't treat him like a husband. I should admit that to the kids. Let's see the list could go on.

She acknowledges that he is an alcoholic but that's it. She says alot during the email that he is going to end up in a casket and not because of his physical ailments. It was an upsetting email.

She says we should go to counselling and work it out.

Now that I have read this post I think because I have taken care of him all these years they don't want to deal with it. His brother puts a plastic shower curtain on the bed when my AH stays there overnight because he pees the bed after a night of drinking. And they think me and the kids should take care of him. Yeah, ok.

All the lies he is telling his family and they are believing him is stunning to me.

As for the divorce, we have seperated (he left) 4 times previously for a couple months at a time and I would always let him back because I still thought there was something. It was probably just the nervousness about being alone. Now after the last time which was in June for two weeks he is so angry I cannot take it.

I know that he will probably ask for alimony as his SSDI is only $700 a month. He will probably get to take a percent of my pension. At my job I am able to leave with a pension check every month after 23 years of working. I have a spitfire female lawyer who I know will intimidate him.

Since he is working under the table (I have proof). That is a bargaining chip. He won't pay for college. another bargaining chip. I don't want child support. I will just sell the house when the kids graduate and he can have 1/2 the equity if there is any.

On top of this we are filing bankruptcy.

He is a very revengful person. Not sure what he is capable of. I'm afraid to ask him to leave as it is his house so I am going to have the lawyer do it.

With my mother in law, I may have to get a no verbal abuse order for her so i don't have to hear her mouth belittle me and my children.

I think I got off topic. Sorry.


As for his credit cards, you will not be responsible for them if they are in his name only. If he defaults on them and you and him own a house then the cc companies can put a lien on your house. I'm going through that now. That's why we are filing bankruptcy.

As for the drunk driving and accident issues. You can be responsible. I am going through that here too. The truck is in my name and in is the sole driver. If he gets in an accident and kills someone and takes off they will be looking for me as my name in on the title. I have to have that taken care of pronto.

IMHO, if I end up paying him 20% of my pension then so be it. I think, no, I know I would be much happier without him as would the kids and it would be worth it to pay him that to have him out of my life. I can just stay working for another 20 years, get divorced and not pay him the pension money till I finally retire 20 years from now.

I hope I didn't ramble too much. There is just so much going on.

Be proactive, you do what's right for you and the kids. I know money is always an issue but until recently I thought that. But now, I think me and the kids happiness are more important than a few extra dollars in my pocket.

And for his family. Let them take care of him. That's my feeling now. My mind did a 360 in 3 weeks time. I have finally let go.
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