Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid After Separation
Once you finally settle on divorce, there’s a sense of relief that a decision has been made…and the inevitable feeling that this person you have spent years of your life will do the right thing. You may even have conversations where they say as much. Mine, for example, made it very clear that he only wanted the best for me and our children and that he would do everything he could to set us up for success.
DO NOT BELIEVE THIS.
No matter how much you want to believe this person could never truly hurt you and the children, no matter how convincing he is, no matter how much you may actually be trying to do the right thing, understand that this is not going to last. I know, you are thinking to yourself, “But we are different!” I felt the same way. I didn’t listen to my gut and ignored the signs. I believed the lies.
You are not different.
The day after we decided to separate, before I could even really contemplate the change we were making, before I could start talking to my family about what was about to happen…HE called MY father to tell him. HE told MY poor father, who was the caretaker for his mother, who was laying in bed in their home dying. Telling my family was my job, not his, and I had planned to wait to see how my grandmother fared that week. THAT is the kind of sign I should not have dismissed.
We got to work on an agreement. Sure, he did some kind things like take out a loan to give us startup cash to get settled somewhere new, but that also was because he refused to let the children and me keep our house. I should have known then that he was only going to look out only for himself.
But I was stressed, and living with him was scary. He was explosive with anger, and I never knew what to expect when he was around. I lived with a giant knot in my stomach. My insides twisted and fell every time I saw him arrive home. He would be kind one minute and torture me the next. At the same time, my grandmother was dying. I didn’t know where to turn because I didn’t feel right laying any of these problems on my parents with what they were dealing with at home. My grandmother was more important to me than these problems he and I were having. I was completely blinded by the pressure, stress, and fear of being around him.
I looked out for everyone but myself.
I just knew I had to get out of there. I felt unsafe. He owned several firearms. He had become more and more unpredictable. I felt very threatened, despite putting up a good front in his presence. I was depressed, and very malleable. I tried to be asleep in bed in our daughter’s room if he was home in the morning, and back in bed early in the evening when possible. I needed to move out as fast as possible. Unfortunately, getting a rental or purchase without an agreement in place proved to be impossible. I did whatever I had to to do get that paperwork done and signed. An event a few weeks later would confirm my feelings of urgency.
Sadly, my biggest mistake was that I did not get my own lawyer to go over those papers. I didn’t trust the free military lawyers after they gave us a completely bullshit document. LegalAid wouldn’t help. I had zero extra money since he had suddenly taken all of our money out of our joint account and given me a small allowance to run the household. I felt cornered, yet didn’t go to my parents for help because they were dealing with way too much as it was. I was no longer thinking in my right mind and was at the culmination of years of constant stress. I took him at his word.
Fast forward 9 months or so, and it became clear that I had been completely conned. Somehow, the man I had once been madly in love with had become a complete stranger. This man who had promised he wanted the best for us even through the divorce slowly shed his charming facade. My house was snooped in, photographs were taken from inside my passion planner, and he went back on his word about a shared business that was run entirely by me and to 100% mine after the divorce. Yes, he took away a part of the business he promised was all mine, that I even spend money incorporating to relieve him of any tax burden…literally decreasing the income I am making to support our children. He initiated this process while with our daughters on a trip he took them on and with no warning to me. (By the way, he also filed for divorce without telling me first, too.)
Hard, hard lesson learned folks. Divorce is ugly, and no one is safe.
I know you are still sitting there thinking, “That won’t happen to us, he would never do something that low!” I thought that, too. I really thought we would be able to do things differently from everyone else — that we were special.
Do not make the same mistakes I did.
Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid After Separation
- DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Even though lawyers are expensive and it seems like a ridiculous expense, do not sign or agree to a damn thing until you are represented. Spend the money. Find it somewhere. Get a new credit card.
- GET A LAWYER. This goes back to #1. Make sure your rights are upheld. You really need to have someone who is clear-headed fighting for you and noticing when things aren’t right.
- BE AMIABLE, BUT PUT YOURSELF FIRST. Do not let him make you feel guilty for the way things ended up. Do not let him gaslight you. If you are fearful of the confrontation with him, get a lawyer to do the talking.
- DO NOT GIVE IN JUST TO GET IT OVER WITH. Your and your children’s futures are too important.
- In case I haven’t been clear, GET A FREAKING LAWYER RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!