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Mother married allegedly abusive man, had 2 kids, now wants out

Your Question:
I am 33, unemployed (but actively seeking employment) and a mother of 2 children, a 2 year old and a 2 month old baby.

I have been married to an abusive husband for nearly 4 years. mostly it has been verbal/emotional/financial, but he has been physical (shoving, pinning down) while I was pregnant with our first daughter. He has threatened suicide, driven recklessly with all of us in the car ("to scare") threatened to take the kids from me, and locked me in the bathroom of our home, told our 2 year old daughter I dont' love her, throws/damages property, just to name a few.

I am seeking a divorce, and since we live in an arae where his entire hostile family lives, near none of my family, i am wanting to move to out of state, about 3 hours drive, to live near my two sisters, my closest relatives, and near the college i previously attended (wasn't allowed to finish).

I have a CPO (protection order) on him until Feb, and he has supervised visitation, currently. So far, we have decided (but not final) that he will keep the house, cars (2, no great value), and most furnishings, and we will split debt ($9000 in credit card, keeping our separate student loans).

I'm not happy about the current financial plan, I would like to see him take the entire credit card debt, as he is keeping most of our assets (i am taking a computer, and what was mine, and what is the girls, and that is it.) Suggestions for negotiating a better deal, and if negotiation doesn't work, how likely would a judge be to let him get away with the current arrangement?

He has consented to let me move, (and i don't want to lose that consent... very hostile family in area) and is considering moving also, which would be good for kids, of course. (although 2 year old has been much happier without him at home, yelling, throwing thigns, etc! she just misses him, still, of course).

How likely, if he goes back on this (letting me move) might a judge be to still let me go? What kind of custody arrangements can I ask for? I have a sister who got custody of her daugher with visitation "at her discretion." What other options are there? I'm a divorce dummy!

i have a million other thoughts and questions... i'll be back! this is raelly great for you to do this... thanks!

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My Answer:

I think it's important that while we all may find ourselves in bad situations, we also own our role. So, what your story didn't acknowledge is that it was your choice to marry this man, it was your choice to have a first child during which pregnancy he got violent, and it was your choice (after his violence during the first pregnancy), to then have a second child.

I think part of growing as a person is to acknowledge that you played a role in creating this current situation. This is far different from saying you deserved it. Just that your choices helped create this unfortunate situation for your kids. Right?

All of that said, I don't typically respond to people who send me lengthy victim stories, but I see a light shining through yours indicating a desire to truly do the right thing at this point.

Here's what I recommend you may want to consider at this point:

  • If you are able to move, and if the father moves to the same city, that would be ideal. It means that the children won't have to endure nearly two decades of long-distance travel between parents, and perhaps more importantly, it may help you keep them at arm's length from the father's family (whom you describe as harmful to the children). Warning: if you move and the father doesn't, it's possible (and eventually likely) that the father won't always have supervised visitation, which means he might have the children in your current town, around his family, for longer periods of time (i.e., long-distance parenting plans have less frequent, longer periods). If he is in a new town with you, his family will likely see the children less (especially if he has more frequent, but shorter, time with the kids).

  • Think about college when both kids are in school. You're going to be busy enough as a single parent who needs to support herself and also raise two little kids.

  • Your best time for going to court is while the restraining order and supervised visitation order is in effect. You can also leverage the timing to seek a court order that he successfully complete anger management and parenting classes. This is not to punish him, but rather a desperate attempt to create a good father out of him, which your children will need.

  • Whatever financial deal you need to make to avoid court, to get both parents to move to a new city, and to finalize everything, it's probably worth it. You can always go back for child support, if you find you really need it. That $4500 of debt you don't want to take on is nothing, compared to the legal fees you'll incur if you need to litigate everything.

Above all, remember that your goal is not to minimize contact between the children and their father. You should be praying daily that the father find a way to resolve his issues, to be there for his children in a healthy manner (and that's why you should seek orders for him to find help, as that's the best way to see if it's even possible). If he can't resolve his own difficulties, your children will suffer for it.

Go through life, when you face decisions, asking yourself, "Will I be proud of myself if my children ask me about this moment in 20 years?"

If you can say yes, it's probably the right decision.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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