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Sad and scared stay-at-home-dad is starting the divorce process and is overwhelmed

Your Question:
Hi Eric. I'd like to pose a question.

I have become very emotional about the whole divorce process. My children mean more to me than anything else, and I want to ensure I get atleast half custody. I am not able to think clearly - I am still in denial that this is happening to me.

My wife is seeking a no-fault 'friendly' divorce, and has verbally agreed to joint custody. She recommends getting a mediator and I am pretty much going along with whatever she is recommending. I have not been working for the last year because she suggested I stay home to take care of the kids - so financially I may have some hardships in taking care of the children (she is working). Her parents will be moving to our neighborhood to help take care of the children, and I will be a single parent without any support.

Since she is the one asking for the divorce, should I ask her to move out of our house and find another place? Is there a 'checklist' to cover all the custodial aspects to ensure I get equal custody, can take vacation with the children, can prevent her from moving out of the area, ...? I don't even know what to ask for!

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

Boy, your tone seems just so sad. Sorry that you're dealing with all of this.

There would be something very wrong with you if you weren't emotional and traumatized by the process of divorce and knowing that your kids will no longer reside in your home 100% of the time. I strongly encourage you to find a way to get support for that-- a trusted friend's shoulder, your mom, or a therapist. Therapist would be ideal because you can keep it a secret and also the person can't be forced to testify about anything you said.

I'm not discounting the importance of acknowledging and dealing with your emotions. It's very important to go through that process. That said, you can't afford to let your emotions EVER interfere with any decision during the process of divorce. Let yourself cry at night, but be all-business during the day and until this thing is final.

If you're a fit parent, generally speaking, you have a good shot to end up with at least 50/50. This is based upon the status quo of staying home with the kids for the past year. This is a role that you must continue-- so, yes, it means you NEVER move out of the home until you have some court orders for custody arrangements.

Mediation is ideal, if you and your wife can maintain a civil relationship during the split. Since your wife is initiating it, I think you can reasonably ask her to propose a settlement. Then you can see where she is, and you can take that settlement to a family law attorney who can help you assess various aspects of it (i.e., custody and financial).

Start reading various divorce and child custody discussion boards, to get familiar with all of the things you need to know. I strongly encourage you to buy the book mentioned on my What You Must Have page. It will outline EVERYTHING you need to think about, and your approach must be to "Pray for peace, but prepare for war." If you and your wife can resolve everything peacefully, you two are awesome and you've really protected the kids during this hard time. But if not, you'll be preparing for the ugliness that will surface (i.e., emotionally and strategically).

Of course, if you buy any book, send it to a friend's house.

Finally, you'll need to find income shortly. Start thinking about that because it's obvious that you will need to support your own home at some point in the near future. But your first priority -- until you have some initial court orders -- is to take care of your kids.

Good luck, and best wishes for you.


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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