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Unpredictability

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Hubs and I have been separated now for nearly 3 weeks.

The first week was FANTASTIC! Better than I could have expected, even! Things were super amicable, we were talking reasonably and working together for our kids. He even came over and helped set up their beds and a washer and dryer in my new rental. Really went above and beyond. Things were great!

Week 2 was not as good. I think reality set in a bit and hubs had taken it kind of hard. Obviously, a separation is not easy for anyone. But I had the kids a bunch that week and he wasn’t coming over to help with things anymore, so I think it just kind of hit him that this is the new reality now. And he had a tough time coping with it.

So here we are in Week 3 and I was just informed that he’s got a job interview out-of-state in mid-October. If he lands the position, he will be moving by mid-to-late November for an early December start date.

Talk about absolute SHOCK.

Now…..I don’t want to rush to freak-out mode when nothing has been determined (no job offer yet at this point, no certainties of any type). But the fact that he’s even LOOKING for employment out-of-state totally caught me off guard. That is NOT what I’d expected to happen.

Meanwhile, I’m very much in Arizona. I signed a non-compete agreement for 3 years that I’m only 1 year into at this point. So I cannot even entertain the idea of looking for outside work. And I may end up in this state, totally alone, to raise two young kids on my own.

I mean…….screw what I said above. Cue: FREAKOUT!!!!!

Enter: lots of yoga and meditation; running and breath-work. And therapy???? I’d been going to therapy for a long time and stopped because – well, life – but I think I probably need to head back again.

SOOOOOOO much uncertainty right now. And the unpredictability is the WORST! I’ve had so many friends and family members ask about our holiday plans – offering the chance to do Thanksgiving together or trying to make plans to see each other over Christmas, etc. My response has always been the same: “Listen……we’ve literally only figured out the month of September. I’ll let you know when the timeline extends beyond that.”

It is very challenging planning for a future that is THIS uncertain. I mean, I’m a “single mom” either way. But having a supportive co-parent in the area is 100%  night-and-day different than literally being the SOLE parent. So far, our plan has been to share “possession” of the children (I hate that term, but that’s what lawyers use). We’ve been alternating weeks where I have them for either 4 or 5 days and he has them for 2 or 3 days. But we’d been amicable! We’ve already helped each other out a couple times – he picked them up from school one afternoon when I had a late faculty meeting. I kept them later one afternoon when he had some extra clients at work. Things had been great! I honestly do NOT know how I will do it all alone. The thought is so scary and overwhelming right now.

Shoutout to my Mom friends! In sharing this shocking news at a recent playdate, a couple of my friends totally jumped to my aid with offers to help with childcare, to let me drop the kids if I needed (even just to go grocery shopping or take an hour nap!), to help with back-up/emergency care in case of illness, etc. I’ve always been a pretty self-sufficient person and I HATE to feel like a burden to others. But if hubs moves……well, I just don’t see any way around it. It takes a village, right? I don’t know how/if I could do it alone. But….I really don’t have a choice.

My question is, how might this unsettling news impact your advice and suggestions for moving forward. In my budget, I’ve only been planning $200/month for an EF. But now it feels like I need to really stop any/all extra debt payments and stockpile money for an uncertain future. Hubs is living in the house we own and the plan was for him to stay there and help fix it up and pay the bills until it sells. If he ends up just taking off, I’ll be stuck with paying all bills for TWO homes until it sells (and meanwhile…..no “fixing up” has even started yet…)

 

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39 Comments

  • Reply SCM1959 |

    My question, once again, is have you retained an attorney? This new development is setting loud, loud, LOUD alarm bells to me.

    I know your first visit to an attorney was disappointing. However, not all attorneys are jerks. Ask your Mom friends — someone definitely knows of a good family law attorney.

    Your husband moving out of state does not absolve him of his financial obligations. Is he listed on the deed and the mortgage to your house? If need be, his wages can be garnished for mortgage payments and child support, which he will owe to you. Garnishment is a last resort, and he probably needs to fail at paying on his own first, but it can be done.

    FIRST order of business for you — forget about the $200 to the emergency fund right now — get an attorney and get a separation order. In our state, there is a Temporary Order issued pretty quickly to take care of child custody, child support, mortgage payments. An Order is needed because an agreement, even if it is in writing, is not enforceable. You can have a written agreement first, and incorporate the agreement into the Temporary Order, but an Order from the Court (signed by a Judge), is needed to enforce the terms. You will need this if your husband moves out of state and decides to ignore his financial obligations to you and the girls.

    I am so sorry for all this angst. And yes, go back to therapy.

    SCM1959

    • Reply Laura |

      You said everything I was thinking. Lawyer up, and he can’t just run away from his responsibilities.
      I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but you need to be preparing for divorce. I know this was a trial separation but if he is looking for jobs out of state he is not thinking of reconciliation. I’m sorry.

      • Reply Kay |

        I’m sorry too but this sort of thinking and choice is something that probably has been considered for a bit. It sounds to me like someone has been thinking of themselves as solo more than part of a family.

        And sorry again. We don’t have all the info but it has often seemed that his wants were more important than the family as a whole.

        Good luck to all of you including hubs.

        • Reply Kerry |

          Add another voice to “find a lawyer you can work with, NOW!”

          Because if he is actively looking for work out of state, he DGAF about you or the girls. Because deciding you don’t want to parent your kids and see them every few days/weekly is unconscionable and will have huge impact on your daughters’ lives and mental health going forward. They are 6. They’ve had dad around their whole lives.

          And if he thinks this is a way to get your attention or make you beg him to stay around because it’s what best for your children, then he is a giant baby glassbowl.

  • Reply Joanna |

    As a divorced single mom I’m advising you to get a lawyer now. My daughter is with me 365 nights a year, Dad is unable to have her. We owned a home together and I can tell you if your not represented legally your going to get burned. Amicable is great….. you still need an attorney.

  • Reply Christopher |

    Get the attorney ASAP and put a formal agreement in place.

    What about your husband’s education? Doesn’t he have class now?

    Maybe you need to have a conversation with him.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    He can’t just leave and screw you with the house, can he? I hope you have someone who can help you.

  • Reply Hope |

    First, Ashley, I am very sorry you are going through this. No matter how it came about, finding a new normal can be very hard. Even after 11 years of being a single mom, it is still hard.

    But if anything, use my experience as a warning, get a lawyer and settle all the financial obligations through the courts. I am still paying for things that I should not have to be. And got “stuck” with things with no way to enforce them, even though we agreed to something else.

    I would also suggest that if he may be moving away that you require full legal and physical custody, makes life a lot simpler with raising the kids. (Not suggesting preventing visitation, etc. just getting full decision making.) That is the one silver lining through everything, I did not have to deal with having arguments or delays in making decisions for the kids: schooling, travel, activities, healthcare and so on.

    Reach out if you ever need to chat. This is one road I can honestly say “been there, done that” and lived through it. Just keeping one foot in front of another and you will too.

  • Reply Holly Sanford |

    I’m so sorry for this. My situation was different. My husband died unexpectedly when our boys were 6 months old and 2 1/2 but I remember thinking there was no way I could raise them on my own. I was panic stricken. But they are 19 and 21 now and fabulous young men. I was lucky enough to have my “village” help and you will find yours as well.
    I’m in the middle of watching my brother go through a separation right now and even as an outsider I know how stressful it is. He’s living with me currently so that the can still pool their money and keep her and the kids in their expensive home but I echo the other’s sentiments about finding a lawyer. You need to be protected. Good luck to you!!

  • Reply Angie |

    1. I’m so sorry you’re going through all this, and the out-of-state thing is quite the shock. It’s hard to raise kids without family nearby as it is with both parents.
    2. Get. An. Attorney. STAT! You should not be the sole person responsible for the girls and the house. I understand you’ve made the bulk of the income but you both made the bulk of the debt. It needs to be looked at by a court.

  • Reply C |

    Ashley- I don’t want to beat a dead horse in saying hire an attorney.

    I know this is a getting out of debt blog. But I absolutely think you should go back to therapy. Your mental health is incredibly important, even more so if your ex moves out of state and you are single parenting your girls alone. I know money is tight, and will be even tighter going forward, but I can’t stress the importance of taking care of yourself enough. I’m not saying that you should go to semi-weekly therapy appointments & spend afternoons at the spa in the name of self-care, but therapy is almost always worth the $$$.

    Getting together with a lawyer will hopefully resolve some of your anxieties about money. If your husband is legally liable to pay the mortgage per the separation agreement (or whatever the lawyer draws up & you both sign), then you won’t have to worry as much.

    Last thing: always graciously accept the help! I can guarantee you that none of your family or ‘mom friends’ are offering to help out of pity or because they feel like obligated. I know I often have pride issues when I am in need, but you have to realize people want to help because they love you, love your girls, and want to contribute to your wellbeing.

  • Reply Andrea |

    Ugh–that sucks. But remember, it’s just an interview, not an offer. And even if he gets an offer, when he’s had time to sit down and think through what this means in terms of actually seeing his kids, he may reconsider. I’d absolutely see a lawyer and maybe present him with some options of what his visitation/child support obligations would be if he moves (if he has minimal time with the kids, he will owe a lot more money).

    My ex and I settled most things through mediation, but I still had a lawyer on retainer who ran through what I could expect and what I should ask for (and turned the meditated agreement into legalese). It was extremely helpful.

    It sounds like you have a great support system and you should absolutely tap it. One thing I’ve found to be really helpful is to cultivate friendships with other single moms. Not that happily married friends aren’t understanding, but single moms get it in a way that married moms don’t, and there is more ability for reciprocity in helping each other (it sounds like you’re like me in that you feel uncomfortable asking people for help).

  • Reply Megan |

    It absolutely takes a village. Childcare professionals, friends, family, understanding bosses, doctors, and my partner all make up my village for raising my child. Admittedly, my partner is the biggest piece BUT, I don’t think that takes away from how important it is to have others who love and support you and your kids. It makes a world of difference. I think you should accept help and love from friends regardless. They see you in this time of transition and want to make it a tiny bit easier for you. Let the help come into your life. it isn’t a matter of not being self-sufficient. You aren’t asking them to fund your whole life. You are talking about friendly childcare support. If you would do it for them in a pinch, please consider accepting it.

    I can’t speak to the legal implications or even relationship hurt that this interview has to have stirred up, but I am sorry you are in such an uncertain feeling time.

  • Reply JayP |

    I would ask more about this job. Has he ever talked about moving or some type of career that requires this? Of course, you have to be discreet, but my initial thought is that its possible that he hopes this scares you a little into coming back. He is very alone and may not be thinking clearly(who would be, either of you – its a lot of change). Hopefully he won’t make any rash decisions. Unless its some kind of once in a lifetime opportunity I would hope he declines, I mean I’m sure he wants to spend time with the kids too. Good luck.

    • Reply Sarah |

      This was my first thought. Not that we really know the situation but I wonder if he is trying to upset the apple cart to get Ashley to agree to come back or something else. Or, maybe we don’t really know him at all and this is just who he is…

  • Reply Reece |

    Wow, you’re really dealing with a lot of uncertainty and I absolutely agree with your gut instinct to go back and pay minimums and stockpile cash as an emergency fund. You can do this and then later, if you find you don’t need that much cash, you can always pay down things then. I think the most important thing right now is to 1–get an attorney and 2–get back to your therapist. You need to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can take care of others and if you are facing true single parenthood your kids deserve a mom who is in the best place mentally that she can be, with a good support structure in place, who is taking steps to make sure her little family is going to be okay. And you are! Just minimize everything you can that’s stressful; it might mean kids don’t do activities for awhile as you sort through things. That’s okay–they probably just need more Mom time now if you can manage it. Don’t worry too much about the job–as others have said, it may not materialize in an offer. Just keep going day by day, week by week, month by month. Maybe have a basic budget scratched out so you don’t start spiraling with the spending. And please put the credit cards away–nothing you buy yourself or your kids on a card is going to help. The best thing you can do is spend time together. ((internet hugs)).

  • Reply M.V. |

    I am so sorry you are going through this rollercoaster. I can’t offer advice on single parenting as I don’t have children, but a few notes about joint debt, etc. As an attorney that practiced in consumer debt/bankruptcy for years I have seen my fair share of divorce settlements and decrees. Keep in mind a few things–Even if a state court order says he has to pay X debt (let’s leave childcare, etc. out of it for now), the reality is the contractual relationships are (mortgage and income taxes at least I don’t recall of your CC were joint) jointly between you and each creditor. They are most likely “severable and liable” debts-what this means is that even if there is a court order that X has to pay the debt, if they do not pay, the creditor has a legal right to demand payment from the co-debtor. Arguably, you could go back to state court and try to collect from ex on owed debts (again leaving child support out of this), but it is difficult. Moral-stockpile cash and get the house on the market fast (after consulting with an attorney). If there is equity you want to get that out of the house ASAP. If the house is underwater it might be best to let it go through foreclosure. Also, not saying hubs will file for bankruptcy, but if he does, as a co-debtor you still owe all the co-debts regardless that his debts might have been discharged. Not being trying to be a Debbie Downer–but hindsight in these types of matters is always crappy. Stay out in front of it!

  • Reply Heather |

    Have you considered the possibility that he is just telling you this to gauge your reaction? Maybe there is no actual job interview, or if there is, maybe he has no real interest in it. Obviously I know nothing of the situation, but how supportive was he of the decision to separate? It could be that he is on the fence about the whole thing, and wants to know how much you and the girls need him. Men are different in their emotional needs and different in how they communicate them. I would suggest talking to him about the potential move and what that would mean for you and your children. Unless he is hostile and resistant, communication is key at this point. He is after all still your husband. Talk to him and listen to your heart about what is best for you and your children, now and in the long run.

    • Reply debtor |

      i’m somewhere between this and what everyone else is saying. I feel like most people are jumping to the conclusion that he is “abandoning you and his responsibilities” which I don’t think you have indicated. I’m not sure what prompted the separation and if he was on board but reality of you and the kids absence is likely different from what he expected. Who knows how his brain is processing it. Definitely try (or continue) to have open conversation about his thought process. I feel like you guys don’t have a ton of family/friends in AZ (i cant remember but i think y’all are from another state right?) so that might also drive that. At least you can keep busy and distracted with the girls.
      I’m sure he is all about the girls so that will probably hamper some of his decisions. The only thing I worry/think about is if he decides to move and then sue for custody. It’s one of those things where each of you will feel like you have a right to be with them and unfotunately when state lines are crossed, you can’t keep up a 3 days here 4 days there schedule. So do your best to find a good lawyer now.

      No need to be adverserial but just so that you are prepared (totally better safe than sorry situation here).

      This is such a new and crazy time so definitely look for support however you can get it. I echo going back to therapy and also saving like CRAZY.

  • Reply Christopher |

    Was thinking about this post. Your separation started out as good as it could be and now this.

    Not to add another task, but you should make sure he pays the bills that are in both of your names. I’m not saying he would not pay on purpose, but his mind may be elsewhere.

  • Reply Alice |

    It is with all the love in the world I am telling you TO GET AN ATTORNEY. GO GET ONE RIGHT NOW. NOTHING, NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT.

    Your husband could actually make the case that *he* was the primary parent. Please, please, please go get an attorney. Not only could he ruin your financial life-girl, LIST THAT HOUSE RIGHT AFTER YOU FILE FOR CUSTODY-but he could take your kids and leave you in Arizona.

    I am so worried about you right now. Please, please take action.

    • Reply dh |

      This!!! Thankfully he doesn’t seem interested (or else he wouldn’t be moving out of state). But given that you are the primary breadwinner, and he was the stay-at-home parent for the past year he could fight for primary custody if he wanted it.

      Very unlikely IMO, but WHY TAKE THAT RISK?!

    • Reply Marzy-d |

      That isn’t a possibility legally. The rule is that child custody is determined in the child’s jurisdiction – where the child resides. Ashley’s kids reside in AZ, so unless she lets them establish residency by spending >6 months in another state, AZ will decide custody, and it won’t go to the parent that wants to move them away form the other parent for no reason.

      I think its possible that Ashley’s husband is just freaking out about the separation, and the need for him to now get a job that can support another household.

      • Reply Alice |

        No, it is absolutely something that could happen. He could file for custody in Arizona. If the new job is closer to family he gets to make the case he was the primary parent, he will be close to family, he will have the more daily friendly job. She needs to protect herself. Right. Now.

        • Reply Laura |

          Every divorced person I know has it written they can’t move the kids away from the other parent. Not saying she doesn’t need to see a lawyer like yesterday but not for this reason.

          • Meg |

            But they are married now and generally while married both parents have equal rights and do not have to request any permission to relocate. This is why Ashley needs to get a separation agreement or a preliminary court order setting up custody ASAP. Until something is filed into court Dad could move with kids if he wanted just as Ashley could move to another state too. I hope you have already done this Ashley and just haven’t updated yet.

        • Reply Ashley |

          The job interview is in California. We are from Texas. No family/friends/support in California.

  • Reply Louise |

    I’m assuming that “out of state” means too far away to share the kids on a weekly basis. It makes me angry that he’s threatening to abandon his children, because that’s how they will feel if he leaves, abandoned. That’s not the action of a good man, and I don’t care what excuses other people think up for him.

    You can’t afford two houses, so that house needs to go on the market now, regardless of whether he interviews or gets this job. You can’t trust him to do what he promised. What loss can you expect if he doesn’t do the expected repairs? How does it compare to the burden you will take on if you try and get them done, with or without him?

    Yes, you need a lawyer.

  • Reply dh |

    I am SO sorry to hear this Ashley! My heart breaks for you.

    I am from NY, my ex is French. He decided to leave me for his mistress (which I didn’t know about). I was left with 3 kids in a foreign county. They were 6, 4 and 1 month old.

    To say I was devastated would be a HUGE understatement.

    Those kids are 32, 30 and 26 today. And my “keeper” DH and I had another, who is 20.

    You WILL find your village, I promise you that. Take what people are willing to offer, keep your ears open, and one day you’ll be in a better place and able to pay it forward. One think I love about my DH is he always says, it doesn’t matter if you pay “it” (whatever “it” is) back or forward.

    Much of my village was other anglophone expats. Maybe your village will be other single moms, or maybe it will be other people whose families live far away.

    But I promise you, you will find, and help create, your own village.

    This said, GET A LAWYER, YESTERDAY.

    Many hugs to you, I went through this decades ago, it was so hard, I won’t lie to you. I got through it and you will too.

  • Reply SCM1959 |

    I have been thinking about you all day. And it occurred to me … “it takes a village” …. where is this out-of-state job? Is it possibly in the same town as his parents/family?

    Because what I am thinking about is him claiming that custody should go to him as he has supportive family around to help, whereas you are in Arizona with no one; that your job is very stressful and it requires you to be there all day and the girls have to be in daycare after school. And that you have to travel for your job and there is no one to care for the girls. Whereas he would be able to provide a much more stable environment for them; as a personal trainer, he is more flexible with his work hours and they would have the benefit of extended family.

    I am very, very nervous about this on your behalf.

    You bought the house with the older carpet, you can sell it that way, too.

    I am really hoping I am not correct in my fear for you and your children.

    SCM1959

    • Reply Ashley |

      The job interview is in California. We are from Texas. No relatives/family/friends/support in the California area.

      • Reply SCM1959 |

        Well, that is a relief at least from the point of view that there does not seem to be ulterior motive regarding custody.

        But in regard to your girls — this is terrible for them.

        I am so very sorry about all of this.

        SCM1959

  • Reply Shanna |

    I am a life long Californian. If he is getting an entry level physical training position he will most likely not be able to support himself anywhere in California on that income. To make enough money to support himself and contribute towards the children he would need to have a college degree in kinesiology or a long career in training with multiple advanced certifications and if I recall, he just got a certification recently. In most cities in California a one bedroom apartment will cost more than your current mortgage. However, if he is getting a flooring job, he may do quite well since we have such a need for qualified construction workers due to the fires the last few years. But living expenses are still very, very high compared to Arizona. I am rooting for you and agree with all above, time for an experienced divorce attorney. Best wishes.

  • Reply Sarah |

    I can’t remember the details on the housing. If he does leave, would it be better for you to move back into the house?

  • Reply April |

    While I echo the “get a lawyer” thing, I want to focus on the single mom thing, the self-sufficient thing, and the learning how to accept help thing instead.
    I too had a really hard time accepting help. I had two girls, almost 3 and 6, and basically had to start my life over. X is a drug addict, so I never did the whole co-parenting thing. It’s been only me for the past 15 years, and really even before that, because did I mention my X was a drug addict?
    So while I haven’t been in your shoes exactly, I do know all about the full-time single mom life, and I must insist that you not only accept help, but ask for it as needed.
    Believe me, you’ll be doing enough all by yourself that anything anyone does for you or your kids will not tarnish your title. It’ll still be just you most of the time. And one thing I’ve learned is how much having those friend/sitters/helping hands not only helps you, but it enhances your kids’ worlds as well. Pretty much all my friends know and love my girls. They celebrate the graduations with us, we go to dinner sometimes, they are a fabric of our world. And when one died of cancer, we all grieved together.
    Build your village. Before you know it, you will be offering your own advice to the newest single mom tribe member.

So, what do you think ?