I am now dealing with a divorce while seeking to reenter the work force.
This had me pondering which was worse – telling the recruitment agency I’m in the middle of a divorce, or withholding that information until the point I’m in the middle of an assignment and asking for time off so I can go to court.
A & H felt like that question was beyond the scope of their knowledge to answer. H had, in a previous conversation, mentioned r/divorce as a place of possible information, so I decided I’d take my question there.
In order to head off answers telling me to just rely on alimony and child support, I had to explain a little of my situation.
I got people telling me to use child support and alimony, anyway, PLUS a bunch of judgment. Judgment I don’t think I’d receive if I were the man and not the woman in the divorce. If a dad said he wasn’t going to fight his ex for custodial parent (primary, not sole, to clarify), but that he would pay child support and make sure to stay in his children’s lives, he’d be praised for it.
I say the same and get judged.
Here are the facts:
My instincts have been pretty good. I’ve ignored them, but they were generally steering me correctly and were based on actual available data, even if sometimes it wasn’t data I’d consciously examined.
My instincts told me that if my husband didn’t have primary custody – if I took it instead – he’d destabilize, quit or get fired, and I’d end up a divorced mom of 4 living on 20-30k a year.
When I examined the facts of the matter, the data verified my instincts. My husband very nearly destabilized last year under the stress of being asked to set aside his comfort for my literal basic needs, plus relocating. Divorce plus losing a custody battle would be even more stressful.
It’s also been revealed that my husband will say one thing and do another, and that when push comes to shove, he’ll set aside what’s good for the children in order to try to control or punish me. When I discussed it with A, she agreed with my assessment and added that he’d just blame me. Obviously if I let the kids live with him, they’d be fine, so it would be my fault they were living in poverty.
In spite of my lack of education, I’ve got a pretty good head for math and logistics. I’ve looked into a 50/50 custody split and I feel it would be detrimental to stability, detrimental to quality of life, and detrimental to quality of relationship for my kids.
The way child support and alimony work in Indiana is not the same as how it works in other states. I might (and I stress might) qualify for rehabilitative spousal maintenance that would last approximately 3 years. In a case of 50/50 custody, my husband might have to pay me a small amount of child support.
Unfortunately my cost of living would go up tremendously, my housing options would be severely limited, and I would have to start paying for childcare in order to work full time. Financially, I might end up worse off in a 50/50 split.
In addition to that, the children would be spending one week with a parent that gives them a decent standard of living, and then contrasting that with a week with a parent that’s living near or below the poverty line, and that is stressed to hell over finances.
I grew up poor. After my parents divorced I lived with a mom that worked multiple jobs and we still struggled to make ends meet. Not only did we lack money, which had a negative impact on me, my mom was too stressed out to be there for me emotionally when she was physically present, and she wasn’t physically present a lot of the time. My financial needs weren’t met and my emotional needs weren’t met.
When I met with my kids’ therapist, she’d mentioned that kids are selfish – that is, they think primarily of their own needs and wants. If they feel secure – that their needs will be met and they are loved – they will adjust to a change like divorce with less trauma.
When I look at the available data, my current course of action seems to be the one that is best for my children – and, if I’m being honest, the best for me, too. I’d rather not become my mom. I don’t want to be constantly stressed to hell and have that be the side of me that’s present for my children. I want to be able to be emotionally present for my children, so they see love and not stress when they’re with me.
I feel like this is the best bad choice I can make for my kids and for myself.
And when it comes down to it – I trust myself. I am their parent and I’ve done a good job. According to two different therapists, my kids are smart, happy and well-adjusted, with nothing more than the usual difficulties that can be found among siblings.
I’ve been making choices about how I would parent – choices with my kids’ best interests in mind – choices that sometimes flew in the face of traditional parenting ‘wisdom’ and I had success with it. There’s no reason for me to believe that I’ve suddenly lost the ability to evaluate the data and make the best choice available to me. No reason to believe that just because I’m doing something differently, means I’m doing it badly.