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Stay-at-Home Mom Stranded by Divorce

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have been married to my Navy husband for 13 years. We have 3 children, ages 8, 6 and 3, and I have an older son from a previous relationship. 

I have always been a stay-at-home mom while my husband was either on shore duty or out to sea.

About three months ago, he told me he wants a divorce. He says he doesn't love me and he is not sure if he ever did.

He wants me and the children to leave, but that's not an option because I have nowhere to go. You have to be separated a year before you can get a divorce in our state.

I have signed up to get my GED to better myself because I know once we divorce I will need to be able to help support my children and myself.

I am so torn up. I sought counseling for me and my children. They are starting to act out, and I feel it’s because of the way my husband yells and screams at us all and calls me names in front of the children.

I have no money. I tried legal aid -- no help. Base lega l-- no help. I had a consult with a lawyer, but he wants $2,500 to represent me in a divorce.

My husband wants us to use a mediator and do a cheap divorce. I need to protect my children and myself. What can I do?

 I am so tired of the hell he is putting us through, but what can I do? I have no one to help me! I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

Sincerely,
Mandy

Dear Mandy,

I’m very sorry this has happened. It sounds like your husband is very serious about getting a divorce. Because of this, I think it is very important for you to get legal advice.

My first advice is for you to contact EX-POSE (EX-Partners of Servicemembers for Equality). EX-POSE provides information for spouses regarding separation and divorce from active-duty or retired military servicemembers. Their phone number is (703) 941-5844 and their website is www.ex-pose.org.

There is also a book I would like to recommend: Divorce and the Military II (A Comprehensive Guide for Service Members, Spouses and Attorneys) by Marsha L. Thole; Frank W. Ault (Jan 1, 1998). Spouses have reported to me that these two resources have been very helpful to them.

I’m also very happy to hear that you have signed up to take the GED exam. You are right -- you will need to be able to provide financial support for you and your children.

Many spouses have reported they thought a judge would rule on their side in a divorce matter, but they discovered something totally different. There are no guarantees in a divorce court, so you have to protect yourself.

Yes, military spouses sacrifice careers and education to support their servicemember and to stay home with the children. Some places we live do not even have adequate employment for us to pursue. Being a stay-at-home mom or dad is an honorable position and one that I highly respect.

On the other hand, I think it’s important for everyone to be able to take care of themselves if they must.

Partners sometimes do decide that they want out of the marriage. The spouse who has never worked outside of the home, never pursued higher education, never had a savings account is left sad, angry and bewildered.

In spite of this, you can overcome this entire situation. Many military spouses understand your predicament. Please get in touch with EX-POSE for further guidance. I hope you have family and friends who will be supportive. Keep in touch with me and provide updates. I will be thinking of you.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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