Baggage of a Divorced Spouse


#1

Hello Everyone,

This is my first time writing on Catholic Answers and I would love to know if anyone out there has had a similar experience.

I’m happily married to a man who once married to a Jewish woman for six years and they have an 8-year-old son. My husband and I have been married for 2 years now, he is a naturalized US citizen (originally from Germany), and we currently live in Colorado while is ex wife and son live in New York City. At the time of his divorce, his lawyer was very passive and did not act in his best interest, as such, he has to have supervised visitation with his son (due to prior alcohol abuse) and his ex wife is financially draining him in a deliberate effort to make him unable to travel to visit his son. We have been going through some financial difficulties lately: my husband lost his job at the end of March but managed to get a new job about two months after. He’s been very responsible in paying as much as he could and exhausted all savings in trying to help us survive, yet his ex-wife who comes from a rich family, has no debt, pays no rent, makes six-figures, and keeps asking for more and more money.

I hired a lawyer for my husband who is finally doing more to help than anything that has been done for years, yet I still have horrible anxiety about all of this. I’m constantly worried sick about what could happen to us financially and what could happen to my husband if she keeps prodding him for more money. Most of all I think about how horrible my stepson much feel about all of this and no one is properly hearing his thoughts in all this.

I’m struggling to forgive and not be angry at my husband’s ex in all of this; everyday I feel anger and fear and I know this is wrong.

Is there anyone out there in a similar situation or knows someone struggling dealing with mixed family dynamics? This is never something I thought I’d have to deal with, but I can’t help loving my husband. I want us to be able to afford a home someday and have children of our own.

I would really appreciate your prayers and any advice for how I should address my prayers (i.e. any saints that could help). I don’t want to keep fearing a woman across the country and what she may or may not do to my husband or my stepson.

Thank you so much and God bless you all!
J


#2

Try to remember, you do not know what went on in that marriage. Know that the child’s mother is also a precious child of God. We never help a situation through resentment, so, try praying for her (and not the “God please make a piano fall on her head” but “God bless her and show her your love”)

Your husband had some trouble in the past that was so serious it impacted his custody. Keep supporting in his recovery and growing as a man of God. Keep going to Confession, to Communion, stay close to Jesus in the Sacraments.

Do find an attorney, listen to their advice.


#3

And, may I add: don’t do anything that could damage his relationship with his son. That could easily make you the ‘bad guy’ in this complicated situation. Let the lawyer handle the problems between your husband, his ex, and his son. Coming between him and his son will only damage the situation.
If you feel you must say something, say it to the lawyer. He will know best, as to what can be done legally. And pray for all parties involved. God certainly knows what is best…for all!


#4

Your husband’s attorney should be able to help him with the financial aspects of this – it’s certainly unusual for an ex to just ask for more money and get it without a court hearing. Unless she’s just asking for him to make the ordered child support payments. But all of that is best handled between attorneys.

As @thelittlelady said, you don’t really know what went on in that marriage – you can just pray for your husband, his son and his ex-wife.

Good luck!


#5

Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond – I can’t tell you how much this means to me. You’re all correct: it is all out of my hands and I have to focus on keeping the negativity out as best I can by praying for him, his ex and his son. I need to let go and let God handle it. I got him a good lawyer so I did my part.

Any prayers you can offer up for us would be immensely appreciated, and any additional advice outside of what I’ve already been doing. God bless you all and thank you so much!


#6

Welcome to Catholic answers! Thank you for taking the time to share your family situation with us.

It seems stressful. I’m curious, hope it’s okay to ask. Did your husband leave NY for Colorado, or did his ex-wife leave and take his son to NY?

Edited: I’m asking as the dynamic of distance is problematic, but of course you already know that. Wondering if you could talk to him about moving back, or perhaps it was her that left forcing him to travel that’s all.


#7

Thanks so much for reading! :slight_smile:

We all lived in NYC at one point, but my husband moved out to Colorado for a big job opportunity and I went with him. We have thought about moving back from time to time, but we both really love it out here and have jobs that are lighter on stress and very enjoyable. We moved out here because my husband was at risk of getting laid off and proactively took a new job, but the court didn’t believe it (at that time he didn’t have a lawyer to properly explain that).

We want to start our own family sometime in the near future, but it is hard when that former family dynamic interferes :frowning:


#8

What is the money his ex is asking for? Can you refuse?


#9

Thank you so much for sharing. It sounds like there is so much going on, many directions, complicated relationships over many years.

It is possible, that your husband’s ex-wife might not see your husband being to afford travel as part of her concern and/or problem? Perhaps that is unfair, especially to their son. However since he chose to move she might see being sympathetic to his financial and travel situation part of her problem. I say that as that was one of the first things you mentioned in your first post was that travel to see his son was now an issue. That’s a small issue…now for the big one:

Do all you can, whatever you can, whenever you can to help your husband get along with his ex-wife and have a good relationship with his son. Why? Because if their relationship is toxic it will creep into YOUR marriage like poison that’s why. If he is getting along okay with her, and if he feels happy and fulfilled as a father to his son, then your marriage to him will improve by leaps and bounds. Don’t criticize her, don’t analyze her, don’t do any of that. Try to find some of her good qualities and focus on those. Pray for her.


#10

For some reason, my husband’s ex thinks he has more money than he says he does (most definitely not the case), and she has been ignoring the fact that they have joint “legal” custody so all non-emergency decisions need to be agreed upon by both of them. She went ahead and enrolled him in private school, signed him up for care at the YMCA which should already be paid for with child care, and the worst (to add insult to injury) is she sent their son to a therapist because he became angry and defiant towards his mother because he misses his father – instead of working out a visitation process that could work for everyone, she spend thousands on a therapist and now wants my husband to pay for it.

He was unemployed for 2 months and did his best to keep up (the payments were already ridiculous) but he fell behind which he never had before. She wanted to say that his falling behind was malicious and he was intentionally not paying, but the fact was he lost his job and we had to pay rent and feed ourselves.

Some of the expenses I’m hoping the lawyer will help him refuse (like the unnecessary therapy), but things like emergency medical expenses, he obviously will need to find a way to pay for those.


#11

Thanks so much for the advice you are right.

She has the power to work something out that benefits all parties involved, but she outright refused. When my husband’s child support payments increased and he said the money isn’t the issue, he would pay anything if it meant he could see his son as often as possible, but when the judge asked his ex if she would be willing to work with him to make that happen she said, “No. I just want the money.” Which was heartbreaking for him, me…and of course his son. She is the one who could work something out, but she refuses: the money is obviously more important.

It isn’t fair, you’re right, but I will pray that something good comes out of this for all of us. Thank you!


#12

I am sorry that your stepson is in counseling, that is sad.

Okay I am going to offer this, in the most non-judgmental way possible: it might be helpful if your husband acknowledged (at least in his heart and mind) that he were responsible for some of the discord and what his son is going through.

A little boy whose father moves half a continent away, can feel, well awful. It doesn’t matter to your stepson that your jobs are “lighter on stress and very enjoyable” he is a little boy and misses his dad. His mother does seem a bit disagreeable and even greedy, however your husband didn’t help the situation. At least not from his little boys eyes probably.

With all Christian Charity I don’t know your finances, your jobs or anything. I am not here to judge. Just that if a person looks at their life and thinks “Okay God, I did this ______ help me fix it I surrender” I think it can be more helpful than “Okay God, this person is awful please fix them” so I have tried in my life to see what I did to contribute to the challenging situations in my life hope that makes sense.

God has wonderful plans for your life! God is a loving and wonderful God! Turn to Him, He knows the best solutions for this situation, surrender it all to Him, place it in His loving arms and ask Him to bless it and bless your family. Please be assured of my prayers.


#13

I’m just checking—your husband meant that he would do all the travel, yes? In a situation where supervised visitation is ordered, the logistics are more difficult. I’m sorry you are going through this.


#14

Thank you so much for your prayers.

Oh believe me, he understands all that he is responsible for, and certainly moving didn’t help – I didn’t want to move either, but we saw the potential and took it, believing that something could be arranged to keep his life as normal as possible. Initially, we had it arranged so that my husband would spend 2 weekends each month flying back to NY to visit; before he was only seeing his son once a week, so it really amounted to the same amount of time. He took the initiative to keep the schedule the same, yet because his salary was higher, his ex requested that the child support payments increase by (conveniently) the same amount he was spending to fly East twice per month to see him. He countered (without a lawyer) saying that increasing the child support by that amount would mean he couldn’t visit at the same rate.

His ex won more money, and refused to help work out something out that was in everyone’s best interest. My husband understood what the move meant. What he didn’t anticipate is that is ex would consistently demand more in an effort to prevent his frequent visits.

I read a statistic recently that 1 in 3 divorces result in child visitation arrangements over long distances. Though it is hard, it can work and has worked for many families.

I greatly appreciate your prayers. I will ask God for the strength to bring balance back into all of our lives. Thank you and God bless!


#15

Thank you, Julian. Yes, we moved out here and he had planned to keep his visitation schedule as normal as possible. The difference in his pay was meant to help with his travel to see his son. But his ex saw this as an opportunity to demand that extra money and since my husband had no legal representation, she easily won the money. We understand that the move would cause some logistics issues, but she seemed willing to work with it at the time. Unfortunately, that is not the case now.

I pray that this new lawyer will settle all of these issues once and for all. We all need some stability and it should be fair for everyone. Thank you so much for your help!


#16

It appears that NY, like most states, uses a pretty straightforward child support calculator. This link may help you anticipate how his child support will change with his income.

https://resources.lawinfo.com/child-support/new-york/

And, while it’s frustrating, try to focus on the fact that the payments are for your stepson, not your husband’s ex.


#17

I have much first hand knowledge of blended family my whole life. It requires much effort. This is why I am really urging the two of you to do what you can to focus on the positive, or it can bring poison into your own marriage.

It is important that you begin ASAP to think long term. If you are hoping to be blessed with your own children, will your husband be able to spend two weekends away then? Which children will go without dad? These are not frivolous questions, something to ponder and pray about. Your children will be curious and want to spend time with their brother, their sibling relationship will be better if it is a loving one and better for all if not one that is peppered with jealousies. Statistics are just numbers on a page, what really matters are the people that are here and now, and Jesus and His plans for your life. Invite Him in, pray and spend time with Him! Please take care as best as you can.


#18

I completely agree. And I love that little boy and I want what is best for him as well. Thank you for your help and prayers!


#19

You’re absolutely right – we do need to address the long-term as soon as possible and keep the focus there. My stepson has told me many times he is excited about possibly having siblings, so I know we could find a way to balance everything out and make it work. We have been seeing a marriage counselor for the past few months and it has helped us both immensely. Perhaps we should work on a focused long-term plan with her as well.

I know that being present is important, but I also know that I am meant to be where God has placed me at the moment. For how long, I don’t know, but I have some important work to do here. I shall pray for those matters. Thank you so much again – it is nice to find others out there who know what it is like to have a blended family, were you in a similar situation?


#20

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