Susan, you may remember has been separated from her husband for five years and she doesn’t plan on initiating the legal paperwork to get divorced for about another year when her youngest child will turn eighteen.
I keep seeing articles about Couples Breaking Up … But Staying Together that suggest the trend may be a sign of our current economic climate. That’s partly true for Susan but she has another reason too. She doesn’t want to be bound by a formal parenting plan. Here’s Susan:
To me, it’s hugely expensive and time-consuming when there are minor children involved because you have to go through the courts etc. I just felt that the money would be better spent on the upkeep of the children and two separate houses. My daughter, our youngest, turns eighteen in May and then we won’t be required to have a parenting plan.
The other thing is their dad is not the most stable person. He has had two really serious head injuries on top of combat PTSD from Vietnam and especially at the time we separated, he was very unstable. If I need to have my children with me all the time, because I think that’s what’s best for them, then that is what’s going to happen. I didn’t want to be afoul of a judge’s order that says he gets them on weekends or whatever. I don’t want to go to prison for protecting my kids.
In the beginning, both the kids were spending time with each of us. Then pretty quickly, my husband decided he couldn’t heal from his head injury and our son was pretty high maintenance at the time, so then he stayed with me exclusively. Our daughter goes back and forth. She’s pretty well-adapted to it and it helps that we’ve always lived about a mile apart. She’s at his house three or four days a week. He’s pretty much alienated almost everyone else and she seems to feel responsible for being there for him.
I figured if my husband wanted to, he could file all the paperwork but he’s not a very highly motivated person. He’s probably lucky to be able to get from one day to the next in reasonably good shape. He had to have really intensive help for several years to try to regain a lot of his abilities so really filing for divorce was the least of his worries.
I would be hesitant to embark on a really serious male-female relationship right now because we are in this state of limbo but I’ve definitely moved forward, for sure. In my heart, we are divorced. The less time I spend around him, the happier I am. I probably have more animosity than I’m completely aware of but I consider my marriage as a closed chapter in my life.
The Divorce Coach Says
I can understand Susan’s rationale but I would find the state of limbo difficult to deal with emotionally. Maybe I would feel differently, if I was dealing with the same issues. Once I knew I wanted my marriage to be over, I needed to be divorced. I needed that to bring closure. I didn’t want to have to keep dealing with my ex about issues with joint assets.
Back in April, Lori shared her story. Her ex is bi-polar and since he was not disciplined about following his treatment plan, the bipolar was breaking apart their marriage. They’ve been separated for over two years now but are not divorced. Lori is scared of filing for divorce because she doesn’t know what the financial outcome will be. Their children are also home-schooled and she doesn’t want to jeopardize that.
Are you separated but not divorced? Why are you waiting? Is it the legal process in your state or an intentional choice? Does it stop you from moving on emotionally?
Photo Credit: madmolecule at Flickr