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Topics - mistoffolees

Child Support Issues / Passports....
Aug 15, 2007, 10:30:48 AM
There's an article in the WSJ today saying that the new passport requirements (you now need a passport to go to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean) has led to many people who were behind in support payments being caught.

For those of you who have been unable to track down your ex who owes you support, this might be useful.
Dear Socrateaser / Marital asset issue
Jan 29, 2007, 08:22:35 AM
Married 14 years, my wife had 2 daughters from previous marriage. First husband was paying $300 per month per child ($600 / month total) in support. My wife had sole physical custody.

About 6 or 8 years ago, we opened investment accounts to save money for college for the girls. These accounts were opened in my wife's name.  They were NOT set up as custodial accounts and are not Section 529 accounts - simple investment accounts.

During much of the past 6 years, we deposited her child support check into our joint checking account and then later in the month put $600 into the investment accounts. The amount sometimes varied, but it was often $600.

During that time, the girls were in private school ($7 K per year each) at my expense, plus I provided food, shelter, vacations, clothing, transportation, etc at an upper middle class level. The child support obviously didn't cover much of that.

Wife (STBX) is arguing that since we deposited the same amount into the investment account that it's not a marital account - even though the checks were deposited into our joint checking account and a separate check was sent later to the investment account. I argue that the money was actually used to pay for food, clothing, shelter, etc (since that's what support is supposed to pay for) and that the investment money was from my funds.

In your opinion, are those investment accounts marital property or not?

Dear Socrateaser / House responsibilities
Jan 20, 2007, 04:50:17 AM
I filed for divorce in September. My stbx signed an agreement saying that we would have 50:50 physical custody of my daughter for the temporary period and would propose that as a permanent settlement. My stbx said that she wanted to keep the house and I should find my own place, so I moved out on my attorney's advice.

Now it's January and still no temporary hearing with the judge (my stbx's attorney is dragging things out forever). The roof in the marital house is leaking into the garage. As near as I can tell, no water is leaking into the living quarters, just the garage. She claims that water is dripping into an electrical socket.

Since I have been paying more than adequate support (during the past 5 months, she has gotten about 60% of our combined income) and her bank balance is currently more than 4 times mine, I told her it's her responsibility to maintain the house since she wanted to keep it. She's refusing and says I need to fix it.

Do I have any responsibility to fix the house - especially in light of the fact that water dripping on the electrical socket (if this is really true) might create a risk?

Ordinarily, I would pay for it and deduct it from the monthly check I'm sending, but cash is getting pretty tight right now.

Dear Socrateaser / Automatic Temporary Injunction
Jan 08, 2007, 08:00:34 AM
In Oklahoma, once a divorce if filed, there is an automatic temporary injunction which prevents both parties from doing things like fleeing the state with the child or taking money out of the joint accounts. Both parties receive this as part of the divorce filing papers. The papers say that violation of this injunction is contempt of court and can be punished with fines and/or imprisonment.

My stbx took $2,000 out of the joint account after I explicitly (and in writing) told her not to.. She had $17,000 in her checking account, so she wasn't in danger of starving or anything.

My attorney sent her a letter reminding her of the injunction and asked her to refund the money or allow me (in writing) to take out an additional amount and to refrain from doing it again. (she considered filing for contempt immediately, but decided to take the high ground and give stbx rope to hang herself).

I'm pretty certain she is going to do it again (stepdaughter's $4,500 tuition is due soon). Total assets are substantial - this is a small percentage of the total..

1. If she violates the injunction again, is a judge likely to consider this to be a big deal or let her go with the warning?
2. STBX is filing for sole custody (she told me that she's doing it to get more money from me, but I can't prove that). If she continues to take money out of the joint accounts, how likely is judge to let it influence custody decision?

This is a great site!  I'm so glad I found it.  I'm hoping someone can give me some good advice, or at least a general opinion on this one...

My divorce is not yet final.  I have been away from the marital home for almost 8 months and moved within 15 miles of the marital home.  I have no temporary visitation order.  It's been an uphill battle with my STBX to see our 2 children since I've left.  She's been trying to keep them from me as much as possible to build a case to make an out of state move.  We are in the Chicago area and she wants to move with the kids to her hometown of St Louis.  Since she knows it will be difficult to take them out of state, she has decided to move to a small town in Illinois only 12 miles from St Louis, but 270 miles away from our home.  This move can be done within the state of Illinois without a court order.  Of course, I'm against it and have tried to talk with her and have had 5 mediation sessions regarding it.  They have acheived nothing with the exception of deciding on joint custody with her as the primary caretaker.

She plans on moving this Sunday the 17th of December.  We were in court this past Tuesday for a hearing on visitation.  The judge told her there was no need in her moving just yet.  His words were, "I'm asking you to stay around until the first of the year."  Her attorney repeatedly said, "She's moving.  She's moving."  Judge got mad and told him to move and get out of his site.  

We are scheduled to return to court this Tuesday for another hearing so the judge can hear what we accomplished in mediation this week....which was nothing.  And the moving van is coming on Sunday to move her to her new home.  

Question 1:  How severely will the judge look upon her move after his request for her to stay in the area until things were cleared up with visitation?

Question 2:  Would this bolster my case to prove her move is a ruse to hinder my visitation.

Question 3:  What legal advice can you give me on fighting the move.

Thank you so much!
Dear Socrateaser / Vexatious litigant
Dec 11, 2006, 07:13:32 AM
Soc, In a different thread, you posted:

"The point is that it's rarely worth bothering to challenge a support mod, unless you are served with more than one in a year's time and none of them are valid, at which point, I would ask for the moving party to be sanctioned as a vexatious litigant, for abusing the legal process and wasting the court's time."

I'm curioius how commonly this is used and enforced. My stbx's first husband was always dragging us into court over silly things. Her attorney said that there was little that we could do because our system allows people to sue for almost anything and it was almost unheard of for the courts to chastise a litigious parent.

My stbx looks like she's going to go the same way. After agreeing in writing to 50:50 physical custody and allowing it to go on for months (it's working very well), she's suing for sole even though there are no new facts or change in circumstances - just after we gave her a proposed final settlement which she dismissed as too low. Now, she's suing because I'm not giving her enough money on a temporary basis - even though the records show that she's gotten about 65% of our combined income since I filed for divorce.

What are the standards and how likely is it that I'm going to be able to keep her in check or will I simply have to live the rest of my life with an attorney on retainer?

Dear Socrateaser / Change in temporary custody
Dec 01, 2006, 12:27:40 PM
I filed for divorce in OK in September. One daughter, age 8. Within a week after the filing, we agreed to temporary joint custody alternating weeks of physical custody and alternating holidays. In addition, OK has a stated legal preference for equal parenting.

The temporary agreement states:
"We will propose equal joint custody to the court with the intent of evenly sharing [daughter]'s time on a week-by-week basis as a permanent plan. This proposal is subject to the advice to each of us by our respective counsel"

After getting this agreement signed and my attorney's blessing, I moved out and rented a nice house -comparable to the old family home. So far, the arrangement has worked with no problems.

My wife is making all sorts of allegations, mostly imagined, but none of which have any direct bearing on my daughter. She's saying that unless I give her more money, she will have her attorney try to get sole physical custody.

Most of her allegations are for things that happened before she signed the agreement, so it seems to me that it would be hard to claim that they would cause her to change her view on the matter. It seems to me that by signing the agreement and cooperating with 50:50 physical without raising a peep, she's basically said that she doesn't consider her allegations to make me an unfit parent. Of course, that's a personal view, not a legal view.

The one new allegation is true. After I left her house and had filed for divorce and decided that I was never going back, I joined a dating service. While I might have waited until after the divorce, I don't see how my interest in starting to date again has any relevance to my child rearing abilities (I would not bring a date to the house while my daughter was here - at least not for a long, long time).

How likely is it that she can make a decent case for getting sole physical custody?
Dear Socrateaser / How to handle finances
Sep 18, 2006, 02:24:36 PM
The FAQs don't quite answer this, so maybe you can give me some guidance or steer me in the right direction.

I am planing to file for divorce early next week (I'd do it today, but my daughter's birthday is on Saturday and I don't want to ruin it for her). 

Given all the advice from people here, I guess I have to stay in the family home unless I can find some other way to get out without risking my chances of at least 50:50 custody.

I earn essentially all the income. My wife is starting out as a realtor, but hasn't made any sales. She's also signed up to give flu shots (she's a nurse) but that will be just a few hundred dollars a month. Therefore, virtually all the bills are being paid from my income.

What happens when I file for divorce?

1. Do I just continue to pay all the normal household expenses until the preliminary hearing (I think tihs takes about a month in OK)?
2. Do I cancel credit cards?
3. Do I take money out of our joint savings account and open my own personal account so I have money to buy what I need for the new rental house (I would certainly notify my wife that I had done so and would report it when we do our financial settlement since I have no intention of trying to cheat her out of her share of our assets)?
4. Do you have any links of where I can find information on how to handle the money during the 'living together, but divorce has been filed' stage?

Dear Socrateaser / Situation in OK
Sep 18, 2006, 11:45:09 AM
I am planning to divorce my wife in OK. She is a decent mother, but becomes verbally abusive at times. After 14 years and extensive counseling (and the psychiatrist telling me that the odds of her improving are slim), I need to get out. Our daughter is 8 and very well balanced in all regards.

OK has a fair parenting law which states (in principle) that custody should be shared and time together should be 50/50 unless there are some strong reasons to give one parent shared custody.

After all the problems started with my wife (more accurately, after they flared up), I filed for divorce in January. My wife convinced me to drop it (against my attorney's advice) a few days later.

My wife has told my daughter that I'm unfaithful (but she doesn't understand), but my daughter would have no other way of knowing about it. My wife is also threatening to tell my employer, family, friends, etc about it.

1. Will my mistake hurt me in court when we get to the temporary custody hearing?
2. My plan is to stay in the house until I get her to sign an agreement saying that we'll each have 50% of my daughter's time. If she signs this, am I OK to move out?
General Issues / Alienated adults
Mar 21, 2007, 08:04:57 PM
I'm looking for some advice on a problem I have.

My stbx had two daughters from her first marriage. They were around 5 and 6 when we married and I've raised them essentially as my own (but their bf was also in the picture and saw them a few times a year - I never pretended to be their 'real father' as they put it). About 8 years ago, we had a daughter. I've tried not to play favorites, but to be honest, it's sometimes a lot easier to be nice to an infant than a snotty teenager.

Over the years, we've had good relationships over all and there were no real problems. They thought I was too strict, and maybe I was. But I took care of them and provided for them (although their father was making over $200 K per year, we got $300 per month for each of them and I paid the rest - including private school, college, trips to Europe, their first car, etc).

Fast forward to this year. The oldest is a senior in college and the middle is a junior. When I filed for divorce, my stbx started the alienation big time. She told them that I was starving her and taking away their college money so that they couldn't afford to go to college any more (both completely wrong - she's going to walk away with tons of money in the mid 6 figures range as well as alimony. For the past 5 months, she's received 63% of our joint dispoable income and I've received 37%).

I sent the two stepdaughters money for Christmas - and never heard a word. I sent them money for Valentine's Day - and never heard a word. I invited them to go to Disney World with the youngest and me - and never heard a word.

I know that they're victims, too. Their mother has verbally abused them, accused their father of child abuse when they were young, and so on. And they're believing her when she tells them lots of evil things about me.

The oldest is graduating in a few months. Do I send a present and continue to send presents for birthdays, etc, just walk away, or talk to them about it?
General Issues / Head of Household
Mar 21, 2007, 04:31:50 AM
I'm getting close to a divorce settlement (FINALLY!). It would help if my stbx didn't walk out of mediation every time she doesn't get her way and we have to reschedule another session 3 weeks later after her attorney can talk her into coming back to the table.

Anyway, I'm looking at tax issues for this year. Since I was the family's sole source of income for most of our marriage, I'm obviously going to take a huge hit in going from married filing jointly to single. Nothing I can do about that.

The agreement we've worked out so far doesn't discuss my daughter's personal exemption. While I'm fairly high income and that exemption starts to phase out, it's still got some value to me. Our agreement says that she lives with each of us 50% of the time, but I'm still paying support, so I can easily win the 'who provides greater than 50% of the income' test. Since she's at each home 50% of the time, there's a tie-breaker - who has the higher AGI - and I win that, so I should be able to get the deduction. I'm going to try to get it into the agreement, but if I can't, I'm pretty comfortable taking it based on the tie breaker rule.

The problem is Head of Household. As someone corrected me a week or so ago, HofH requires that the child live with you MORE THAN 50% of the time. My dauughter is with each of us 50%. Is there a similar tie breaker rule for HofH? If not, I'm gong to have to try to get the agreement to say that Katie gets one day a year more with me than with her mother, but that will be a huge battle. The value to me (difference between filing singly and head of household) is about $3,000 per year.

Any thoughts on getting the Head of Household status if the child is exactly 50% in each home?
General Issues / Communications issues
Feb 02, 2007, 07:55:27 PM
My stbx was always extremely hostile and verbally abusive. When she started taking things out on my 8 year old daughter, I filed for divorce.

We separated with a written agreement that we'd each have our daughter every other week. So far, she has honored that and my daughter is thriving.

The problem is that my stbx is calling me several times a week to complain about money. Even though she's had about 60% of our combined income since I moved out (I'm now reducing this to the point that we each have about half), she's constantly complaining that I don't give her anything (partially true - when she wrote to me saying she was going to stop paying the mortgage, car payment, and credit card, my attorney advised me to pay these bills and subtract it from what I would otherwise pay her). Still, the total she gets is much more than my share.

Tonight I got 5 calls in 30 minutes while I was trying to enjoy a movie with my daughter. Each time when she started ranting about money, I hung up and then I stopped answering the phone. Then she left a message on my machine saying that she needed to talk to our daughter and by not answering the phone I was interfering with her relationship. I had our daughter call her and she only talked for about 30 seconds before telling our daughter to give me the phone - so she could yell at me some more.

Seems like a lose - lose. Either I listen to her crap or if I don't answer she accuses me of not letting her talk with our daughter.

Any ideas?
General Issues / What to do with home mortgage?
Dec 12, 2006, 02:48:22 PM
I'm interested in what other people in my situation have done.

I filed for divorce in September. We had a home with both of our names on the mortgage, although I was the only income (my stbx is now working). 15 year mortgage with about 10 years left. Equity is probably about 1/3 of home's value and it's a nice upper middle class home in a nice neighborhood.

We agreed that my stbx would keep the home and my daughter would spend every other week at each home so I moved out (on my attorney's advice). I am giving her money out of every paycheck and she's saying that it's not enough (since the divorce, she has had 58.8% of our combined income and I'm paying all of my daughter's child care, medical, and extracurricular activities out of my 41.2%). She has threatened to stop paying the mortgage.

Since I need to protect my credit rating (I'll be buying a house in the spring), my attorney suggested that I pay the mortgage and deduct it from what I pay every month. No problem for now, but what happens when the divorce is final? For a few years, I'll be paying alimony, so we can set up the agreement the same way - I pay the mortgage and deduct it from the alimony. Eventually, though, the alimony ends, so I'm relying on her to pay the mortgage.

It's possible that she might be able to refinance in her name, but it would be a big stretch. Furthermore, I don't think she'd do it.

As I see it, I can live with it (my attorney points out that there's plenty of equity to pay off the mortgage if she defaults, as long as she doesn't default before I have my mortgage, I'd be OK). Or, I believe I can force the sale of the house - which seems like overkill.

Any other suggestions?
Visitation Issues / Older step children
Sep 12, 2007, 04:23:54 AM
Not really a visitation issue since the kids are grown, but that's the closest category.

I met my ex-wife when her two girls were 5 and 6 and we married a year later. While things were never perfect, we had a fairly solid relationship. Their father saw them relatively infrequently (due to his moves)-anywhere from once a month to 3 or 4 times a year, so I was the main male figure in their life.

During that time, their mother didn't work and I provided almost all their support (their father paid $300 each per month in spite of his high 6 figure income). This included private schools, a wardrobe most kids would die for, colleged education at no cost to them, school trips to Europe, vacations in Orlando, Europe, cruises, etc.

They were 20 and 21 when I filed for divorce from their mother. She immediately started telling them all sorts of lies (the term 'pathological liar' seems to have been invented for her). For example, she tells them that she can't afford Neither of them will talk to me now. I send money for Christmas, birthdays, and Valentine's Day as we always did when we were married. Out of the 8 checks I've written so far, I got ONE email thank you. When I tried to communicate with her after that, she got upset and stopped replying.

They have both had enough run-ins with their mother to know that she's not always truthful, but in this situation, they're going to believe her instead of me.

So, the question is, how long do I continue being the nice guy? It's not really a money issue (heck, the older one didn't even cash the last check I sent), but if they're never going to speak to me, why bother? OTOH, I would like to see their kids some day and don't want them to feel that I don't care any more.

My family and friends tell me I'm crazy for continuing to send money. What do you think?
Custody Issues / Woo hoooooo!!!!!
Feb 28, 2007, 03:45:48 PM
My stbx had agreed to 50:50 shared physical and legal custody before I moved out of the house. The situation worked well for 5 months but then she decided to sue for joint custody - to punish me for not turning over 100% of my paycheck to her every month. We agreed to a custody evaluator and I had to live the past 2 months under a cloud - worrying about the bible belt and getting someone who felt that kids belong with their mothers or someone who would believe my stbx's lies (she has a history of this).

We finally got the report back today and he recommended that things be left the way they are - which is exactly what I wanted. My stbx is going to go ballistic because the evaluator discussed the results of her psychological profile which indicates that she has some signfiicant personality disorders (my issues are quite minor). Still, he believes that she's capable as a parent.

While she has the ability to request a second opinion, my attorney thinks the judge won't allow it - since she and her attorney requested this evaluator (we agreed on my attorney's advice that he's usually pretty good) and his recommendation is merely to continue the status quo (my daughter is thriving under the current situation).

I'm intellectually satisfied that the system works the way it should, but can't describe the relief in knowing that she can't take my daughter away from me. Yippee!!!
Custody Issues / Custody evaluation
Jan 10, 2007, 11:48:12 AM
Looks like I'm headed for a custody evaluation (my stbx told me repeatedly that she was going to sue for custody unless I gave her more money, but of course I can't prove that's the motive behind it).

My daughter is 8. She is spending 50% of her time at each home. We signed an agreement that we would offer 50:50 both on a temporary and permanent basis (the court won't enforce this since it was not yet approved by the court, but it goes to her state of mind). My daughter is thriving under 50:50 and I'm the one who's doing the parent/teacher conferences, doctor's appointments, etc.

The question is this - how much weight is given to the daughter's statements by the evaluator? I know they'll never simply ask her where she wants to live and if she offers her opinion, it will largely be ignored. But what about her statements on factual issues?

For example, my stbx is very verbally abusive (I finally decided on divorce the day she called my 7 year old daughter 'a f%ck up' and told her 'you'll never amount to anything' even though her grades are consistently > 96% and she's active in a ton of activities - and is just basically a great kid). I have a lengthy journal of all the abusive things she's done, but that basically comes down to my word against hers.

Will the evaluator talk to my daughter and use her statements to corroborate my journal entries and to help make a decision?

I've been pretty happy with 50:50 most of the time, but if push comes to shove and the evaluator says that my daughter has to have one parent primary, there's zero doubt in my mind that it should be me.

Any comments would be appreciated.
My state (OK) has a preference for 50:50 physical custody unless one parent can show that the other one is unfit. My wife insists that her friend (who's allegedly a counselor) says that this is hard on the kids and that the child should have one home with visitation to the other. My daughter is extremely close to both of us and there's no doubt in my mind that she'd do very well with alternating weeks. However, I need to find some articles which show that this is not bad for the kids. 

I've already printed a bunch of articles from this site, but would appreciate it if anyone has any more.

Can anyone provide any articles which support 50:50 physical custody?

Father's Issues / WHAT DO I DO?
Jan 28, 2007, 06:21:54 AM
My ex is the CP and has my kids(twin 11yrs old boys) enrolled in mulitple sports(which is great to a point ,but without my input).We have shared parenting/joint custody,she was allowed to move to Ohio from Kentucky.We are to meet half way every other weekend on Friday early evenings(1 hour drive each way for both of us) but  she hardly ever does (she is suppose to per court order)and when she does she is ALWAYS late. My kids are constantly enrolled in select soccer to the point it has influenced all/every weekend of my visistation and any contact that I might have with them.I can't even get to talk to them during the week on the phone because they're always busy,they never return my calls.On my weekend she expects me to drive to columbus(2+ hour drive one way) and pick-up the kids after their games and then meet her half-way on Sunday,which I have done on occasion (I do have a family in KY that this impacts). Now she's telling me(via e-mail) to talk to my kids to see if they want to come to my house after their game on Saturday for Sat. pm and miss their game on Sun.which this puts me in the bad guy scenario. Theres alot more than this to the story but Im frustrated and want my time with my kids at my house.The pick-up point is in Ohio(when it happens).How do or can I call the local authoritys to record the denial of visitation? Can I drive to their house and call the local police with KY court order in hand?What will my kids think?
Father's Issues / Shared Parenting
Jan 04, 2007, 11:58:39 AM
I just came across this article on shared parenting in Oklahoma. I hope this becomes a trend nationwide.

Fortunately, I live in OK, so I should have a bit better chance in the upcoming custody battle than in many states.
Father's Issues / Loony people
Dec 01, 2006, 09:05:52 AM
I wonder why there are so many loony people out there.... I don't want to imply for a second that it's only women - but I have to deal with one.

My STBX called me screaming this morning because I allegedly took her snow shovel (and we got a good bit of snow last night). She said she needed the driveway cleaned because she's a nurse and needs to get to work. Apparently, she had the shovel yesterday, but can't find it today, so I must have broken into her house to steal it. It doesn't matter that I was in meetings with my boss all day yesterday and had dinner with him until well after she got home. It didn't matter that it was all a lie (she decided last night to take the day off work, anyway, so didn't need the driveway cleared at all). It didn't matter that I drove through the snow to loan her my shovel until she could figure out where she put hers (with no thanks, at all).

The kicker was when she told me that I'd have to shovel her driveway for her or she'd ask her attorney to file for sole custody. (We have 50:50 physical custody while waiting for a final settlement and my 8 yo daughter is very happy and thriving with that. I guess in my STBX's mind, her desire to get out of shoveling her own driveway (she's an exercise nut and is excellent physical shape) is more important than her daughter's well-being.

Of course, I've had to deal with this for years - which is a large part of the reason I filed for divorce. Fortunately, I have an excellent attorney, so I'm pretty confident that she can't get away with much, but it just makes me shake my head to wonder what goes on in someone's head.
Father's Issues / Custody question
Oct 18, 2006, 12:02:16 PM
I recently attended my court-ordered parenting course (all parents have to take it in my court district). One of the things that was very eye-opening was how much the child's need for the non-custodial parent changes over time. Generally, the younger the child, the shorter and more frequent the visitation should be.

Yet virtually every custody agreement I've seen has a set custody and visitation schedule and the only way to get it changed is for one parent to go back to court.

Why don't people write agreements that adjust over time? For example, it might say:
- the father sees the child for 2 hours three evenings a week.
- When the child turns 5, the father sees the child every Wednesday and every other weekend
- When the child turns 10, the father takes the child every other week
- When the child turns 16, the child can choose where to spend time, but a minimum of x days per month at each home

Ignoring the specific details above (which would be very different in different situations), why don't people do that? It seems to make more sense than assuming that the needs of a 2 year old will be the same for their entire life.
Father's Issues / Advice for newbies (long)
Sep 21, 2006, 09:50:34 AM
For any men just starting to go through the divorce process, I thought I'd add my free advice. Of course, it may be worth exactly what you're paying for it, but maybe it will help someone.

My situation is that I'm in the process of ending a 14 year marriage. Two college age SDs and one 8 year old for my wife and me jointly. NOTHING in the world is more important to me than my daughter and I am doing this partly for her (my wife is fairly abusive and getting worse).

1. If you're not sure whether you want a divorce or not, get the book "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay" by Mira Kirshenbaum. She outlines her research from analyzing thousands of couples who split up or stayed together based on many criteria. Each chapter asks a question and then says 'if your answer is yes, most people in your situation were happy they left' (or whatever). GREAT book for clarifying what's on your mind.

2. If you're even THINKING of a divorce, don't do anything stupid. That might mean drinking too much, going out all night with the guys, chasing women,  ignoring your kids, whatever. Anything you do can AND WILL be used against you. There will be plenty of time for that later.

3. Keep a notebook of everything that happens with dates. This is not a vendetta book, but is rather a book showing your history. For example, my daughter is important to me, so a lot of my book says: "December 2, 2005. I took xxx to the zoo and spent the day. We then went out to dinner and I helped her get ready for bed and tucked her in. She thanked me for a nice time". There may be cases where you'll want to document bad things your spouse did, but that's not really the purpose. In my case, at least, it's more to show the positive things I've done than the negative things she's done.

4. Get a good lawyer. The difference in cost between a great lawyer and a lousy one isn't as much as you'd think and will pay off. Make sure your lawyer specializes in custody/divorce issues. Ask your divorced friends for recommendations.

5. Stay calm. It will feel like it takes 3 lifetimes, but will be over sooner than you think. Don't get frustrated.

6. If you're feeling depressed, don't stew in it. Get help. The professional help will get you through it. Again, get a good counselor. It will help you stay calm during all the endless hearings, negotiation, etc and that's worth its weight in gold.

7. This one's easy for me to say because my daughter is worth more to me than any amount of money, but do your best not to worry about the money. You want the distribution to be fair, of course, but please don't play games with trying to cheat your spouse. First, it's not fair to them. Second, it's not fair to you. You'll feel much better about yourself if you can hold your head high and say you were fair.

8. Don't let the rest of your life wither. You need a life.

There's much more than I could add, but that's the gist of it. Good luck (and please wish me luck, too).