I have been married for over 15 years and have two almost teenage children. For the majority of our marriage I have been in a cycle of emotional and verbal abuse. It has become worse and I have wanted a divorce for a long time but every time there are promises to change and counselling sought to no avail. Last year there was a nasty incident and I went to my GP. She guided me towards therapy and asked to see the children who she referred to a therapist to assess their mental well being. My husband then contacted DViP, attended an interview and was accepted onto their Abusive Perpetrators course. This hasn't started yet but unfortunately the abuse has restarted.
Today he told me that he wants a divorce and explained to the children that he loves Mummy but she keeps moaning at him. This evening he says he has changed his mind about a divorce. I need to end this situation. What would you recommend is the best way forward for me? To go to a barrister direct or to a solicitor? I'm conscious of the cost but I need someone strong to represent me as he is threatening me with various unpleasant outcomes. Financially it is complicated as I receive a salary from the business in the capacity of director and he is saying that will continue but that is too perilous a situation to be in. I would be so grateful for your impartial advice.
There are three issues here:
1. Being worried about getting legal help and the costs:
I would unhesitatingly advise you to go and see a solicitor. You mention that you are a director of your husband’s company, which implies that there is at least some money available to the family as a whole. If you start divorce proceedings the court can make orders relating to a number of things, including that he pay regular sums for the maintenance of you and the children whilst the case is ongoing and making sure that he does not try to ‘hide’ money knowing that a divorce is on the cards. It is difficult to be more specific but generally if your husband has money, you can afford to get divorced.
An experienced solicitor will be able to advise you on the detail and it would be well worth making an appointment to talk through the issues.
There are ways of keep a rein on the costs. See my page on controlling costs
. Remember it is a buyer’s market at the moment, so you can be assertive when it comes to obtaining clear information about what they charge etc.
2. The children:
At the same time as speaking to a solicitor about a divorce you can talk about what happens with regard to the children. If you have been their primary carer you may well have a strong case for them living with you and having contact with their father. You can tell the solicitor about the specific kind of behaviour that your husband is engaging in and give them details of the domestic violence course he has enrolled on. They would be able to advise you on whether there are other steps that need to be taken in relation to protecting you and the children and what it would be sensible to propose in terms of living arrangements and contact with their father. Have a look
on what children need to hear and the anxieties that divorce causes them. If you can (and I realise this may be difficult and I certainly would not want you to put yourself in danger) trying to have a discussion with him about agreeing what will be said to the children by both of you. A Court would not approve of one parent blaming the other and if a Court was satisfied that a parent were not being at least ’neutral’ in they way issues are discussed with the children, it is likely that parent would get given