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My Wife Wants A Divorce – Should I Leave The Family Home?

Hi Phoenix Men, well it would appear I am now about to join the ranks of the separated. I don’t have a clue what to do. My wife of fifteen years decided to tell me on her 40th birthday, during a phone call, that our marriage was over, she said that she has been unhappy for many years, and that I don’t listen to what she says, or understand her. Well, I obviously don’t understand her, because she caught me out of the blue with this call. My concern, however, is what happens now.

I’m still living in the family home with her and our two children who are aged 8 and 11. I am so unhappy with the news that am finding it difficult to sleep, and generally function. I am not sure whether to leave the family home or not, as I have heard conflicting reports on what happens when the first person leaves the home, but I am finding it really hard staying here with her. I can not afford to find different accommodation, as I am continuing to pay all of the bills, including the mortgage.

Is there anything anyone can recommend me to do? . Should I stay or should I leave, what are my rights if I leave the family home?

Thanks for listening.  Vinny


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8 thoughts on “My Wife Wants A Divorce – Should I Leave The Family Home?”

  1. FIRST TRY AND TALK TO YOUR WIFE. Make an appointment with her one evening when the kids are in bed, or better still get a babysitter and go to the pub. Try to find out what the issues are. They may be resolvable. Maybe she thinks she has already tried to talk to you and you simply didn’t listen. Let her speak until she stops talking so she can say everything she needs to. Marriages are complicated things and to allow a relationship to drift along without looking at it from time to time (being complacent?) can be a dangerous thing. See if you can sort things out and repair your marriage. IF THIS DOESN’T WORK, OR YOU HAVE ALREADY TRIED THIS THEN: STAY IN THE HOUSE! Move into a different room if you must but it is your house and your home too. If you move out you stand to lose everything. CLOSE ANY JOINT ACCOUNTS. You are jointly and severally liable for anything in joint names. Your wife could easily max out your credit cards and overdraft and then leave you to pay it all back. You will need to talk to her about finances. If she wants out of the marriage, just exactly what does she propose? Is she working… does she make any financial contribution at the moment? How does she think she is going to manage. STAY CALM! Don’t let her antagonise you in any way. If you react in an aggressive way at all, verbally or physically, you will find an injunction thrown at you to get out. THINK ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN! Ask her what she is going to tell them and what her proposals are for raising them as separated parents. You must have MAXIMUM contact with them from the start. DAILY. As near to your normal routine as possible. If she wants out of the marriage without sensible discussion and planning, then let her do the leaving, but try not to let her take the kids. (This will be very hard on you but YOU CAN COPE) Apart from trying to protect yourself from the outset in the above way, there is nothing much else you can do for now. If she wants a divorce then she will have to issue the papers, to which you should reply. The more you can sit down and talk about and sort out between yourselves the better, otherwise it all gets horribly messy and the only winners re solicitors. I am sorry this is all hard practical advice, but if the marriage IS over then you will have to get hard and treat it like the termination of a business contract. OR….. you will end up with nothing.

  2. The comments are very helpful and sound and I fully agree. I am in a similar situation to Vinny. We are talking and keeping it civil but we are separated in the same house. However, I have felt powerless and only now am I starting to try and take some control rather than fall in line with my wife’s wishes (I still hope for reconciliation but am not confident of it). A question – We have 2 children (15 & 14). We own our own house, no mortgage or other debts and both earn well. There is no unreasonable behavior on either side. Even though living like this is very hard for me, I have no intention of leaving the house – Can I by forced to leave it?

  3. Hi Jed, I don’t think you can be forced to leave the house, although some ex’s have been known to fabricate all sorts of allegations to get what they want. However if your arrangement has been going on for some time it is unlikely that your ex will stoop this low at this stage. Something to bear in mind though is that sooner or later finances will have to be settled. If you wish to stay in the house you will have to come up with some proposal to “buy out” your ex2b, otherwise you will have to sell and split the proceeds. Now, who gets what very much depends on who the children will live with, and a lot of it will be down to negotiation. Personally I think 50/50 is a fair division and that is what my ex and I did….. she remained in the house until it was sold. It’s complicated and there are any number of solutions, but better to agree these in principle at least before confronting a solicitor, than spend £300 ph having them cock it up on your behalf by upsetting your ex2b with your “unreasonable demands”. Hope this helps. For what it is worth, it will get better and you do come out the other end a stronger person.

  4. This is all fantastic advice. What is the reason for staying in the house? Surely even if I leave (am told/asked to leave) for the sake of the children’s mental stability, so they don’t hear us falling out, then that doesn’t mean that I am just saying “have the house”. I am getting lots of help from friends that I didn’t know were such good friends, and they are helping with my ‘mental stability’, and am beginning to realise that I will be a stronger and more rounded person at the end of all of this, as hard as it is at the moment. I know I can’t be forced to leave the house, there’s no psychological or physical abuse going on, on either part. I’ve just got in touch with our financial adviser, the guy who sells life insurance, and we are going to sit down with him and find out what the state of finances in the house are (mortgage and endowments) and hopefully will be able to sort that side of it before the solicitors get their slice! So thanks.

  5. Erm… unfortunately if you leave, your right to the house, your children, your pension, and anything else for that matter will slowly erode away. Your home will become her “castle” and she will start to dictate when you can see the kids and expect you to pay all the bills. To be told to leave for “the sake of the childrens mental stability” is outrageous. Tell your wife that you are happy with a policy of no arguments/discussions in front of the children. If she thinks one of you should leave then let it be her. There are any number of men on here in debt with poxy contact regimes who can verify this because they did the decent thing and moved out. Can you imagine the psychological impact on your kids if you go? What will they think? What will she tell them?

  6. Hi Vinny, I disagree with the last comment…..leaving the house does NOT mean you lose your rights to either the home, your kids or your pension. Staying in the house can be very difficult….been there, got the t-shirt etc. When I eventually left I felt a real feeling of release from a highly emotional and stressing environment. I have NOT lost my children, I have NOT lost my pension and STILL have rights with regards the home we had together.

  7. I would like to pitch in on the side of STAYING in the house. Especially if you are behaving reasonably towards each other. If you leave, then there is no incentive for her to negotiate reasonably – after all she will have a comfortable roof over her head (which you will have to pay for) she will have the children with her – which despite the work and responsibility is a great source of comfort and company, while you will be stuck in a grotty flat, having to agree with her when you can come to visit – it does not take long after you leave for her to start regarding the FMH as HER home, and then resenting you coming and going to the FMH as you please – which gives rise to a whole host of awkward squad tactics.

    Then consider the children. It may well be some months down the line before you get to agreeing contact regimes. For one thing you will need to be permanently settled before its possible, and that will likely have to wait until finances are sorted. Meantime if you move out its a bedsit or friends floor for you and you will be de-facto out of regular contact with the children except when (if..) you visit them in what used to be your home – and what will that feel like?? Again, if you are unlucky and it goes to court (which will be some months away) they will look at what has become the status quo by then and will be very reluctant to change it.

    If on the other hand you have been living with the children in the FMH you will start the contact hearing in a much better position to push for the contact regime you want (or even that YOU should be the parent with care.. if you want that…). Lastly, if there is any glimmer of hope of reconciliation (and there can be, despite what appears to be a firm resolve on her part) then you stand a better chance if you see each other daily, and she sees you focused on living your life and preparing yourself for impending single life in a confident and self-reliant way. Stay in the house, and stay in control of what you can and stay looking after your kids as much as you can. Do your research into finances, shared parenting and the divorce process, and right now, stop begging her to reconsider or arguing that you will change and she has made a mistake.

    Concentrate on the future you want, given that for now at least, your marriage is over. the one who adapts to that reality the quickest will get more of what they want in the end, and she is way ahead of you there… In summary – if you both stay reasonable, moving out makes little difference to the divorce, but there WILL be a divorce. Staying put also makes little difference to the divorce, but MAY mean there isn’t a divorce. If you stop being reasonable moving out gets you screwed, so don’t do that, let her move out. Net net – stay in the house, its better odds on being better for you in the long run. I stayed put, and I saved my marriage, but it was hard and it took 2 years from where you are now…

  8. I think Daniel speaks sense, based on there being a reasonable amount of friendship between you both. I have lived with my x2b for 3 years on that basis, but our relationship has now deteriorated to such a point that neither of us can be in the same room with the other. It has a detrimental effect on us both, AND the children, and the only way forward is to move on – away from each other. I wish we had sorted it out while we were still friends because there would have been little chance of resentments and anger setting in, and more of an element of fair play (on both sides). It’s a tough one.


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