zena_19_98: I divorced my first husband seven years ago. Do you have any suggestions on how to convince him that he is not hurting me by not seeing his kids, that he is instead hurting them?
susanterry: Hi Zena. You might want to suggest family counseling; you might have your children write him a letter telling him what they're up to; you might suggest that you and he go talk to someone about better coparenting. It would be great if you could try to talk to your ex or perhaps have a mutual friend talk to him. Hope this helps.
30_heather: I have just told my husband that I don't love him anymore ... he wants to seek help. Should I go for him even though I don't think it will help?
thesmartdivorce: You never know what might or might not help. For example, even if help doesn't bring you two back together, it might smooth the transition into divorce.
iodot: My husband and I live in community property states -- Texas and New Mexico. He is raking up enormous debt on his credit cards, but won't tell me how much. Who is responsible for that debt and how can I avoid paying it?
thesmartdivorce: Depending on the law of the state, normally you will be responsible for the debt. Try taking your name off the credit card or canceling it entirely. You can call the credit card company to find out the balance so you know the bad news and can see whom the debt is owed to.
susanterry: Iodot, be sure you get your name off the credit cards. If the debts are for your benefit, you may be on the hook. You may want to consider a legal separation.
iodot: The states are community property states. My name is not on the credit cards that he is using. But can I be held liable for his debt anyway? I don't see any of that money.
susanterry: General pointers: Don't assume you know the law -- always get seek a good attorney for a consultation.
thesmartdivorce: And yes, you can be liable anyway. You need to either cancel the card or cancel your marriage.
kmiller59: How do I handle the continued relationship between the children and my ex-husband?
susanterry: What aspect of the relationship? That is HIS problem, not just yours. Be supportive to your children and let them know that you both love and care for them.
kmiller59: He left, he came back, he's now leaving again. The girls just found out that he has a girlfriend and they refuse to see her. He says it's my fault.
susanterry: Tell your girls the truth that being there is no fault ... this is a difficult time and the family has to work together on certain levels. Tell your ex not to use you and the kids like Ping-Pong balls and to do the right thing by his children.
thesmartdivorce: Talk to your husband to see if you can communicate for the benefit of your children. He may be receptive if you work slowly.
Woodgrain: We have been married twenty-four years are getting a divorce once the house sells. We both want the divorce but he is being very hateful. I cry a lot because I have to stay until the house sells. I am forty-three, have always been a mom and never had to support myself before. How do I not let him hurt me?
susanterry: START PROTECTING YOURSELF. If he 's not nice, that means he is not being a good "sport," but what else is new? You must consider buying our book The Smart Divorce. It will help you with support guidance and good pointers. Woodgrain, consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and protect yourself. Pointers: All of you out there who need help with divorce should look at our book, The Smart Divorce, to help you keep your humor and sanity, and to give you invaluable pointers on how to handle the legal aspects of your case. Frequently, people who seek our advice have already made mistakes. Before you do anything, get information! We find that people are very concerned about the emotional aspects of their divorce and often are not doing what they should to protect themselves financially and legally. Ladies, get out there and assert your rights. Find out about your rights. Remember that your children are involuntary participants in divorce, and protect them as much as you can. The laws vary from state to state, but a stay-at-home mom with children still has lots of rights with respect to child support, property division and even alimony.
CL-mizlizzy: If you feel your lawyer may not be performing as expected, what can you do? I am referring to failure returning phone calls, informing of court dates and making sure court orders are followed through.
susanterry: You should consult with another lawyer and if you determine that yours is not competent you should definitely change lawyers immediately.
CL-mizlizzy: I have $7,000 and a lot of time invested in this one.
thesmartdivorce: If your lawyer doesn't respond to the telephone, try faxing a clear message that asks for a clear response. In our book The Smart Divorce, we talk in chapter three about what are reasonable expectations from your attorney. Take a look at that. Ask questions. Don't be shy.
CL-mizlizzy: What do you recommend for people who live in small towns with "good ol' boy" legal systems? Grin and bear it? What can we do, whom do we contact?
susanterry: Get a lawyer who is one of the good ol' boys. That is absolutely the right way to win.
CL-mizlizzy: I have a protective order that has not been enforced, a call for domestic violence that was ignored and a burglary that has not been investigated -- my ex is buds with the sheriffs.
susanterry: Are you suggesting that the cops are in cahoots with your ex?
thesmartdivorce: If you continue to have a local problem, call the U.S. Attorney! (They are federal.)
susanterry: How about your local newspaper? You can shame them.
thesmartdivorce: Call everyone and put it in the local newspaper if that's what it takes!
susanterry: Pointers: The system, as some of you have found, is less than perfect. You need to get educated, read books and to get a lawyer. Don't be afraid to assert your rights; take all action that is necessary. If something isn't going right, challenge it and look elsewhere. This is important. Pointer: Child support can be collected many ways: wage assignments, executing on bank accounts or through the DA at no expense.
thesmartdivorce: Remember what's important in divorce -- resolution in a businesslike way. Keep your priorities straight! If you are owed child support, the local prosecutor must help for no charge!
Chooie1: How do we deal? How do we explain it to children? I got divorced in 1990. Still dealing with repercussions -- the kids saw and heard a lot. I feel that I shouldn't have to explain anymore.
susanterry: It would be nice if you and your husband could talk to the kids together. If that's not possible, you know your kids and have to use your best judgment.
thesmartdivorce: You and your ex must be united for your children's benefit and let them know you'll work together for them.
susanterry: All of you need to get good advice, and protect yourselves and your children financially. Be strong and smart and tough. You can cry, but not to the exclusion of doing what is right for you and your family.
thesmartdivorce: Divorce is rough stuff. Try to look at the property division as a business. Remember your children are innocent victims and would much rather have you two together. Your children need you to protect them. Love them and they will be okay!
CL-mizlizzy: Thank you so much Susan Goldstein and Valerie Colb -- we appreciate your time, and I appreciate your answers to my questions.