Stay Or Go But Not Both

Jessica is trying to leave her husband because of his addiction and needs to separate her finances from his. What's the best way to start separating herself and her children?

QUESTION: Jessica in Dallas is trying to leave her husband because of his addiction and needs to separate her finances from his. What’s the best way to start separating herself and her children?

ANSWER: You can’t keep your house with your income. He’s going to get foreclosed on, and so are you. They won’t foreclose in three months but eventually. You can’t pay this bill. He’s an addict and not responsible. You’re going to leave, and you’re going to have to pay your rent. You don’t have enough money to help with the household bills. You have to feed your kids and eat. Household bills are his problem. He can pay his own light bill.

Here’s what’s going on: You’re trying to separate and divorce from this guy without separating and divorcing from him. It doesn’t work. It’s all or nothing. You’ve got to decide with some good marriage counseling—maybe some direction from your pastor—if you have reached the end of trying to deal with an addict. Very few addicts keep their marriages as long as they stay addicted, unless you become crazy. If you’re insane, you can live with an addict. You’ve had the wake-up call because addicts are insane. They do insane things.

He won’t sell the house, so he’s going to get foreclosed on and you with it. There’s not really anything you can do to stop that unless a judge forces him to sell the house as a part of the divorce, which I would probably go ahead and start that process. Have your attorney file a motion to force the sale of the house. You need to look for a place to live if you’re going to leave.

How do we survive? You set up a household budget that operates on $40,000 to $50,000 a year. The rent needs to be about half what you have now. You’ve got a lot of kids to feed on that, so you’re going to be on a very tight budget, you’re going to have to be conservative on your rent, you can’t go into debt, and you’re going to have to be on a detailed game plan to keep yourself from getting into a mess.

You’ve got to set up a written budget that makes you able to survive and feed four kids on $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Can you do that in Dallas, Texas? The answer’s yes. Is your life going to change substantially? The answer’s yes. I’m going to nail his ears to the wall and make him pay child support. The guy needs to pay his bills, and taking care of his kids is one thing. I don’t care about his little games he plays. I have no use for that stuff. The manipulation and lying of an addict—my patience level is very short for it. We’re just going to deal with taking care of these kids and taking care of you.

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