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Betrayed Spouse 101

Hit The Road, Jack!

Y ou've kicked your cheating spouse to the curb. Its done. Final. You've decided to divorce. So....what now? Here are some valuable tips from those who've been there.
(Special thanks to ivillage members: paizleygrl, sevenfirearrows, karenmrh, lablady2000, spygrrl2002, leopardspot, charismatix and lynndoll45.)

LEGAL:   Find out what the divorce laws are in your state. What are the filing procedures (start with filing for separation), the property rights, and get all the details on Custody and child support. Research EVERYTHING! Most states have all this information on line, so it's easy to obtain.

If you can afford a lawyer, or need a lawyer, research that too! However, many times this can be done without a lawyer. A less expensive solution if you don't anticipate too much of a fight is to go through a Mediator, or even a document preparation service. Don't give up anything just because you want out to make it less painful. Listen to the attorney. He/she knows what you are entitled to by law. If you want to have sole custody of your children, get physical custody papers first thing. See several lawyers before choosing one, and get all the recommendations you can. Don't rack up fees using them as your support system.

Next, establish the framework of your subsequent separation. Will your ex be moving out? Will you? Clearly document (and yes, I mean IN WRITING) between the 2 of you what those expectations are. Also include a "financial" disclosing statement in your documented expectations. Who will pay for what etc. Get a signed legally binding settlement as quickly as can before their guilt fades and the fighting begins. You might be able to get a big settlement with an attorney, but if you're in debt to the lawyer, what have you won? Figure out what you need and what you consider fair, and push for it. Get them to sign it as soon as they agree. Remember: Dividing assets doesn't mean sell off everything and split the proceeds. You may be entitled to more than you think.

Grab all the documents you can, like bank statements, credit card receipts, tax returns, marriage certificate, pay stubs, birth certificates, social security cards, bills, love letters, copies of emails, copies of cell phone bills, insurance cards, vehicle titles...put them in a safe place, with a friend, mother, in a safety deposit box (name a trusted friend or family member the co-owner of the box and give them a key), even mail them to yourself at your new post office box or box at Mailboxes, Etc. The reason is that you will need this stuff to prove how much money you need to be kept in the same financial state you were in prior to the break up, how much you contribute to the household and how much your spouse really makes (vs what they're telling a judge they make). Also, keeping proof of what your spouse has done with Other Woman/Man is a good idea - before they decide to make it disappear.

FINANCIAL:   How's your individual credit? Go check it out NOW. Again, the credit services usually have a 1 time free opportunity to get credit reports (otherwise they are $12, on line). Some services to check are Experian and Equifax. Start looking at your clean up strategy if it needs help. There are FREE services for debt clean up. A good one to start with is Consumer Credit Counseling Service, who can even counsel you online or over the phone. (Even if your credit is good, it might be a good idea to contact them since your income will be reduced after the divorce. They can help you set up a budget). Get your spouse's credit report to see where all their debt and assets are - there may be items on it that will surprise you.

Get your sweet self down to the bank, NOW (!) and withdraw at least half (no more than that - don't make trouble for yourself later) of whatever is in any joint accounts. DO NOT assume that your spouse will do the honorable thing, and leave anything in there for you! Open your own separate account in your name only. If you have direct deposit of your paychecks, etc, call them up now & change where the deposits are made to. Put some money away for an apartment, utilities, etc.

Do you need a job? Go to organizations like Manpower (free job placement service), Snelling, or Kelly Services. Or look in your yellow pages for "Employment Services". Specifically, Manpower is good for single moms, and they offer job-reentry training. If you already have solid skills and experience, but just need to dust off the resume, DO IT IMMEDIATELY. Get an email address with Yahoo, Hotmail or ivillage(if you don't have one already) and use it on the resume. You can answer job postings on online sites like and

EMOTIONAL:   First and foremost, stop sleeping with your spouse and get the STD tests over with.

Do you have your support system set up? Who will provide emotional support to you and/or your kids? Set it up. Do you have a counselor? If not, and if you can afford it, get a counselor. Again, this is an emotional experience, and you will need to process your way through it.

Start some kind of exercise or physical fitness program. You will need this as this is an emotionally overwhelming process, no matter how strong you are. You need a physical type program to release stress and tension (even yoga helps).

Sad but true fact: a cheating spouse who is being dumped against their wishes can fight you tooth and nail and become the ugliest person alive--even if they have been the nicest and sweetest person you ever knew. Keep that in mind and arm yourself. Follow the No Contact Rules if things start getting ugly.

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