...and I just found out that she is sleeping with my best friend.
I want a divorce!"
That's what "Robert" told me about his wife, "Nicole", when he first came in. (Details changed to protect confidentiality.)
Robert's a good guy who has gone through hell, but he's turned it all around and made a great life for himself and his kids.
Robert and Nicole live in New Jersey with their three kids.
On May 14, 2019, like every other weekday morning for the past 19 years, Robert left his house at 5:15 AM for the long commute to his office in New York City.
The financial services firm that he works for has an office nearby that he could work at, but he makes far more money in the city, and living in New Jersey is expensive.
It's a very long day, but he is proud that it allows him to provide his family with a solid 6-figure income.
Nicole stopped working when they had their first child 15 years ago, and has been a homemaker ever since.
Married life was not perfect, he confided in me. Nicole overspends. She's often self-absorbed. She takes care of her needs and doesn't really seem to consider his.
Nonetheless, Robert said that he was happy enough.
But he was not happy about the fact that Nicole had lost her desire to have relations with him.
“Hormones”, she told him. "And you get home from work so late. I'm lonely."
He trusts Nicole. They love each other dearly, Robert tells himself.
Yet something doesn't feel right.
“She must be a narcissist, like her self-absorbed mother," he started thinking to himself recently.
A week before he first came to see me he became suspicious enough to put a tracking device on Nicoles's car "....just to make sure that she wasn't cheating on me."
He told me that he knew that it was illegal to do so but he felt that he "...just had to know."
Nothing unusual showed up for the first 7 days, which made Robert feel guilty for questioning Nicole's faithfulness.
But that day at 12:42 PM, Robert's life changed forever.
The tracking device notified his iPhone that Nicole's car was in his best friend Alan's garage.
"What the hell is she doing there?" he thought.
"Hi Honey!" he said into his phone, his heart pounding out of his chest, feeling the drenching sweat rolling down his hand. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, you know, just the same old thing. Got the kids off to school, and now I'm cleaning the house. I can't wait to get out of here, but I've just been too busy today.”
Then a long, uncomfortable silence.
They both knew.
He called Alan. The phone rang 8 times. Then voicemail.
"What ‘cha doin’, buddy? Give me a call back ASAP."
The call was not returned.
ROBERT IS FURIOUS
He stormed into the house two hours early.
"I'm outta here!" he blurted out as he moved past Nicole to the master bedroom to grab some personal things.
"If you weren't working all the time, you would have noticed how unhappy I've been!" she screamed at him.
"I want a divorce, you devious, cheating narcissist!" he yelled back at her.
"YOU want a divorce? I'll give you a divorce that you'll never forget, you obsessive-compulsive workaholic!
"Workaholic? I bust my ass to give you everything you've ever asked for, and you're screwing that sleazy bum Alan?
You won't get a damn nickel from me, and I'll take custody of the kids from you! You are an unfit parent!" Robert screamed at her.
"Me? YOU caused this" Nicole replied. "It's not my fault. I'm gonna go for the jugular and take you for everything that you've got!...
"...and by the way...following me with a GPS device is illegal in New Jersey and the penalty could be jail!" she yelled with a smile.
Robert looked at me with a tired, dazed look.
"SHE cheats on ME with MY best friend, and now SHE says that she is going to go for the jugular and try to put me in jail?"
"What a narcissistic nut job. How the hell did I ever marry that wacko?"
I continued to listen carefully.
"It's over. I have integrity. I can accept many things, but betrayal is not one of them.
Robert started to cry.
"That narcissistic bitch isn't getting any of my 401(k), my IRA, my pension, or any of my stocks. She deserves nothing from me. Let that jackass support her."
In addition, Robert told me that he has decided that he is going to apply to the Court for custody. He said that Nicole is unfit, and that the kids would rather live with him anyway.
He also said that he wants a full psychological report done on her "...to prove that she is a narcissist."
ROBERT NEEDS HELP
At times, through his rage, Robert realizes that he is speaking and acting irrationally, but he is having trouble being calm right now.
The next morning on the ferry to Manhattan, a commuter friend recommended my Daily Dose of Divorce email series to Robert.
Robert immediately subscribed right from his iPhone and his first email arrived instantaneously.
He read it.
He said that the first email was so useful to him that each day thereafter he looked forward to receiving his email from me.
Robert told me that these daily emails answered a lot of his questions and gave him a lot of emotional comfort.
Ultimately Robert hired me to represent him in his divorce case.
I helped him understand the law, and in particular, the way that our divorce court judges in New Jersey tend to apply the law to situations like his.
Together, we explored a series of realistic settlement possibilities.
I also recommended several therapists and financial experts to him.
Robert hired a therapist who helped him deal with his feelings of betrayal, got him to slow down and THINK ABOUT WHAT HIS GOALS ARE, and helped him to focus on what type of CUSTODY ARRANGEMENT is in the best interest of his children.
He also hired a financial advisor, who helped him get a better grasp on his finances and helped him prepare his Case Information Statement to support his divorce case's financial theory.
He and Nicole attended a special custody mediation program at the Court House.
We exchanged multiple settlement proposals with Nicole's lawyer, and Robert and Nicole, with their attorneys present, participated in mediation of the economic issues.
Ultimately, Robert settled the case in a way that meets his needs and the needs of his children.
Nicole was not able to "take him for all that he's got." Not even close.
It was a fair deal.
There was no need for an expensive, drawn-out contested divorce trial.
Issues of custody and money that at first seemed impossible to resolve were worked out fairly.
Ultimately, Robert and Nicole had a simple uncontested divorce hearing at the County Court House.
Robert then began to heal.
ROBERT'S LIFE GOT BACK ON TRACK
Robert stopped in to say "hello" recently. He looks like a new man.
The rage from the betrayal of his ex-wife and his former best friend that at one time had consumed him is gone.
He told us that his relationship with his children has never been better, and that he was surprised to find that he is not lonely but rather he's enjoying his freedom.
He's able to afford to do what's important to him.
"Life is good!" he told us.
My guess is that you are at this website because, like Robert, you have also reached a breaking point.
Being married to a narcissist like Robert was can be really tough.
But it is also hard being married to someone who has bi-polar disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, controlling behavior, adultery, lying, overspending, or obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Often it is a combination of these issues that causes someone to consult with me.
WHATEVER THE CAUSE, A DIVORCE MAY BE COMING, AND YOU HAVE CONCERNS.
You're seeking direction.
"What are my options?"
"How do I protect myself?"
"What should my next step be?"
You feel a need to find out how to best protect your kids and your assets.
You need to be sure that you'll have enough money if you do actually divorce.
You don't want to fight; you just want to be fair.
But you're not sure if your spouse will be fair to you.
You're concerned about the future. The uncertainty is making you fearful.
Thoughts of being alone again, of returning to the dating scene, and of being a single parent add to your stress.
It's hard to sleep.
I GET IT.
I understand the stressors that divorce brings.
Every day for the past 33 years I've worked with divorcing people throughout New Jersey.
Not only am I highly trained and experienced as a divorce specialist but for the past 33 years, I have personally experienced what divorcing families go through. (CLICK HERE FOR MY BACKGROUND)
And along the way I've learned that the way issues in a divorce case are SUPPOSED to be decided is often different from the way that these issues actually end up getting resolved.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
I think that it would be useful for you to be shown the difference between the way the system provides for your divorce issues to be resolved from the way that you may end up actually resolving them.
So how can you learn the difference?
The most useful thing that you can do RIGHT NOW is to do what Robert did: get a solid "divorce education."
The more you learn about how child custody is decided, how assets are divided, and how alimony and child support are determined, the sooner your anxiety will lessen.
And the better prepared you will be to consider the differences between the ways that the system technically says your case will be decided from the options that you probably have to have your case decided differently.
To get helpful information about divorce in New Jersey, you can sign up for my "Daily Dose of Divorce"emails (CLICK HERE).
Your first "Daily Dose of Divorce" email will arrive immediately.
The knowledge that these emails will give you is a great way for you to conquer your divorce-related fears.
And your divorce-driven anxiety will start to decrease each day as you learn how to get through this tough time.
Are you ready to begin learning ?
Click the link above and I'll immediately provide you with your first email loaded with helpful tips.
Then check your email every 24 hours for the next 30 days for that day's hot tips.
And if you ever feel the need for a Divorce Strategy Session with me personally, I'm always just a phone call away at (732) 845-9010.
Hang in there...this is going to help you.
Steven J. Kaplan, Esq.
Law Practice Specializing In
Divorces Throughout N.J.
5 Professional Circle
Colts Neck, NJ. 07722