Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ask Amy: Should I get involved in my daughter’s messy divorce?

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Dear Amy: My daughter is 37 and has been married for 15 years. She and her husband have three boys, ages 13, 10 and 3. She filed for divorce in the most destructive way possible, by moving a male “friend” (who has three children of his own) into her marital home. He needed somewhere to live due to his impending divorce. My son-in-law authorized it. Later, when the “friend” moved into his apartment, my daughter moved in with him.

My daughter and son-in-law are now at the point where they have to decide who, if anyone, will keep the house. Both want to buy the other out, but won’t be able to do so without financial help from my husband and me.

To keep my grandsons at home, I tend to help my son-in-law rather than my daughter. He has a well-paying job that eliminates any possibility of foreclosure, while my daughter has just entered the workforce and earns a low salary. I don’t see how she could afford her house.

I am very willing to help my daughter financially in other ways, for example by renting an apartment. I want what is best for my grandchildren. Should I step aside and let the house be sold and the profits split between them? None of them will find living space comparable to what they could afford, and the fact that the children have to move out and “downgrade” is distressing.

I’m trying to avoid a fight with my daughter, but she will be upset if we help her soon-to-be ex keep the house no matter what we offer her. Participate or stay out?

Financially secure: You’re already pretty involved in this split, but in my opinion you shouldn’t be offering to finance this house. For now, in order to keep the children in their home, the couple might consider “nesting,” which is when the children stay in the home and the separated parents choose to stay home. You might consider helping pay rent for a small apartment next door where the noncustodial parent will stay during the days the other is home with the children.

Your daughter voluntarily left home and joined forces with this “friend” who has children. If she owned the house, she could move this man (and possibly his children) into the house; marking a major disruption for all children. If you financed the house, you might be tempted to try to control who lives there, thereby getting yourself deeper into this mess.

You can benefit grandchildren (without interfering) by always welcoming them into your home as a safe and stable, ever-changing harbor.

Dear Amy: I married “Bob” five years ago. When we met, he had been raising his two daughters alone for three years. His ex-wife was diagnosed with antisocial mental disorder. During the three years it took to finalize their divorce, she was arrested for stalking one of her daughters after she defied a restraining order. She was not trying to physically harm her daughter, but she was knowingly contravening the court order. She maintained occasional supervised visits for a few years, but again violated a court order and disappeared from view.

All of this happened before Bob and I met. All this drama has traumatized the children to some extent. They appear to be afraid of their mother and, in therapy, have stated that they want no contact with her. My stepdaughters are now teenagers and absolutely wonderful.

My husband’s ex recently contacted me via private message. She explained that she had undergone treatment and desperately needed to see her children now that she had recovered. My heart is broken and I would like to help him.

Sensitive: My answer is a resounding “no”. Entrust this contact to your husband. You weren’t there when all this was happening in the family. Her ex is crossing you because she thinks you will be more easily manipulated (and she is right). If she is serious about this, then she should contact the girls’ father.

Dear Amy: I can’t believe you suggested that “Superstitious» should throw his old wedding ring in the river! Here you are, recommending that readers pollute the environment and our waterways with their waste. Thanks for doing such a great job!

Disgusted: You are welcome?

© 2024 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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