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Terribly worried for my sister

  • Skyblue22
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04 Sep 12 #353847 by Skyblue22
Topic started by Skyblue22
Hello to you all out there. I am actually searching for all the advice and help that anyone can give me on behalf of my sister. 18 months ago she and her husband and their 2 children moved to Seattle to further her husband''s career.
We are devasted to discover that her husband has quite suddenly walked out on her. We suspect there is someone else in mix but he won''t say for sure.
They are british, their children are british, I understand that they either are close to or have Greencards.
I have tried to find information about how it would work if you are living in another country and seperate or divorce there. Is my sister better off legally for any reason coming back to the UK? She was close to coming back but changed her mind. I am worried that her husband holds all the cards here and she''s left reeling from the shock and hasn''t the emotional strength to think practically for her and her kids.
Anyone out there with any advice I would be so very grateful.

  • LittleMrMike
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05 Sep 12 #353899 by LittleMrMike
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Oh dear, another post that strikes a raw nerve !

In the USA, what happens on divorce is governed by the law of the state in which you happen to live. There are, more or less, two possibilities :

the state is a '' community of property state '' or
it''s an '' equitable distribution '' state.

Now if you''ll forgive me for talking this way, where there could be a choice of jurisdiction ( as is the case here ) it is not a bad idea to try and have a look at the likely outcome if you get divorced in jurisdiction A as opposed to what it might be if you divorce in jurisdiction B.

There is also the practical difficulty of how you divorce in the courts of a country that is 6000 miles away from where you happen to live. You might, with luck, be able to agree on everything and then you can do it all by post , But if there is a disagreement - - - - you are going to be spending quite a lot of dosh on air fares.

It might be helpful if you could ring me and I will try and explain what ball game you are in. There are two basic concepts that are relevant to the question of jurisadiction - domcile and habitual residence. It''s almost impossible to explain these in a forum. If the idea appeals, send me a PM and I will try and explain it.


  • Skyblue22
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05 Sep 12 #353971 by Skyblue22
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Thank you for your reply, I have googled it and Washington state is a ''Community Property'' jurisdiction. What little I read because the legal language is onerous it sounds as if everything is split 50/50 which is good.
I have been trying to find out though whether she is better off in the UK, presumably she would be foreced to remain in the states until the divorce was obtained, I don''t know if divorce law there provides for a shorter length of seperatation, UK is 2 years, we have no idea of what grounds could be used at this point, we suspect another party, possibly irreconcilable differences etc., I don''t know if these things bring about a quicker close to all this mess.
My concern is making sure she is where she can get all the emotional support she needs, she is focussing on the kids but in doing that I''m worried she could get stuck out there when in fact being back home would be better all round.
I know none of this is easy to answer.
Urgh, it''s so awful.
Thank you for your reply

  • Fiona
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05 Sep 12 #353983 by Fiona
Reply from Fiona
Your sister really needs to consult a solicitor with experience of family law in both countries to determine whether it is better to divorce in one country or the other.

For divorce purposes as long as there was no intention to leave the UK and never return your sister is likely to be domiciled here and eligible to divorce in the UK even though she doesn''t live here. As Mike said when it comes to the finances it can be difficult (and expensive) enforcing a property order made in one country in a different country.

The other consideration is that your sister can''t automatically bring the children back to the UK. If the children habitually live in the States it is a felony to remove the children from the jurisdiction of the courts there without the necessary permission from her husband or the courts.

  • Canuck425
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05 Sep 12 #354057 by Canuck425
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I live in the Seattle area and am a Canadian so I know a little about immigration and divorce stuff having gone through it.

First, yes please have her see a lawyer in Seattle. Most will give you an hour for free and that will help her get her bearings. I have no idea if she can take the kids and go home. I would not assume you can. If you have the permission of the other parent then you can go.

For emotional support there are all sorts of affair and divorce support groups in the area. It does sound like there is someone else in the mix which makes it difficult.

Drop me an email if you want me to get more specific about Seattle resources. I would be happy to email with your sister as well if that is helpful. I am 15 months or so into this journey so I have learned a thing or two along the way...

  • Skyblue22
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05 Sep 12 #354073 by Skyblue22
Reply from Skyblue22
Thanks everyone for this help, my main issue is addressing these points with her because I think she is still probably going through the shock and is still hoping he will see sense and change his mind, although I don''t think any of us feel this way.
She very nearly came home when this all came out and changed her mind, her husband wasn''t against the idea in fact he thought it was a good idea.
I feel for all of you out there going through this, it must be terrible, we''re on the periphery and it''s pretty untolerable for us so god only knows how she feels.
I know my sister is seeing a counsellor not sure if she''s getting the most of out of it so any recommendations on that front wouldn''t go a miss.

  • Canuck425
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05 Sep 12 #354081 by Canuck425
Reply from Canuck425
If her husband is not against her coming home then get him to put it in writing and then get out of the country. She should get a notarized letter that gives his permission as the father of the children that they can leave the country and enter the UK. Customs officials are on the lookout for parents that abduct children and are very serious about this!

Will he "come around" - who knows? She has to look after herself and not hope that he will. I cannot imagine what child support and spousal support would look like if she were in the UK and he was in Seattle. It would be complex for sure.

Here is the email I send to new people. Pass it along to her with my offer of email support as well. I''ve been in Seattle for 10 years and know loads of people.


I did lots of things wrong in the beginning but I did a few things right as well. All of the points below helped me move along.

1. Get support. I talked to a LOT of people but I was very careful who I told what to. Most people were so ready to support me which was awesome but the ones that knew both of us really didn''t want to get into the details. I was very specific with the kind of support I needed from different individuals. From some I needed to have a laugh. From others I needed them to listen. From others still I needed their opinion. Others I needed them to feed me. etc. The key for me was to talk, talk, talk. I have probably talked to a hundred people that have been through something similar. Understanding that there is a script to these things was quite eye opening to me. Knowing that the leaver will deny, blame and justify helped me. Knowing that a lot of the garbage that comes out of their mouths not only is not true but has no basis in reality helped as well.

2. Get away. As soon as I was healthy enough I went away on a trip to the sun. Soon after that I went away again to visit family and childhood friends. This was very, very good. Just get away for a few days even. Get some space. I like long drives and have done a few solo trips with 6+ hour drives through the mountains. Getting away like that brings me back to my 20s and is very healing for me.

3. Don''t beg, it is as pathetic as it sounds. I had a few bad moments when I was begging her to reconsider. It was pathetic. When she was in the "fantasy bubble" as I like to call it there is no reason that will be considered. You have to realise at that moment, in their minds, everything is going to be amazing. They''ve never been this happy. Never. So let it go. The fantasy will wear off eventually and then you can see where you are.

4. Take care of you. This is the biggest one. Be kind and patient with yourself. Put yourself first. Really first. Not your kids, but you. It''s like on the airplane when they say put the oxygen mask on you first. You have to take care of you then you will be fit enough to take care of others in your life. This will take time and a lot of hard work. It''s worth it. Why? Because you''re worth it. You. Can you commit to taking care of you? This is a very new concept for so many people. Can you truly love yourself? Can you look into yourself and see a person of value? A person worthy of love?

5. Know that you''ll be more than ok. You''ll be awesome. Honest. The future is not yet written and you have a huge hand in it. The best path forward is making your life great.

Another interesting thing I learned is that the stories are not particularly unique. In fact, the more I talk to others that have been through this, the more the stories are all so sickeningly similar. Honestly, I have not truly moved on but I am doing ok. I have learned a ton about myself and the type of person I am. I have looked deeply into myself and started to understand my role in all of this. Why did I allow myself to be treated so poorly? How did the total breakdown in communication contribute to the environment? I think you move on, if that is even the right phrase, by doing the work on you. What was your role? Who are you and who do you want to be?

One more thing. Stop reading so many books on this subject. Get out and have more fun! This is your life and you get to choose what happens next! Commit to being awesome.

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