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British Lung Foundation
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Bronchiectasis Diagnosis and Divorce

After 19+ years of marriage, and sticking by my husband through thick and thin, he has announced to me this week, three months after my diagnosis, that he doesn't think our relationship can work anymore (yes I believe the diagnosis is the main reason).

I don't know where to go from here. I am unlikely to be able to gain employment as I get exacerbations approx. every six weeks. We have two children who he will try and take custody of. I have no employment at the moment and he has a very high paying job. This means he will be able to afford an amazing solicitor and I won't be able to afford one at all.

Please has anybody else, with bronchiectasis, gone through something like this as I am at my wits end. I will obviously be heading to Citizen's Advice but they can only do one session and no more than that for divorce.

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Hi Bell2019 I am so sorry to hear that it is terrible. If the boot was on the other foot you would have stood by him no doubt. I do remember reading about someone in the last couple of months saying their husband had left them and it was the bronchiectasis diagnosis was the reason also sorry can't remember the name.

Citizen Advice will be able to help but there are plenty of wise people on here to advise you.

Keep us posted of how you get on. Xx

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I am very sorry this is happening to you. Here in the states assets are divided 50/50. Especially with a longer term marriage. Also if a spouse has a disability the other spouse can be forced to pay spousal support or maintenance until the disabled spouse remarries. A sick mother rarely would lose custody if they were able to care for the children. I’ve posted on here before that it is a proven statistic that 80% of spouses leave the disabled one. It’s a rotten thing to do. My wife and I’ve been married 34 yrs. my wife makes enough money to start a life on her own, however she has stood by my side and my symptoms began 11 yrs ago I have end stage emphysema now due to genetic alpha one antitrypsin deficiency. Believe me its not been easy at times for her or me when I’ve had severe exacerbation's. It embarrasses me that I cannot perform sexually as I can barely breath. Lack of oxygen and lack of desire. This is hard on my wife. But she says she will never leave. She’s one of the rare ones.

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She loves you Hun ,you are very lucky and must be a good man to love XX bless you both xx

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Apeter7874 -- you and I have the same genetic condition and are almost in the

same boat.(I may be a little further down the road). I respect your honesty and candidness.

I too have a wonderful wife. Don't know what I'd do without her. Need to count our blessings --even if every day is an ordeal.

All the Best!

JCL

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That's lovely to hear. Real love on action xx

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Hi Bell, I am so sorry to hear this. An awful situation to find yourself in. I'm no expert, but my understanding is that the situation here in the UK will be the same as Apeter7874 describes. If your husband has a good high-paying job, he will be expected to support you and your children staying in the family home. I don't think your illness should make any difference to your entitlement. I hope you can get some good knowledgeable advice from someone who understands the law in this situation. I wonder if the BLF Helpline (03000 030 555) would be able to help, perhaps by pointing you in the right direction for expert advice.

The very best of luck. Let us know how you get on.

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Thank you Patsy164, Apeter7874, jabber. I do appreciate your warm wishes and hope I can sort all this mess out. Unfortunately, although I think he would legally have to support me, I think it would only be until the children are 16, which is not very far off. And the house is currently in almost negative equity so I won't be walking away with anything to start again with. For him, he will be fine. Which I guess is where he is working from. I will seek help/advice and let you know how it goes. If the other lady Patsy164 mentioned is out there I'd really, really appreciate any help/advice/warnings please. Thank you again though xx

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Supporting you has nothing to do with supporting the children. Especially if you have a condition which renders you unable to work. My husband shot himself in the foot because he claimed that he had never seen any sign of the respiratory condition which I claimed that I had ( bronch) and that I could work full time.They made me go for a report to a bronch specialist who was not my own. The report began’ I shall attempt to confine my comments to the prognosis of this lady rather than express my disgust at the immorality of the question being asked in the first place!’

That was put before the judge.

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I went through it for six years after being married for 22. It was my decision to leave because my husband was mentally abusive and coercively controlling. I also had no money and he controlled everything in our lives. He will have to pay to support you and the children and you are entitled to half of the family assets and his pension. Don’t listen to anything he says because he will try to browbeat you into giving everything up. You need really good legal advice and I know that this is difficult today. Hopefully somebody on here can point you in the right direction. If not, try speaking to Citizen’s Advice. I’m so sorry that you are going through this but if you can summon up the strength to fight it you will eventually have your own independant life and that has a value beyond pearls!

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Well done missycartlet! Coercive control is so misunderstood as people only think of domestic violence as being physical...it’s the control that they use therefore often violence is not used because the control works. Controlling and coercive behaviour is a criminal offence and has been since 2015! X

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Thank you Missyscarlet - a lot of your experiences ring very true here. I hope I can have the same courage you do and come through this stronger and happier/safer. Thank you xx

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💖

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Hi Bell

I am so sorry to hear you have found yourself in this situation, especially so soon after your diagnosis. It seems you were not expecting this at all and so I understand your thinking his grounds are questionable.

I was divorced when my daughter was 6 and moved from the south of England back to the north, where I had family support. My ex husband, a Phd had a very good job at Whitehall and like you, I was not working at that time. I live quite happily in a council house and it is after all this time water under the bridge. I do see him and his wife rarely eg at my daughter’s wedding and her 40th and it’s fine.

It does concern me that you may not have access to legal aid and I hope you get some advice on this.

It is not a given that your husband holds all the cards. Divorce is never easy but given lots of support you will come out the other side eventually feeling stronger and with peace of mind.

If you have a local Welfare Rights, it might be helpful to speak to them with regards to any benefits you may be entitled to eventually. Not sure how your bronchiectasis effects you (we are all different) but it might be helpful to think about applying for PIP eventually but Welfare Rights would be able to help you in this regard.

Please know we are here to support you and here is you need to just offload.

With love

Cx

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Thank you cofdrop-UK - I appreciate this. I'm not quite sure what I would do without this website/support group. I definitely need to seek some legal advice asap and the welfare part too I think. I did look at a static caravan a few years ago when he was being difficult as I thought I could just about scrape that together but no idea now how good they are for our chests heating wise? I could happily be with just the kids - it's just all the legal and financial turmoil that frightens me and the thought that he would be able to take them (the kids) away. Thank you ever so much for your help/advice xx

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Just wondering if you are allowed to stay in a static caravan for the whole of the year. It is frightening but please don’t get ahead of yourself thinking he will have custody of the children. Obviously it’s healthy for them to have a good relationship and spend time together, but it is very likely you will be their main caregiver.

Love and hugs

Cx

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Thank you xx To be honest the caravan was all that came up in my budget on the house sales websites! I think in some you can stay for 50 weeks a year so almost all the time.

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It might be useful to enquire about local authority disabled accommodation.

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Hi bell2010. My husband left when i got my copd diagnosis, im slightly different as my children were adults at the time. Its not just the practical things like money and custody they threaten you with, its the loss of confidence in yourself that is the biggest thing they take or try to...dont let him. Get proactive, however much you feel you cant, your kids need you !!! Getting your condition under control or as near to as possible is a must, for you to get ready for whatever happens, and to prove to yourself your capable of anything. Then get bloody angry, i have found anger got me going, then get as much advice as you can about your situation eg: docs, solicitor anyone. You are entitled to half of everything including his pension, which if he is high flying will be substantial. And above all post, post and post some more on here. We are all here for you xxxx love burs xxxxx

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Hello again Burs! My goodness, we do have a lot in common! xx

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I have replied to your post but adressed it to bell2010 not as it should be bell2019. Love burs xxxxx

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Thank you Burs - this is good advice - I will take it on board - thank you xxx

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This is just not on. So he wants rid of you for his own selfish reasons. I cannot see a family court granting him custody of your children, a selfish person cannot be a suitable parent who should put their children first, no matter how much they earn. Neither will you lose your family home as you will have custody of your children. He is just playing nasty mind games with you, to demoralise you, so you do not contest anything. A solicitor will not make much difference in family court.

The court's decision will be based on reports from court welfare officers from interviews with both parents and more importantly with your children and their wishes, the older the children the greater the weight will be placed. After residency has been decided, then house and income will be decided. Finally access rights will be decided, again dependent on your children's wishes.

It is so awfully sad that this happens, the last thing anyone needs after a chronic diagnosis is stress like this.

My situation almost mirrors Apeter's with the exception that my partner and I are not married. Sharon is another one of the rare ones.

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Hi Bell. Nice to "meet you" but so very sorry to hear about your situation. How stressed and confused you must be. Anyway, I think it might be me Patsy was thinking of...

My husband left me in November three weeks after my diagnosis of COPD (and one month after our house was burnt out by a random bin arsonist) because he doesn't want to end up as my carer. I used to have a good career but haven't done paid work for 8 years- initially because we agreed I'd stay home with our son and after that because I suffered from poor mental health and was incredibly unwell. (He wasn't very helpful then either). I was just getting back into the swing of things by volunteering when everything happened but, like you, I'm unsure of my capacity for work long term. Meanwhile, my husband has a decent salary.

The house has now been repaired and my son and I are back living in there while my husband is renting a flat. So far we have managed to agree absolutely nothing apart from monthly child support paid at the minimum rate stipulated by the CSA. Apart from that, we're living off my savings that I earned working abroad in my 20s. I'm not entitled to any benefits because of said savings but will be after they've run out.

So far, I've had very, very general advice from CAB but they did give me a list of local solicitors who do free initial consultations. I've been to three of them- two were useless but one was great. What they couldn't do, however, was tell me what a fair agreement would be as it's decided on a very individualised case-by-case basis. I'd recommend trying for some similar advice via initial consultation which should also be available for free where you are too.

I don't know what else to say that might help as I'm no-where near getting anything agreed in my own situation. He's adamant that he's not giving me anything and whilst I know I am entitled to SOMETHING, I can't afford to take it to court. My priority above all else is keeping a calm, stable environment for my son and I'm doing that well but I also need to secure our future financially. I'm working on that and trying not to make myself even more ill through stress and worry.

As for emotions...after the initial panic, despair, weight loss and sleepless nights I'm actually the happiest I've been in ages! Financially it's a mess but emotionally, he's done me a huge favour by b@*&**ing off- the relationship was a huge contributor to my poor mental health and wasn't really a relationship at all for a long time. I've now, quite unexpectedly (and after much encouragement and support from everyone on here), found myself with someone new who seems to actually like me and I feel part of life again. I get the feeling you might be happier without your husband in the long run too! I really, really hope you manage to get some good advice from CAB or similar soon and begin to find your feet. Remember that all is not lost and even though it feels like a complete disaster, the law is actually on your side here. It just might take a while. Do keep in touch and please let me know if you think I can help in any way at all. xxx

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Hi Artichokes. Thank you so much for sharing that with me - it sounds like you’ve had a really awful time. You have made me smile though with your comments at the end about being better off and I think you are right. I just have to find a way to fight the good fight as they say! Thank you and hope things continue to get better for you xxx

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Hi Bell, sorry to hear about your husband not supporting you I'm afraid that your illness is not his reason its his excuse. With regard to your bronchiectasis you don't mention what medication (if any) you are taking? I have bronchiectasis and at my worst (3 years ago) I was housebound and questioning my desire to carry on with life. Then I found a really good doctor (private) and he prescribed medication that turned my life around to the point that I now lead a perfectly normal life. I'm sure with the right treatment that you can turn this illness off and feel stronger to handle whatever life throws at you take care

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Hi, I am curious to know what medicine you are on as I also have bronchiectasis. After 3 years of constant illness and being sent to various doctors and hospitals I finally found a specialist who prescribed azathromycin on a small daily dosage- 7 weeks on and feeling great!

😃 Deb.

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Hi Weewheezer1, same medication I must say that the NHS consultant i was referred to was useless. So i went private and never looked back, take care

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Thank you Avat - azathromyacin is next on the list gorctreatment - my infections are still quite regular - I think they are looking at this possibly from September or so - I just have to wait and see but sounds very positive in terms of the difference it has made for you - thank you xxx

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Hi Avat, I also have bronchiectasis and was diagnosed in 2010. I have become progressively worse and would like to know what medication you are on that is working so well. I do try to help myself with regular exercise but the coughing, especially at night is extremely trying. Best wishes. Lilianne.

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Bell2019 I just know you will get your bronc managed and realise you know I don’t need a person so weak in my life. It’s an enormous challenge for you right now but I believe in what goes around comes around seen it so many times. Get your symptoms sorted get your strength and fight good luck take care xxx

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Agree what goes around comes around, or as my Mum used to say - he-she hasn’t baked their cake yet!

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I have been where you are ? I was not diagnosed then. But these are your facts. You have been a stay at home mum who bought up the kids, he has a well paid job thanks to your support enabling him to gain his promotions. You need to try and get a job I know you say you can’t but you have to be seen to try. Depending on the age of the kids the judge will look at the facts , yours and his be honest . He The judge, is not going to leave you homeless, your years as a supporting wife are worth loads that will be recognised in the settlement. He may well have to pay towards your legal bills as well. Hang in there , don’t fight over pointless stuff like belonging, get your free legal advise you can represent yourself lots of people do. I had had to get my maintenance payments upheld by a USA court as he stopped pay. I found a way to do it myself no solicitor lots of self doubt but I did it. Do not sit back and think wow is me, fight for your worth , he has decided to leave , you get on and fight and build your new life , it’s the toughest thing ever but I’m proof it can be done x

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Thank you Gamum - good advice xxxx

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Hi Bell2019, I'm so sorry to hear your news. I can't add much to the practical advice above other than there's a government website gov.uk/divorce which may help you. It mentions mediation and you may be able to get some legal aid to help with this. Some solicitors do pro bono (free) work too or, if you need a lawyer they may be able to come up with a payment plan. Family lawyers are quite good and generally decent. I really really hope that you find someone to help you through this difficult time. Good luck my lovely xx

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Thank you Petal70 xxx

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Dear lovely lady, how devastating for you! Coping with this disability brings deep emotions and having been recently diagnosed with the same disorder, I can empathise with the multitude of feelings from anger to grief. It doesn’t feel fair at all, does it?! My biggest downer is the feeling of uselessness as repeated infections have meant the inability to work, even part time over the past 3 years. My husband is in a good, secure job, is very sociable and active. He gets annoyed with me for being too tired to go out but fatigue is normal with bronch. I have to fight my corner and it does worry me that he will decide he doesn’t want to be with an invalid. My fear has become your fact and I am so saddened by this because as a fellow wife, I know the work and love you have put into your life with him. It maybe though, that feeling overwhelmed by your diagnosis he is panicking, thinking how he won’t cope ( which is selfish but at least he is being honest about how he feels). Have you thought of counselling? Whether you stay together or separate, a neutral third party in a safe place away from the battleground of home can help your communication.

Finally, what medication are you on? And do you feel confident in your doctor?

I wish you all the best. I’ve had a few months to accept my diagnosis. Time will help you cope I am sure.

Deb

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Thank you Deb. You may be right. We did have counselling a few years ago and I thought we were doing ok. I am currently on acapella and carbocistene and working on increasing my exercise. It’s mostly the infections that prevent my working as they take me off my feet. I’m not too bad in between but for those 7-10 days and I’m completely wiped out. Xxxx

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This is a horrible situation. Find out if there is a disability charity that can advise you of your rights etc. Google 'Disability ' and your county.

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Don't leave your home. Stay put.

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So VERY important.

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There is a lot more I could say but it would be generalisation!

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I just want to send a hug.

Everyone who has posted has given sound advice (see solicitor, you are entitled to half of the house and pension etc.) so I can't really add to anything. Just don't give up!

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Hi Bell2019

What an awful thing to Happen at such an awful time for you, but by the sound of him your well Rid.

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Bell, I am wondering if he might be worried about your diagnosis, and possibly feels helpless and inadequate. I hope you are able to sort it out and save your marriage. If not, then you don't need a solicitor until he serves you with a Divorce petition, that process will not be easy for him. I hope this thing passes for you. But bear in mind that your health is a priority for you especially if you have children so look after yourself, be selfish! Let him worry about the machinations of a divorce from the mother of his children, child custody, maintenance, his home, his pension. His problem, not yours until he petitions you. Don't discuss any of this with him before or if he petitions you. I think you will be surprised by what he can't have, and you can. Look after yourself and rise above it

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Hi Bell2019 - I’m in agreement with others, it must seem like a tremendous betrayal and you will have to take time to process all your feelings but regard it your children and finances, your husband will be expected to support you and your children , till they reach the age of 18 and courts make not look too kindly on a partner who abandons his spouse when a crisis comes along.Some solicitors will see you free fir the first consultation- check around..

Good luck, stay strong - get angry x

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Hi Bell

I wouldn’t think your husband could take your Children as he’s the one who works and you’re the one at home to keep your eye on them. I really feel for you. You are going through such a traumatic time which is not going to help your health issues. The advice you have been given on here is very good. In a year or so you will be back on here to tell us how well you are doing. I know you probably loved your other half but to be quite honest he’s not worth bothering withif he’s not 100 per cent with the relationship. i wish you all the luck in the world. You look after yourself and your Children.

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You have as many rights as him if not more, get yourself a solicitor number one. He is the one requesting the divorce so is there a third party on the scene?. Why do you assume he will get custody, you can stay in the family home with your children and he will have to pay maintenance and bills, until they are 18, he can not force the sale of the property as I assume your children are under 18. Due to your illness, your should be able to claim PIPand employment support allowance that will give you income of your own.

I’m sure with your GP and consultant your condition can be managed and you can build a new life for you and your children. Don’t forget how bad his actions look to all outsiders. Don’t be a victim, don’t tell him your plans get a SOLICITOR FAST. I went through a horrible divorce only to meet the love of my life we have been together 28 years now. A new life with or without a partner is better than staying with someone who doesn’t want to be with you, it’s his loss, please fight back. His timing is probably on purpose to catch you at your lowest just after diagnosis what a pig he is. Message me anytime you need to talk I’ve been through this love to you and yours xx

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Dreadful behaviour. Good advice here about CAB but also you may get some help from Relate; they are about marriage guidance i know but this is still that in effect.

You must be sure to take a firm attitude - don't be a push over. If you can demonstrate how you have stood by him in adversity and how he is utterly failing you it will help in guiding the settlement decision. Do NOT let him off if maintenance payments are levied - make him PAY. Do not let up on the children - I do not know the ages but COPD is not a bar to parenting - don't not let him say so. Of course if he does it is evidence of why he is leaving you and the court will not be impressed by his motives. If you were married in church remember his vow - in sickness and in health?

Finally from the experience of a couple of female friends try to get a female judge! And do not assume a female lawyer will be better for you! One friend would absolutely say the opposite.

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Oh, Bell, how awful for you, I am so sorry to hear of your dilemma. a visit to the Citizen's Advice Bureau would be a good move. You say your husband has a high paying job, which may mean a lot of money engage a good solicitor but it may also mean that he will not b e able to give the children the attention that they need. Mostly custody is awarded to the mother of the children especially when she is home all day and the husband is working. Please do not despair, you will be doing to right thing getting inn touch with Citizen's Advice. I am very lucky, my husband sticks by me, even when I wake him in the night with my coughing. Good luck and my very best wishes go with you. Lilianne.

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WHAT ? --- WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ............" IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH " - IN THE MARRIAGE SERVICE ? ...THIS IS SHOCKING .. I AM SO SORRY , WELL, I'ME A BELIEVER IN KARMA , WHAT GOES ROUND COMES ROUND ...DESPITE HIS " VERY HIGH PAYING JOB" ... THIS WILL AVAIL HIM NOTHING EVENTUALLY , HOPE YOU HAVE SOME FRIENDS TO HELP OUT , THIS IS 'NT YOUR FAULT , SO I BELIEVE , IN TIME THINGS WILL IMPROVE - THINK POSITIVE AND GOOD LUCK - COME AGAIN ON HIS SITE AND TELL US HOW YOUR GETTING ...

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Oh my goodness that’s very cruel. I agree if the shoe was on the other door you would be there standing by him. I hope you stay strong and fight him for your children. Don’t be a stranger here there is always somebody that can help/listen/advise or even been through the same traumas. Big hugs and take care xx

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Sorry that meant other foot not door 🤣

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You are strong enough to be able to go on without him I know is hard just don't lose hope maybe is going to be a new beginning for u

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It makes me so angry reading this ,it’s a condition which when we are well we are well.If you had thyroid problems or diabetes would he feel the same way ,I think both of you should talk to your doctor as the fear of the unknown is standing in the way ,I wish you a happy ending to this extremely unfair situation xx

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Hi Bell2019, what a liitle rotter telling you this when diagnosed, you needed to get your head round the disease first. Go through every channel and get as much help as possible. Do you have friends and family near? we all need someone to talk to and help out. I left my ex when we lived in Germany when my daughter was six, I came home with nothing, nowhere to live , hadnt worked for 10 years and no money. Its amazing what you are capable of doing when you need to and believe me it will make you stronger. I lived with my Mum for 6 months and got a little flat when the divorce came through. There was no financial help in those days, so off to work i went. I know its hard for you at the moment, try to stay strong. And please go to citizens advice and get as much information as you can. We are all rooting for you. You will get through this, please keep in touch

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I do know he will have to help support the children untill they leave full time education including uni. Thear are no grounds for you not to have joint custody. As the children are older they will have a say on who they live with. I hope this helps a little

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I am truly sorry but my feelings of empathy aren’t gonna do you too much good. I suggest keeping busy with something other than him as your focus. There should be something you can do from home to make what you need to get by, like online perhaps or something you only have to go out to a few days a week. I don’t know how it works in your country but here in the USA if a man makes good money he’s going to have to pay you. He has defaulted on his end of the contract, the”in sickness and health” part. I’m sure just by his stupidity it’s not helping your health. Here someone would sue him for that. I don’t know what I would do in that situation but my husband of almost 28yrs married me knowing I was a sick chick but now through the years I’ve gotten better now he’s in worse shape than me. Your husband will soon learn what he has lost. Karma has a great way of teaching lessons to not nice people. Keep your chin up, you still have youth on your side. Don’t speak poorly of him to your children they will come to know who did right and who didn’t. Good luck with it all, I’m so sorry you have to go through this it will make you stronger in the end. Let your friends and family help you as well

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