What Divorce Financial Abuse Does To Children

Photo: Ekaterina Byuksel / Shutterstock
mom holding two children, struggling family

My children didn’t leave my husband.

I did.

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But he was willing to make them suffer to teach me a lesson. 

He forced my boys to pay exponentially for my mistakes. The error of marrying the wrong man and the punishment for leaving him.

These are just a few of the words no child should have to utter.

What divorce financial abuse does to children

I’ve just told my husband I am divorcing him. He withholds food and school supply money.

“Mom,” says my son. “I know Dad is mad at you but what about us? We live here too and we need to eat.”


It’s after midnight and I’ve gone to bed. My teenage son bursts into the room and frantically yells out because a repo man is in our driveway.

“Mom,” he says. “Please Mom, hurry you need to come outside. Someone is in our driveway trying to take the car.”


It’s an average day during the first year and a half of my divorce. The vultures who receive foreclosure notices are once again laying in wait in our cul de sac.

“Mom,” scream my boys. “There are cars out in front of our house again.”

A sheriff's deputy pulls into our driveway. My son and I make our way to the front door. He is speechless and I am shaking. It’s only a few months into my divorce.

I am unaware my husband stopped paying many of the bills. My son and I think something terrible has happened. I am served with a warrant in debt.

We close the door and my son makes his way to the kitchen. He sits down and puts his head in his hands.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“No,” he says. “I thought something bad happened.”

“I did too,” I say.

“Mom,” he says. “What’s the matter with Dad?”


One of my boys is sitting in our dining room. It’s nearing the end of my extremely abusive and overly-long divorce. Out of the blue, he makes the following comment.

“What kind of man leaves the mother of his children with no savings or retirement?” he says.

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My boys have had enough. They tell their father to stop.

“Boys,” says their father. “This is your mother’s fault. She wanted the divorce.”


I take my boys to their doctor’s appointments. The woman in the office looks at us and explains my children are no longer insured.

My boys and I leave too embarrassed to utter a word.


We are finalizing the divorce and my husband refuses to send our youngest son to college. He says he’s broke. I’ve let my guard down since we are finalizing the divorce. I didn’t believe he could get away with this so there was no time to secure a loan.

I am heartbroken for him.

“I’m sorry,” I say to my son. “I thought I had it figured out.”

“That’s okay Mom,” he says.


Our son is away at college. He works and contributes $10,000 a year to his own education. He’s been working since he was sixteen and has always paid the majority of his own expenses.

“Dad,” says my son. “I need my rent money.”

“Sorry,” says his Father. “I have to pay my own rent. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Our home phone rings off the hook. One creditor after another from the bills my husband has stopped paying. One of my boys answers the phone.

“Mom,” he says. “It’s a creditor again.”


It’s the beginning of the divorce and one of my boys is upset. All three of them are troubled by their Father’s severe emotional and financial abuse.

“Dad’s not trying to be good,” he says. “He’s trying to be right.”

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It’s a year into our divorce. My husband never comes looking for our children. He doesn’t take them for a weekly dinner, weekend, or even holidays. The only time he occasionally calls is if he wants someone to watch sports with. And then he’s willing to spring for a meal.

It’s the summer so all three of my boys are home. Sadly, because an entire year has passed they realize he doesn’t have much interest in even his own children.

“Dad called,” one of my sons says. “Big surprise! There’s a game on so he wants to see us.”

My children didn’t leave their father. I did.

They did not deserve to be used, confused, and abused by a man, let alone one that should protect them. Their father was willing to hurt them to hurt me and continue to do so for five long years.

Something needs to change.

There should be severe consequences for parents who are willing to inflict harm on their children in order to achieve their desired outcome. People like this should have to pay more for divorce. It’s the only consequence that will stop them since it’s all about the money for them.

I have three incredibly beautiful, strong, loving, kind boys.

They deserved better than to pay for their mother’s mistakes.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes bout love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.