A quick and easy divorce? Don’t count on it.

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Q: What steps must I take to divorce my husband?

He’s emotionally/verbally abusive and doesn’t keep up the rules: 1) No drinking in front of the kids; 2) No phone or devices at bedtime for the kids.

Two of my children are teenagers from my previous marriage. Our two under age five are the ones I want to save from his arguments and selfishness.

His alcoholism is also a problem for my older ones. I don’t want them to copy his behaviour.

But I don’t want counselling because I don’t love him anymore. I’ve given him a long time to change.

I no longer want him to become “better,” and for me to suffer. Any legal support will help at this time.

A: Prepare for a bumpy ride, because divorce is rarely simple, even if necessary.

In some jurisdictions, you can file for divorce online, for a fairly modest fee.

However, one online form which checks to see if you qualify for this cheaper route, asks, “Can you and your spouse agree to the division of property, debts and all child-related issues?”

From the situation you’ve described, it seems unlikely there’d be an uncontested divorce, with no issues regarding a child-custody agreement.

So, since you’ve written me and not a lawyer, you get some relationship chat in my response.

I know that it’s frustrating, stressful and frightening to live with someone who’s abusive. You know that his alcoholism plays a part and the influence on both the older and younger children is very negative.

A divorce may indeed be your best choice.

But you must certainly realize that when you tell a difficult, angry father/stepfather/spouse to leave, permanently, it won’t happen smoothly for you and the kids.

That’s why you need to think through your approach and where to begin.

While you see counselling as just a delay to your purpose, I assure you that even a couple of sessions of discussing how to handle the initial conversations about separating, and his responsibilities and rights regarding child custody, visits and support, are very necessary.

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Why? Because you’re already dealing with a volatile person.

He does have rights and obligations in a divorce, and needs to know these at the start of your introducing the subject of divorce, calmly and informed.

That’s also why one visit to a lawyer to learn the facts that matter in your case may be money well spent (versus years of fighting over support money owed and regular visits with his kids).

Look for Legal Aid lawyers if available in your area, and also see what’s provided by a family law clinic.

Note: Even if divorcing, you should attend a meeting of Al-Anon for the information you already need about the effects of your husband’s alcoholism on his teenage stepchildren.

You’ll find it helpful for yourself, to learn how living with someone’s alcoholism creates the scenarios you describe, with you trying to be the rule-maker in the house when your partner has his own rules for himself.

Q: I’m a guy, 31, taking online courses to upgrade myself from a decent but boring job. I run to keep fit, am decent-looking, but shy with women.

How can I interest a woman enough to suggest a date?

A: Talk to a woman who’s running, like you. Sharing an interest is an early attraction. Just say, “Hi,” with a smile. Say your name, and ask hers. See where it, and the run, leads.

Ellie’s tip of the day

No surprise: Quick, easy divorces require two people who agree on all the issues.

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Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: ellie@thestar.ca.

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