Relationship Connection: Am I doing the right thing by evicting my son’s ex-wife?

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Question

My son and his wife are divorced. They have three children, one with special needs. My husband and I have helped with raising their children and offering financial help over the years. Our son’s ex-wife is an alcoholic, and while they have joint custody, she has physical custody. My son and his children were living in our house taking care of it while we were out of state taking care of my aging father. The ex-wife moved back into the house to supposedly help him out with the special needs child and now is saying she won’t leave.

We filed an eviction notice on her, which caused her to be angry toward my son and toward us. We have been paying the utilities for the past two years, and we told everyone they needed to move out and get their own place. We are planning on going ahead and selling house, but now she says we do not care about her children and our grandchildren! She says they will now have to go to an inferior school, and she needs time to find a comparable place for their special needs child.

My husband and I are refusing to cancel the eviction notice. The eviction was for her, not the children, as they have been living there long before she came back. Am I wrong in not helping more? She says that we should have given her the money we spent on the eviction lawyer. And she says she is not leaving without her children. I just feel really bad about my grandchildren. Are we doing the right thing?

Answer

Your grandchildren are in an unfortunate situation. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for you to watch them live with so much chaos and instability. You and your husband seem to be extending yourselves as much as possible to provide these children with as much normalcy and stability as possible. It’s so difficult to protect innocent grandchildren while not enabling their parents.

I don’t know the particulars around where your son would go once you sell the home, but as you know, he and his wife get to be in charge of the stability and well-being of these children. Since he doesn’t have physical custody of the children, he’ll have to work out some other arrangement with his ex-wife.

Just because she has physical custody doesn’t mean she has to live with him. It also doesn’t mean that she gets to live in your home just because he’s living there. While there’s nothing you can do about where he and his children live, you can decide who gets to live in your home.

It goes without saying that your former daughter-in-law has a strong sense of entitlement. If your son can’t hold boundaries with his ex-wife, then you have to decide if you’re going to enforce the original agreement you established to provide the children with a stable environment. You get to choose whom you want in your home and how you’ll use your financial resources. You have the right and responsibility to protect your home and loved ones from harmful influences.

If your son is unable to protect his children and ends up in an unsafe situation with their mother (or other adults, for that matter), then you might need to involve child protective services in your area so they can find a safe environment for these children. The fact that you have a special needs grandchild makes this all the more critical.

Hopefully your son and his wife can find a suitable environment for their children. If the constant moving and disruption is hard on the children, then you can only pray that these parents can see this and create more positive conditions.

Your son has the primary obligation to co-parent with his ex-wife, even if she has a problem with alcohol. Obviously, there are laws in place to protect your children from an impaired parent, but he’s the one living in the situation and will have to discern if his children are in danger. If she keeps the alcohol in check, but continues to create chaos in the lives of her children and ex-husband, then he has the responsibility to get the proper support to navigate those dynamics.

Also, recognize that the limits you set with your former daughter-in-law can ultimately be an opportunity for her to embrace the truth about her situation. Limits and feedback give all of us a chance to evaluate ourselves when our behaviors are reflected back to us.

Also, your limits can model healthy responses for your son and the children as they figure out how to interact with a family member with a potential addiction. Addicts need boundaries to heal, and individuals who struggle with addictions often don’t know how to set limits for themselves. All you can do is protect your sanity and stability, so set limits where needed.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Instagram: @geoffsteurer  

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

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15 Comments

  • AnnieMated July 18, 2018 at 10:54 am

    I read this and found myself wondering “If the wife is a homeless drunk living with people who don’t want her there, what kind of scumbag must the husband be for the judge to pick her over him?”

    My advice? Get custody of the kids. If the situation truly is as you say, you should have no problem grabbing it and evicting her afterwards.

    • Real Life July 18, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Lol! Yea, how the hell did she get custody?

      • comments July 18, 2018 at 4:40 pm

        Judge probly figured since she been clean of meth for a couple weeks that the alcoholism wouldn’t be a big deal and wouldn’t interfere with her parenting ability. Otherwise “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.

        In all seriousness, custody always defaults to the mother in this state, even if the situation isn’t so good. I don’t know if that’s sort of a tradition from Utah’s LDS polygamy roots or what… not sure how it is in other states.

        • Striker4 July 18, 2018 at 10:35 pm

          and another stupid post by the Prophet Bob attacking a religious group …

      • Striker4 July 18, 2018 at 10:37 pm

        Duh. ?

  • comments July 18, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Sounds like a total load of BS from this question asker. I’m not buying any of this story.

    • Striker4 July 18, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Ain’t nobody ever buy anything you post either

  • ladybugavenger July 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Are you doing the right thing? No. You stepped into a position you had no business being in.

    Where’s your son?

  • Striker4 July 18, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    Where’s yours ? LOL !

    • ladybugavenger July 19, 2018 at 9:57 am

      Not living with me. He’s still in Vegas, working full time and going to school on weekends to get his CDL.

      • comments July 19, 2018 at 8:49 pm

        hahahah, that ol’ Dump got u good with that one LB. Last I remember you telling us, your boy was dating a “cougar”. 😉

        • ladybugavenger July 20, 2018 at 12:27 pm

          Oh my! Unspeakables LOL

        • ladybugavenger July 20, 2018 at 12:28 pm

          He’s busy, isn’t he? Oh my! I can’t think of that part. Block it out ladybug, block it out! Haha

  • Hataalii July 20, 2018 at 8:15 am

    This is another example of how manipulative addicts are. You need to kick her butt out, now! Maybe you should get child protective services involved in this. If you have a good reason to believe she is an unfit mother, you owe it to your grandkids.
    One more thing here. If your son is not mentally or physically handicapped, you need to kick him out as well. You are enabling both your son and his ex, by allowing them to live there.
    It is YOUR home. Take it back!

  • Diana July 22, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    The best bet is to take her to court and have the judge order her to attend rehab while seeking legal guardianship of your grandchildren. As for your son, he needs to step up and be a man!!

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