Dear Amy: I recently reached out to my estranged father to inquire about any life changes he may have had recently, because I was going through the federal security clearance process.
When asked if he was still married, his response was, “Theoretically yes, but I haven’t had contact with her for over six years and have no intention of renewing contact.”
Knowing my father, I am unsurprised that he is currently married to someone that he has no contact with and is unwilling to divorce.
However, I am mad at him for once again treating marriage as a trivial affair he can walk away from with no consequences. I pity his partner and sometimes wonder if I should convince her to divorce him and take her fair share.
While I understand that this is between him and his “technical wife” (using his terms), I feel like this is a matter that does involve me from a legal perspective.
I do not want to fight a legal battle regarding powers of attorney or probates 20 years down the line. (I am an only child.)
I want to share my concerns, but I feel like my efforts would be futile knowing how his emotional immaturity leads to avoidance and broken promises.
I have located the woman through Facebook. At the very least, I do want to hear her side of the story.
Is this something that does not concern me and would cause more distress for everyone?
Or is this something I should pursue to find some kind of conclusion?
I would appreciate any feedback from you.
Dear Bee: Other than your own curiosity, I’m not sure why you are motivated to contact your father’s estranged wife in order to hear “her side of the story.” Doing so would entangle you in a situation between a stranger (the wife) and an unreliable person you don’t seem to know well (your father).
You should research the inheritance laws of the state where your father resides and try to head off problems by encouraging him to focus on some estate planning. Given how avoidant he is, he might duck and weave; you should take this in discreet stages (not confronting him with a possibly overwhelming bundle of issues all at once).
Based on answers he provides and how he behaves, you can then decide whether to contact your father’s “technical” wife in order to clarify their emotional and legal status.
©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.