DEAR ABBY: I've always been a self-sufficient woman. I grew up in an abusive household, moved out at 16, and cut off contact with my family a couple of years later when it became apparent nothing would change.
Nine months ago, my husband walked out on me and our 3-year-old son. He has no interest in our child. Our roommate, "Matt," became "Daddy" to my son with my ex's blessing.
I want a divorce, but I'm not sure how to proceed. My ex and I have talked; he wants to give up his parental rights, and I have no interest in getting child support from him. All I want is my son.
I can't afford a lawyer right now because of some financial obligations my ex left me saddled with, but I don't want to put this off. If anything were to happen to me, my son would go to my ex instead of the man he considers his dad.
All my friends are either happily married or single, and I have no family to turn to for advice. I'm not religious, so I have no clergyperson to consult. Is there someplace I can turn to for help in ending this marriage, or do I just need to save up until I can afford legal counsel? -- SINGLE MOM IN OREGON
DEAR SINGLE MOM: Your next step should be to contact your state bar association and find out if there are low-cost legal services in your area. If both parties are in agreement, a divorce can be amicable and not expensive. I wish you luck; do not procrastinate.
DEAR ABBY: Some nights I talk in my sleep. It doesn't happen every night, and there is no rhyme or reason for it. Recently my husband told me I said something during my sleep that made him angry. He didn't want to get into a fight, so we haven't discussed it more. I suspect I may have been having an "adult" dream and said a name other than his.
Now he tries to stay up later than me. I think he may be trying to question me while I'm sleeping in order to get more information out of me on the subject. My doctor said there is no guarantee my response would be true or even related to the questions my husband asked me.
Should I confront my husband about whatever is bothering him, or keep stressing myself out about what I may be saying in my sleep? -- NIGHT TALKER IN INDIANA
DEAR NIGHT TALKER: Definitely talk to your husband and try to clear the air, because avoiding the subject isn't healthy. If he's really suspicious because of something you may have said while you were dreaming, discussing this together with your doctor may put his mind at ease.
However, if it doesn't, then I recommend you schedule a consultation for both of you with a sleep disorder specialist who can make clear that what people mumble during a dream sequence is not an indication of infidelity (or reality).
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
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