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Some anecdotal advice given
Dear all - I'll apologise in advance for sharing what might seem to be a somewhat negative post, but the intention behind it is to share some experiences with a view to forewarning some others to allow them to hopefully avoid the same fate I have suffered.

I left the family home 4 years ago now, having been married for 15 years. We were very happy for the initial years, however things began to take a turn for the worse around year 9 or 10. She had a daughter from a previous relationship, which she had always told me had ended because 'he' was ultra violent towards her and eventually she was brave and ran away with the help of a women's refuge. She also accused him of intending to kidnap the daughter and take her to Pakistan, where he was originally from. Anyway to cut a long story short, she eventually got full custody of the child and he gave up the ghost.

Basically over time, my ex began to become manipulative and would speak to me very harshly, often in front of our 3 kids. As time went on, I began to get really fed up with this, which is when I made the mistake of getting too close to someone else through work who would speak gently and kindly and would make me feel good about myself - yes, a stupid thing to do, I know it. There was never, ever a physical relationship - I swear - but when my ex inevitably found out, in her eyes it was a betrayal and an infidelity on my part. My ex laid an ultimatum at me that I had to end this emotional relationship, which I did immediately, but if I wanted to save our marriage I had to give her security by pretty much submitting to whatever she felt she needed to get past her anger and upset. I agreed, being as I was at the time - full of remorse and guilt at the sight of the upset I caused. That was without a doubt one of the worst mistakes I have ever made as my ex felt the need to discuss this continually for months and would quickly escalate to becoming very violent towards me when she was at the height of her anger. 

My ex has a massively quick temper and will go from 0-60mph faster than most sports cars. This presented an occasional problem in the previous years but now became a source of regular, unsolicited and undeserved violence on myself. When she would calm down, she would swing the other way into some remorse, but always with the caveat that I had provoked her or pressed her buttons - neither of which I had done and I had never, ever been violent to her. Her violence would take the form of spitting in my face, physically attacking me with fists, feet, tearing my clothes off my back, destroying my possessions and so on. I never retaliated, although I would often restrain her to prevent her hurting me seriouslyAlthough the frequency of the instances lessened over the following 5 years, the ferocity of her violence did not and eventually, the straw broke the camel's back and I left the home after one such episode of violence, knowing that if I didn't, I was going to spend the rest of my life like that, given that I had already put up with this for five years, whilst also submitting control of finances and most decisions to her as part of my 'penance' for her security's sake. We went through a brief period of discussions but I had already decided I wasn't going back unless she took some real steps to try to get help for her behaviour. Needless to say she didnt and when I found out that she had destroyed some of my belongings in my absence, there was no way I was returning.

Despite the initial difficulty, my situation was actually a relief and I soon began to feel better about myself. I got to see my kids regularly at first and I honoured the mortgage and bill payments for my ex to try to make things easier for her - after everything, I didnt wish her any harm or difficulty and I wanted to try to make things easy for the kids. However after about 6 months, I could no longer pay 2 sets of bills so I proposed to pay the mortgage and give her some maintenance money towards the kids. This didnt go down well because apparently these were still my bills, even though I wasnt living there for 6 months. She began to badmouth me to anyone we knew, telling them I hadnt paid a thing towards the kids - when I had paid around £800 monthly in bills and cash, plus bought the school uniforms etc. Eventually I got fed up being badmouthed and told my ex we had to settle things legally and decide what to do with the jointly owned home, which is when things turned nasty.

My ex contacted me and apologised for the difficulties, advising that she wanted ease for our kids and we should be amicable. I was really happy with this. She asked me to come to the family home and fix a couple of minor things, which I happily did. While I was there, she sprung her trap and started an argument with me about some of my personal belongings which she claimed were marital property - things like power tools I'd bought, my car (which was on HP) and so on. I reminded her we had to discuss the house and she then demanded I leave, which I did. She then called the police and accused me of DV, and I was arrested and held overnight in a cell, despite no evidence etc. Apparently in Scotland at least, as soon as an allegation is made, the Police are bound to remove the accused to safeguard the victim. I was bailed under the condition that I did not return to the home or contact her or the kids, which seems to be a common theme with many on here.
Things got worse prior to my court date. She called the Police again and reported me for historical acts of violence - every single accusation fabricated and in fact some of them had been committed by herself on me, which she reversed roles for the benefit of the Police. I was charged with these additional accusations and went to court as the accused, when in fact I had been the victim for years. We went to magistrates court as this was where the original charge was headed. My lawyer advised me that this kind of case was more suited to Crown court, but that if I was convicted, that the sentence would be more severe, so I listened to him. Her charges were unsubstantiated, apart from input from my kids who confirmed that on occasion they had overheard arguing and noises of violence from the next room and seen the resultant fallout. My lawyer called up my ex's medical records as she had regular health checks for an illness and there were no records of bruising or injury at all. It turned out that on the day I left, she told the doctor she had been assaulted but when examined, the doctor noted that there were no corresponding injuries. I was tried with my ex behind screens as she was 'so fearful' of me, doing her very best to be the distressed damsel. Despite the evidence being verbal, with no medical evidence or supporting material, the magistrate convicted me, advising that she believed me to be a liar, without actually quantifying why. I was given over 200hrs of community service and 18 months probation - I had never had as much as an arrest ever before in my life. There was also the inevitable 2yrs period of non-contact, so I have missed time with my kids which I will never get back. I appealed of course, but the response was that the magistrate is entitled to make a sole decision and that was it. 
Of course I now realise that my ex lied about her previous husband in the same way and is something of an expert in using the system as leverage. 
She also referred to the CSA, claiming I had never paid anything towards the kids. I had been made redundant in this time and accepted another role at a lesser salary. The CSA worked out my payments on my previous salary and had me paying over £100 monthly more than I should have been. She knew this but was happy for me to struggle, driving me into debt. When my son left school, she lied to the CSA that he was still in education and it was left to me to prove that he was no longer eligible for maintenance rather than her having to prove he was! That got sorted, but the woman was fraudulently trying to extort even more from me.

I'm doing very well now, thank God. My 'convictions' are almost spent and community service/probation are long gone and I am now in a relationship with a wonderful lady, but have to admit to still being 'sore' about the experience, more so now as I enter the legal fight to get the value of half of the joint property - which will no doubt be dirty fighting again.

Anway, I have some advice to give to those who may end up in the same boat.
1) Violence from the spouse - NEVER excuse this. It is WRONG and the more you make excuses or let them away with it, the more they will do it. Up to you whether you report it or not but diarise it, take photographs because if you are male YOU WILL NOT BE BELIEVED IN COURT if it ever gets that far. Go to see your doctor and document your injuries.
2) Don't flog a dead horse - if the relationship is at the point of violence, it is unlikely to be recovered. Sometimes it is better to cut your losses and split, even though it is hard. I slept on floors for a couple of weeks and sofa surfed for a couple of months but you will get back on your feet.
3) If your ex suddenly becomes nice after a period of hostility and invites you to the house - do not go alone, or record the visit. I cannot stress how important this is. Whilst I was waiting in a holding cell for my trial I met other guys who had been entrapped as i had. The gloves can come off after a split and you may be seen as 'fair game.'
4) Do not have faith in the legal system - it is not equipped to protect men and actually empowers women to use it as a weapon against you. Do not make the mistake I made. If she alleges violence against you, you are guilty in the eyes of the cops and the law until you can prove yourself innocent.
5) Get a bloody good lawyer if you do end up accused. Mine was useless and let me down. Make sure they submit the evidence YOU want to submit as mine ommitted items that could have thrown real doubt on her character
6) The CSA is not there to help you and they will make arbitrary decisions, ignoring all proof, and can be used as a weapon against you. Keep your records of all payments made.
7) Keep every email and text message with your ex. Try to avoid speaking on the phone when you can, or if you have to, put on speakerphone with a witness present. 
8) Dont be too nice!!! I know it sounds crazy but I was too nice. I paid bills and gave loads of money for months after I left - it made things worse in the long run because it riled her when I couldnt keep it up and thats when the crap began. Don't assume she will be as nice as you might be trying to be. Dont be nasty or evil to her. Just be straight and do what's decent - dont give more than you have to because you might be about to get pulled into a fight.
9) Make sure your kids know you love them, despite the split. If like me, your kids are as much part of you as your heart, know that you might be deliberately alienated from them as I have been. I have not seen mine now for years and they believe me to be a monster. If you want to hold on to the contact, be the nicest dad you can when you have them and love them extra. I miss mine so much and that woman has effectively robbed me (and them!) of our relationship for her material ends.

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