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So ...

Most of you know that I moved back into the house that the wife and I own (she moved out again a couple of months ago.) At least, I think I've mentioned it before.

One thing I had wondered about was how she had handled her postal (snail-)mail. Whenever I went to check on the house, there never seemed to be any of her mail waiting to be picked up. At first, I assumed that she had asked a neighbor to retrieve it from the box for her. But after a few weeks, a big bundle of her mail appeared on the doorstep (in an area protected from the weather.) It seems that she had put a hold on her mail (the post office keeps it instead of delivering it), but then forgot to cancel the hold before it expired. This bundle eventually disappeared, but I don't know whether she picked it up, or the post office disposed of it some other way.

All of this was before I moved in. Because of the move, I had to forward my mail from the old apartment address to the house. But, for some reason, I only received mail in the mailbox on one day, early on, and then nothing.

Figuring that she had again done something with the mail, I called the post office. They said that they had no record of a hold, but that I should check with the particular location that serves the house, because she might have left notice with them directly, and that wouldn't show up on the computer.

It's difficult for me to get to a post office on a weekday during their business hours, so I went last Saturday. After calling out a supervisor to handle the delicate situation, they informed me that the wife had, indeed, established a forwarding address. However, she had somehow (possibly by accident) specified the checkbox that says it's a "Family" change of address. That means that all mail addressed to anyone with the same last name gets forwarded, not just the mail that's specifically for her. They did not want to show me the address it was forwarded to, and they would not allow me, despite my having identification that shows I'm living at the house, to cancel her forward and re-establish it as an "Individual" only. The supervisor suggested, with some embarrassment, that I could write the wife a note and mail it to the house, requesting her to change the forward, and wait for that to happen.

Obviously, although I'll have to do something like that eventually to recover the mail that already went to her, that process is unacceptably long and out of my control. So I came up with another alternative, which I have done: get a P.O. box, and override my own forward request from the apartment to go there. At least that way, I immediately stop any more mail from going to her. I just have to pay for, and frequently check on, a P.O. box. Now what I have to do is to reconstruct which bills that I haven't received are due when and for how much.

The reason for recounting that hassle at length, really, is to tell you how it makes me feel. On top of being back in the house where I got called some pretty horrible things and just sat and took it, on top of being the one who pays all the bills for the place despite only having a half-interest in it, now I have to scramble to even find out how much I owe (I don't use online bill paying facilities because they mean I have to give up control over when to pay. Of course, now, I've given up control, just in a different way.)

The whole thing makes me feel like I don't exist, as a person. She checks one box on a form differently than she should (for whatever reason), and I no longer get my mail. I ordered checks printed with the new address; they're in the mail. My lawyer sends me billing statements; they're in the mail. The electric bill, my insurance bill, anything private, it all goes to her first. Of course, she's supposed to leave mail that's not addressed to her unopened. But there's no way to know what she might throw away, and no way to prove whether she opened it before she did.

I'm at her mercy, again. The exact same safeguards that are in place to protect her from being stalked, as a woman and as a woman going through a divorce from me, completely fail to protect me.


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I'd be angry and frustrated too, Mark! Can you contact a lawyer about this? That would be another expense that you don't need, though, I imagine. :D There has to be something you can do. This is just plain wrong. Does she not know that she has YOUR mail? Can you call her or would that be even more stressful for you? This is not right.

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Guest SomethingOrOther


You do exist as a person, though.

Not as one who is entitled to receive their own mail, apparently, but that can not be what postal regulations are about, so if that supervisor was just a bit embarrassed, I have a strong feeling you played too nicely. I'm no expert in this, but I would guess a contract about forwarding mail has two sides, and the post office should very well be able to cancel it, when they find it's wrong. YOU should contact your wife? Has it even occured to them that THEY should contact your wife, because THEY are the ones having an invalid contract? Probably not.

Sometimes mentioning a lawyer does wonders. It might get you someone more competent to talk to at least.

I'm sorry this makes me a bit angry. That you're right doesn't make it much less of a hassle. It puts the responsibility for giving back your mail on her, though, and that's not the same as being at her mercy. If you doubt she'll act responsibly you could consider to get a witness. That would of course only work, if you know how and when you get your mail back. It might also be worth getting the details of the forwarding signed at the post office, so that there'll be no doubt about what mail we're talking about later.

Take care,


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Well, it certainly could be worse. At least I'm coping and keeping up with the stuff I have to do: I called around yesterday to make a list of how much I owe to whom and when. The potential emergency part is being dealt with.

So, that's progress, really, and I wouldn't have had to make that progress without a challenge.

I really am getting pretty relentlessly positive; I almost scare myself sometimes. :-)

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Hi, Malign. The whole thing sounds really convoluted and silly. But, I think the P.O. Box was a great idea.

Also, if it helps, most online bill-paying methods now allow you to have control over payments. Just don't select the automatic payment feature. :(

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