My husband and I have been together for over 28 years, and have been married for three. We have lived in Florida for seven years. He now wants a divorce. I stayed home with my kids for six years, and other years when our kids were in school, I held positions in retail. We never lived near family so it was our pact to make life work. During that time I made about $30,000 a year.
We got married three years ago when my husband was ill. He was worried that I might have problems accessing his pension, 401(k), Social Security, etc. OK, he’s going to be fine. He is feeling so well that now he wants a divorce. He says that I am not entitled to any of his retirement, alimony, property or assets as we have been married for only three years.
,‘I make $55,000 a year, and he makes $180,000. I pay $2,500 of my monthly income for our mortgage, utilities, and our son’s off-campus living expenses.’,
He wants to buy me out of our house, and told me that I must use my share ($100,000) to pay off my children’s student loans ($200,000) because they are in his name. We have another $1.5 million house in California that we use as a rental property that we bought in the early 2000s that is named after them. They took my name out of that title deed after our first child was born.
Currently, I make $55,000 a year, and he makes $180,000. I pay $2,500 of my monthly income for our mortgage, utilities, and our son’s off-campus living expenses, etc. He told me that I would have to tell my kids that they would have to drop out of school if I couldn’t qualify for the loan for them. Time left to finish school. (One son has one year left in college, while the other has two years left.)
I’m running the numbers and, if we divorce, I’ll be left with a retirement account of my own, which is valued at about $40,000, while she’ll have over $400,000 in pensions, assets, and whatever else we have. Made together because – even though I used my money to help pay for our house – he has always omitted my name.
Am I the biggest fool in the world? Or is there any help for anyone in my situation?
Dear Cut Loose,
Your husband is a piece of work. He is an opportunist and a volunteer. He can bully and cajole, and use emotional blackmail and lies to get what he wants, if you allow him. Hire a divorce lawyer today. They will advise you about your rights. Not agreeing to anything. Don’t sign anything. Don’t even discuss issues related to your finances and/or divorce with your husband. Your divorce attorney should instruct you, and do all the talking.
If ever there was a time to stand up for your husband and his untrue and coercive control, this is it. Unless you voluntarily sign a document waiving the property claim on it, he cannot take you by deed into the house you are jointly together with. Likewise, he cannot force you to sign over your current home and/or use the proceeds to pay for your children’s education. If his name is on those student loans, he — not you — is responsible for paying them.
Florida is an equitable-distribution state—not a community-asset state. There is a belief that marital assets should be divided 50/50, but as law firms Ayo and Iaken point out, “It’s not always as simple as it sounds: it’s not as simple as a particular property or piece. Look at. Property was acquired. Instead, Florida statutes provide guidance to the courts in determining whether a particular property or property is marital or non-marital property.
,‘Don’t agree with anything. Don’t sign anything. Don’t even talk to your husband on issues related to your finances and/or divorce.’,
The term “guidance” is used because the courts and judges in Florida have incredible discretion to do what they deem appropriate. Ayo and Iken write, In addition to property acquired during your marriage, marital assets include: “property acquired during the marriage, increased in value and appreciation of non-marital property, inter-spouse gifts during the marriage, real and personal property that is owned by tenants.” The entirety, and some retirement benefits.
As for Social Security benefits. There are strict eligibility requirements to take Social Security benefits as a divorced spouse, as my colleague Alessandra Malito points out, unless you have remarried. Among those eligibility rules: You must have been married for 10 years, must have been at least 62 years old, and if she hasn’t claimed her benefits yet, you must have been divorced for at least two years.
Your husband played your role. he married you when he believed it was His Best interest to do so. He may or may not have cheated on you or threatened you to sign off on his interest in your $1.5 million rental property. He is now using a dangerous combination of truth, lies and pressure to get what he wants. It’s time to step up his bag of tricks. Now gather as much paperwork as you can. Your attorney will be able to advise you on how to proceed.
check out The Maniast Private Facebook Group, where we seek answers to life’s most thorny money issues. Readers write to me with all kinds of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you’d like to learn more about, or peruse the latest Manifest column.
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