From a425couple@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 4 06:39:14 2018
My wife is divorcing me after 21 years — and wants everything in our
Published: Jan 22, 2017 8:59 a.m. ET
He earns less than his wife and wants to stay in the family home
PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR
My wife of 21 years informed me that she wants to divorce. We jointly
own a home with nine years left on the mortgage. Our savings account
contains a large sum of readily available cash that we use for emergency
funds, college tuition and living expenses for our son -- and as a hedge
should one of us lose our job.
She says she wants to use all of the savings to buy her own place and
that she would help me continue to pay the mortgage on our current home
should I choose to continue to live there (and I do plan to stay put). I
will have to fully cover all the household expenses and, since her
salary is higher than mine, leaves me barely covering expenses on my own.
Don’t miss: My fiancée wants me to buy a second home — in her name only
I’m scared to death of losing my job and having nothing to fall back on without savings and am three years away from full retirement.
B.P. in Maryland
She would cover half of our son’s college expenses (for two more years
until he graduates). There is more than enough money in the savings to completely pay off the current mortgage. I’m scared to death of losing
my job and having nothing to fall back on without savings and am three
years away from full retirement.
What in your opinion would be the better use of the savings? I don’t see
that she can take the whole amount since it is in both our names. Should
it be split 50/50 or is it better to eliminate the current mortgage and
defer her getting her half when the current home sold sometime in the
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B.P. in Maryland
Forgive the wedding reference, but there are so many ways you can slice
this cake. And it sounds like you’ve made up your mind, you just haven’t realized it yet.
The slice of cake marked “savings account” does not go to your wife:
No-one gets to plunder all these accounts, period. This is where
co-dependency ends and a new life of independence begins. You don’t have
to manage your wife’s expectations, you only have to manage your own,
and she may or may not agree with you. There may be lots of room for
compromise when it comes to paying for tuition for your son, or how long
you decide to hang onto the family home, whether you should use the
savings account to sell the house now, but if you feel like your savings provide you with peace of mind, especially as you earn less than your
wife, stick to that. (Americans should have around six months of
emergency savings in the event that something bad happens, yet most do
not. Don’t be part of that 63%.)
There’s a lot you can do to prepare for this split. While you await the negotiations, take an inventory of your life insurance policies and
retirement accounts (including IRAs and 401(k)s) and think about who you
might want as a beneficiary in lieu of your soon-to-be ex-spouse. In
addition to the divorce decree when you or your wife decide to file
papers, you may need a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” — a court order that requires workplace retirement benefits or IRAs to be split.
You’re not alone. (I say that a lot because (a) it’s true and (b) it’s important to remember. More baby boomers are getting divorced, studies
show — one-third of boomers are now single — and will likely be more concerned about retirement given they are closer to retirement age,
Listen: MarketWatch’s new podcast Money, Markets & More (or subscribe on iTunes): 10 Most important financial decisions you will ever makeand The
secret sauce behind online dating.
When you consult a divorce lawyer, think creatively. Will you be doing
any renovations on the home? If so, that should be deducted from any
final sale. If you alone are paying the mortgage and your wife does
receive some amount of money to put a down payment on her own home, then
your wife shouldn’t benefit from the full sale price either. Your wife
has very clear ideas about what she wants from this divorce. It may not
be what she gets, but you should also know exactly where you draw the
line and areas that are open for negotiation. You can only succeed in
these negotiations if you know what you want before you enter them, and
realize what’s at stake.
I have enlisted a divorce lawyer to give it to you straight. “If she is
the one who wants out, you should address your concerns about a
strangling mortgage and consider using some if not all of the assets to
pay it down,” says Randy Kessler, an Atlanta-based lawyer who wrote the
book, “Divorce: Protect Yourself, Your Kids, and Your Future.” He
suggests locking in the amount she would receive whether the home
increases or decreases in value. “Your wife wants out so you should
insist on what makes you feel secure, especially since she makes more
money.” What’s more, Maryland is not a community property state, meaning the assets may not be distributed 50/50; obviously consult a lawyer, but
if you earn less than your wife, you may be entitled to a higher settlement.
It could also be worse. You had 21 years together. I hope they were
happy. Spare a thought for this recent letter writer who only had two days.
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