Divorced & Moving On Towards Financial Independence
Survivors of divorce, share your stories, wisdom, and tips as you progress towards in your journey to financial independence. :)
Here I go. I won't go into the details of the relationship drama itself, just the stuff that affected my finances, but at the end of 2018, over Thanksgiving weekend, I finally decided to ask my now ex husband to sign the papers to file for a divorce. I had the papers for months ready to ask him to sign but I was scared to ask him. We got married in 2017 and he is a Canadian citizen. Before we got married he was living with me on a tourist visa and he told me he wanted to get a job but couldn't because he didn't have a work permit and couldn't get one until we got married. He also ensured me he wasn't interested in my money and would only want enough money to get back to Canada if it didn't work out. That turned out to be a lie, of course.
We got married May 2017. In the Fall of 2017 his work permit arrived and I expected him to start looking for work right away. I knew it might take awhile to find a job, but I didn't think he wouldn't even TRY to find a job. Every week I asked him how it was going and he would make me feel bad for asking, like I was a nag for not wanting to support him for life. It was hell. I had to stop asking because it led to fights every time. I suggested he try to walk dogs with Wag or Rover, but he didn't ever even download the app.
There was also other relationship drama and emotional and verbal abuse (I was walking on eggshells all the time whenever he was around) so finally I decided, enough is enough, I can't spend my life like this. I'm getting out of this hell, asked him to sign the papers, and he refused to sign them. I asked him if I could get him an Airbnb to stay at during the divorce and he refused that as well. He was living in my house that I've owned since 2011! Fine, I asked a friend if his extra room was empty and went there for the weekend, hoping I could talk to the court and get him out of my house.
I filed the papers without his signature and he had to get served the papers at my house. He delayed that for weeks by not answering the door, so finally I let the server into the house when I knew he was home, which caused him to flip out and the sheriff to ask me to get someone else to come with me if I needed to pick up stuff in the future, since he seemed like he could get violent. But at least that started the process along, which theoretically could have taken just 3 months but ended up taking 6 months from the day I filed with the court to our final orders.
I wanted to do it with hiring lawyers, but he wanted a lawyer right away and wanted the judge to order me to pay for a retainer for him to get a lawyer so he could get as much money out of me as possible! The judge didn't do that, but in our temporary orders hearing he did order that my ex could stay in my house till the divorce was final, and that I had to give him half of my Airbnb income and he would keep running my Airbnb while he was living there. I had to hire a cleaner because he wouldn't clean and that would get me bad reviews and hurt my business.
He then refused to go to mediation, so eventually I had to hire a lawyer with a $2500 retainer on a credit card because the mediation is required and I had no idea how to proceed if he wouldn't attend it.
Finally, after much court drama and filings back and forth, we came to a settlement in mediation that I would give him $15k and let him keep the car he was driving, which was mine that I had bought from my parents, and that he would stay in the house until the beginning of June 2019 and then move out.
During this long process I had to pay all of the bills for my house, pay my friend rent $ (since I'm not a mooch, even though he offered to let me stay for free, I didn't want to, especially for as long as it dragged out), pay for my lawyer, and I was not living nearly as frugally as I usually do. I ended up with a credit card maxed out at $10k, plus I had a $2k loan to my parents because he needed money right when I moved out and I didn't have any cash to give him, and a $1.3k energy loan. I got a HEL to pay him the $15k and to pay off my credit cards, then started Dave Ramsey's baby steps and started taking Financial peace university in May 2019. I paid off a ton of debt last year and now I'm switching to my own plan to stay more sane and enjoy my life more. See my journal for the details on that.
I'm picking up the pieces and moving on. Although that entire experience probably lost me much more $ than mentioned here (I was already giving him $ when he was back in Canada, yes, I do have "SUCKER" written on my back), and I wish I had known what I know now so I would have enforced my boundaries early on and known he was not someone who could respect me and thus not have let thing get that far, I've learned a lot in the process and I'm just glad I'm on the other side. If anyone else suspects their ex is a cluster B (narcissism, borderline personality disorder and sociopathy are all in that category), I have a lot of resources I can recommend for going through the divorce and for emotional healing. I highly recommend therapy if you can afford it. I've learned a lot in therapy and you can pay for it with your FSA or HSA if it's not covered by your insurance.
Although financial reasons are not the right reason to get married, I now know that being a hopeless romantic is stupid and can get you into major financial trouble. I met him online and I tell people not to do online relationships or long distance relationships anymore, it's just too easy to imagine they are and your relationship is something that they/it are not, especially if you're a dreamer.
Anyone else out there paying off divorce debt?
Almost all my debt (car isn’t) is from my divorce. Living expenses were on credit cards, and I took out loans to pay for an attorney. Low point was living in a room with a friend. High point is def now. Making more money than I ever have in my life, still have a roommate but want to pay off a big chunk before lease is up and I get my own place. I always had faith things would get better even when I was really at the bottom, I can’t really explain how I knew but I did. Because I was in a long marriage everything got split down the middle. So I’m repairing everything now: debt, savings, retirement, everything.
Well, I'm not quite a survivor yet; I'm in the middle of one. After 22 years, our marriage finally broke down when I couldn't take it anymore and left one night. I had been unhappy for a long time and she left the bedroom 2.5 years before I left the marriage. We just became more and more distant and everything that I tried just didn't work; we never got on a good path, it just stayed the same and actually got worse. Tried marriage counseling twice and many attempted talks to try to bridge the gap.
So I've been living with my sister for almost three months now and she lives in the house with our 17-year old son. Our 20-year-old daughter lives at school, currently. We each have our own bank accounts now and the old joint account is left for bills related to the kids and the house. I put $1,600 a month into it to keep things afloat until this can be finalized, as I make almost 3x what she does.
I gave our financial info to the attorney and am just waiting to find out what the final "deal" will look like as far as alimony and the 50-50 split of assets. She has not been overly difficult about it thus far, other than giving me lots of guilt. I have only very recently been able to sleep through the night (even with sleeping pills) due to dealing with second thoughts and lots of guilt about it. I have told myself over and over that if we couldn't turn it around in 22 years, we're not going to now and I will never, ever go back to the unhappiness and pain I lived in. She is not an evil person, but it just won't work with me and her.
Coming to the point of leaving and then living through the aftermath is extremely hard and gut-wrenching. Divorce is certainly not a cure-all but it does get better and you learn to live a new life without the sufferings of the past; you learn to be okay.
My state of Pennsylvania has a 90-day waiting period after one party files for divorce, so I have until the beginning of march before anything else can even take place. I know that there is a lot yet to go through so I am just doing the best that I can each day.
I started this post but I have yet to share my story (I'll get to it). It's been a long journey for me over the past 9 years but it all gets better, happier, and healthier. Nothing like freedom and independence. Hang in there folks and definitely seek counselling. It is necessary and a third party, especially a professional, is the right person to help you heal. :)
My divorce was final January 2015. After 3 1/2 emotional abuse, I finally got him to accept the divorce by making it his idea. Your typical story of two immature young adults that thought marriage was the answer only to learn your relationship wasn't healthy from the get go and we never should have gotten married in the first place. I moved in with dad and thankfully he funded my lawyer and all the proceedings. We had about $11,000 in credit card debt at the time and a car loan. Also thankfully, his controlling nature excluded my name from being on most of the cards so I got away with him being responsible for 10k and the car and I paid of the one that was in my name. However, throughout our marriage I was not in control of any finances and he spent what he liked. I was in school during that time and though I escaped the credit card debt I have tens of thousands of excess student loans that were taken out and used to pay off our maxed out cards before maxing them out again. I have ~75k in student loans. A portion of that for grad school, but a good 20k or so that was just stupidity and desperation.
I got remarried two years ago to my soul mate and my best friend. I keep track of all our finances now. I think we're still paying off some of our wedding and then school payments that came due when I dropped out of my grad program (teaching is not my calling after all), but for the most part we are far better off than a lot of people. The sword of student debt is still hanging over my head, but we're on track to pay off our credit card debt this year and have learned a lot of lessons about where our money priorities lie with YNAB.
My divorce was finalized at the end of November 2019. So I'm still pretty newly divorced.....after 30 years of marriage. We should have split up years ago, but there were financial considerations, kids going through some very difficult emotional issues and so we decided to stay together until all the kids were out of the house, which happened in the fall of 2017. A few months after that, we both moved to separate residences. (we had previously sold our house in NY and moved to Chicago in the interim, so there was no arguing over who got the house) We lived apart for 1.5 years without even discussing divorce and most of our finances were still tied together. This past fall, we decided that both of us were better off without the other (we come from different planets really. Different upbringing, values, religion etc--combined they made up for a tough situation that ultimately we couldn't overcome)
Money was always a concern for us, as we never seemed to have enough. I left a very lucrative Wall St career to raise kids (not my choice but he was pretty insistent - that should have been a huge red flag right off the bat....and it was but I conveniently ignored it at my own peril) He struggled in his jobs and often we were in debt until a decent year would roll around and his bonus would get us out of the hole. Then the cycle would start all over again. It was pretty nerve wracking for me, as I hated being in debt.
We moved to Chicago so he could accept a new job that he thought he would be more successful at. And he was. And still is. He literally tripled or quadrupled his income starting the year we split up. Joke's on me, I guess. When we began discussing divorce, we both decided that we didn't want to spend tens of thousands on lawyers, so we managed to get to a settlement on our own. It wasn't all that hard, and we had decided early on that we were going to keep it as civil as possible, both for our sanity and for the kids. Originally he thought he didn't have to give me anything on an ongoing basis, that we could just go our separate ways and that would be that. I clearly told him that wasn't going to work. He makes about 5 or 6 times what I do and he's had 2 whopping good years back to back now. More than he ever dreamed he would make. I wasn't feeling the "you get to keep it all when I left my career to raise kids that you wanted and we never had any money". But I know myself and I know I have a difficult, if not impossible, time asking people for money. Even my ex. I pushed during the settlement talks but not very hard. After a while I kind of just accepted what he was willing to give. He had agreed to fully pay for the kids medical expenses and the balance of the college tuition for the 2 that we still had in college. One is a senior and will be graduating in May and the other is finishing his sophomore year. As it turns out, the younger one doesn't look like he's going to finish college (long story for another day-or not at all) so the ex is basically only paying for one more semester of college. And I'm feeling kind of screwed by what he's giving me. I can live on what he's giving me in addition to my salary but it's not a walk in the park by any means. And I'm worried about when his payments cease in 7 years because he will be going on Medicare and most probably retiring.
Divorce is hard, however you look at it, particularly when you have children. Yes, it gets easier as time goes by, or it did for me, but the financial hook is still there. I love seeing his payment in my checking account on the first of every month, but at the same time, there's some resentment on my part - I don't like accepting money from others but at the same time I'm angry that it isn't more. All that's on me, I know and I don't blame him, but it's not pleasant.
My divorce was just finalized, and I was lucky that overall, it was amicable and we were able to come to a settlement on our own, without lawyers. I left him when I realized I don’t want to have children, which is something that changed over time for me. That’s important to him, and there were other issues such as communication and my own mental health that contributed. Overall, it was the best for both of us to recognize (even though we got along) that our relationship had changed, and so did we.
We both have good jobs and were on top of our finances. He took his student loan debt and car with him, I kept my car and the house/mortgage, which was in my name and I had been paying on my salary. The way our finances worked, we decided to have me cover the basics - groceries, mortgage, utilities, etc - and him cover the fun. The good in that is that I knew I could leave and survive on my own. The bad is that I felt resentful about how we divided things up. I agreed to pay him $57000 for his share of the house. $20000 came from a joint savings that I only ever contributed to. The rest I had to take out a home equity loan to cover.
I have always been very financially responsible, and paid my student debt off early and was working hard and budgeting to pay our mortgage off early too. He did contribute, don’t get me wrong - he generally covered vacations, restaurants, etc. But often I’d contribute to those too. And it’s only been very recently that my salary (he still makes more than me) even came close to what he was making. The result is that I work hard to live frugally and have a comfortable lifestyle, and budget and track where my money is going. His attitude was more an “I don’t even have to try, I just end up with savings” type attitude. It’s difficult to feel like you’re the only person in your relationship working and making sacrifices to meet your financial goals. When I talked about paying off our debts, he’d be happy to let me do that on my own, but never volunteered to help or offer support.
All of this is in the past now; I have a partner who is more in alignment with my beliefs and communication style, both financially and romantically. I value is the freedom I have now, and my goal is to get rid of this home equity loan as soon as possible. It’s a reminder that I’ve been set back from where I was, and it bothers me to know that it will cost me double what I borrowed if I let it sit there the 20 years it’s supposed to. I want to get back to paying early on my mortgage and saving like I was before. I started using YNAB this month to track that, and I feel like there’s a path ahead for me to get back to where I was.
After 20 years, my marriage broke down in 2010/11, and the divorce was finalized in 2012, with residual legal hassles through early 2017. I'm sticking to finances from here on.
I was a housewife with virtually no income during most of my marriage. I was lucky to get child support and lifetime alimony, but the amount was less than half what I needed to live on, in an expensive town in an expensive state. [And the divorce agreement required my kids stay in the town's schools.] I had to learn the skills for a new career.
From 2011 - 2016 (when I got a job in my new field) finances were very, very tight. I used YNAB to track every penny, even to juggle bills. Even though the numbers were bad, I could see them and make sure nothing slipped too far.
When I finally began making good money, YNAB let me see where I needed to spend. I set up a budget category to buy a house, and tracking my savings felt very good! I was able to make the purchase last summer.
I think the less you have, the more important it is to keep track. YNAB made the tracking and budgeting easy, so I could spend my mental energy worrying about other things (like custody battles and property division).
It’s been three years since I ended my 15 year marriage. Finances were a big factor; he was depressed, narcissistic, unkind, and a perpetual student who borrowed ever-larger amounts of money to finance each new degree.
I didn’t want to involve attorneys. We both are capable of earning professional incomes, more than enough to support our two children.
However, he decided to go the “take every dime I can” route, including seeking alimony and trying to stick me with half of his six figure student loan debt, so an expensive divorce followed.
I spent over $25,000 on attorneys and mediators. However, I avoided having to pay him 7+ years of alimony, and I avoided taking on most of his debt, so it was worth the cost.
On the day we separated, my net worth was roughly $55,000.
Less than three years later, it’s over $200,000 and I have no debt. I pay him more child support than then, but I earn $50,000/year more than then. (His income has fallen by $5,000/year, in case you were wondering.)
I’m also infinitely happier. I found a new partner who suits me better, and we’ve been together for two wonderful years.
In the words of the wise Willie Nelson: You know why divorce is so expensive? Because it’s worth it. 😉
I know this forum is supposed to be just for finances, but I'd like to ask a more general question. I left my wife and our 22-year marriage about 3 1/2 months ago. There were just very painful and personal issues between us that could never be resolved (she hadn't slept in the same bed with me for 2 1/2 years, for example) and one day while trying to talk wither her I just said I was finished - couldn't do it anymore - and left. We tried counseling twice and I tried many times to talk with her to make it better, but it never did.
The question is; did or does anyone still struggle with lingering feelings for the other person? Even though it was pretty bad, there were some good things and we could get along okay, to a point. There was still some love there, it was just the problems got so bad it broke me. My divorce still isn't final (no idea how much longer it will take) but sometimes I get feelings that it wasn't so bad or maybe I should try again or I still feel the pull of that person and the life that I had. Maybe going back will somehow make it all better and I wouldn't have to keep staying "out here" alone, which is hard to adjust to and more uncertain than what I knew. I know (or assume) that she would take me back and do anything to try and make it work, though I don't believe some our issues are possible to fix. It was just far to hard, far too difficult and too painful of an experience living with them, so I try to remind myself of that. I tell myself that going back and "trying" just wouldn't work and I'd have to hurt everyone all over again, so it is better to just stay separate.
Just wondering what other's experiences are if second thoughts, doubts or lingering feelings. We have two children (17 and 20 years old) and we will always be tied together through them, so I need to learn how to be okay with her without being afraid of having some sort of feelings. Is this all normal?
One set of questions to ask yourself, and do some hard, realistic thinking about:
- what would need to change for the marriage to work well?
- what would your spouse need to change? How likely is it that they would change this way, and would it be long term?
- what changes would you need to make, are they do-able and could you keep with them?
In my case, once I realized my ex would need to repair some deep, deep trauma from his childhood, that he was actively blocking those experiences and denying they ever happened, I saw that our marriage would never work out. Therapy ... we were on therapist #4 at that point. Therapy only works for people who accept they have problems and want to fix them.
[In addition to being a YNAB user, I moderate a relationship forum. I have peer counseling training, but am not a therapist and am not qualified to give professional advice. I have seen a lot of marriages with issues, some people have fixed them, some have not.]