Divorce & FIRE
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No word in the English language strikes more fear to a wannabe FIRE walker than this.
In an instant, your assets can be reduced by half (or more) creating a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to your path to financial independence.
When I first posted about my own awful experience regarding divorce, several things happened:
It was a cathartic experience:
There were many things only a few of my closest friends knew about my divorce, and an even smaller select group that was privy to the details of my civil lawsuit.
For the longest time I felt burdened by the feelings that I carried with me from this ordeal.
When I started contemplating dating (by the way, I did not go out on a date for 2 years after my divorce was finalized as I truly did not want to have anything to do with women for the longest time), a lot of that emotional baggage resurfaced.
Just a simple question of, “Do you have any kids?”created a flood of emotions in me as I knew this could only lead to the inevitable discussion of why my daughter was not with me.
I felt embarrassed to even mention to my date how my daughter was wrongfully taken from me during the process of the divorce.
I felt I would be unfairly judged by someone who was just starting to get to know me.
By sharing my story on this blog, I felt like I released those demons.
I am not going to lie, when I was actually writing the posts, I was forced to relive some moments that I had pushed deep into the darkest recesses of my mind.
Some of my previously suppressed anger started bubbling up as I again felt the injustice of it all.
But then after I hit publish, it slowly faded away and was replaced with feelings of accomplishment.
I had gone through the darkest chapter of my life and now was strong enough to tell that story to the world.
It also made me truly appreciate the accomplishments I have since achieved even more by reminding me again where I had been..
It gave me redemption/support from the unlikeliest sources:
As a reader of this blog, you may have no idea what kind of impact you have when you leave a comment, but it truly is amazing.
I was flooded with joy as I read all the positive supportive comments pouring in from both the divorce post and the civil lawsuit post.
Here were complete “strangers” from the internet (by the way I do not consider anyone of you strangers anymore) that had such a positive impact on my life.
I found that there are others like me that needed my support.
There were a few private messages I received from the Contact Me form that asked for advice on their current situations which I gladly gave.
Although I am not an expert in these matters, I felt that even the simple act of just commiserating together brought healing to a painful situation for all parties involved.
It then dawned on me.
Perhaps I can use this platform as a sounding board for people who have gone through one of the most emotionally and financially traumatic experiences possible.
For the people who have been through divorce, I hoped that, by sharing your experiences on this blog, you would gain similar benefits as I did.
For those whose marriage is failing or are currently going through a divorce, perhaps you can gain inspiration from these submissions and realize that there is indeed a light at the end of a seemingly endless dark tunnel.
I would therefore like to present the first submission that I received in my “Divorce and FIRE” series.
I first got in contact with this particular submitter who is in her 40’s through Reddit.
Prior to your divorce how was your financial outlook?
We were well on our way to FIRE when my daughter graduates high school in a few years
Our net worth had been growing by about $100k/year for a while.
How many years were you married?
Can you give some insight on to why your marriage started to go downhill?
During the marriage I handled all the finances (he came from a wasteful family with parents that died deep in debt).
During the marriage he argued so much about money!
He would mock me for planning [to minimize] expensive things like travel in the off season, waiting for things to go on sale, etc.
It definitely kept me from being able to save as much as I wanted to and was really stressful.
How long have you been divorced?
Do you have an estimate of how much money you spent in legal fees during the divorce?
How did the court divide the marital property?
When we divorced we split our net worth in half with me getting the house in Denver, him getting the house in Florida (that was supposed to be our retirement house).
My house had a lot more equity so he got a bigger chunk of 401K/IRA money.
What do you estimate as the value of the assets you lost?
What is your current state of recovery (or how long it took you to get back to pre-divorce levels)?
Back to the entire net worth we had?
That will take me a few years!
My net worth has continued to climb over $50k/year.
Do you have any any idea how your ex has coped financially since the divorce?
When we divorced he had no idea how to handle his money.
He is having money issues even though he makes more than me.
Would you consider getting married again and if so what would you do different and what protections would you need to have in place?
I don’t know.
I want my money to go to my kids when I die, and I assume a new spouse would want the same for their kids.
So a prenup or put my money into trusts beforehand?
I don’t know the legal way to do it because usually a spouse gets everything.
Any unexpected surprises during or after the divorce proceedings?
No. I got lucky.
Knowing what you know now, would you have rather worked more to save your marriage or was the divorce the best option?
I had already wasted years trying to nurse it along, knowing it was impossible to save.
Divorce was the only option.
What impact did the marriage/divorce have on your overall financial journey?
Not as much as I thought it would.
I recovered and I feel I’m better off now.
I especially like not being burdened by a spouse who constantly complained about my (lack of) spending.
Any pointers to readers to prevent a divorce from happening in the first place or any advice if someone is currently going through a divorce?
Don’t get married unless you have a very good understanding of what personality disorders look like. [I wish I had this advice prior to me jumping into my arranged marriage. It would have saved me years of heartache on top of financial pain]
Don’t think your spouse will change or grow up, they won’t.
During or before divorce, buy a mini-recorder and record all phone conversations if that’s legal where you live.
If you know it’s probably going to happen, make sure you pay off any car loans and have no debt when you divorce, if possible.
Anything else you would like to share? The stage is yours.
Now that he is out of the picture I should still FIRE when my daughter graduates high school, probably even sooner except I don’t want to get bored sitting around while she’s still in school.
Anyway I think it’s definitely cheaper to FIRE as a couple (on a per-person basis) but at least now I will know that the money is mine and can’t be divided in half again.
I will also probably be the only one to pay for my daughter’s college so I am also budgeting for that, enough for 4 years of state college and she can get scholarships if she wants more.
I would like to thank you (this particular submitter wishes to remain anonymous) for your open discussion about a tough period in your life.
I hope you find comfort knowing that your story likely helps a reader who may feel lost and in a similar position.
I wish you the best of luck and success and am thrilled that this incident was just a blip in your path to financial independence.
I hope you have found this divorce case study enlightening.
If you, or someone you know, would like to submit a Divorce and FIRE story, I would love to hear from you.
You can remain anonymous unless you specifically give permission to reveal your identity.
I have created an outline of some of the topics you might want to consider elaborating on in your submission.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN
Nominations for the PLUTUS AWARDS are going on now.
I would be incredibly grateful for your support if you do indeed choose to nominate this blog for an award.
(and it would make my first FinCon an even more incredible experience)