Divorce and FIRE: A High Net Worth Divorce
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Thank you for stopping by for another installment in my Divorce and FIRE series.
I have been thrilled with the support and comments shown by my readers to these individuals who have really opened up and shared with us a very traumatic time in their lives.
Every person who has submitted their story has told me that they were touched by the outpouring of comments.
I hope that this inspires others to continue this series by submitting their own tales of divorce.
This particular submission was courtesy of a wonderful resource called HARO (Help A Reporter Out).
HARO helps reporters/writers find individuals wishing to share their personal stories on a particular topic of interest.
Thank you for volunteering to share your story.
Can you give us a little background about yourself?
I am a 60 year old female, although that is just in years and not truly how I feel. LOL.
I feel much younger than my age 🙂
What were the circumstances around meeting your former husband?
I met him when I was 16 and “young and dumb” as I call it.
What does anyone know at 16?
Not too much.
He was my first boyfriend and I was truly excited about it all.
Right from the start I should have known something wasn’t right.
Can you elaborate?
I had 2 girlfriends whom he said were jealous of me and so I got rid of them.
Unfriended them and moved on in my life with him.
My ex was 17 at the time and I was pretty sure that he was a narcissist.
He was very verbally and emotionally abusive right from the get go.
He was raised in a home where screaming and yelling were an everyday occurrence.
His father would throw plates of spaghetti on the wall and his wife, my ex-mother in law, would clean it up.
This is the home environment he grew up.
How about your own childhood?
I did not grow up that way at all.
My home was extremely quiet and my parents never fought.
If they did, it wasn’t in front of us kids.
How did your family feel about this relationship?
My parents were wonderful people, but when I met him I felt like they were not since they said terrible things about him.
People have a way of twisting things and he was very good at that.
Surely things were not all bad or you would have never agreed to marry him. What were some of the things that held your attraction for him?
He was an extremely driven person and wanted me to be successful along with him.
I must say that because of his drive, I went to school and obtained my 4 year Bachelors Degree.
How were your finances during this time period?
I did not take out any student loans and worked full time to pay for my schooling.
I am grateful for that as that certainly offered opportunities to me that I would not have had.
How old were you when you got married?
We were 25 years old when we married so we dated a long time before getting married.
Did your family views change once he entered the family as their son in law?
My family never liked him.
There was always a lot of stress for me during my entire relationship with him and I felt like at times I was estranged from my family.
I made excuses for him and our life all the time.
Describe the early years of marriage. How did you manage your finances?
We both worked very hard and I felt like we never truly “planned” for our future.
I worked for the City of New York and they had a pension, which I did not join.
Same thing when I was a social worker in Hillsborough county here in Tampa Florida.
I did not put in the full amount of pension money that would have given me some security in my older years.
Living in New York was very expensive and looking back we probably needed all the money we made to just make it day to day.
You mention the decision to move to Florida. What brought about that drastic change?
Like I stated, he was very driven and in 1992 we moved to Tampa Florida wanting to get away from high taxes, insurance and certainly nicer weather.
When we moved here, I felt like he changed.
He started hanging out with co-workers after work drinking and partying.
This did not happen at all in our life in New York.
When did you start having doubts that this was a marriage you wanted to stay in?
He would come home and we both felt like the “house was empty”.
It was empty for me as he had changed so much and I was not really into drinking so this was not the life I wanted or signed up for.
We had very little sex life as I did not want to even engage with him.
It was not a good marriage and we both knew it.
Did the discord at home permeate into your work life as well?
He worked in hospitals in upper management and then in 1997 he started a company with a friend doing hospital collections.
I still worked full time as a social worker from 1992 to 2004.
During this time, his company was very successful and in 2004 he pressured me to leave my job as he needed me to come work in his company.
I then was spending every waking moment with him.
He was very demanding and of course the emotional and verbal abuse just continued.
Having a successful company surely must have meant that your financial status improved considerably. How would you describe your husband’s handling of the finances?
He loved to spend money and “show off”.
He changed so much that even his laugh became obnoxious.
He was loud and boisterous and wanted to make sure everyone knew he was in the room.
He spent money on “friends” foolishly as they were never true friends.
Most people are acquaintances and you are lucky if you have a few good friends in your life.
Did you notice any behavioral changes in yourself with the increase in your household finances?
I was not a demanding wife at all and never had a house-cleaner nor did I spend money on clothing, jewelry etc.
I was still quite frugal even though he made a lot of money.
When did you feel the marriage took a turn for the worse and was no longer viable?
In 2005 he had an affair with “our” best friend.
She was in a similar industry and she was friends with both of us for about 8 years.
During this same time, I had herniated my L3, L4 and L5 discs.
He was so involved in his affair that he did want to take care of me.
He went and stayed with her at her house and moved out.
Since I was unable to care for myself (I could not move for over a month) I went and stayed with his mom who lived in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment.
I slept on the couch.
What happened next?
In 2006 we became separated.
We sold our family home and netted a very large sum of money from that.
I moved into a town home in St. Petersburg.
We had a very dysfunctional relationship.
He still wanted to see me every day and tell me about his girlfriends, his sex life etc.
There were things he told to me that no wife should ever hear.
Can you elaborate on the process from being separated to actually filing for a divorce?
There was not one thing that caused our divorce.
There were many and I was not in love with him any longer, nor was he with me.
So many hateful, hurtful things happened to me that forgiveness was not going to happen anytime soon.
So many things happened during our 25 years of marriage and 33 years of being together.
In 2008 we finally divorced (he filed) and I was told “I didn’t need an attorney”.
What were the financial ramifications for you during and after the divorce?
He threw money at me (less than $900,000) when our net worth at the time was around 5 or 6 million.
I actually don’t even know what our net worth was so it might have been more.
I got divorced in July of 2008 and did not tell any of my family until October 2008.
Why did you not turn to your family for emotional support sooner?
It was a very stressful time for me and the thought that I failed my marriage which was something very hard to bear.
How did you view the distribution/breakdown of the marital assets after the divorce?
If you break it down to how much I lost in marital assets it was quite a lot.
I could have received alimony.
I would have received several million dollars.
Why didn’t you push for a more equitable split or consult an attorney?
I was scared I wasn’t going to get anything so I took what I got.
I know that sounds crazy but when you are caught in the web of a narcissist it is very difficult to know how to get out safely.
I did not know if he would be able to manipulate the judge or the system and I would then end up with nothing.
How do you feel this marriage effected your subsequent romantic relationships?
In terms of what influences my previous relationship has on my present relationship I would say that I now know what I want, which is crucial.
Know that you can “earn” your own money and don’t be bullied by anyone.
It was quite interesting, but when I wasn’t with my ex any longer, my family said they were grateful to have the “old me” back again.
It meant that I was Bold and Feisty and that I would not take any negative behavior from anyone ever again.
I got my New York Groove back on.
That was a really great thing to hear.
In 2009 I met my now husband.
I did not start dating him till about 6 months later in 2010.
We dated from 2010 and married in May 2013.
One other thing is don’t be afraid to open your heart to love again.
If I did that and was bitter, I would have not met my godly husband and have a wonderful life.
How would you describe your current financial status with your new husband?
We have had financial setbacks due to our diagnosis of Lyme Disease.
We were diagnosed in 2014 and both out of work a full year and continued care till even today.
We are both self-employed, pay for our own insurance, and went through most of our savings during that time period in order to get well.
We have not too much left at this time and we have continuous medical needs that will last throughout our life time.
Yes, we will have to continue working in order to pay our own way, but no amount of money is worth the life I had before.
I was just re-diagnosed about 3 months ago and went through an additional 10 weeks of treatment.
Do you have any advice for someone who might be in your situation and considering divorce?
I have people ask me what they should do if they are getting a divorce and I say, get your own attorney, especially if money is involved.
You never know what may happen in your life and you might need that money that you “Should” have gotten.
Looking back, is there anything you felt you could have done that might have avoided divorce and preserved the marriage?
In terms of staying in a marriage or not, I stayed way longer than any human being should have.
I kept thinking I could change the outcome.
If your partner is abusing you in any way, it’s time to move on.
I was abused emotionally, verbally and then physically at the end.
And of course financially.
Lucky for me, I chose early on to not have children with him.
That was a blessing since I never have to have anything to do with him again.
When children are involved there can be co-parenting and you will always have that connection to each other.
Lucky for me, there is no connection.
How are you currently doing financially and emotionally?
Today my husband and I live our lives to the fullest and yes, money is a concern but we won’t let it dictate our future.
We work hard to help people going through life changes such as a need to downsize, or divorce or who have medical issues and can no longer stay in their home.
These are all sensitive situations and we specialize in helping people move on in their lives and help them make good decisions.
Any last parting advice for my audience?
Advice I give to any young person who is involved in a relationship is to live your life and get out there and have experiences before you settle down.
Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You are the decision maker of your future.
You need to chose wisely.
I would like to again thank you for sharing this very personal story with us.
I know it is quite difficult to recount an awful time from the past but I am glad to see you are in a much better place now.
I know you have given inspiration to someone who may find him or herself in a similar situation
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.
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