Nancy’s efforts to understand her husband’s fetish and to save her marriage, led her to a career as a model for some adult-theme websites. Along the way, she traveled to Orlando for a photo shoot. It was after that trip that her husband said he wanted a divorce. That’s where we join Nancy’s story:
I was shocked when he said he wanted a divorce and I didn’t think he’d really go and do it. But a few weeks later, I got the letter. He put on the petition that he wanted to keep the children which made no sense since he works full-time and I’d been the stay-at-home mother. So then I had to find somebody to defend me. I started going to solicitors but they didn’t want to take my case, because I didn’t have a job to pay them.
When he first filed for divorce, I got really upset. I had some savings which I was keeping for a facelift one day. With the divorce I realized I’d have to share them because everything is put in the pot and I didn’t want to do that. So off I went to Brazil to see my mom. I stayed for twenty days and had a mini facelift. I’m forty eight, but you can’t tell. In Brazil they are really good, they do something really natural, you don’t look overdone or anything.
I did have some savings left over from my plastic surgery, and in the end I found a solicitor who took my case. Now I’ve been borrowing from the mortgage account because it’s in both of our names. In the beginning I didn’t know I could do that. It’s been going on now for three years because my solicitor thinks it’s best for me to go to court. She won’t guarantee it of course but she thinks I’m likely to get much more than he’s offering. It was a long marriage and because of my earning capacity, she thinks that he should give me maintenance for much longer. But once my daughter is eighteen (which is in about six years) or when she finishes school, I won’t have anything from him at all, no children support or alimony. Nothing.
I’m petrified of that. There is a big hole in my stomach. I had to make a list of all the expenses but everything has gone up now since then. He’s generous with the children whenever they want something. What’s helping me at the moment is that he’s still paying for all the stuff, he has no other choice, but I’m petrified of the future because the maintenance amount we’ve agreed doesn’t cover everything.
“How will I be able to cope?”
He says I can have a full-time job and there is no reason why not. But I’m not going to sit at a supermarket and earn minimum wage for three hours a day, I’m more useful at home. All of my family is in Brazil and I would go back there with the children but he won’t let me. If I was there I would have the support of my family and I would have a job in the family business. I feel very insecure, I have nothing, no career to hang onto.
The Divorce Coach Says
Divorce creates uncertainty and when faced with uncertainty, most of us feel scared – reduce the uncertainty and we feel better. This segment of Nancy’s story has two critical lessons about uncertainty. First, it is vitally important to get a full and complete understanding of the law with respect to access and division of the financial assets and to make sure you know everything about your finances. Nancy’s search for an attorney was hampered because it took her time to find out she could access the equity in their home to pay legal fees. At this stage, it’s about ensuring access to funds especially if you’re not working. Many attorneys recommend establishing a separate checking account and putting three months of expenses in that account.
I’ve said this before, but this is not about hiding assets – it’s about knowing your legal position and ensuring you have access to funds to pay daily living expenses while your divorce is being negotiated. It is also important to keep records of expenditures because you will very likely have to provide an accounting for any joint assets you’ve had control over. The division of these assets comes later.
The second call to action is that Nancy needs a plan for financial self-sufficiency, urgently. This is a must for everyone but certainly more urgent (and difficult) for stay-at-home moms and the longer it is since you’ve been in the workforce, the harder it’s going to be. Nancy has two obstacles – one is the practical issue that having been a stay-at-home mom for a number of years, her work skills are not current. The other obstacle is psychological – going from a SAHM to working outside the home is a big change and the thought of it can be intimidating. Nancy doesn’t want to work at a supermarket at an entry-level position but if she took that, then it could well lead to other training opportunities as she proves herself. It could also be something she could do on a part-time basis which would ease the transition for her.
I don’t know if the savings Nancy used for her facelift would have been considered marital assets – presumably that would be resolved in the divorce negotiation. However, faced with such an uncertain financial future, I would not recommend making what for me would be a substantial non-essential expenditure. I am financially conservative and a definite wuss when it comes to any type of surgery.
One more observation … I know what Nancy means about feeling isolated. When I left England in 1986, I thought it was for a couple of years. Then I got married. We vaguely talked about possibly moving back there but it was never a serious discussion. Now, even though I’m divorced it still seems impossible. It would be unreasonable to put that distance between the kids and their father and I couldn’t leave them. Even when my kids have graduated college, I still can’t see my living in England because I just don’t want to be that far away from them. I can engineer my life so I spend more time there but I’ve pretty much concluded now, after almost twenty-five years, I’m here in the U.S. to stay!
Photo credit: Best in Plastics