Negotiating your financial settlement with your STBX can be stressful, upsetting and just plain difficult but there’s one thing you can do that may make it easier. Ask yourself, what is it that you’re willing to walk away from? Regardless of the law, regardless of what you might be ‘entitled’ to, what is it that truly matters to you?
My current guest, Carol Round got divorced after 28 years of marriage. While it had been her husband who had repeatedly talked about divorce, ultimately it was Carol who had the courage to end their marriage. By then, it was very clear to her that she just wanted out and she wasn’t interested in fighting with her STBX. Here’s Carol:
Divorce was always a part of his vocabulary and after I said I wanted a divorce he said, “I want to buy you out of our place,” because all that mattered him. I mainly wanted out. I was no longer feeling guilty. I just wanted out.
He didn’t buy me out. He probably figured out he couldn’t afford it, because we still owed a lot and he was going to have to refinance to pay me off. So, we put it on the market and our divorce was final two weeks before 9/11 happened.
Our place had been appraised that summer and after 9/11 happened, it sold for about $15000 to $20,000 less. Even though the divorce decree said I was to get ‘x’ amount of dollars upon the sale of our place or upon him buying me out, when the place sold, it sold for less, and he refused to give me the difference which was $10,000.
He said I was going to have to take him to court to get it. I didn’t want to fight. I thought, “I just want out. I didn’t want to deal with him anymore.” So, I gave up $10,000 that was rightfully mine.
Even though he’d known me since I was 16 years old and I was then 47, he said, “Well, I want you to get a lawyer to draw up a document saying, you won’t come back after me later on for that $10,000.”
He’s a disabled American veteran. He was wounded in Vietnam, but he still works. But he drew up 70 percent disability at the time. Anyway, because I had been married to him 28 years, I could have gone after part of his disability check. I refused to do it. I told my lawyer, “No, I’m not doing it.” I said, “He’s the one who got shot in Vietnam. I just want out.”
I was an English/Journalism teacher, so I drew up a document myself. I showed it to my next door neighbor who had been a legal secretary and she said, “Who wrote this?” I said, “I did.” She said, “You could go to work for a lawyer.” I said, “I don’t want to work for a lawyer.” She suggested that I have a lawyer look at it.
So I took it to this lawyer in town, which he didn’t charge me, which surprised me. But he said, “Who wrote this document?” I said, “I did.” He said, “Well, you want a job? I said, “No.” Then he goes, “Okay, another question. Why are you giving up $10,000 that’s rightfully yours?”
I said, “Two reasons, I don’t want to fight. I just want out. I don’t want to hurt our sons any further.” I said, “And the other reason,” I said, “If I take him to court, you get part of the money. Why fight over it? It’s just money.”
To this day, which has been a little over 12 years since we’ve been divorced, he does not know that I drew that up, and it doesn’t matter.
I left him with most of the household items. I took my personal things, a few antiques and I was out. And I started over.
The Divorce Coach Says
I think walking away from financial assets and personal property is a characteristic of being very clear in the decision to divorce and wanting to start over, and that means it’s more likely to be something that people who initiate the divorce are likely to do.
It can come from a desire to avoid potential conflict as was Pippi’s situation and or to end harassment as was Swati’s case. It could come from practical considerations such as furniture that won’t fit with a new home or just wanting to starting over whether that means buying new furniture or scouring garage sales. It can also be driven by guilt about the divorce.
Whatever your circumstances, asking yourself what you truly want to take from your marriage is extremely helpful in negotiating your settlement agreement. Knowing this will give you your bottom line in discussions and will help you decide whether something is worth getting additional professional help such as a mediator, attorney or some of the specialists such as a vocational specialist or a business valuation specialist. This helps to put you and keep you in the driver’s seat with you making the decisions about your negotiations and it avoids the whole dollars and cents mentality.
What did you walk away from? What are you willing to give up?
Carol Round has been a writer her whole life and now writes the A Matter Of Faith blog where she shares inspiration thoughts for daily living. She is the author of Journaling With Jesus.