When Grace said, “Enough!” and filed for divorce she knew her husband well enough to plan carefully for when he would receive the divorce papers but she didn’t anticipate what he did with their money. Here’s Grace:
The night I knew he was being served, I was out of town, I made sure I would be far, far away because I knew deep down that the divorce process would be very, very hard—and that it would be very ugly. I think that’s another reason I didn’t file sooner. He was not a man that was used to having anyone do what he didn’t want them to do. I just knew that he would make my life very, very difficult.
Well, my daughter called me and said,
“Mom, you need to go on dad’s email, there’s some interesting stuff there.”
I asked how she’d got into his email and she said,
“Well, most people use their birthday as their password.”
Sure enough, she logged right on. Funny thing was I knew that was his password. I could have gone on there any time, I could have gone to the office anytime and pulled plane records and different things, credit card receipts, and found it at any time, but I think you don’t want to know till you’re ready.
Anyway, I was sitting in the lobby of the Hilton hotel at the Minneapolis airport and started pulling records. I found an email where he had transferred $100,000 out of a Schwab account, and it was a joint account, but they didn’t need my signature, they just transferred it out to him. I knew I had to do something to get myself part of that money. I knew how to log on to our bill pay service, so I could send a check, but if I sent a check, it would take a couple of days and he could stop payment. So I thought,
“What could I do that would be instantaneous where I could get myself money?”
I prepaid $50,000 to my American Express card and it went through just like that. It was a card that was in my name only, so thank God I had that. I don’t know if you can even do that anymore but it worked then.
He cut me off from all the money so that money I put on my American Express card helped me for a few months. My dad took out a loan to finance my divorce and for me to live off. Finally, I had to go before a judge and beg the judge to make him give me temporary support during the divorce which the judge did order.
The Divorce Coach Says
I remember having a conversation with my attorney about how I wanted to get the divorce papers to my husband. It couldn’t have been more different than Grace’s situation. We had by then had months of discussion about divorce and once he accepted the finality of it, he wanted to be a co-petitioner. I think I delivered the papers to him.
It’s something that deserves careful consideration however, especially if you’re concerned about your safety.
Like Grace, all our money was in joint accounts and the thought never even occurred to me that he would empty the accounts or vice versa. But it happens. A lot. When I interviewed Denver divorce attorney Leslie Matthews she urged anyone, man or woman, who is considering divorce to make sure they’re prepared by having a bank account in their own name and funds to cover about three months living expenses. She also added:
Many women will say my husband will never do that and I always say to people, I understand and these are your choices to make but there have been many cases where people are very blindsided, their husband behaves in a way they have never seen before, completely aberrant behavior, behavior that is shocking.
Leslie’s advice is not about hiding assets, any marital assets you’ve withdrawn will need to be disclosed during discussions about your financial settlement. This is about ensuring you have access to funds while these issues are being resolved. It’s very, very important and hindsight isn’t going to help.
Photo credit: Stefan 1981