At two weeks postpartum with our 2nd daughter, DH let me know that he wants to separate. I didn't expect this at all, although I knew that he was really reaching a midlife crisis. Although he has a lot of resentment and anger toward me, overall his is very amicable and nonemotional in approaching this. I have asked him to give us 6 months before making the final decision since I really CAN'T take a major life change like this on top of a brand new baby. I am hoping that given time and and a chance to process his feelings a bit more (we are going to counseling) the situation will change by the end of the year.
We have our own business, although I haven't been participating full time in the operation of it since our first daughter was born 4 years ago (this is part of his resentment). I do oversee accounting and some marketing, but only about 2 hours a week at most. However, I have run our household 100% (everything from childcare, cooking, lawn care, accounting, cars, etc) so that he can focus all of his attention on the business. He is offering that I remain 50% owner in the business and would continue to receive 50% of the income. I would get the house and the new car we just bought (although payments would be mine).
Up until now, I've gotten the larger salary from our business. BUT all of our living expenses have come out of that. There was nothing left to save or spend on my own fun stuff. Out of his salary, he paid his very large student loan (from pre marriage) and the rest was his personal spending money. It has bothered me for years that about 15% of our total income went to his personal use and I had no say over how it was spent. I preferred to see that money (or some of it at least) go toward emergency savings or retirement. But, to keep things happy I just let it go.
So now I am kicking myself for not insisting that I also get discretionary spending that I could have saved up. He had wanted me to, but I was afraid that we couldn't afford it on top of what he was already taking. Since I saw it all as "our" money anyway, I figured that it would all work out.
I believe that as long as he follows through on the 50/50 part with business income I will be able to support myself and my children. But I am concerned that I have to support 2 kids on that 50% and he gets his 50% for himself. Since he is basically running the business now, perhaps that is fair, since I wouldn't have to work outside the home (hopefully) for a few years. He sees this as basically money I'm getting for doing nothing and thinks it is very generous. I feel really undervalued for all I've contributed already and will continue to contribute (I would still do accounting and marketing), but I also know a lot of single mothers who would be so grateful for this arrangement.
Would I be expected to pay for all of our children's expenses out of my 50%? I don't think that he would want joint custody, although he plans to be involved with their lives. Although he really loves them, he just isn't a children person and wants to be less distracted from his work (part of the reason he wants to leave).
I just am not sure what to expect. Although I really hope we can work it out in the next 6 months, I feel I should be planning now to make sure that my girls and I are taken care of and we are getting a fair arrangement.
Also, he has asked that if we do separate in 6 months that we claim that we have already been living separately for a year so that he can file immediately for divorce. I said I couldn't agree to that because I have no idea what the implications are. Is there a good reason to wait (other than hoping for reconciliation?)? This is one of those conversations that has me thinking I need to act now rather than waiting out the 6 months. It seems that he has really made up his mind and is just supporting my need to wait 6 months before the change is made. But it seems pretty clear from his actions and conversations that he ins't holding open the option to make things work to stay together.
Should I talk to a financial planner? Mediator? I don't want to go the lawyer route yet because I'm afraid of polarizing sides. It is really important to me that we keep things open and positive. I really hate to give energy towards the separation and would rather put my thoughts and energy toward making things work, but I also don't want to be caught on the short end of things. I guess I'm thinking "hope for the best, plan for the worst".
I have read this from a lot of other single moms too.... but I just NEVER imagined myself in this position after 11 years of marriage! So sad.....
Generally, child/spousal support is calculated by both parents income and the amount of time each of you is responsible for the children. So, if you both make the same income but he only has the children for 25% of the time, then he'll have to pay child support to make the 2 households comparable for the kids. You should be able to find an online calculator for your state to plug in some numbers.
big hugs during this time. It seems really underhanded to me for a father to make such a decision when you've just had a baby.
Robin~ single, work-at-home momma to my Wonderboys
BigKid (6/00) & LittleBoy (6/04)
You definitely should consult an attorney. even if you go through mediation, you each should still have an attorney.
You also should still get child support and contribution from both parents for things like medical and such.
And a financial planner is not a bad idea either.
So sorry you have to go through all of this right now. I'm just starting a separation and I want to second the speaking to a lawyer. At fist I assumed we would just split everything 50/50, but now I'm learning that that is not at all fair to me or the kids. A lawyer will help you sort out those kinds of balances and it will also help feel protected knowing what truly is fair and truly in the best interest of the kids. Big hugs
Talk to a lawyer ASAP. The more information you have the better. I'm sure we can help you with a list of questions to ask. I can't imagine doing this with all you are going through with a new baby! I fear he has been planning this and setting things up well for himself - I'm sorry to say this to you now and I really hesistated before posting it, but some of what you posted sound suspicious. I can almost guarantee he has talked to a lawyer.
Financial planner probably very helpful, too.
Please do not think that getting all the information you need is somehow going to impede counseling/reconciliation. You can't know that, in fact going in there with a stronger picture of how your marriage works on all levels (distribution of of tasks, money, etc.) and what the potentials are should you decide to end the marriage might be just what you need to make counseling work well for you two.
Peaceful vibes for you and baby coming your way...
Thanks for the suggestions. It sounds like I need to set up an appointment to talk to a lawyer. I'm still in my 6 week baby moon and am not heading out into the world for another week, but I can start to get that in place. I want to enjoy my early baby weeks as much as possible, but my fear and anxiety makes that tough.
DH has aspergers syndrome and, from my perspective, a lot of this has to do with the issues around that. This is why it is so easy for him to see this decision in such a black and white/business like way. I do believe that he still cares and loves us and really does want to support us. We both want to make this as peaceful and friendly as possible, stay great parenting partners, be friends, etc. I think that is really hard to do when getting into issues of money, though. There are some ways that he sees things and he really CAN NOT understand them any differently. He gets locked into one position and can't change. He also isn't able to really understand another persons feelings or thoughts if they are different from his own. It seems selfish, but it is just the way his mind works. If he weren't AS a lot of his actions would seem suspicious, but really he is just naive.
He has been thinking about this since before I got pregnant with DD2. He has been trying to get things in place to make sure I would have everything I wanted and needed... a second child, a house (which we just bought in February), a good car. It is so unemotional, but suggests that he really does care, even if a lot of it doesn't make sense. He also can not understand or believe that I didn't see this coming. (Why would a normal person decide to have a baby knowing that they would be leaving their partner to raise the baby?!) It was so clear to him that this was the way things would end up, how could it not be clear to me. He didn't want to talk about upsetting things when I was pregnant so he waited until the baby was born. The birth and first week went so well, I think he figured I was back on my feet and all was back to normal. He is really surprised that I am so turned upside down. He thinks it is all so logical and doesn't understand why I"m a weeping mess. Just another thing that comes with the asperger's....
Even though he has been thinking about this for a while, I doubt that he has spoken with a lawyer. He wouldn't know how to begin to do this sort of thing. He has always relied on me to figure that sort of thing out. He wasn't even aware of what our cost of living is that he would have to support in addition to his own living expenses. I had to sit him down with a spreadsheet and go over it with him. He was shocked, but still wants to move ahead, although it means he will have to generate a WHOLE lot more money to support two households.
One thing that he wants to do immediately is separate our finances. He wants to increase both of our salaries so they are equal (currently mine is more since I pay all household bills). Then he offered to pay me for a portion of the living expenses while he is still here. I was thinking 50% for house, food, utilities, etc. But he wants me to also pay him (or deduct from what he is paying me) half of his student loan expense. This was the one bill that regularly came out of his income (he would occasionally pay for family stuff too, but only when he wanted to). But I don't think that is fair. That was his student loan before we got married. He is concerned about being able to save up money in order to start over. But I think that the $1000/month extra that he already has would be enough to save over the next 6 months. He might have to cut way back on his amazon purchases, but some sacrifices will have to be made!
But I don't want to rock the boat too much right now while we are getting along so well and he is feeling so generous.... or at least thinks he is being generous (the more I'm hearing, the more it seems that 50% of our business income would be expected to be mine AND he would pay child support on top of it. I don't think he is going to feel that is fair since I wouldn't be participating 50% in the business.) It seems that money issues are the place where equanimity and open heartedness could really take a nose dive.
Ugh... I only replied to say thanks for the advice and support instead I'm launching into a long ramble again. I will start researching lawyers tomorrow. It sucks to be thinking of this instead of just awing over my new baby. I feel like I've been robbed of this precious time. I'm doing my best to hold onto as much of it as I can, even while my mind races about all of these other details.
I would love some ideas on what I should ask the lawyer...
ah, the Aspie part explains a lot. It doesn't make it less painful but at least you do know that he's not being malicious, just clueless.
I really suggest you find some links to your state's guidelines for him to look at. In his mind, he might have thought all this out as far as what he thinks is fair, but the law has different ideas, like the student loan debt (which you are correct about - that's all on him). It will not be about him giving you X percentage of your living expenses, it will be a flat rate he must pay each month in child support and possibly spousal support (depending on how long you've been married) and he doesn't get to choose how much that will be. I don't know how your shared business will be handled by the court; generally all joint assets are liquidated and the profit split or one spouse buys out the other for their half.
Robin~ single, work-at-home momma to my Wonderboys
BigKid (6/00) & LittleBoy (6/04)
This is the part I'm most uncertain about. He is suggesting that I stay half owner and continue to get my salary (actually an increased salary) and share half the profits. That sounds good to me, but it also seems like a delicate situation since I wouldn't be working much for that part ownership.
I'm so sorry that you are going through this and while I can't offer any practical help regarding the payments etc, I just wanted to let you know that you have support here and that while this is a crazy challenge to go through, it sounds like things will work out well and leave you to both be more free in your lives to be the people you need to be.
All the best.
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I know that in general lawyers and financial planners advice the parties to have no joint assets (or liabilities) after the divorce. Also, FYI, it is usually better to NOT "get" the house as it is a huge asset in your + column - that has to be offset in his + column - but it is not a liquid asset and has continuing financial demands (tax, upkeep, insurance, etc.) that are more expensive than say brokerage fees for a mutual fund account.
General questions about his/her practice:
1. What is the hourly charge for lawyer? paralegal? what kind of tasks are done by paralegal v. lawyer? Can you see a sample client bill (with personal info blacked out)?
2. What percent of his/her cases are settled in mediation? collaboration? court?
General questions about divorce in your area?
1. What is typical for child support? Spousal support/alimony? Distribution of assets?
2. What is typical for custody, esp. with an infant?
Questions specific for you:
1. What should I be doing right now to protect myself in case of a divorce?
2. What should I be considering when it comes to splitting our business?
3. What should I be considering when contemplating who gets the house?
Do you recommend speaking to a financial planner at this point? Recommendations? Any other professionals you think would be especially helpful for me to contact?
I also recommend - if you can - trying to attend a "Second Saturday" divorce workshop. I attended two different ones before filing for divorce and found both very helpful. They are inexpensive (@$25? I think?)
Hope something here helps.
Thanks for this list of questions Wilhemina. It was very helpful. I printed it off and took it to the lawyer for my initial meeting on Tuesday. It was so helpful! I found a lawyer who only does collaborative law, so she isn't going to jump right into polarizing us. Her main focus is on helping couples stay connected in a positive way. And, as long as everything continues in the way it seems to be, my husband won't need a separate lawyer. It will help keep our costs down.
She recommended that I stay partners in the business, that this was the best option for me rather than spousal support. He wants to be 51% owner and me 49% so that he has control, but I have to look into what that means for me. We will work out a separate business agreement for what that will look like, but I'll continue to get 50% of the business income (and I'm asking for a set minimum amount and a maximum amount, for both of our benefit). DH also says he will pay child support on top of that (although he may change his mind when he learns how much that would be!). So, I feel like I'm going to get a fair deal out of this. He is just ready to move on but also doesn't want to leave us high and dry. I appreciate that!
Dh will stay in our home until the end of the year, to save money and get organized. I'm wanting to get an agreement down on paper ASAP in case we start to not get along so well again. Would it be appropriate for me to post the general points of the agreement that we are considering here in this forum? I'd love to get some thoughts on it. I've read the thread on what others wish they had included, and it has been helpful, but I'm afraid of overlooking something.
Thanks for all the help!
I'm so grateful for MDC!
So, so glad that you are coping so well! I think your plan to get an agreement signed as soon as reasonable makes great sense for your situation.
I don't know about the wisdom of outlining your agreement here - someone else will hopefully speak to that.
I'll keep you in my thoughts!
You are getting some wonderful advice here from the ladies. As another Mom who is going through this I know it is difficult, but, stay strong & try and take care of yourself. Since he seems to be already consideering this I would also suggest you prepare by getting a lawyer & FP. Start gathering paperwork, bank statements, accounts, IRS forms etc.. you will need these going back at least 3 years. If not on hand you can order them and they sometimes take a bit of time to get to you, This will help with your position. Good luck & keep us posted.
I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. The suggestion to consult with an attorney is a good one. But there are other, proactive items that you can do. Here is the list:
1. Make copies of all financial statements, incuding paystubs, 401K statements and the last 3 years of tax returns (W-4's included). Keep them in a safe place.
2. Withdraw half of the funds in any joint account and put it in a separate account that he can't touch. Keep meticulous records of this. Because both accounts are marital assets, but it isn't uncommon for one spouse to empty the joint accounts. Only taking half won't get you into trouble.
3. Copies of all assets, accounts, financial statements for the joint business. One of you is going to have to buy the other out. And I would fight wording the buyout as spousal support if there are payments. I wouldn't remain a 50%. Cut what financial ties you can. Obviously, with kids, that's not going to be completely possible.
4. Make an inventory of all household items, jewelry (your wedding rings are your separate property just like his are his separate property), furniture. Take pictures so there is no question of their existence. Try to find a fair market value for the items.
5. Since self-employment is in the mix here, you need to sit down and create a spreadsheet listing all household expenditures. This is one way of proving what the income actually is. And this is really the only time that you will be able to do that. At future modifications, when finances are completely separated, it's not so easy to disprove a claim of low income. Self-employed persons have an easier time of hiding income than one who works for a company.
I meet with a financial planner on Friday who is a good friend of the family. He put the fear of God in me, though! He helped me realize a number of important things:
First, I actually need a lot more money to get by then I thought. This is helpful because I wanted to put a minimum and a maximum amount on the income I'd get from the business. It turns out what my DH thought was a lot of money for us, really isn't!
Second, there is a good chance that my husband may fall apart when he is out of the house and doesn't have me to help with life details. I don't think he will literally fall apart, but there is a good chance that he may not be able to keep up with everything that he needs to. This could lead to a decrease in income for him which would be decrease income for me. Not much I can do about it really, though, other than prepare myself for the possibility.
Also, he stressed that I will need to consider working soon. I really REALLY don't want to think about that. I just don't know how I would swing that with a newborn. I also do not work well for others. I'm very independent and have almost always worked for myself, or not at all. I've really enjoyed being a stay at home mom and just doing a bit on the side with our business. I thought it was a good deal. I basically have been working as if I'm a single mom in the home (almost no help with household tasks or parenting) but with the financial benefits of having a working spouse. I've been fooling myself thinking that this wasn't going to change and the only thing that would change is where my husband lives. But really, it is likely that the support will only be there for a few years (at most) for me to continue staying home.
In a way I would prefer to just take a buy out for my half of the business and cut my losses, but I really will be better off getting a steady income from the business. Plus, I really believe that without me staying involved on some level things could go really bad (which in turn would be bad for us). I am going to consult a business lawyer next to see how to rewrite the bylaws for our corporation in a way that will hopefully make things clear. DH wants to have 51% of our shares and I take 49%. There is no way I will agree to that. But I think that we can restructure in such a way that he has the day to day operating power without taking the majority vote. I realize that the partnership may not be realistic for the long term, but for now, I do think it is in my best interest. It will give me more income and I can save, save, save, while everything is still positive.
To my great advantage, I am the money handler both in home and business. DH really hasn't got a clue and is very happy for me to handle figuring all of the details out about our accounts, how to split assets, etc. So that is good. He certainly doesn't have in mind splitting our assets. He just wants to keep his own bank account and stocks. That works for me!
BTW: I still can't bring myself to write STBX instead of DH. There must be a better term than ex. It just seems so... I don't know, disconnected? Maybe I'll be there next year this time, but for now it just doesn't seem to be the best way to describe him. Hmmm.....
I read a book recently by a researcher who prefers to use the term bi-nuclear families instead of 'broken homes'. She argues that the stigma of divorce is not merritted and stresses that families with divorced parents are still families, simply restructured and reorganized and actually often optimized. One point she raises is that the terms 'exhusband' and 'exwife' are very unfortunate and do not reflect the ongoing partnership of divorced parents - like what you have lamented. But, she admits there is yet to be a better term available.