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Family Issues, why can't people just do the right thing?

Updated on January 22, 2010

finish things correctly.

I have been spending a great deal of time talking to friends who are either in the process of divorce or are still suffering the consequences of a divorce. What I have discovered is that it is much easier to get married than it is to get divorced. First of all, you must be able to agree to the terms, This is fine if the divorce is amicable and both parties are able to settle quickly. That is quite rare. However, if there are children and property in the mix, the couple may be in for years of meetings, not to mention lawyers fees. Then again, just because there are limited assets, still does not mean it will end quickly and smoothly. Usually one of the parties involved is opposed to the divorce or they have been wounded by their spouse and are seeking vengance.

Heres what happens. Whichever spouse is earning more money becomes concerned that he or she may get hit with a large alimony payment, so they do one of two things: they either remove all monies from their name, put it in a third party name, such as their new girlfriend. Another trick is to resign from their high paying job and either stay unemployed or accept a lower income for a position they are already established in. That enables the spouse to go to court and claim poverty. This highly despicable trick is widely practiced by all sorts of people in society. Bankers, lawyers, teachers, business owners, ministers, writers, any profession, you name it. If they can transfer their earnings to an off the books method, or to a third party, they certainly will do it. This way when the spouse tries to sue them for alimony, the on the books earnings are so low, there is either no settlement or a very low one.

This is fine for the spouse who has an excellent career and can support herself. However, what does the woman who has worked  alongside her husband for 25-35 years, caring for the children, the house and sacrificing so that he can build his career with the hope that one day she too will reape the benefits of all of this? What does SHE do? He downsizes his salary, puts his savings in his girlfriend's name and at an age where she should be thinking about retirement and traveling the world with her husband, she is forced back into the workforce with very little credible experience, no motivation and her age against her? There ought to be something she can do. But alas, it involves a great deal of court time and lots of money. When all is said and done, he outsmarts her by listening to lawyers and others who know how to play the game.

What should the woman who has a great career and a husband who is a freeloader do then? She doesn't want to quit her job and she doesn't want to hide her income or her savings. He never did anything to earn this money, but in good faith, she has been depositing in the joint account. Now she has to take it all out before he does. She has to pack up all his things because he won't do it, he thinks she will get tired, thus let him stay merely because he is still freeloading.

Then theres the issue of the children. Most times, the men get the shaft with this one, I will admit that. They pay child support, but get the children on a secondary basis, only for visits. However, what about the guy who is delinquent on his child support? Believe or not, based on the judge, he still gets to enjoy visitation even though the children barely have anything to wear because he hasn't kept up his end of the bargain. In one case I know, the dad kept throwing birthday parties, but owed lots of child support. The mother, who was paying all of the bills on her own, could not afford to give her children birthday parties. What's wrong with this picture?

A friend of mine just finalized his divorce. It took him many years to get divorced. It led me to wonder why it took him so long. Did he really want her back. In the beginning, yes, he did, but truly what it ended up being about was the settlements. He kept his job, even increasing his hours. He did the right thing even though he was wronged in the relationship. But he said when all over: "marriage may be about love, but divorce is about money".

All I am saying is, when you get married, you make a LEGAL commitment. You recieve a marriage license, many people take vows before God and witnesses. Take those vows seriously. If there is a problem, talk to each other and go to marriage counseling, your church, somewhere, it is important, take the time. If that fails, you gave it a try, now go for the divorce, but do it right. No manipulating, no lying, just end things correctly and move on. That way you can lay your head down on the pillow at night and truly be free to sleep.


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