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  • Divorce First Steps

    My brother's wife of 6 years left him 3 days ago. He lives in Wisconsin.  There are three young kids involved.

    He is not a physician - he makes about $80,000 per year.  Wife makes half that.

    I've been trying to come up with a list of things he should be thinking about (credit cards, changing beneficiaries, figuring out the house, etc) and he meets with a lawyer on Monday.  Having no prior experience with divorce, I'm sure I'm missing things and thought that others might have some ideas or suggestions.

    Thanks!

     

  • #2
    I'd imagine there's plenty of articles out there.

    His attorney should be able to walk him through the process.

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    • #3
      I'm sorry to hear about it.

      I'd start by closing every credit account, opening a new bank and investment account, and moving everything out of the joint account into the new accounts. Recognize, of course, that half of that stuff belongs to your spouse, but I'd rather be in control of it.

      And don't move out. Possession is 9/10ths of the law.
      Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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      • #4
        What about counseling?  With 3 kids maybe the marriage can be saved.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hatton1 - I totally agree.  Of course that was my first (and repeated) suggestion.  I think my brother would be open to that.  It sounds like she's been planning on it for sometime and I fear that she's not really interested in it.

          Comment


          • #6
            I am so sorry to hear that, especially with 3 young children. Top of my head...

            • I do not recommend he unilaterally close joint savings or checking accounts but, instead, put a freeze on them and take action to divide them, if possible.

            • Do go ahead and open a new checking account for direct deposit.

            • Pull a credit report and make sure there are not any dormant credit cards that he is overlooking - definitely close the credit cards unless there is a balance that he would have to pay off.

            • Do not share an attorney with his wife to "save money".


            This article may help later, but not so much now (Tax tips during divorce) but I would like to emphasize the importance of having a good CPA or CFP with divorce planning experience for advice. Too often, the attorney is not well-versed in the tax implications of various decisions.

            Laws vary by state. As @Craigy mentioned, he should get advice asap.
            Working to protect good doctors from bad advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

            Comment


            • #7
              Sorry to hear about this.  Sad if after 6 years, 3 kids, not interested in reconcilation.

              A.  Absolutely possession is 90% of the law.  -- Do NOT move out.

              - New account in his name only for any new $$$ flow

              - remove beneficiary on retirement accounts.

              - Pull everyone's credit report and close all accounts;  -

              - freeze all current shared assets in place.  --you cannot pull out unilaterally and just makes look bad at review

              - make sure children accounts are all secured and not raided.  --reset passwords to only highly individual not shared password, including emails, phones, computers, and ALL bank accounts (again information and possession is key to finances).

               

               

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              • #8




                What about counseling?  With 3 kids maybe the marriage can be saved.
                Click to expand...


                First off, I'm very sorry to hear about that.  I went through something similar 10 years ago (thankfully we didn't have kids) and I learned a lot about this subject unfortunately from personal experience as well as a great deal of reading and observing others around me who've also gone through similar difficulties.

                The standard and well-intentioned advice is to "try marriage counseling".  While this is intuitively sensible, it's not really that simple.  The following may be difficult to hear I'm afraid.

                Your brother/SIL have been married a fair amount of time-6 years-and have 3 young kids together.  That's a large "investment" in one another.  I'm going to assume your brother is a decent guy (that he's not a raging alcoholic, gambling/drug addict, or abuser) and that he's not messing around with his secretary.  In that case, I can assure you that's its very very uncommon for a woman/wife to walk out on her marriage and kids unless she's running away to pursue a different relationship.  In other words, whether he knows it or not or wants to admit it or not (and she likely won't either), it's very very likely your brother's wife is having an affair.  Since she has a career outside the home, it's very likely she's having the affair with a man she works with in some capacity.  It's very likely the affair relationship has been "personal" for quite a while (months at least).  She likely wouldn't be leaving her marriage and her 3 kids unless she was already emotionally-attached ("falling in love", "infatuated") with her lover.

                The bottom line of all this is that the marriage is un-save-able until/unless the affair ends--permanently and completely.  Going to "marriage counseling" with a spouse who's actively involved in an affair is a complete waste of time and money.  First off, she likely will flat-out refuse to go.  If she does agree, she won't participate sincerely and productively.  She will deflect attention from her affair (probably denying it as "we are just friends"), scapegoat your brother for virtually everything, and will basically sabotage any counseling progress.  That way she will be able to tell others (and herself) that she "tried counseling and it didn't work".  In other words, she will use the counseling "failure" as justification and proof that leaving the marriage and pursuing the affair relationship is the right thing and the only way "to make her happy".  Trust me on this, it's a waste of time and money to engage in marriage counseling with someone who isn't going with the same motivations and goals as you are.  I'm not saying your brother shouldn't go to individual counseling for emotional support--he should if he wants or needs to.

                I'm afraid your brother only has two unpleasant options available to him.  He can expose the affair (affairs thrive on secrecy and sometimes die quickly when the danger and excitement are taken away), wait it out, and try to reconcile the marriage after it ends completely.  Or he can just go straight to divorce.  In either case, he should protect himself financially as best he can as WCI suggested above.  Definitely, HE SHOULD NOT MOVE OUT and he should not neglect his kids even though he's undoubtedly going through a very emotionally-trying time.

                Once again, I'm sorry to hear about this.

                 

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                • #9
                  Thanks AZDoc68 for sharing personal experience - this is the kind of advice I was hoping for with this thread.  She did have an affair - about 2 years ago, and quite possibly, it's still going on in some capacity.

                   

                  Apparently she left for her mom's house (15 miles) and took the kids and dog with her.  My brother is a decent guy and stayed with her when he found out about the affair, and he loves the boys and wants to see them as much as possible, he's just not counting on her letting him have the boys full time.

                   

                  So if SHE left the house (and she alone couldn't afford the mortgage payment) should he try to keep the house and stay there?  Or is it easier to just sell the house and split the profits and both of them start over with an apartment? (Of course, I'm not super worried about her and I suspect she'll live with her mother for a while).

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                  • #10
                    The situation is complicated.  My brother had an affair and he also said counseling was a waste of time.  He ended up divorcing the affair wife after a few years. He is now on wife number 4.  My brother is an attorney but he hired a divorce attorney.  I think your brother needs a good divorce attorney ASAP.  Every community has some that specialize in this.  It sounds like counseling would be a waste of time in view of the affair.  I would want to sell the house and move on.  He needs to protect his assets and the kids.

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                    • #11




                      Thanks AZDoc68 for sharing personal experience – this is the kind of advice I was hoping for with this thread.  She did have an affair – about 2 years ago, and quite possibly, it’s still going on in some capacity.

                       

                      Apparently she left for her mom’s house (15 miles) and took the kids and dog with her.  My brother is a decent guy and stayed with her when he found out about the affair, and he loves the boys and wants to see them as much as possible, he’s just not counting on her letting him have the boys full time.

                       

                      So if SHE left the house (and she alone couldn’t afford the mortgage payment) should he try to keep the house and stay there?  Or is it easier to just sell the house and split the profits and both of them start over with an apartment? (Of course, I’m not super worried about her and I suspect she’ll live with her mother for a while).
                      Click to expand...


                      You're welcome and once again I'm very sorry to hear this story.  It's one I've heard and seen many times before and I've learned to recognize what's really going on ("reading between the lines" so to speak) here.

                      The man your SIL had the affair with 2 years ago...was it at work?  Odds are yes.  If so (and wherever it was), did your SIL cut off all sources of contact permanently and completely with him?  Yes, that means leaving her job and finding a new one if her partner still worked there.  I don't have all the information but the most likely she didn't and that means most likely the affair never truly "ended".  It's very common for affair-partners to take their relationship "underground" or quiescent for a while if they are outed or feel suspicion being cast upon them.  They put things on hold for a while and then resume, covering their tracks all the more carefully, later when they feel the coast is clear.  Often the other person in the affair is married as well.  That's the way these things go.  If NO CONTACT isn't permanently and completely engaged in, the affair usually resumes and resurface again later.  I suspect that's what is going on here and I suspect it has been going on a long long time in secret.

                      Sadly, I would recommend your brother not bother trying to reconcile the marriage and go straight to divorce.  If it's a new affair she's having, that means she's now had two in the span of only two years.  If it's the same relationship as before, that means it's a long-running affair that's she's never repudiated and it started only 4 years (likely sooner) into her marriage to your brother.  Either way, I'd cut my losses with such an unreliable and unworthy partner and get her out of my life ASAP.

                      If I were him, I'd get a family law attorney, one who specializes in father's rights, immediately and get some preliminary child custody requirements enforced.  If he acts like a doormat and doesn't fight for his equal share of time with his kids, her attorney can later twist that into accusing him of "parental abandonment".  She doesn't have the legal right to deny his kids from him.  And he shouldn't leave his house if he can afford to  make the payments for now.  I'd stay there at least until the financial and permanent custody arrangements of the divorce are worked out.  He can then decide later what he wants to do as far as selling or staying.  I don't think mid-divorce is a good time to make major financial moves.  Emotionally distraught decisions usually turn out to be unwise ones.

                      My sympathies to your brother but I can assure him that he will end up way better off without her in time, even though the next year or so is going to be a tough one I'm afraid.

                      Comment


                      • #12




                        The situation is complicated.  My brother had an affair and he also said counseling was a waste of time.  He ended up divorcing the affair wife after a few years. He is now on wife number 4.  My brother is an attorney but he hired a divorce attorney.  I think your brother needs a good divorce attorney ASAP.  Every community has some that specialize in this.  It sounds like counseling would be a waste of time in view of the affair.  I would want to sell the house and move on.  He needs to protect his assets and the kids.
                        Click to expand...


                        When the affair-partners marry each other, usually after both go through gut-wrenching divorces, it very rarely ends up being "happily ever after".  That rate of failure (divorce) in affair-marriages is astoundingly high.  It's about 75% within 5 years and 90% within 10.  ["Private Lies" by Dr. Frank Pittman]
                        Once the dangerous, secretive sex starts to not be so hot anymore, they usually find they have very little in common and the partners in the relationship are very often shockingly dishonest with friends, families, and with one another.  People tend to have affairs with people that they never would have dated in the first place had they both been single.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The fiscally sound approach is to sock as much as possible into new accounts, get the best divorce lawyers in town, and use free or low cost consults to conflict out as many of the other good divorce lawyers in town as possible.

                          That said, there is a reason that your brother and your sister in law fell in love, got married, and had kids together.  I'd recommend Retrouvaille or another high quality counseling solution if the two of them are at all willing to consider it.  It's fairly straightforward to proceed to a scorched earth approach to dividing assets, and assigning child custody and support obligations, and paying >20% of your combined net worth to family law attorneys on both sides.  It takes far more courage and hard work to see if there's something that the two of them can save and rekindle in their relationship.

                          If they aren't willing to put in the hard work to try to save this marriage, it's unlikely that the next few relationships will last all that long either.

                          Comment


                          • #14




                            The fiscally sound approach is to sock as much as possible into new accounts, get the best divorce lawyers in town, and use free or low cost consults to conflict out as many of the other good divorce lawyers in town as possible.

                            That said, there is a reason that your brother and your sister in law fell in love, got married, and had kids together.  I’d recommend Retrouvaille or another high quality counseling solution if the two of them are at all willing to consider it.  It’s fairly straightforward to proceed to a scorched earth approach to dividing assets, and assigning child custody and support obligations, and paying >20% of your combined net worth to family law attorneys on both sides.  It takes far more courage and hard work to see if there’s something that the two of them can save and rekindle in their relationship.

                            If they aren’t willing to put in the hard work to try to save this marriage, it’s unlikely that the next few relationships will last all that long either.
                            Click to expand...


                            I've heard of Retrouvaille and I recall reading good things about in the past.  My only caution to the OP is that it's a waste of time and money to try any form of "therapy" or "counseling" as long as there is a 3rd party still in the picture.  Both spouses must be working toward the same goal with genuine sincerity.  If they are willing to take that step, then yes "putting in hard work" is necessary and can be fruitful.

                            Trying to save a marriage in which one or both parties are just going through the motions doesn't work.  You're not going to "fall in love with each other again" if one or both keep something going on the side.

                            Comment


                            • #15







                              The fiscally sound approach is to sock as much as possible into new accounts, get the best divorce lawyers in town, and use free or low cost consults to conflict out as many of the other good divorce lawyers in town as possible.

                              That said, there is a reason that your brother and your sister in law fell in love, got married, and had kids together.  I’d recommend Retrouvaille or another high quality counseling solution if the two of them are at all willing to consider it.  It’s fairly straightforward to proceed to a scorched earth approach to dividing assets, and assigning child custody and support obligations, and paying >20% of your combined net worth to family law attorneys on both sides.  It takes far more courage and hard work to see if there’s something that the two of them can save and rekindle in their relationship.

                              If they aren’t willing to put in the hard work to try to save this marriage, it’s unlikely that the next few relationships will last all that long either.
                              Click to expand…


                              I’ve heard of Retrouvaille and I recall reading good things about in the past.  My only caution to the OP is that it’s a waste of time and money to try any form of “therapy” or “counseling” as long as there is a 3rd party still in the picture.  Both spouses must be working toward the same goal with genuine sincerity.  If they are willing to take that step, then yes “putting in hard work” is necessary and can be fruitful.

                              Trying to save a marriage in which one or both parties are just going through the motions doesn’t work.  You’re not going to “fall in love with each other again” if one or both keep something going on the side.
                              Click to expand...


                              There are very few "contraindications" to couples counseling, but an active affair or domestic violence are two.

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