My recent Huffington Post piece, It’s Not Fraud If You’re Married has generated some interesting and thoughtful questions. Here are the answers to some of them. It may make you think about your own situation.
Why don’t I take him to court to make him pay?
That’s a whole essay! Read it here: Why I Choose Not to Play Criminal Pursuit
Did we communicate about money?
My ex and I had discussions about finances (both the current state and goals) all of the time. It turns out; however, that he was feeding me lies, at least in the last several years of the marriage. I never had reason to doubt him and I saw occasional documents (now I know they were manufactured…did I mention he did graphics for a living?) that supported his claims. We had an agreement that any purchase above $100 had to be discussed with the other. I upheld my end of that bargain.
Did we live above our means?
Not even close! I drive an almost fourteen year car that I bought new in 1999 for $18,000. Until I received an iPhone last spring, I had a Nokia flip phone. Our house was cheap for the area ($130,000) and we put a substantial amount down. By the time he left, our combined monthly income was almost $6,000 after taxes and we only needed about $2,500 to live. Now, all of that being said, he did start to develop more expensive tastes. He purchased a 2005 Toyota 4-Runner (not the cheapest vehicle, but still a practical one for us), Kindle, and was on his 2nd iPhone. Of course, that was the stuff I knew about…
Where did the money go?
If you find out, please let me know! I have no idea where the money went. I discovered some purchases after he left, but they were rather small ( a videogame system, an additional bike). I also learned of trips and dinners/drinks out. But still, it doesn’t account for the copious sums he managed to make disappear (he could give David Copperfield a run for his money!). I could only track the money so far because it went into accounts that I did not have access to or was withdrawn as cash. Drugs? Gambling? A third wife? With this man, who knows? Yet another thing I have had to just let go of.
Why did he get the house?
He took out a home equity line without my knowledge. That meant that, at the time of the divorce, the house was worth what was owed on it. I had moved out of the house immediately and into a friend’s spare bedroom. I could not afford the house, literally or emotionally. It sat vacant during the 8 months of the divorce proceedings. I tried – through the lawyer layers – to convince him to sell the house. He did not cooperate. Then, he shocked us in court when he requested the house. He seemed to be under the delusion that it had equity. So, he got it. I guess he changed his mind once he realized it was a cash cow that he already bled.
Would a prenup have protected me?
Not really. All it would have been is another document stating that he owed me money. Civil cases take a certain amount of cooperation, regardless of prior agreements. I don’t think it would have made a difference at all to him.
Can’t he be jailed for contempt of court for not upholding the terms of the divorce decree?
Technically, yes. However, I would have to continue to push the system. And he would have to show up in court. There is a felony warrant out for his arrest. Last I knew, the IRS was trying to track him down. Do you really think he would show up at a hearing for not meeting terms of an agreement? Yeah, exactly. Plus, just to get to that point would cost me more money and steal more of my life away. No, thanks.
I realized soon after the divorce was final that I could either spend my life trying to punish him (and thus punishing myself in the process) or I could decide to live. I chose the latter.
For more information:
And, to read about how I learned to love and trust again, check out my book, Lessons From the End of a Marriage.