They've been separated since 2014 and she's exhausted her own 401k. She knows if she files for divorce, he will make court proceedings a nightmare. What would you do?

Dr. Sherry
Dec, 09, 2016

You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel Alone in Their Marriages keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show, Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...

 

Dear Dr. Sherry,

I'm currently separated from my husband of 27 years. I have actually been moved out of our house since 2014 and my focus has been on setting up my new place and getting familiar with my new job. At first, he would call and express how much he loves me but I can not forget all the mean, downright cruel things he said and did prior to my leaving. But I mustered up enough strength to get out after he said he never thought I would leave. When we intially got married I was not working and I was unemployed for 6 months. But since then, I have worked continuously for 23 years until I retired to attend school full-time to become a teacher. One year after stopping work, I started teaching school and haven't stopped.   The cost of an attorney is my reason for not filing for the divorce. I know it will be a fight over property (retirement and 401k). I know I'm entitled, but he's going to act crazy. So do I just file for the divorce myself and forget about the monetary factor? In GA, that's considered property. I draw a small pension from my previous job but my 401k was exhausted between paying for my 3 children's college and my college. He only contributed approx $2500 towards any of our school costs. I covered the costs and he has been saving over 10% of his pay into the 401k.  He's the face of best profit sharing employee with his company! Literally, they use him on the company brochure. Please help guide me in the right way to dissolve this marriage and not feel like I should not be compensated. He said I took advantage of him. There have been so many factors leading to my leaving its so hard to focus on one but I learned that when I focus on me and ignore him, I really did not need him to survive.

Hey Sis, 
Surprise Surprise! You are right, you really didn't "need" your husband to survive. It sounds as if you have made it just fine on your own. After all these years of making it, are you now saying that you have not divorced because your husband will put up a fight over his 401K ? Really? If you you feel that you should be "compensated" for your marriage, you are going to be royally disappointed. There is no amount of money that will take away the emotional pain that you may have endured. This does not mean that money would not ease some of the pain. Dividing marital assets is part of getting a divorce. Your husband will not be doing you any favors or compensating you when he has to share is 401K. It may be the law but don't be surprised if your pension is not  included in the assets. I recommend that you seek legal consultation before making any decisions. A lawyer will tell you all the possibilities. Once you have that information, you must decide  if what you are asking for is worth the fight. I suggest you hire a good attorney and let him/her do the fighting for you. The real fight may not be related to monetary issues but with unresolved emotionally issues. The possibility of a fight over money that you don't have or never have seen appears to be a convenient excuse to avoid filing for a divorce. When you are really ready for a divorce, there will be no amount of money that will keep you on the marriage. I suggest that you process your feelings about a divorce in therapy. This will allow you to take an honest look at what may really be preventing you from getting a divorce. You can not move forward with your life and remain in the same space. --Dr. Sherry 
 

Need advice on how to cope during the holidays? Email us your questions for Dr. Sherry now and be sure to include "Ask Dr. Sherry" in the subject line.