Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Leveling the Financial Playing Field on Your Way Out the Door

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on pocket
Share on print
Share on email

superchump2Folks, I don’t do a lot of guest blogging here, but today I’m making an exception to introduce you to financial planner Vickie Adams, CFP®, CDFATM. It’s the beginning of the new year and that means everyone is getting those end-of-year financial statements in the mail and preparing for 2014 taxes. As many chumps know from painful experience, sexual infidelity often goes hand-in-hand with financial infidelity. Cheaters screw you over more ways than one — and hey, double lives are expensive. 

Vickie approached me about the topic of chump financial prep, and I’m so glad she did. She’s a professional and this is her wheelhouse. (Whereas I am a blogger with a potty mouth. Don’t take financial advice from me. I’m the idiot who paid off my cheater’s credit card debt…)

Be smart and protect your money! — Tracy


Leveling the Financial Playing Field on Your Way Out the Door

by Vickie Adams, CFP®, CDFATM

“I knew something was up with Steve. He hired a personal trainer, of all things. When did just going to the gym become ‘not enough’? It already felt like he was spending all of his free time there. That and his new look.

When I teased him about having a midlife crisis, he really got furious. It felt like I was living with a stranger.”

I hear stories like this all the time. They speak to the power of intuition. It’s a valuable tool that lets us know what is going on without conscious reasoning.

But more often than not, we already have tangible evidence of infidelity. So much so, we feel the air being sucked out of the room and retreat into a state of overwhelmed denial. You can stall for time with counseling or freeze in fear, but choosing to consciously ignore the facts, and not protect yourself, can jeopardize your financial standing for years to come.

In most marriages, it is not unusual for one spouse to have a more “hands-on” role or a better understanding of the household finances. If you were responsible for other duties, and less focused on finance, it is critical to ask yourself, “do I really understand and can I accurately convey my complete financial picture?”

Being able to present a clear financial picture not only serves as documentation of your existing standard of living, but suggests how you want to live post-divorce minus the cheater.

Providing your legal team with correct information will be the basis for critical items such as child support, alimony, property settlement.

Can’t my lawyer do this? Yes, but in the process of a more formal discovery and at about $400 an hour. You need to start this process yourself. Remember, you are Mighty and you are up to the task.

Channel all of that anger into your inner sleuth and start digging and documenting.

No need to feel guilty or apologetic for not being “more aware of the money part.” Find a safe place outside of your home to keep copies of the documents listed below.

  • Bank account statements and year end reports. Copy all statements. Review to see if paychecks/income are being deposited. Highlight unexplained withdrawals.
  • On-line accounts. If possible, download statements before passwords change. Check browsing history for more than porn and dating sites. Look for investments and banking history.
  • Year End Brokerage statements — make copies of all investments and retirement accounts.
  • Statements from pensions and retirement accounts from previous jobs.
  • Credit card year-end summaries. These need to be meticulously checked line-by-line as they often show irregularities and dissipation of marital assets such as affair partner vacations and gifts.
  • Missing accounts or Vanishing Statements. Are there statements that came to your home but that no longer appear? Absence of activity on a credit card that was used for joint expenses? That indicates that these charges are being made on an account you are not aware of.
  • Collectibles and valuable hobbies. Look at your spouse’s life. If someone is spending more than he/she is making, it is a sign that there is hidden income or unreported income somewhere.

One of my clients asked me, “How does he always have money for new photo equipment or bro vacations?” That was right before he left her for their best friends’ wife “who is athletic and outgoing like he is” and coincidentally a cheater too!

  • Credit Reports. Request that your spouse join you in starting the New Year fresh by running a credit report to check for accuracy of your credit history and score.

Usually financial moodiness and an unwillingness to share and review information is an indication of bigger problems and have been known to reveal STDs — Sexually Transmitted Debt.

  • If you have never gone to the tax appointment, plan to go. Ask questions. Ask your tax preparer to explain the return to you.
  • If your spouse prepares the tax return, know what you are signing. Do not sign until you are sure you have a sufficient understanding of the information that’s on the return
  • Get copies of Prior Years tax returns directly from the IRS with form 4506. It only takes one spouse’s signature to get copies of your prior year’s returns even if you think you have true copies.

I once had a client whose ex prepared a fraudulent tax return and forged my client’s signature. Because she was busy working while he was at home watching Jerry Springer and having his girlfriend over for sex during the day, he was right there at the mailbox when the tax refund check based on the fraudulent return appeared.

He endorsed his wife’s name on the back of the check, cashed it, and took his girlfriend to Las Vegas for a few days where he lost the money gambling.

It was only when she was contacted by the IRS years later about the irregularity in the return and a demand for $4,000 plus penalties and interest, that she became aware of his scam. The IRS came after her because she was the only one they could find. He was already on to a new victim and she was stuck with the bill.

The work you are doing here is called “Lifestyle Analysis.” It is the basis for your financial life after divorce. You can save yourself time, stress, and money by planning for your post-divorce life right now.

VickieAdamsVickie Adams is a certified financial planner® and certified divorce financial analyst™.

Over two decades ago, she founded a client-centered, boutique wealth management firm in San Pedro, CA., located south of Los Angeles. 

During her own divorce, she realized that while her attorney was an expert in family law, he lacked the specialized skills necessary to structure a strategic divorce settlement that considered the long-term financial effects. 

In addition, the practice of fighting over individual, unrelated financial issues, combined with the siege mentality of divorce, led many of her clients to be exhausted, confused, and often devastated by the monetary implications of their divorce agreement.  

Vickie took a proactive stance in advising clients to plan for their economic future before, during and after their divorce. Her practice is focused on assisting others to navigate the life-changing transition of divorce successfully. See more of her articles at www.MyDivorceFinancialPlanner.com

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on pocket
Share on print
Share on email

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Thanks Tracy, I need to get focused on all of this because I’ve already found missing money from our joint accounts and confronted him about this and I got three different explanations that don’t add up.

    • After you get as many documents as you can squirreled away, ask him for a credit report, and run one on yourself. If he gets defensive, or puts you off — there’s your answer. He’s hiding things. A credit report will reveal PO boxes, credit cards you don’t know about, past debts, etc.

  • I am ready to deal with the financial situation because all of our marital debt is in my name. Pisses me off that his name is on the deed to the house and it’s my name, solely, on the note. Damn state law requires that married couples are on the deed together. I am trying to convince him to agree to a settlement to make things easier and cheaper but he doesn’t seem to be biting. I am giving him a deadline and after that, I will be paying a lawyer to protect me financially. I am also going to call my CPA this week and talk to him. Lucky for me, I managed all our finances so I have what I need. Wish me luck that my cheater doesn’t leave me with all our debt.

    • Usually it’s a matter of joint assets on one side, debt on the other. The fact that the debt is in your name is not the best position, but go through your records and be ready to show that the money was spent for joint expenses or benefits (e.g., his computer, your family vacation, a new sofa).

    • “Pisses me off that his name is on the deed to the house and it’s my name, solely, on the note.”

      That happened to a friend of mine. His accountant wife was cheating on him and also cleaned out the bank accounts.

      Also, I am aware of at least one state in the US which requires that a married person must show the signed acknowledgement from their spouse when buying property. I wonder how many other states have that requirement.

    • Conniered–are you in a community property state? If so, ALL assets and ALL debt acquired since the marriage are community property.

      You need a good lawyer who can sort through this and bring cheater to his senses (and his knees). A neighbor of mine is divorcing at the same time as me, but chose a discount lawyer who does not know what he is doing and is not her strong advocate. I chose a more expensive lawyer, and was very impressed with her knowledge and willingness to be my advocate. The extra payout for the retainer can make a substantial difference in your long term financial health.

  • CL….. U deserve a Humanitarian Award.
    I remember being in the fog and running on auto pilot… Left sock… Left shoe… Pack kid lunch… Trying to navigate thru the swamp of lies that was then my life. Trying to logically put together the necessary finacial items was so far down on my list…
    My 86 yr old tough as nails neighbor( she is the matriarch of chumps) grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me… Said ‘ Look at me! Listen to me! U can cry later… Get yr shit together’ and she told me ‘ get a box… Get all yr bills and papers, everything and take them someplace safe. Open a bank account. Do it today.” In some trance like state i grabbed every piece of paper i could find … No sorting… Everything…Thru them in a cat litter container and dropped it off at a girl friends. I told her. ‘ its my life’ she didnt ask…..but looked at me and my life in a cat litter box and knew. Those are the gold people in yr life.
    It was months before i had the mental ability to go thru it with any kind of plan…. But it saved me. And by the time he ‘ needed’ any of it I had already made copies and he was none the wiser.
    This is vital information.

    • Your “86 year old tough as nails neighbor” is a saint! How fortunate you were to have the support of somebody so wise, and levelheaded.

    • Your neighbour is freaking amazing. And, I laughed out loud over the kitty litter box. Talk about a powerful metaphor!

    • Your story of your neighbor and cat litter box with life documents and your friend keeping has made me all teary… So glad that you had that information.

    • Yep, I had a friend like that too. She said, “you will not feel like it, but trust me, copy every piece of financial information you can get your hands on whether you think it’s important or not.” I didn’t. But she followed up with me until I did. Best advice because without it, xh would have screwed me over because I had zero to do with the finances for out entire marriage.

  • I hope to be able to use this advice someday. I am one of those chumps who was left financially ruined by my cheater to the point where I had to declare bankruptcy. All the debt was in my name.

    But if I ever have money to protect again and if I ever put myself out there and find another partner, I will be smart.

    I’m really envious of the chumps here who are sitting pretty financially. But it also seems that many of us were utterly ruined by our narc cheaters.

    • ML I filed BK after HB#2 left because all I had were credit cards to live on with four kids. After 7 years it is wiped from your records and the credit companies ply you with new credit to start again.

      Today my score is excellent.

      My first job was a miracle from God. I swear.

      I work in the financial industry. I had four kids at home and had been out of work for 4 years when the jackass picked up on the tenant.

      He stopped paying me support.

      I had sporadic income from being an arbitrator.

      I faxed my resume to a telephone number of a company that did not provide its name. I never did that. They called me for an interview and when I found out who the company was, I balked. I actually made the appointment for an interview then called and cancelled on the day of. THEY CALLED ME BACK!?! I made a new appointment and my pride made me a complete interview nightmare. I thought for sure they would throw me out but they kept sending me to the next in charge. UNBELIEVABLE, I was a total b*tch. Finally I got to the last person and what do you know, it was a gal I worked with in the industry as a cashier 20 years earlier. My name had changed so she didn’t know who I was from the resume. I recognized her and she me, knew my work ethic and hired me ON THE SPOT. WTF???

      She told me she had already hired someone who graduated from Dartmouth (I dropped out of college to marry) and that when she was putting the stack (around 50) of resumes away to file, MY resume dropped out onto the floor. She didn’t remember seeing it, read it and told her secretary to call me for an interview.

      The whole time before an during all this I was praying to God and went back to church.

      Well, I needed the job. This place was a nightmare and I prayed for one hour at lunch every day. While I worked there, I got all my securities licenses back that I had let expire while I was married. I moved to another office, same company, after a year for a better position. I was living hand to mouth, but there was food on the table. My poor kids had to wear the same pair of shoes for school, play, church.

      Needless to say, today I am more than financially stable, and have gone through, hopefully, my last liar, cheater, faker. The only difference this time and H#2 is I never let go of the financial reigns with this loser.

      Kept praying ML. God is good all the time.

        • Moving Liquid- it’s a very short list of chumps that are ‘sitting Pretty’. Don’t beat yourself. Chumps are sadly tough on themselves but way too easy on their partners about being accountable and setting limits

          Calamity Jane- what you say is true. You can recover from Bankruptcy and restore credit one item at a time. You are an inspiration. ) Vickie.

      • CJ, I am in the exact position you were! So inspiring to know I can get out of this mess. I have 4 young kids. SAHM for 14 years. Let my surgical technician certification lapse. Homeschooled my kids their whole lives. He could never keep a job, used my credit and the 20,000$ in inheritance money from my mom to keep us afloat, ran my credit card up to 10,000$ and defaulted so I have a court judgement against me. Let the house go, never finished repairs, vehicles got repossessed. After I made him move out in 2013, he filed the the income tax and would not let me see it. He signed my name with a digital password, and had the entire 9600$ funneled into an account in his name only. Of course it is all gone, I have no funds, he is not complying with the court ordered interim support. I have 1.80$ in our checking account. I’m probably going to have to use a credit card I obtained for myself to keep my house from going into foreclosure. How the hell I’ll pay the payments on it I don’t know. Luckily, the house was mine before I met him, so he can’t take 1/2. I am floundering. I am very afraid. You have shown me a little light at the end of this black tunnel. Thank you.

        Anyone who is with a lying cheating fucktard, please, please listen to this smart financial advisor. Protect yourself!!! I did not want to believe what he has done to me and our kids. Put me in a hole I may not recover from. Do not hide your head in the sand, or let your good heart convince you that he or she would not bury you. They will without one twinge of regret or conscience.

        • Irish, I file electronically and every year (when I was married, not to the Jackass) my tax preparer required me to have both of us sign documents prior to e-filing–that’s under two different tax preparers, one a form IRS-trained accountant. Your X/STBX has broken tax laws. Call the IRS and see what can be done. Or have your attorney call his attorney and threaten him with the IRS.

        • Maybe you can get half of that money back in the dovorce? You should be able to get a copy of the report from the IRS that says you had that amount of a return and then also show from bank records that it never made it to your bank. Or maybe the IRS can even provide a document showing where it was deposited. If you talk to the IRS, I would explain that you never signed those documents, like LAJ suggested. Of course, I am no lawyer or tax accountant, so maybe talking with someone more knowledge would be the best first step. But it seems to me that you should be able to get some of that money back (eventually)!

          • Northern lights,
            I did call the IRS and researched and backtracked what he had done. He signed my name electronically, refused to let me see the return, and when I questioned where the refund was, I recorded him lying to me about it. I already knew when I asked him, where the refund was. I even had the account #. But, Wells Fargo said that it was deposited electronically, so he never endorsed the check, even though my name was on the check also. H&R block bank which processes the money from the return said, that they just release funds, and it’s the banks problem. In our first court hearing for the divorce, the judge asked him if he had taken the whole return he said yes. She then asked why and he said because I didn’t want her to know. She then told him that this is a community property state and half of the money was mine. She asked him how much was left. He said about a thousand. And that is where it has been left. Of course it is all gone now. My attorney will ask for that in my judgement I’m sure, but he is not employed. He is doing odd jobs. Translation: cash under the table. No way to know how much money he makes. Arghhhhhh!!!!!!! I am so sick of this. I just want him to let me have the divorce and give me my house, kids and a decent child support/alimony so I can get on my feet. I feel so powerless. !like nothing goes my way. He violates all the orders, I follow the rules and he doesn’t get any consequences of his actions.

            • that is highly fucked up Irish, we had a joint Wells Fargo account and as soon as I told them we were going to divorce they froze it for me. I wonder if there is a way to sue the bank if you notified them?

              • we have almost all joint accts and am so glead you did not need a court order to do this! I have been so stressed out about the money cause I think when i first accused (w/out proof) he got scared and started stashing money. I am now the dumb actress who knows nothing about finances all the while copying everything i get my hands on. And yes, that means steaming open and resealing all bank statements, cc statements, and all business bank and cc statements. it is exhausting. mine are not in the litter box but in the horse blanket box. once all is gathered they will be safely put elsewhere. so glad for this article. ty cl!

        • Irish, I was scared sh*tless on a boat without a rudder. It was only complete faith that got me through. It wasn’t easy, but I prayed everyday. My kids were my biggest inspiration on earth. Always looking up to me to make sure everything was OK in their little world.

          I thanked God for the credit cards and then my mom moved into a little house I had on the property, paid me rent and helped watch the kids.

          You can do it Irish. The right door will open for you. Keep looking. If a door closes, keep looking for the open one. It is there, I promise.

          Rent out a room or your garage. I did that for four years to students in the area. I’m praying for you.

          • Thank you CJ. I need the prayers. I’m at the end of my rope. My kids know it. I know it. I’m tired, frustrated, and l feel like crap. I’m sick of the stress. My anxiety level is through roof. I cry at the drop of a hat. Then I swing to being pissed as he’ll. The kids fight amongst themselves because asshole has split them. 2 for 2 against. I am constantly trying to keep my 13yo son from screaming he hates his dad and wishes he were dead, in my younger daughters faces. Then, they cry and he simmers. I am constantly refereeing and trying like hell to hold it all together. My middle daughter has taken on caretaker role and tries to calm the others. But she is boiling mad at her dad also. All 4 are in counselling, and just getting them all to their appointments is a nightmare. Plus homeschool. Plus driving son to and from a science class and a PE class I put him in to get him away from all the girls everyday for at least a little while. Plus making soap for my little business and farmers market every Sunday with said kids in tow. I have heart disease and had a heart attack and 2 stents to open blocked arteries. My back probably has lumbar disk bulging or my SI joints are inflamed. My Dr ordered an MRI, but in the meantime my back just hurts. So I need prayers. You and so many people here are inspirational. When I feel I can’t take anymore, I come on here and read. I am not alone. So many here have gone through worse. Many of you have walked through the fire and come out in the other side. I can too. I just have to keep my head up and walk forward ya know?

            • Irish, I am happy to pray for you. I was a stay at home mom for about 12 years and the only thing that helped me get a full time job was the part time job I insisted on keeping. My kids have had a tough time emotionally, too–you are a good mom to take your kids to counseling. They need time to sort things out. So far I have my health but I’m enduring through some inconclusive test results…hoping for good news so I don’t have to deliver anything harsh to my girls. Keep your head up. You are mighty and courageous.

            • Irish,
              You can do this! If I can, anyone can. I followed your comments, and my heart goes out to you. You did a good service to your children all these years. Be gentle to them, and channel all your anger here. We will talk you through it. God bless you!
              Ps. The little ones have a heavy cross to bear. It is their burden. God will strengthen them. Get divorced, then get a job and paths will open up. The sun will shine again… Maybe in five years… Maybe in ten. It is worth it. Cherish yourself. Sounds like your psychopath husband never did. Xoxo.

            • Irish I will pray for you… for strength, and emotional and physical healing. I have a spiritual advisor as well as a therapist. Therapist helps me make sense of things. Spiritual advisor gives me strength by constantly reminding me that I’m not alone… and you’re not alone either.

              I’ve been praying every evening for wisdom and clarity of mind. Just last week I finally forced myself to stop obsessing about him, and playing detective (ugh it was tough), and low and behold the final piece I needed to leave him appeared… I know without a doubt I will be filing for divorce as soon as some financial issues are settled.

              Your children are fortunate to have such a loving and dedicated mother. They need you. Meditate. Join a yoga class. You desperately need some mental down-time to restore your spirt. It may even help your physical symptoms.

      • Calamity Jane, Thank you for your story of Hope.

        My experience through this infidelity tragedy is that God always provides, all ways. It may not be exactly when or how I ask. But the provisions come. Not without suffering, to be sure. No religion teaches we will not suffer, but rather, how to endure it without despair..

        The very act of prayer, and my relationship with God, has been the single most reliable and saving grace. In fact, finding Chump Lady was an answered prayer..It was not just a simple Google search. God clearly had a stamp on that one!

    • ML, I can’t say I’m sitting pretty. I’ve got a good job and I’m at my earning peak, especially since I work overloads and try to develop supplemental sources of income. But I’m 63 without a guaranteed pension and a retirement fund that I have tapped twice to get my feet under me. I expect to work for 12-15 more years and am endlessly grateful to be in a field where that is possible. I put myself through college and grad school–paid for every single credit and every book on my own. And I worked hard to develop the ability to get a job in my field and my home town (not easy). But I see the situation I am in as a learning experience, and even at 63 I have time to recover.

      It’s an awful thing that your X ruined you financially. It’s awful (but less devastating) that the Jackass deceived me and left me holding a very expensive property while he diverted the cash in the business account and his attention to his MOW. But so what? You have a roof over your head, for now, and a chance to start over. From everything you’ve posted, you picked a guy who wanted your money and you (like so many of us) thought that sharing your resources was a sign of love that he (assuming he was a person and not a narcissist) would appreciate. Here’s the bolt out of the blue that I got this week: that was the heart of my problem, thinking that I could “buy” love by fixing peoples’ problems, being successful, have a great house, etc. That was so totally destructive and wrongheaded. Now I get it. I have money so I can take care of myself. I can also help others who need a momentary hand to help them out of the pit. On some level, the money stands for your idea that your X took everything. Not at all. He betrayed you and stole from you. But he can never take away your soul or your capacity for love or your courage. It’s a good thing neither of us want to repeat the money mistake. But getting back on your feet financially under your own steam is how you will get your full recovery, because the rest of you seems pretty awesome to me. 🙂

      I spent a lot of time last night thinking about and praying for Irish and ChumpDad, who are in financial crisis mode and have kids to support and protect. Just know there are others out here praying that the path opens for you.

      • LAJ, I love you. (as always). I should not waste time feeling envious of chumps who are not suffering financially. Everything is relative, as they say. I have a roof over my head and basically no debt, so things could be much, much worse. And yeah, I’m feeling almost like a normal human being these days — who even know that was possible!

      • Thank you LAJ for the prayers. We need them. I feel for Chumpdad too. It’s awful not to know if you can feed your kids or pay your bills. Your prayers have helped! Believe it or not, today I had 20$ from selling some of my soap to my therapist and today I needed dog food, I was completely out. I went to Sam’s Club and get the food, it’s only 18.00 so I had enough money to get it. I went through the checkout and the cashier asked if I wanted to use my cash rewards. I said, What?. She said, you have 97.85 in cash rewards, would you like to use it for this purchase? I had totally forgotten that Sam’s gives your yearly cash back in January. I actually started crying at the register. Not only did I have enough for the dog food, I had money to buy food for the children. The relief. I just can’t tell you. Then I come home, get on CL and see that you had been praying for us. God is good. He puts the right people in your life at the right time! I hope Chumpdad got some good news too. Thank God. Thank you LAJ!!! xoxo 🙂

  • The money was the “smoking gun” in the atomic bomb that dropped into my world. As The Clip says, this is “VITAL” information. Get your hands on all all of your financials as fast as you can. This is YOUR financial FUTURE! Copy everything, study all of it. Look for withdrawals, distributions, checks and who made out to. Check deposits and what that deposit consisted of…cash, checks, and cash WITHDRAWALS from the deposit. If your bank deposit slip does not show those three items, call the bank for copies of deeper bank operation transactions. This information is available to you if you are jointly on the account. Then carry all copies to a safe location out of your home. My story is unbelievable and the financial infidelity was just as emotionally devastating as the sexual infidelity.

    • I am helping a friend whose very successful husband died two years ago. She was a SAHM and trusted her husband to take care of the finances. Big mistake. He mortgaged their home of 25 plus years, forged tax documents, had IRS liens; you name it, he did it. It was almost as if he set out to leave her penniless. In the 3 years of his illness, he went through over two million dollars, mostly funneling the money to their oldest son, who has now abandoned my friend. Her husband’s financial infidelity was every bit as devastating to my friend as any sexual infidelity could be! Beware the spouse who keeps financial secrets or who tells you that joint finances are not your concern. There is always a reason you are being kept in the dark and it is never “for your own good” to be uninformed.

  • Count me in with the ex who was generous with our money. With everybody except me. Legit expenses until I really looked at his spending. A creative way to dissipate assets is to ramp up the purchases on expensive travel, new vehicles, and “hobbies”(for our children as well). These looked “normal” to the court. My ex never provided accurate financial paperwork to our family court and they considered his perks (State vehicle which included free gas and maintenance and which he used every day, overtime, and second job(red flag!)) not relevant to our settlement). Ex went after our savings, our children’s savings, and refinanced the house(red flag!) to pull equity out TWO years before dumping me. In my county it was par for the course and the family court sees it all the time. Hell you can walk out on your mortgage and the courts have little authority to enforce this; it is dissipation of assets. I was aware of what he made, truth is the judge actually laughed when I told him what our property taxes were. He didn’t believe we owned property and a custom home on twenty acres worth that much (and yeah it was “underwater” which was a farce as well). My fucked up ex tossed that house out with the family he no longer wanted because he was pissed about sharing “his” retirement.That and all the vehicles. I spent those first two years post Dday scrambling to pay expenses. Ex had also purchased time towards retirement, a common way to earn an extra few years, and if I hadn’t known to file a joinder to attach pension and this to our dissolution that would have slipped through the cracks as well. “During her own divorce, she realized that while her attorney was an expert in family law, he lacked the specialized skills necessary to structure a strategic divorce settlement that considered the long-term financial effects. In addition, the practice of fighting over individual, unrelated financial issues, combined with the siege mentality of divorce, led many of her clients to be exhausted, confused, and often devastated by the monetary implications of their divorce agreement.” Even informed I knew my divorce was going to leave me financially devastated. A narcissist destroys your finances on the way out. (I was also extremely concerned about my personal safety…) My advice? If he has abandoned the mortgage get a court order ASAP to have him pay his share of community expenses pro rata. My ex had other weapons too, our children. He walked out on their college expenses as well. What helps Chumps the most is to fight for a healthy fair settlement (negotiate through the experts if your divorce is high conflict and it will be with a Cheater) and that can’t be done without the advice of a good financial analyst. I personally would love a recommendation for a certified divorce financial analyst in Southern CA. News articles on splitting retirement benefits and what to address in QDROs would be helpful too.

    • I personally would love a recommendation for a certified divorce financial analyst in Southern CA —)))) That would be me. I am a CDFA here in Los Angeles and my contact info is in the article. I’m happy to answer questions, etc.

    • There are good QDRO lawyers in San Marino – flat fee, and they take care of EVERYTHING. They wouldn’t let me “just settle” – and they explained why. Best money I ever spent.

  • Lots of good advice here.

    I had heard of Divorce Financial Planners early after Dday, and if our financial situation were more complicated or if there were a larger estate involved, I’d have added one to the team. That said, I did read a lot of documents on the various websites. One particularly helpful point was that even if a state requires a 50/50 division of assets, how you allocate that 50% is very important. The higher wage earner has more income potential, and can recover from the financial hit of divorce much more easily than the lower wage earner (typically the wife).

    In my case, STBX and I have always had separate accounts. We’re linked on the mortgage and that’s it. We each pay some of the household bills. Historically, he’s paid the mortgage, groceries, and insurance. I’ve paid everything else.This works out to about 60/40–about the percentage of income we each contribute to the total. He had a lot of discretionary income. Most of mine went toward bills. I was tipped to the affair when he started running out of money and I was asked to pay for things he normally covered.

    Reading the Divorce Financial Planning sites helped me realize that I could not afford a divorce at Dday. Thankfully, I’d not read STBX the riot act! Instead, I planned to shore up my own financial picture by getting a better paying job and improving my credit so that I could buy a house (it is cheaper to own than to rent in my area). I also started considering what the best way to divide assets/debts would be.

    If I had to give one piece of advice to all Chumps, I’d say this: unless your safety or the safety of your children is in jeopardy, stay quiet about the affair. It’s tempting to yell and scream at the Cheater–and that’s a normal reaction to betrayal–but the smarter moves are to 1) see a lawyer and 2) plan your finances.

    Get those ducks lined up and then serve your Cheater!

  • Tracy,

    I think you should invite guest bloggers with professional expertise in helping chumps– such as forensic accountants, divorce lawyers, private investigators, social workers– to provide practical advice and good sense. While “Lose a cheater, gain a life” is a great message (and your cartoons are awesome!) practical information such as that provided in Vicki’s blog gives chumps invaluable tools toward taking the necessary steps to extricate themselves from their cheating spouses.

    • Lulu, There’s a great deal of information on line, sites that have great info. I spent the first six months reading everything I could about divorce, California family courts, the paperwork involved, the process. The one disadvantage is that all this information doesn’t help in particular circumstances. Lawyers aren’t particularly forthcoming either. Mine sat back and allowed me to figure it out. It was all I could do to go to work every day. Truth is you know what your circumstances are, better than anyone else. In the end, I negotiated my own settlement. My lawyer believed it was too generous (it’s a joke), but our family court was known to give only a small fraction of a man’s earnings to a discarded spouse. I met with three other lawyers, all men, who refused to take my case because of this (and possibly my perceived inability to pay!). At one hearing Maintenance/alimony was decreased to $70./month, my ex is a state peace officer (30+ years working) and made over 120k at the time. My ex was/is a bully, and once he realized he wanted his OW, all bets for a “fair” settlement were off. My lawyer (and his) were completely unprepared for dealing with “our situation.” He never complied with financial disclosure because he had no intention of leveling the playing field and our family court did not hold him accountable. He’s a peace officer who took a part time job at the family court in the next county over so he could network, educate himself, screw me over, and still control the narrative. The lady who works for our free legal aid office actually worked with him and let me know in no uncertain terms that I would not be keeping the house.So I knew the moment he walked how he would do things because he had been setting up our finances for a long time, I just hadn’t made the connection until then. Looking back I did the best I could. I will never have the same standard of living but my future without my abusive ex has already been an improvement!

      • Drew! Same here! Stbx is a former sheriff’s deputy, a bully and a control freak. He has also refused to answer the financial questions about his accounts and money. My atty has filed 2 motions to compel, to which he did not comply. He has since lost yet another job, and is doing “odd” jobs. Which means money under the table, no record of it, and no complying with interim support. ASSHOLE. So now I’m really in a financial bind. Final hearing Feb 5. I have no hope I will get a fair settlement. I have no money, no way to pay my atty, so I am not on the top of the list for her helping me. If I had the money to pay her, I think she would help more. I think she just wants to get me out of her hair, because she knows he won’t ever pay, and I can’t pay right now. 🙁

        I can’t switch attorney’s because not one will take my case without a 5000$ retainer. My current attorney took my case because she thought he could pay my fees. Yeah right.

        The court system is not punitive enough and does not hold these guys accountable. What’s the point of a support order, if the court won’t make them comply?? I mean really????

      • Obviously, laws vary state by state and country to country and situations vary from person to person; I was only suggesting Tracy continue to include informative but very general guest blogs like Vicki’s, simply because the amount of data on the Internet can be very overwhelming and ChumpLady is a highly visible blog.

  • I so agree with KB’s one piece of advice! “Get those ducks lined up.” I would add, put duct tape on your mouth as needed. ( SooOooo HARD). “Then serve your cheater!!!”

    • “GET THOSE DUCKS LINED UP” This is what I have been working on for the last year & some days it feels like it is impossible!!! I just feel like there isn’t enough duct tape………
      But having a roof over my son’s head is the most important thing and we don’t have anywhere else we can go (at the moment) Plus every attorney I have talked to has told me not to leave the house with my son-but I can’t force F-tard to leave because we are both on title…….

      I have been able to find a full time job (I just finished my 90 day probation yesterday-YAY) Have been moving things into a storage (without asshat knowing) have been squirreling money away for attorney, copying and monitoring everything coming in & out of the household, working on a budget/new place to live, etc. I have been educating myself on California divorce & custody laws…I can see the light at the end of the tunnel-it just can’t get here fast enough!!! Why is it so easy to get married but then next to impossible (and impossibly expensive) to get divorced?!

  • This was a great post. I think it is easy for chumps to get caught up in the whirlwind of divorce and not devote enough time to the financial aspects. My ex shut me out of his finances and refused to furnish the proper documents during discovery.

    That won’t happen the next time.

  • This is most excellent advice CL and i am sure it will be very useful to many Chumps – thank you !

    KB this is what happened to me – “I was tipped to the affair when he started running out of money and I was asked to pay for things he normally covered.” – but the roles were reversed as I was paying the mortgage. Historically I had been the bigger wage-earner but by the time DD came we were level-pegging.
    Mt exH used a joint a/c – which I never used – and I had my own a/c. When I saw the solicitor one of the first things he did was to freeze the joint a/c to stop cheaterpants running up a load more debt and made him quite keen to get a financial settlement sorted out.

    I would advise any Chump to always make sure you have an emergency a/c just in case of “emergencies”…..

    • Freezing accounts is something I think very is important to consider. I considered doing it (and inquired about with my bank, so I knew how to do it, if needed). I was ready to do it at the first sign of necessity, but thankfully my ex was honest about the money and fair in the mediation and divorce process. I think this is very rare in divorces due to infidelity, and I am so thankful. And I think this advice in the article and comments is right on.

  • I had to go through the discovery process and found that copying as much financial info ASAP while Ex was still traveling for work (to see OW) worked out very much in my favor. Ex was one of those who hid much of our assets on his *special* collection and, while I felt guilty about it when I started copying receipt/credit card statements and taking pictures, the more I saw the angrier I got. Hundreds of thousands spent on his special collection while our house was almost underwater….never mind what that collection was worth…probably twice as much He expected me to discount the collection in the divorce, by the way.

    The discovery process (well named) can be somewhat daunting while you’re an emotional wreck. Here are some things that helped me. Buy some banker boxes, hanging/manila folders, highlighters, sharpies and packs of Post It Tabs or Flags. The tabs/flags will come in handy to mark discrepancies or affair charges, for example. You can hang your folders in the banker boxes. You’ll need other supplies like different sorts of paper clips, a stapler, etc. Having a scanner worked out quite well for me…depending on your situation, it might be a good idea to buy one. I saved images as jpgs, backed up frequently and stored thumb drives and extra drives at my best friend’s house.

    Concentrate on answering one discovery question at a time. I needed everything in triplicate and saved a lot of time by making copies at Office Depot. Most importantly, getting discovery paperwork together is time consuming and it is a GOOD IDEA to ask for more time right up front. Ask your lawyer and he/she will work it out with the other lawyer…it’s usually fairly easy to get more time in the states if you ask before the last minute. I was supposed to finish in 6 weeks and I asked for 3 months. As a SAHM, I hadn’t worked in an office for 13 years…you can do it! Use the anger!

  • I consulted with a divorce financial planner unbeknown to my STBX. It was the best decision. She advised me to let him buy me out of our huge house (money suck) and to go after his 401K in instead of another investment because of the tax consequences. She even testified at the divorce trial on my behalf on what I needed for alimony. Because I was so prepared and my ex underestimated me, I was awarded what I asked for and could move on with my new cheater free life!

    • It is what it is: Good Job.

      The best case scenario is when people see me prior to filing for divorce. CDFA’s can look at the total financial picture, project scenarios showing which assets will be best for you over the long haul and then YOU DIRECT your lawyer or mediator on which assets to negotiate for.

      if you can strategize what you want your life to look like financially post divorce, you can take control of your attorney and avoid unintended consequences ) Vickie

  • I want to add more here for chumps like me….forgive me. I was so ignorant of ALL OF IT. Somehow I knew innately I needed legal advice. I met with a family law attorney the next business day after Discovery Day. I know laws vary from state to state, but this was my experience. My attorney immediately drew up filing documents and a maintenance agreement which he was served in her office two days later . He was informed that from that point forward, any dissipation of assets was on his side of the ledger. Accounts were frozen for both of us and if there was any liquidation of assets we both had to sign off on it. BEST THING I EVER DID…he was still ripping apart assets in those two days before he signed. PLEASE chumps…GET LEGAL ADVICE!!! (If nothing else, you can file for legal separation until you get head on straight.).

  • I could barely pay household expenses let alone my lawyer! Another good thing to know is that states have formulas for child support. There are alimony formulas as well. I stumbled on these on line. 🙂 Do your research, Chumps. If anyone has any advice re what option to take (CalPERS) and how it worked out, please let me know.

  • In my 20+ year marriage, I was the one in control of the finances and paperwork (both personal and business)…stbx couldn’t be bothered to help or even look at anything. In Nov. 2013, after a year of second chances in which he promised he would change his abusive and neglectful ways, I told him I wanted a divorce. He cried and swore he would do anything to keep me. He promised to go to therapy and get help with his issues and to learn how to be a father so he could make relationships with out two teenage children (he pretty much neglected them their whole lives). Instead, I noticed he started going out more often and staying out later. At some point I told him that unless certain conditions were met, there was no way we could stay together. He refused to meet the condition (to acknowledge and apologize for the years of verbal, emotional and sexual abuse). One evening, my daughter came to me and said that she thought her dad was obviously having an affair. I assured her that wasn’t possible as he had sworn to me he would never do that and I just didn’t think it was possible…he was probably out with his friends. But I started paying more attention. How was he affording to go out drinking all the time? No money was being taken from the personal accounts or our business accounts (we own a business together).
    Then DDay happened and he confessed he was having an affair. I filed for divorce the next day and went as NC as was possible (he refused to move out of the house). As days went by I realized that he had to be funding this affair somehow and my suspicion grew that he was diverting business income for his own use by having our customers pay him in cash. I consulted a business attorney who suggested a forensic accountant and private investigator. I couldn’t afford both, so I decided to train myself to be a private investigator. I familiarized myself with his habits and routines. I had moved out of our bedroom into a spare room downstairs previously and in the mornings I would watch from my cracked open door for him to go to the kitchen to make coffee. As soon as he was in the kitchen I grabbed my IPhone and ran upstairs to the bedroom he was using and looked for his wallet. The very first time I looked in it I found what I was looking for…a check for $1200.00 from one of our business customers made out to husband personally. My hands were shaking so badly that I could hardly get them to be still enough to take a picture of the check! I checked his wallet every day and sometimes found checks and sometimes multiple $100 bills. Then I started combing through the business records, getting into his computer, checking the garbage and recycle bins…anything I could think of. I acquired a spare key to the business truck and snuck in there at night to see what I could find. I hired a forensic accountant to help me put my evidence together and to value the business. It was obvious the stbx was not only living it up but had had a plan in place for quite some time to devalue the business as a marital asset. I was able to show that he was taking significant amounts of cash every month.
    Through my investigating I was also able to find his Ashley Madison profile and accumulate evidence that he was having an affair. I live in a no-fault state, however, when I took him to court to have him removed from the home, he and his affair partner made sworn declarations that they were just “friends”. I now have evidence showing that they are far more than friends and that they are both willing to perjure themselves. Every time he opens his mouth, I can pretty much come up with some evidence that he’s lying.

    I was able to conduct my investigation for about 4 months before (through legal papers for court) he even had the first clue that I had been investigating him. It took another 2 months for him (through further disclosure of evidence for court) to understand the full extent of my operations and how I was getting the information. Makes me giggle to think of the things I was able to do and he was so distracted by cake that he had no clue what was happening. Now, I’m pretty much shut down, but I know he is still doing cash work to divert income, so I’m trying to find different ways to catch it.

    The forensic accountant was able to attach a value to the business based on the evidence of diverted income from my investigation and stbx has to pay me half. Of course, he is fighting it and I’m sure will hire his own expert to find a much smaller value. Hopefully the court will accept my evidence; waiting till we get to trial in June is the hardest part now, besides watching the way POS completely abandon the kids when he started the affair…hasn’t spoken to them or anything for almost nine months now.
    Hope my story can help someone who is in the same situation…I am truly amazed that I did what I did, but I was so invested in finding out the truth so that my kids and I get what we need in the settlement for the future (they both have significant health problems).

    • Family court judges hate it when a party with control of assets lies, especially when the other party has hard evidence gathered by experts. You are MIGHTY! I hope your divorce attorney is as good as your business one and your forensic accountant.

      • LAJ, Thanks!! Sometimes, when i look back and see all that I’ve done, I feel pretty Mighty!! I get discouraged by the court system that doesn’t take into account that people lie and my stbx is a pathological liar!! Even with airtight evidence i was recently not able to win a contempt of court charge against stbx…so frustrating!!
        What keeps me going are my kids and coming here to CL and Chump Nation and knowing that I’m not alone!

      • Thanks ML! My attorney and the forensic account both told me I had found my true calling in life!!! The accountant said she had never had a client provide that much compelling and/or irrefutable evidence. Have to wait for trial in June to find out if it is enough for the judge.

    • MightyMite………your post rang a bell for me when you said your hands were shaking so bad that you could hardly keep them still to take a photo. Well, I know that feeling too well too! EVERYTHING I could find that was evidence of his cheating, I took a photo of! The first few times were rough because of my shaking hands too! I didn’t know my hands could quiver so violently! lol
      Also, because he was so happy and content just whistling along thinking that he ‘got this’, was when I was getting him! As he sat on the inside of his 1st love, the Porsche, fixing it all up for his stripper girlfriend more than half his age (to impress of course), there I sat on the outside of it, while holding conversation with him as cool, calm, and collected as I can be, with his IPhone in my hand and my IPhone in my other hand, snapping away all the “I love you, I miss you’s” right under his nose! Stupid mother fucker…….who got who?!!

      • To add: don’t know about other phones but if anyone does this with the IPhone, just make sure you have the sound on vibrate; otherwise, they will hear the click click of the camera! 🙂

        • IHaveHate, that’s so hilarious!!! My loser never changed the password for his IPad and left it sitting out all accessible in all kinds of places that I could get to it…AND guess what…it’s synced to his IPhone!!!! I was able to view all his texts and emails, his work calendar and his pictures. Found out he and the hofriend weren’t “just friends” from the picture she sexted him (which he kindly forwarded to his loser friends), found confirmation of jobs completed and paid for off the books, found emails from customers arranging jobs and cash payments…all kinds of evidence. I will never forget the times I really pushed it and would be taking pictures of things when he was nearby!! OMG…the fear of getting caught!!! I didn’t care about getting caught per se, it was the fear of him finding out that I was investigating him and how I was doing it and then losing all of those great sources because he would start really hiding it! I laughed out loud many, many times knowing he was all distracted by Schmoopie and completely unaware of what I was up to…stupid mother fucker is right…and he deserves it!!

        • And also thanks for sharing your detective story!! The part that is hilarious to me is I can picture what it must have been like for you standing so near him getting into his phone and him having absolutely no clue…and the smile on your face!!! Priceless!!

          • MM…..Oh my gosh, priceless, indeed it was! They are really, really dumb when they are d**k deep with Schmoops!

  • Thank you Chump Lady and Vickie Adams for this post today!

    I’ve been staying in my marriage for the past couple of years to 1) wait and see if he would sprout a unicorn horn… he didn’t. 2) because we are civil and getting along, I figured it would be best for my kids, and 3) we have built a business together and I cant’ wrap my head around how we are going to untangle the commingled assets. Leaving now, means I will likely have to leave behind a business we spent 10 years building.

    I had been planning to ask for a divorce this week…. finally (new dark, and sordid details have surfaced that make staying unthinkable). However, I now realize that my financial information is not in order. I’ve spoken with an attorney, but my financial preparedness is not adequate. Although I expect crying, begging and possibly temporary rage from him, I don’t expect him to try to destroy me financially. However, based on the information you’ve all shared, I will take precautions such as making copies, and moving valuable items out of the house. A family member has already volunteered her home for storage. I had planned on speaking with my CPA before I ask for a divorce so she is aware of any suspicious activity. However, I will also look for a certified divorce financial analyst in my area. I didn’t know this specialty even existed!

    I can’t thank you enough!

    • It’sAJourney,
      I spent ten years building a business with my stbx, too. When I started talking divorce, he calmly assured me he would “take care of me and the kids” and I didn’t have to worry. I really believed that he would be honest and keep his word. Boy, did I find out the hard way I was so, so wrong. Even though we worked together and I did all the bookkeeping, he found ways to divert income and by the time I found out, it had been going on for quite some time. Tens of thousand of dollars and a huge, unexplainable drop in income in 2013. Turns out that the two years I spent thinking it was time to divorce and move on, so was he and he was already taking steps to make sure he came out on top financially (my story is above). If he’s a cheater, he’s just not going to tell you the truth and I would be very cautious in believing that he would never deceive or destroy you financially. The fact that they cheat proves they don’t have your best interests at heart. Take care of yourself and don’t trust him to.

      • I hear this all the time ‘but my spouse said even if we divorce, he will always take care of us regardless’. That lasts until 1). The ink dries on a settlement favorable to him bc you believed that. 2) a schmoopie enters the picture. MM is right. Trust but teether your camel. Protect yourself ) Vickie

    • It’s a Journey,
      You said, ‘I don’t expect him to destroy me financially.’ Several months ago in therapy after first D-Day, my cheater told me that he would financially always take care of our kids and me no matter what. Three months later, Cheater had me served, and I was compelled in court to fight for my rights, my freedom, our kids’ well-being, and my life savings. (Cheater spent several months setting me up.) Sadly, much of our life savings is gone and virtually all of it will be gone (to lawyers and other legal professionals) before the end of the year. If I get unlucky, as Cheater refuses to work, I will be required to pay the lion’s share of expenses for our kids as well as me, even though I’ve been out of work and will likely get paid a low salary when I return to full-time work. Protect yourself.

      • I had a badass lawyer, and, although I am in a no fault state with a recently-passed (and therefore untested by trial) alimony statute, she advised me to go with a set amount monthly, since many paying spouses are known to ditch working if the receiving spouse is awarded a percentage. So–I lost out on some money, in the long run. But even if he’s in a ditch, I can take him to court for my support (it might be getting blood from a stone, but…).

        In terms of the calculus of the amount, knowing a bit about career trajectories comforted me, given his age, and knowing that he was pretty much topping out in terms of salary, and he loathes 9and sucks at) management, beyond consulting, he’s close enough to the top of his earning game. So, that is something to keep in mind for those divorcing men in their mid 50’s–barring really unusual circumstances, if they are white collar professionals, they’ve reached their peak. (Of course this is different for self employed, partner status attorney and the like).

        So–think long game….

  • Vicki’s advice is excellent. Good reading for any person bracing for chump survival. I am an investment manager and have seen some folks suffer from pretty sad divorce results because they didn’t believe their spouse would steal from them, so I urge anyone reading this site to take Vicki’s advice on documentation.

  • Liquid,
    Haven’t heard of anyone sitting pretty financially…..and if there bank accounts didnt suffer than some other part of their life fell apart…ruined. I think that there might be only a handful that escaped without some scar…
    Its easy to compare who’s wounds are deeper or suffered more. Alot have wounds that are not visible or unspoken.
    I am truely sorry that you have had to endure financial ruin. I am not sure what the ‘pay out’ would be for me to assure my safety. I did come out ok with my finances …with planning…but live in fear everyday. And there are some who suffer both and more.
    Your comment struck a chord with me and I hope this year can offer you more.

    • I think I did pretty well but this wasn’t due to any desire to take care of me, more a desire not to look like a shit in front of the kids. Background. He is a federal employee… high up in the GS system. Also he hates dealing with money and attorneys. We have a ‘long term’ marriage. We have agreed to spit income for the rest of our days.So we put our income together, and split it. I get 50% and he gets 50%. I make half of what he makes. I get 50% of his retirement even if he dies. I bought him out of the house. He agreed to make me the beneficiary to his life insurance until he retires.

  • Fool,
    that is funny…it just dawned on me! Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Its amazing how things fall together…and I am so very thankful for my neighbor. It was the first time she reached out to me…so I know I was probably looking like 6 kinda crazies. She recognized it! Hopefully I will one day pass it forward when I am an 86 year old tough as nails old bird.

  • This is so very timely for me. Almost 2 years post D. Still cleaning out ex/hoarders mess. Yesterday I came across a hard drive that was stashed in a cabinet in the basement. For whatever reason, it reminded me that my divorce attorney had said several times that he was surprised there wasn’t more $ to split due to his fairly good income for 20 years. My financial planner that I now have since divorce had agreed with this. Before D, obviously he had signed a full disclosure statement, but now I am starting to wonder.

    I was given the choice before divorce to hire a forensic accountant, but had decided against it. Now I am pissed at myself for not following through.

    My brother (tech savvy, writes programs, etc.) said that he can open hard drive and find out what is on there. I am under the assumption that if I discover other accounts, money hidden, money put into whores account, that I can go after him if these were not fully disclosed?

    • Maybe, but in some states (such as PA) once the split is done, it’s done, unless a judge agrees to re-hear it.

    • It varies state by state. In California, only known assets are divided by the court. Later discovered intentionally concealed assets can be awarded 100% to the spouse they were hidden from. See Marriage of Rossi (wife dumped abusive husband when she won the lottery; he discovered she’d won later when called by an outfit offering to buy his yearly payoffs for a lump sum; and, yes, the abusive jerk got it all).

  • Irish and Drew….think I have commented before on this but WTF? What is the deal with the cop/bully thing. They take care of there own! I went to a whistle blower site about ‘Abusive Peace officers” and turns out that if you are married to a peace officer your risks for suffering DV is increased ten fold. They give you some tips …but the bottom line is you still have to blow the whistle…and truth is I am scared shitless. He is a crazy mother fucker.
    Be safe.

    • The Clip, he was a bully in soft ways. Made decisions unilaterally even with my input financially that did not make sense. Moved us far away from family for personal reasons, not work which is what I was told. Belittled me, was distant, unengaged, withholding, argumentative. Would start arguments about the craziest things. (Cheater behavior for sure!) The nicest guy to everyone else and a great father in those early years…. Looking back I settled big time. He was Sparkly, still is… Never physically raised a hand to me but my feelings were always hurt by what he did and who/what he placed first. Work. Racquetball. His stuff. He’s the guy who went out and partied with his friends while I stayed home and took care of business. Big red flag though was his unilateral decisions in refinancing our houses. He purchased a 33k truck (we already had one and two other cars!) when our firstborn was a year away from college (and another two set to enroll w/in four years). It didn’t make any sense. Then went and vandalized our foreclosed home to sabatoge my negotiated settlement to move my family out. I loved my home, and loved my community. Moved away because I didn’t trust him and didn’t feel safe. Working hard on my new life, and will build a new dream home again. My family is so much better without disordered in it. 🙂

      • Oh I think cops do have a higher divorce rate. Long wacky hours (medical profession’s comparable) but I am sure it just boils down to character. At least that’s what they warned us about after our spouses graduated from the academy. My ex did many things to sabotage our marriage though. He had sketchy friends and surrounded himself with others who were unhappily married, he had secrets, and his fitness crowd was one big orgy, no boundaries or morals there! Ugh.

        • Clip, My stbx still has friends in the department. When I called the police to make a report when he assaulted my 13yo son, while he was taking the report, I heard him say into his radio “I’m here with the half”. I immediately knew he was talking about me. That’s cop lingo for the other half. I asked the officer “that’s him isn’t it?” He said yes, someone from the department must have notified him of a call for service at the residence by me. He also apologized and said this stuff is not supposed to happen but it does.

          When stbx broke into my house and assaulted me the day he got served, and would not let me have my phone to call for help, I ran to the neighbors house and called 911. He was arrested and spent 3 days in jail till his mom and dad bailed him out on a 10,000$ cash bond. Those 2 officers were great. But my other experiences have not been positive. They have a brotherhood. And they stick together. I really want to move to another state. Don’t know if the court will allow me to. I have an order of protection, but I just called the police to file a violation, I even had pictures of him being closer than the 75 feet in a public place for the exchange of my girls for visitation. He said sorry but we can’t do anything about that. You will have to file the violation in district court and have a judge approve the violation. He asked if stbx had threatened me. I said no, but look at his face how he is LOOKING at me! He said yes, I see he looks angry, but I still can’t do anything. Sorry. File it in court. Bye. And so it goes. What good is a protection order if it’s not enforceable?? Good for nothing. As he gets closer to me, and nothing happens, the bolder he gets. He has no boundaries, is a manipulative pathological liar, and I guess until he shoots me or something, nothing can be done. I’ve had it with attorney’s, the court system, the IRS, the criminal justice system. It’s all crap. I sit here, with 4 kids, a useless protection order, a useless interim support order, no money, still married to an asshole cheater. And all my attorney can say is, just wait ,you have a court hearing in February. Well, last time I looked ,my kids eat every damn day. They can’t wait another frigging month. I need some relief now. Even if it’s letting me sell some of his shit to make up for the 3500$ he is in arrears. So I can make my house payment. Pay my utility bills. 🙁

          • I am sorry and I feel yr pain… I live in fear everyday… And there is nothing I can do but wait. And that pleases him… Knowning that I live in fear of him.
            His favorite line’ oh there are ways to deal with u outside of court’
            Tells me’ i got friends, pays to know people in this business’ , ‘ you think u have seen me angry? U havent seen me angry yet’ ‘ i will lay down a wrath upon u and u will regret ever being born’
            Cocking his fists in my face … Running at me full on then stopping short with his fist an inch from my face… Says ‘ i can kill u’
            And worse. Threatens weekly about not returning our child… Says it would be horrible if u had an accident….. IBut of course its his word against mine… And since I never reported or pressed charges when he actually did hit me… There is nothing to show. Biggest mistake I ever made. But i do have a lot of his statements and threats in text messages.
            And it is a brother hood… And there is no way around it.
            I am sorry that u have to wait until Feb. I had to wait 2 1/2 months for my emergency trial…
            I dont know what i can offer for comfort… Other than be safe… And have an exit plan. I have a code word to text to a friend and neighbor if he presents…
            Please be safe.

            • So sorry Clip. I truly know how you feel.. I’m there myself. You can’t crack the brotherhood. They stick together and protect each other. You stay safe too my friend. Take care, have an exit plan. I know I do and I have someone check on me every day at different times, to make sure I’m ok. Just in case.

      • Drew……..”Never physically raised a hand to me but my feelings were always hurt by what he did and who/what he placed first”…….ditto for me too. ALL THE TIME. We weren’t married and lived 4 hrs from each other (seen every other weekend, plus 2x annual weekly vacays for 10 years) and I just lapped up my 1x midnight or after calls every day! I’m so special! WHY did I settle? Wow!

        • IHaveHate–I hope we are ALL smarter from this experience, and don’t settle for poor treatment ever again. Ever. I’m looking forward to some future relationship where the person adores me as much as my Westie adores me. Otherwise, hit the highway.

          • Those will be really hard shoes to fill!! Good Luck! They say they’re out there but I think it’s slim to none.

  • I can’t say that I was as careful with “getting what I was due”, but I don’t regret it.

    I did gather what paperwork I could — up to a point. But, by the time I had made the decision to sell the house and move on with my life, he was out of work and I had no idea where he was staying. I didn’t want to play detective — I just wanted to move on, and my biggest fear was that he would find a way to take me to the cleaners. We had separate bank accounts and 401Ks, and a joint account used for household bills.

    He had been taking money out of his 401K — I didn’t know how much — and I had stopped trying to figure out where the money was going, for my own sanity. We got the house sold and split the paltry earnings in half. When I had my lawyer draw up a separation agreement, it stipulated that we each keep our own everything. We had no kids, no property. I kept my car, he would keep his motorcycle and car (which he probably sold for beer money). He kept his 401K (or whatever was left of it), and I would keep mine, as well as most of the furniture.

    I know that he spent a lot of money on the OW and drugs and gifts for himself. I know he set me back financially by insisting we buy the house, and then blowing our life to pieces.

    But for me, I had to do it this way for my own sanity. I am fortunate enough to have a salary that pays my bills and the ability to make more money if I apply myself. I did not want him eating away at the nest egg that I had built for myself without his help. And I just needed to separate myself from the madness. I don’t regret it, though I recognize that my situation is unique.

    I really feel for the folks who took care of their families while their spouse was cheating. Take those jerks for all you can get.

  • This is another area where my STBX failed miserably. In the early years of our 24 year marriage when we had nothing, he would help with the bills and finances. As time went on, he stopped – I can’t pinpoint when that happened though. I’ve spend my entire career in the banking industry so he just dumped it to me. Anyway, I proceeded to be the true chump and handle everything (including the taxes) while begging him to be involved and of course he wouldn’t. Fast forward to me kicking him out and he had nothing – I had moved every deposit account into my name only and reduced the limit on our 2 credit cards to $1000 each. Once he opened his own credit cards I closed the accounts. I paid off our equity line and had the bank block it from advances. I didn’t tell him it was blocked – I just told him I paid it off. I think he thought that meant it was closed – he could have requested that it be unblocked but he didn’t thank goodness. During the year we’re required in my state to wait for divorce, he never asked me for copies of anything – statements, taxes, etc. but as soon as he was told he had to fill out financial documentation before mediation, he became belligerent and said that I controlled everything and wouldn’t give him copies so he shouldn’t be asked to provide any information. He didn’t even want to provide his pay stubs which I don’t have access to!! What a lazy f*ck. We got a few of his paychecks during mediation but that was it. My attorney made him sign saying that he had disclosed all of his deposit accounts (cause I knew he was skimming money from work) and income, for what it was worth.

    I am soooo glad to be done with that piece of the process. I will probably never share accounts or loans with anyone again. I’m not even sure I’ll marry again. I’d like to someday meet a good man to spend the rest of my life with but it will take an awful lot to convince me to say ‘I do’ again.

  • I love this post. I am a business woman who was the breadwinner in our family. My husband made 50% of what I made, but I let him manage the finances in our house so as not to emasculate him or make him feel like I was controlling the money. When I found out my husband was cheating, I went to a lawyer and filed. The first thing the lawyer told me to do was setup my own account and move my paycheck there immediately.

    I setup a new account, but didn’t move anything around at first because I wasn’t quite sure how my husband had setup the spider webs of account transfers and bill pays. I was emotionally distraught and physically ill and it was too much to tackle right away. I went out of town right after d-day and my husband opened my mail (advice: get a PO Box), which revealed I setup the new account. He then convinced me not to use it or redirect my pay because it would “really over complicate our finances and why would I want to do that if we were going to try to work on our marriage”. What a load of crap and I fell for it. I should have known not to trust him one bit. He knew he couldn’t afford his lifestyle on only his salary.

    For all New chumps – please separate finances as quickly as you can. I watched my cheating husband spend my very hard earned money on very expensive Viagra, expensive dates, vacations, parties, and gifts for the other woman. Losing the money was horrific, but having to see what he spent my money on was even worse. Don’t ask permission, just do it. Wish I had gotten a financial order to prevent his spending and protect my money – in hindsight, I now would not hesitate to spend the money with attorneys to create the financial orders, but I thought it would be “excessive” and unnecessary at the time.

    Look at every financial institution/account and demand that you get access to be able to move/deposit/withdraw money/view statements or put your money elsewhere. In some accounts I had access but not control and I wish I had made sure I had control. There is a definite difference.

    I will never get that money back that my ex spent, but I am fortunate to be done with it now and move on with my life. It made me feel mighty to get to setup all of my own accounts and finally get control. My ex even tried to give me financial advice when settling investments post-divorce! HA HA HA, can you believe that? I’ve been faithfully reading CL posts, but this is my first comment! I could write a book on this topic. I wish I’d seen CL posts when I first started this process! Thanks Tracy and Vickie!

    • HoustonChump, my cheater hadn’t touched a bill or account of ours in at least 20 of our 24 years together but after he decided not to help me with the joint bills anymore, he told me he could help me develop a budget and trim expenses. I laughed in his face and told him to get out!

    • Opening your own bank account is great advice. I did not have that, and when our joint account was frozen, I had several days with not much cash to live on. If I had already had my own account, I could have easily redirected my pay check, etc., and not have been sitting in the bank crying while trying to open up an account in only my name. I don’t think I will ever not have my own account ever again, even if I do one day join finances with someone. I will keep it because iit gives me a sense of security and independance.

      • Actually, we did not actually freeze our joint account; we just mutually agreed to stop using it. So money was tight for a little bit until I had a paycheck or two come into my new solo account.

  • Thank you, Tracy, for providing Vickie’s guest blog post today. This is very helpful to encourage chumps to take action immediately, even if they feel paralyzed. I am a financial person and was fortunate enough to breeze through the settlement, even though I was going through loads of financial data through tears. I understood I had to protect myself immediately.

    I found out recently that my ex’s wife (the final OW) has insisted that her name be on all his assets and he has complied. She doesn’t have a job nor has a lot of assets. He does. Good luck with that.

    • All of the assets she’s aware of. Call me skeptical (and I wonder why), but I seriously doubt a cheater who has been through divorce and division of assets is willing to agree to that.

  • In my case the cheater ex insisted on controlling the money so I had no idea of what was coming in and going out. Because of his bad management of our money we were forced to declare bankruptcy. I was so ashamed at the time. I had no idea that he was diverting lots and lots of money for things like hookers, peep shows and god knows what else. There were at least two affairs that I know of now, and given the amount of money we were in debt, I’m willing to bet there were more. Anyway, I got an inkling of just how much money he actually making when I retired 6 months ago and had the social security worker contact me to tell me and tell me that I qualified for widows benefits. I was dumbfounded to learn how much more I could get drawing on his salary vs mine It meant he was making a lot more than I thought he was all along.

    I, however am getting the last laugh because I’m getting half again as much as I would have gotten, which will mean the difference between having to work till I die or actually having a choice in the matter.

    He is probably not only rolling over in his grave….he’s probably bored a hole clear to China……..Ha Ha, I get the last laugh in at least something ….take THAT lying, cheating thieving, miserable excuse-for-a-human-being jerk-off. This Chump won a round!

    • Yes thats another important fact. Even if your Cheater married again before he died, if you were married for more than 10 years, you can collect SS as a ‘quasi-widow’ based on who had the higher earnings record. May you live long and prosper. ). Vickie

      • Vickie, in situations where the chumped were the higher income earner, is there any way to make sure the cheater cannot get my SS after I die???

        • No there is no way to prevent the bump up post death after a 10 year marriage I present a women’s divorce workshop monthly and that’s a FAQ question.

          It only took one SS presentation on ‘the marriages of Larry King’ and how many women would get benefits for me to understand why SS is ‘broken’ ). Vickie

    • Tessie–I can only hope your X is rolling around in his grave on thistles, and traversing through all of Dante’s circles of Hell in a repetitive loop. I’m glad you were able to benefit financially in the end from the evil man.

  • Thanks CL and Vickie for the informative article…The whole financial thing is one of the major things holding me back from filing as we have 4 children and I have been a SAHM since 2009. I have always done all the finances and know what my husbands paycheck is. I read that think financially book last week and have been going over our finances with a fine toothed comb, trying to see if I would be able to make ends meet for the duration until a settlement would be reached and the biggest thing that is scaring me off right now is our mortgage. I have no interest in keeping the house but I do want physical custody of the kids as he has never really gotten into this parenting thing and prefers other things. In order to get custody, it looks like I would need to stay in the house, which means I would have to be able to pony up a pretty hefty payment…quite a lot for a person like me who has been out of the work force so long with 4 kids. I am planning on doing a career change but the schooling alone will take another 2.5 years..(I start this semester, though!). We live in a rural area so getting the kind of job that would pay what I need to cover daycare and mortgage plus living is pretty near impossible as there is not much available right now. We are thousands of miles away from family and friends and just moved here last year so are not really rooted in the community yet. D day happened as we were moving in almost a year ago and during this past year of weird living conditions that don’t even resemble reconciliation, I have finally got my head thinking a little more clearly and out of the gray fog I was living in. How have some of you prepared for paying a mortgage or is this something I even have to worry about? I consulted with one lawyer but he didn’t really answer my question. I am hoping to be able to preserve my credit score through this as I have some future goals that would require a good credit score in order to accomplish.

    • I have known some rare couples who were really creative when it came to writing their own settlement agreement, I just don’t know if it can be done in some cases… In one case the husband, the primary breadwinner, allowed his wife to live in the family home until all three children were finished with college (one even attended med school). He contributed to their living expenses, paying a pro rata share. Their children were very well taken care of and even though they knew the circumstances surrounding their parents separation Dad’s financial support and willingness to provide for his family and ex wife were amazing. She was able to work part time, volunteer, and raise their children in the family home. A pretty good legacy for a Cheat!

    • So unreal: not sure I understand why you have to stay in your house to secure custody? In my divorce everyone told me to sell the house so as not to be burdened with the hefty payment! And emotionally it was liberating to get me and my kids out of the marital home and throw away all of the cheaters crap that he left behind. find an affordable place you can call your own and leave the big mortgage behind!!

      • I guess I was thinking of the initial stages just after serving papers until final settlement. The logistics of that part just plain scare me…

  • Edited to say that I had plenty of food at home for us. But we sure could use that cushion to keep milk and lunch meat for daily lunches for 5 everyday!!! 🙂

  • Thanks Chump Lady! This will be so helpful to the newly chumped. I am lucky because I have a good job. I won’t say that my ex didn’t screw me on the way out because he purposely left things off our asset list so he wouldn’t have to give me more money. Shocking, I know.

    Take my advice; mediation seems like a good idea because you don’t pay divorce attorneys a lot of money but cheaters don’t play fair. Mediation is meant for people who play fair and nice. I’m not complaining because the whole process only took a total of 3 months from our initial meeting until our court appearance.For me, getting the hell away and untangled from him was worth whatever I lost because I didn’t hire a pit bull attorney. I didn’t have young children however and I had a good career.

    Cheaters don’t play fair so neither should you. Get the pitbull attorney and get one of these CDFA’s!

    • After my cheater left me we had agreed to family collaboration (mediation where each of us has a lawyer) . Half way through I found his Ashley Madison chat messages bragging about his conquests and numerous bank statements showing gambling debts and questionable purchases. Til then I was unaware that he had been using hookers and AP’s since the beginning of our marriage.

      Had a pitbull lawyer who looked over the documentation and his income tax forms and basically said it would be a crapshoot to try and recoup more that just the last 2 years of his “debt”. She and I discussed the fact that I have a good income and drawing out the process for a few thousand dollars would just make me have to see and interact with the jacktard some more.

      I let it go. I got a fair division of assets with all his debt off the table. I may have lost some money and the satisfaction of dragging his lying ass through the court system but I do not have to ever see this lying, fat, balding POS ever again.

  • So true Cheaterssuck I went to mediation with Idiot pants as he was in full agreement to work towards fair outcomes. Stupid as I was he broke into our home where my daughter and I live and stole an amazing amount of stuff, he harassed me at my workplace and totally ignored any agreements made all the while smiling and acting coy in front of the mediator.

  • I learned a lot financially from getting divorced. I learned it all the hard way. I was one of those who did not prepare enough and had the carpet ripped out from under me. I was lucky to get out of my marriage with the clothes on my back. Ex gleefully tanked everything. That should be a mental disorder.
    I hope to get the last laugh one day… Vickie, you rock!

  • Great post. One of our joint accounts was being used to entertain his fuckbuddies. Although the online history will only went back 24months, I spoke with the bank branch office who guided me to their HQ regarding obtaining ALL transaction history for the account. It’s there and available and waaaay cheaper than having the forensic accountants ask for the same info. Do it.

  • My cheater left for a conference across the world 4 days after D-day. I used the time to copy every piece of financial information, past tax returns, etc. that I could get my hands on. It helped tremendously, as I was able to document the amount in his retirement accounts, and the amounts from when we first got married (he had wanted to use the amounts from 5 years AFTER we got married because he claimed that’s all he could find, meaning 5 years of his hefty retirement account would not have been included in settlement). Document, document, document.

  • You have to choose your hill to die on. My xh presented me with a spreadsheet the day he informed me he was moving out, and our settlement was scheduled for ten days later, which did not give me much time. TX divorce can happen in 60 days. Fortunately, we had been to a Fin. ADv. earlier in that year, and all our assets were on the table in plain sight. Also, we did a collaborative div. in which you have to agree, or else you have to start all over.

    However, the day he left he had just signed a contract for a new job in another state, and of course, he did not want me to know anything about his new salary/benefits. My lawyer looked at what he was offering, and at my age of 60, it seemed fair in that moment. She suggested I accept it, which I did with some minor changes. I knew he was going on to make substantial $$, which he did, and OW, now wife, certainly benefited greatly from that.

    But, I would have had to become very adversarial and I did not want that for my children. Our family has always been the most important thing in all of this, and they were injured enough. He buys and sells houses and lives in a beautiful resort, and throws $$ everywhere. I am comfortable, and not frightened of the future and that is fine.

    I heard today on the news that some ex wife rejected a check in the amount of $9 hundred million from her stbx. I just don’t get that. It prolongs the angst and anger and stress, and to me, just appears greedy. Let it go, and get on with your life. I could not live like that. Some of my friends have had court dates over $$ and it has caused much strife and anger. And it appears vindictive.

    But knowledge is power; find it all out, no matter how you have to do it. My xh was fair bc he did not want to lose our children. And he would have, without a doubt.

    • My ex lost his children because of this. It has taken a couple of years but they “get it” now. Sad though.

  • What do you do when you don’t have any of this? STBX “took care” of everything, but everything was in my name. Now I’m facing eviction, car repossession, and more. He’s been doing our taxes for the last 7 years and I just now realized that I have NEVER signed anything related to our taxes.

      • Thanks. This is so frustrating. I have spent 10 years of my life with a man I do not know. A man who lied about EVERYTHING, and I was the chump who ate it all. I tried to reconcile with him after finding out he had multiple, simultaneous affairs and SURPRISE…everything done in couples therapy (and individual, which he most likely LIED about attending) was a lie!

        I have the IRS form (thanks again) and I plan to submit it first thing tomorrow. I signed for his car, which he never paid for, and now he is in a different city, but the repossession will be on MY credit. We have kids or I would just cut him off; I am still paying for his cell phone even though I don’t know where he lives. It’s the only connection me and his kids have to him. Disgusting.

        Luckily, I have good earning potential and can dig myself out of the hole he’s dug for me and our kids. Things are going to be tight, but I’m going shell out for a sympathetic attorney who has personal experience with sociopaths. This hurts like a mother, but I will survive!

          • Great tip Chumpadvocate. Thanks! It can be difficult to stay focused on the dissolution part when every detail brings up painful memories. But better to vent here, and pay for a therapist to sort out the emotional mess. When you’re paying 300-400 per hour it’s best to go in knowing your objectives, and stick to the plan. I need to constantly remind myself of this with every visit.

  • What does it say about me that I put up with years of her keeping our finances in the dark from me? Whenever I asked to discuss our money she would get defensive and say, “don’t you trust me?” or get angry and convince me that she had already shown me the budget and why do I keep asking to see it? It was gaslighting that I only recently recognized! Now I can only wonder what she was hiding from me all those years.

    • I know how you feel. When I think about the fact that not signing tax forms didn’t ring any alarms for me, I just shake my head at how I trusted he would take care of it all. He certainly did, didn’t he?

  • I guess I should consider myself fortunate…my husband drove us into Bankruptcy several years ago. Having paid off those Chapter 13 payments for three years and after it was all finally discharged, this left us with NO bills and totally ruined credit. (I am the one who filed Ch.13 after finding $270K worth of credit card debt when going through our financials).

    Then, a few years ago, I suggested we buy a house because we had since those days amassed $300K of cash (business was doing well at that point). ALL assets are now fully invested into our home…nothing hidden.

    After doing research (he was thinking of taking early Social Security at 62), I realized that I would have to be married at least 10 years to him to be able to collect on his Social Security and for getting “long term” Spousal Support in the event of a future divorce. Only 1 year to go to qualify for those things. Meanwhile, I have started hiding away cash big time. I am 60 years old so I figure I need to play my cards right at this point. I suggested he NOT take Social Security until he is 66yrs old because there will be quite a difference in payments…and he intends to keep working anyway. So he agreed…this bumps up the amount I can get as Survivors Benefits should he pass away before I do.

    He was just caught in the beginning stages of an EA and had to break that off. Both of us confronted the woman and explained that he had stepped way over the “boundaries” as a married man and told her she is not to come into our store anymore…but she has since “hooked up” with my husband’s son and is still in the picture. I figure he will either repent, or try to start it up again, but I will be prepared either way. Only problem I can foresee is that of getting him to move out of our home should it come to the worse…but our property has a separate cottage that can be used while waiting for the house to sell.

    I do hope he repents from the heart. We are reading the Bible every night together and discussing it as we go along…sometimes we drift as believers when temptations come and do stupid things…still, I can see that I will need to be prepared.

  • My ex leaving was probably the best thing that could happen financially. Since she was a SAHM most of the marriage and had to return to work to feed her spending (and apparently start an affair) there was little or no hope of me being primary custodian. But what I paid in child support was less than she could spend. At least after divorce, the courts limited how much money she could access.

    During the two years it took to divorce, I paid off $70K in credit card debt, got out of the car loan for her minivan. (She just had to trade the van for a VW Beetle.) All my pre-marital assets came off the table. Since the markets were crashing in 2003, the remainder of my 401(k) and IRA monies were much smaller, so she didn’t get all that much.

    I kept the house we bought from her parents and the two older cars we owned outright.

    She even valued the home lower than the ACV. I asked her three times if she wanted an appraisal and she said no.

    The debt was divided based on income, so 20% of that $70K counted on her side of the ledger. She never asked to see anything other than the debt on the day she left, so I showed her the $70K in total balances. Meanwhile, it was paid off when our divorce was final,so more assets stayed with me.

    I told her she needed a QDRO to transfer the 401(k) we agreed would go to her. She told me not to tell her what to do and then called 6 months later after the divorce was final saying the brokerage wouldn’t transfer the funds. I simply reminded her about the QDRO and that it was her job, her lawyer should have done it, etc. You made it clear you didn’t want my advice, so handle it.

    So debt free, sole owner of the marital home, and rid of the cheater. Talk about a winning scenario.

  • Oh, let’s add some more.

    When I went to re-fi the home in my name only, her first lawyer had a lien on it. Apparently, she had not paid her bill. So she had to address the lien so I could finance the home in my name.

    (OK, so debt free, other than a mortgage!)

    She wanted me to pay her legal fees in the divorce. Heck no! I told her if she wanted a divorce, her and her affair partner could pay her legal fees. I think her first lawyer got the job because he sold her a pipe dream. Told her I’d have to pay all these things. When I fought back, and he could see that she wasn’t going to get that much, he fired her because he wasn’t getting paid, and put the lien on the home.

    Her second lawyer didn’t promise her so much, and I pretty much dictated the terms of the divorce. After she fought for a while to try to get what the first lawyer likely promised her, she got what I said she would get. It’s not that hard to read state law and see how things are done.

    She kept saying how her lawyer was forcing her…. I said your lawyer works for you. He’ll do what you want him to do.

    At least she’s consistent. Never her fault. Always a victim. She tripped and fell on to a penis, it wasn’t an affair.

  • >