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Happiness is in our own hearts. I have no regrets of anything in the past. I’m totally cheerful and happy, and I think that a lot of your attitude is not in the circumstances you find yourself in, but in the circumstances you make for yourself.
~ Maeve Binch ~

As I look back on my life through the lens of experience, I can say that I have no regrets. I made the choice, after much deliberation, to marry my ex-wife. We entered the partnership with the typical vows along with divorce is not an option. Everything seemed good until about the twelfth year. That is when I saw the first major financial irregularity. Money was moved from an account I used to buy and sell Ford Model A parts to pay for a family vacation. This was done without discussion and I was told “the money is still there” when I questioned the transfer. Several years later I used the same account for a $10,000 inheritance I received from my Aunt. Strict instructions were given not to spend this money since it was given to help buy a house. Within two months, all of my inheritance was gone. At this point I should have seen the writing on the wall but I was unaware my inheritance was gone until the divorce proceedings. When I claimed my inheritance during the buyout of the house, I then discovered in the financial records all of my inheritance had been spent without my knowledge.

In hindsight it is clear my ex-wife wanted access to the retirement accounts after her cancer. She had pressured me to retire when I turned 50 but financially it did not make sense. When the flurry of legal wrangling was over, I was assigned all of the debt and she is now driving a new car and traveling. How she went from barely able to work 20 hours a week, due to the complications after cancer treatment, to living high on the hog remains a mystery.

During the summer of 2012 my ex-wife was planning her exit from the marriage. She started by spreading rumors and made some serious accusations in an attempt to make me leave. These same lies also laid the ground work for her to justify filing for a divorce 18 months later. Some of our friends did not believe the character assassination but others believed the lies. At first my ex-wife denied being the source of the gossip but eventually accepted responsibility during a marriage counseling session. By this time the damage had been done. My ex-wife clearly states that she is a Christian, but her lies and the financial irregularities over the years have a different story to tell. Ultimately her actions will stand as a testimony to her life. All I can do at this point is to wait for the truth to be revealed.

To make this post relevant, I am providing the following lessons I learned from the Court of Family Law.

1) Complete trust, based on love, is not a good plan for a marriage. It was this very trust that my ex-wife used to hide her financial irregularities.

2) Financial irregularities are not acceptable in a business partnership and should not be tolerated in a marriage relationship. If one spouse is wanting to control the finances, this should be a warning sign. Review the accounts on a regular basis. An honest partner will not be afraid to allow the other to check the financial records.

3) Never put an inheritance in a joint account because it immediately becomes community property. Deposit this money in an account with only your name. A honest marriage partner will not question why. Then you can decide together how to spend or invest your money.

4) Whether it is your first marriage or n+1, establish a premarital agreement. This will hopefully protect your assets.

5) Deposit your paycheck in a account with only your name. Setup a joint account you both contribute to for everyday expenses. This is more difficult to accomplish if the couple has decided to have one spouse stay at home to care for any children (God help you if you find yourself in a divorce with children). Money is always one of the top issues in any marriage and is made worse in a divorce.

6) In today’s housing climate, it will most likely take two incomes to purchase a home. If you purchase the home together it will be divided equally during a divorce. Be sure your spouse can afford to pay half the costs of homeownership. My home was purchased based on my income which allowed me to buy out my ex-wife when she walked out. With no tangible investment in the house, she walked away with a tidy sum.

Everyone I know was shocked to hear my marriage had failed. How I apply these lesson will no doubt require an attorney due to the complexities of Family Law. The old saying says, hindsight is 20/20. Live, learn, move on. But more importantly, choose to be happy.