Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Divorce Settlements for the Rest of Us

Celebrities and their spouses may be getting huge divorce windfalls, but the average Jane is in deep financial tapioca if she’s negotiating a divorce settlement these days.

Julia has been a mostly stay-at-home mom with a part-time job selling real estate for the past 20 years. She loves the real estate job because its flexibility has allowed her to chauffeur her three daughters to their activities, be a Girl Scout troupe leader and volunteer for the PTA. Rob, her soon-to-be ex, until recently a big-time investment strategist, always said he loved her job too because Julia was able to be home in time put a hot meal on the table for the family every night.

The unraveling started with Rob becoming fatally attracted to Marisa, his running partner, a 35 year old single tri-athlete with a killer body, a Harvard MBA and a trust fund. He became so ga-ga (or so cagey, depending on your view),that he cut back on his financial consulting business to train for marathons all over the world with Marisa.
Now that he has successfully depleted his income along with the family’s savings, Rob has filed for divorce. Julia’s income is no longer considered the family’s “second income”. Even though the real estate market is all but dead, and she hasn’t been able to sell a house in six months, Rob’s divorce attorney is claiming that Julia should be supporting herself, the kids and the house, plus paying Rob alimony. This normally would seem like an outrageous crock that any judge would throw out of court without hesitation. However, since Rob’s vastly depleted income is in financial services, the employment area known to be the worst off, Julia’s lawyer has warned her that she’ll be looking at a good deal if she walks away with half the house and the obligation to support herself and the kids. And if the judge doesn’t order her to pay Rob any alimony, she’s supposed to consider herself lucky!

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