“He’s the most computer literate person I know”: I was my husband’s research analyst, caregiver, cook and housekeeper. Now he wants a divorce after 38 years


My husband and I have been married for 38 years. He “retired” in 1992 at the age of 50. His plan was to start an investment consulting firm with my help.

I was 43 years old at the time and I ended up quitting my job as a database programmer to be his IT specialist and his back office. (His salary was $ 75,000 and mine was $ 33,000 at the time.) We started with 3 friends as trial clients, and it showed him that he was not made for. manage other people’s money.

Plan “B” was just to manage our money, which he also needed my help for. He used to be “the boss” and always needed an administrative assistant. For 29 years, I have been his research analyst, business executioner, report producer, medical aide (as his health has deteriorated), cook and housekeeper, etc.

In other words, I did everything necessary to manage the household and his “business” in order to keep him free to do nothing other than make investment decisions (which I always left him free to do). ). He’s the most computer literate person I know. If he can’t just “click” on a link, he has no idea how to do anything.

“Living together 24/7 over the past 29 years has had its ups and downs, especially lately. “

Living together 24/7 over the past 29 years has seen its ups and downs, most of the time lately. He keeps talking about divorce because I seem unable to meet all of his needs. We have approximately $ 706,000 in investment assets, including $ 472,000 in his Roth IRA.

My Roth IRA is around $ 168,000. Most of his investing activities focus on his IRA because its size makes it more flexible. We have about $ 66,000 in a joint brokerage account. Our “profession” for 29 years has been strictly our investment activity. We have approximately $ 200,000 in equity in our home.

The problem is this: he seems to think he is entitled to ALL of his Roth IRA, plus half of our joint account, plus half of our home equity, which is $ 605,000, which leaves me around 301. $ 000. His reasoning is that his IRA is strictly his and that he made “more money” than I did when we were working, and also the fact that he made all the investment decisions.

My reasoning is that 1. We have been married for 38 years. 2. I had no choice but to stop working and become his assistant. 3. He couldn’t have done anything without my help. 4. I believe that anything any of us did, whether during our working years or during our “investing” years was marital income and should be divided equally. 5. We have already used the funds from the two IRAs to pay current bills and fund other joint accounts.

I didn’t have an ARI before we got married. I maintain that everything should be divided equally if we go our separate ways. He will insist on fighting me on this, which would only enrich the lawyers and give us less to go our separate ways if I’m right. Please give me your opinion.

More lows than highs

Dear ups and downs,

How your property is divided in the event of a divorce depends on a variety of factors, including whether you live in a communal property or equitable division state, and / or the division between marital and separated property, and your contribution to the marriage in one. both financial and non-financial capacity.

There is only one aspect of your letter that I disagree with: “2. I had no choice but to stop working and become his assistant. While your husband was unable to handle other people’s money, and I leave it to you to decide if he was successful in managing your money, it is best to make peace with the decision to quit your job.

The good news is, it doesn’t depend on your husband. It’s not his way or the Internet highway. From what you say, your contribution in time and labor was at least equal to that of your husband. As you say, anything you earn during your marriage is generally considered marital property.

“Exactly how the Roth is divided is up for negotiation, and in the absence of an agreement, a judge would decide,” according to Farias family law in Massachusetts, which is a state of fair division. In this case, the court will decide which share of the spouse’s Roth IRA to share.

“The good news is, it doesn’t depend on your husband. “

“The parties can split the actual Roth account or offset its value with other assets,” the law firm said. “For example, the parties may agree that the account holder will keep the Roth, but the other party will receive a greater portion of the equity in the marital home.”

Plus, because you put after-tax dollars into a Roth IRA, and you’re generally free to make tax-free and penalty-free withdrawals after age 59 and a half. These tax considerations are taken into account when dividing the assets (with 401 (k), as you probably know, the money will be taxed upon withdrawal).

The “gray” divorce rate for adults 50 and older in the United States has for better or worse doubled and tripled for those 65 and older, according to data from the Pew Research Center. People are living longer, more women are able to opt out and become financially independent, and the pandemic hasn’t helped.

“Also make sure you have a financial plan after the divorce. “

MarketWatch columnist Angie O’Leary, who heads wealth planning at RBC Wealth Management-US, wrote about the phenomenon earlier this year and outlined a set of dos and don’ts about taxes, life insurance, retirement assets and how divorce can impact women and men differently.

” A qualified ordinance relating to family relations, or QDRO, is generally used to divide some pension plans and employer pension plans, ”she wrote. “A QDRO recognizes a joint martial interest in pension assets, giving the ex-spouse a share of those assets.” And make sure you have a financial plan after the divorce, too.

Considering the length of your marriage, your dues, and in the absence of a marriage contract, it seems difficult to imagine a divorce court that would not divide your assets in a fair and equitable manner. Keep your emotions out of the process. Hire a lawyer, compile all financial statements, and share your state’s divorce laws with your husband.

The end result may be that you decide to divorce, or that you decide to reassess your marital arrangement, and live separate lives and stay married. Going through a divorce at this point could be financially devastating. Whatever you ultimately decide to do, I wish you more highs than lows for years to come.

You can email The Moneyist for any financial and ethical questions related to the coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

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