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Adultry, To Divorce or Not?
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Question: My husband and I have been married for more than 20 years and have two high school-aged children. He is a professional and does very well financially; I have my own business which keeps me very busy. He never spent much time at home due to his schedule, and until recently, I had no reason not to trust him; however, I have learned that he has been having an ongoing affair with a member of his office staff which he has now chosen to make public by taking her to functions which he and I used to attend.

In addition to being hurt, I was angry, so I decided to talk to a counselor before confronting him. When he and I finally talked, he initially denied the relationship. I could tell he was lying, so I hired private detectives who took pictures of them kissing in a restaurant and at a motel when they were off for what he described as a “working weekend”. Once caught, he admitted the relationship with a woman less than half his age, and told me that if I didn’t like the way he was acting, I could divorce him, but he did not want a divorce. On one hand, I believe that divorce may be the best solution, but on the other, even though I know that I could never trust him or sleep with him again, I don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of what I never thought would happen to us. I am torn about making this emotional decision. Any suggestions?

Answer: While we hear from many readers who choose to continue in a relationship because they find it easier than the alternative, there are risks. For example, your husband may not want a divorce because if he were single again, his lady friend would put pressure on him to marry her. By staying married to you, he can remain “unavailable” to marry her. By not divorcing you, your husband’s finances will not be made public, and he will not be required to divide anything with you. By staying married to you, your husband will have the time to engage in creative estate and financial planning by which he could move marital property out of the picture in an effort to reduce what you would receive if you decided to divorce him.

We believe that you are at both financial and economic risk in your current situation. We believe that the decision you make here has both economic and emotional ramifications that must be considered. In addition to speaking to your counselor, we suggest that you consult with a seasoned matrimonial lawyer to learn your rights. With the assistance of these professionals, you should be able to make a difficult decision that will best protect you and your children.

SoloFact: Although divorce is a transition that creates two separate households from what had been one, the vast majority of those who divorce do not take necessary post-divorce steps to protect themselves and their new families. For example, many do not change the beneficiaries of life insurance policies, pensions, IRA’s, and other non-probate assets and therefore leave a legacy of litigation to their children and new spouses. Many do not execute new wills, durable powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney despite a the changes that divorce brings with it.

Bottom Line: Divorce planning does not stop at the time the final decree is rendered by the court. Estate, financial, and long-term care planning must be incorporated into the “divorce package” to allow the millions of Americans who terminate their marriages each year to move into the next chapter of their lives.

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