Sometimes Divorce Is Not The Best Answer To The Problem
Question: My husband and I have not gotten along for years. Nothing life-threatening, but lots of mind games which were beginning to get on my nerves...and his, too. The kids are grown. So six months ago, we started living in separate bedrooms. We have negotiated a written schedule of events in the house such as use of the den, kitchen privileges, etc. Since he makes twice as much as I do, he pays two-thirds of the monthly household bills and I pay one-third. We each pay our own gasoline, car payments, clothing, etc. How long can we let this go on, and do I need to take steps to protect myself?
A: Your situation reminds us of Rodney Dangerfield's quote: "We sleep in separate rooms, we have dinner apart, we take separate vacations -- we're doing everything we can to keep our marriage together." It seems that you and your husband have accomplished what no court could have done: maintained your standards of living. But there may be downsides for each of you: One of you might dispose of assets without the other's knowledge. Life insurance beneficiaries or wills might be changed without the other's knowledge. Pension beneficiaries and other matters may go unattended.
If you both are comfortable with your situations -- and apparently, you have been able to agree intelligently about a lot of important things -- then you might begin a dialogue about planning for your futures. And when you have agreed, you both should seek the advice of a lawyer who handles estate matters. There is nothing to prevent you both from continuing this arrangement for as long as you continue to get along.
Jan Collins Stucker is an award-winning writer and editor. Jan Warner is a matrimonial, elder, and tax attorney. Both are based in Columbia, South Carolina. Flying Solo is seen in newspapers throughout the United States and can be found on the Internet at http://www.flyingsolo.com.
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