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FS-Reconciliation Issues
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Question: When I learned two months ago that my husband had been having an affair with a mutual acquaintance, I hit the roof. We have been married for 21 years, and have two small children. He was remorseful and promised to break it off, so rather than say it was over, I told him that I would give him a second chance and we are going to counseling. Only time will tell if the trust can be rebuilt and the marriage saved, but in the meantime I feel like I should be protecting myself just in case it doesn't work out. Even though we are in counseling, do I contact a lawyer and at least make copies of all our assets, tax returns, etc.? A part of me feels the need to cover myself to protect my children, but I feel guilty. What should I do?

Answer: While we wholeheartedly agree with the counseling process and the need to preserve the marital relationship, under these circumstances, we think you should follow your instincts, copy all the documents you can, and remain on guard until your feeling of trust returns.

Question: After 19 years of marriage, my husband left me. I have no assets in my name, no money, and no credit. I have gone to an attorney who wants a retainer fee which I can't afford. How do women who have been kept in the dark financially afford to hire lawyers?

Answer: Very creatively. If you have relatives, discuss a loan with them. If you have jewelry or antiques, you might use it as collateral for a loan -- or try to work an arrangement with the lawyer to take it as security for the fee. Depending on where you live, your property rights might be vested when you file for divorce or separation. If so, these "assets" might serve as security. We understand that there are even groups of "investors" who purchase future property rights for discounted amounts, but watch yourself here. No matter which road you choose, be sure you understand all of the ramifications of the transaction before you enter into it and receive independent advice.

Question: My wife and I have been separated for nearly nine months. She took our child began living with another man, so I filed for divorce. We have been to court twice, and I got temporary custody of our son. Now my wife says she is sorry and wants to come back home. I'd like to believe her, but I think she knows that she's going to lose and wants to reconcile. My lawyer tells me it's up to me. I don't know what to do.

Answer: It is up to you, but before you do anything, you need to know your options. If your wife was gone for nine months and moved in with another man, it appears to us that there is a pretty significant breach in your relationship. The attempt by your wife to solve her problems by talking you into taking her back may well be a ploy.

Before you take her back, it might be a good idea for you and your wife to get marriage counseling so you can confront her with your mistrust. Remember: Taking her home and forgiving her means you condone her actions and you can't bring them up again unless she gives you reason to believe she is doing it again later -- and this might be expensive to prove.

It may be that you and she should consider a reconciliation agreement so that you can resume your co-habitation for a predetermined length of time, and if it doesn't work out, then your rights will not be jeopardized. Ask your lawyer about a reconciliation agreement through which you may be able to preserve your rights should renewed cohabitation not work out.

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Suggested Reading:
Separation and Divorce Guidebook
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FS-Be Wary of Credit Issues with Ex
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FS-Becareful of Bargaining Away Alimony As Child Support
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FS-Lawyer Tells Me to Lie & Pension Double Dipped
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FS-On and Off Again Reconciles Can Create Agreement Disasters
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FS-The Dangers of Family Loans
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FS-Transference of Affection & 10 Tips of Divorce
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