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Financial Fridays: Divorce Sucks. A How-To.

I never write about my ex-wife. It's her life. But I want to write about divorce because the entire thing is a scam. By the way, let's discuss marriage for a second.
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I never write about my ex-wife. It's her life.

But I want to write about divorce because the entire thing is a scam.

By the way, let's discuss marriage for a second.

I am married to Claudia. I love her and wanted to be with her.

But let's face it: we got married because I am insecure and felt that the government blessing our marriage would make her love me more.

This is not true. She loves me (I hope) but not more or less because the government told her to.

As far as I can tell, the only real legal benefit of marriage is that you can share medical insurance if you have a regular 9-5 job.

Everything else (estate planning, kids expenses) can be done legally, piece by piece, and much more efficiently and kindly.

Lifespans are long and kids, sadly, grow up, and no longer need you in the same way.

They no longer wake up in the middle of the night calling your name and in tears. Their nightmares are different.

So divorce happens. Because this government mandated false commitment has a way of withering. A dead leaf on a tree. Falling to the ground in an extra chilly winter.

When I was getting a divorce, I first went to a lawyer.

"This is the one you have to use," said my friend. She had used her.

Just for walking in the door, the lawyer wanted $10,000. I didn't want to give it to her.

She explained to me what would happen. I hire her. Then my ex-wife hires a lawyer (another $10,000). Then official letters are sent. Then negotiations between the lawyers happen.

Lots of negotiations: kids, estate, money, assets, house, etc. Anger flares. Then court. Then judges.

Forget it, I said.

I didn't hire her. My ex didn't hire a lawyer. Probably $100,000+ saved.

We decided what we wanted to do about the kids. We live in the same town so it's easy.

EVERYTHING ELSE: we did this.

We put all of our assets in a corporation co-owned by us 50-50.

Then, asset-free, we made a one page divorce agreement. THEN we showed it to a lawyer who approved it and drove it through the court system.

Because it was so unusual it had trouble getting through the court system.

We got legally divorced. Emotionally, we were divorced. But we were still financially tied together.

But at that point we had the leisure of figuring that part out.

Which we did when emotions were less strong and we ultimately dissolved the corporation and everything was fair.

Total cost of divorce: $1000. Total time (from agreement to judge approval): about six months.

Did everything work out great? I don't know. But it was probably better than two strangers ripping us apart and charging every minute for it.

Some things to keep in mind:

Kids are the only thing that's important.

Throughout life, feelings and emotions go high and low. People change. Bad and good stories happen.

Marriage is a story. Divorce is a story.

But kids are not a story. They are an assignment. Love them and care for them and set an example so they become good adults.

Adults who remember to play like kids, but have experience that leads to wisdom.

When we first told the kids we were getting a divorce they cried.

They didn't cry for us. They cried because they didn't want to be "one of those kids". Whatever image they had of "those kids" meant.

So our first goal was to make this smooth for them.

When you think of divorce, you think money and court battles. We decided to remove that from the equation by separating out the money.

We got our legal divorce quickly so everyone could just move on with their lives.

Then over the next two years, we figured out the financial situation in a much more calm environment. That was also a one page agreement with no lawyers needed.

I would definitely consult an accountant to make sure you set up the right structure to hold financial assets.

No situation is perfect. No relationship is perfect. But no matter what terrible things happen in a marriage (and terrible things always happen), they didn't happen to your kids.

Some things I deeply miss because we are not together as much. I miss the "Daddy!" and the hugs when I come home from work.

And now they are teenagers and that part of their life is over.

Now I've been given the assignment to help make them into good adults so they can continue to destroy the world like I've been doing.

I only hope I am doing a good job.

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(Photo by Jennifer)