Divorce is one of the worst destroyers of wealth. May you never have to go through one. Love birds beware. The following is a guest post from Financial Samurai reader and medical doctor, Xrayvsn. A divorced ruined his life but he clawed his way back.
Few words in the English language can elicit as negative a visceral response as that of divorce.
Despite its increasing prevalence in society, stories of divorce and the subsequent impact on one’s finances are rarely discussed in the personal finance community.
Like the subject of money, there seems to be an unspoken rule that divorce is a taboo subject and should not be discussed by members of polite society.
I think that by keeping stories of divorce, along with the financial and emotional tolls that accompany it, private, we are losing a wonderful opportunity to benefit the greater good.
Years and years of savings and investing can disappear in a blink of an eye, leaving a divorcee reeling and in a financial tailspin.
Because it is often not talked about publicly, many individuals feel isolated and have the daunting task of rebuilding their lives without guidance.
In a hope to break this cycle of silence and isolation, I share the story of my divorce and the emotional and financial roller coaster I was put on so that someone in a similar predicament can gain solace there is indeed light at the end of a seemingly endless dark tunnel.
The Most Contested Divorce Ever
“This was the most contested divorce I have ever presided over.”
That is certainly not a line you ever wish to hear from a very senior chancery judge as he is announcing the divorce decree.
Unfortunately that was exactly what I heard that day, and I have no doubt that it was the truth, for every person I have since shared this story with has agreed that mine was indeed a divorce for the ages.
Find A Nice Indian Girl To Marry
My cultural background is Indian and although I am about as “Americanized” as you can get, having come to the US during my first year of life, the traditions from that culture were pervasive throughout my childhood, courtesy of my parents.
My father was a physician (Internal Medicine) who married my mother almost sight unseen as part of an arranged marriage.
Arranged marriages are steeped with Indian tradition dating back hundreds of years.
Marriage in the old country was often looked at as a business arrangement as families sought to combine with other families to maintain or improve their stature in society.
Arranged marriage worked out for my parents as they had a long and happy marriage of 19 years until my dad passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 50.
Fast-forward now a little over a quarter of a century after my first steps on American soil and you now find me entering my final year of radiology residency.
Although there have always been casual talks from my mother about me “finding some nice Indian girl to marry” for several years prior, it was the fact that I was about to become a “real doctor” that seemed to serve as a wakeup call for her.
Finding The Suitable Life Partner
I truly believe that my mother felt once some real doctor money started rolling in I would be lost to the lifestyle associated with it and the likelihood that she would have an Indian daughter-in-law would be severely reduced.
My mother then enlisted the help of “her global network” to actively try and find me a suitable girl to marry before the opportunity slipped away.
This global search finally produced what they deemed a “suitable match” for me.
This girl was two years younger than me, who was brought up in England and, like me, was a physician (somehow I think this was the only criteria it took for the matchmakers to give their endorsement even though they said they matched our birth horoscope charts as well).
The Desire To Please My Parents And Marry An Indian Woman
Trying to appease my mother, I reluctantly agreed to see where this could possible take me.
We communicated for approximately three months through emails and phone calls and then it was decided that we should meet in person.
Originally we had both agreed that this would be a no-pressure introduction.
I had expressed concern previously over the phone with her that I would likely be subject to intense pressure from both our families to go ahead and proceed with the marriage from the very first moment we met.
She assured me that this would not be the case.
Related post: Wedding Rules To Follow If You Don't Want To End Up Broke And Alone
Tying The Arranged Knot
It was the one-year anniversary of 9/11 when she arrived on American soil.
Members from both families descended to my home and promptly placed me in a pressure cooker type situation, imploring me to go ahead and proceed with the first step of an Indian marriage by undergoing a formal registration with her.
I reluctantly caved in to this pressure and not only were we officially registered later that week, but soon after we officially entered the bond of marriage on November 1st, less than two months from our initial meeting.
I was 31 years old and she was 29 at the time.
Unlike fairytales where the protagonist gets rewarded for taking a leap of faith, my leap caused me to jump off a cliff without a parachute.
Trouble In Paradise
Early in the marriage there were troubling signs that cropped up that made me doubt the veracity of this person being a “perfect match.”
I had arranged for her to start in my radiology residency program by agreeing to stay on as faculty during the course of her training (four years).
Things that I will not elaborate on happened however and, within two months of starting this coveted radiology residency spot, she was dismissed from the program.
This created much strife between us as I had vouched for her in the first place and the unceremonious way she was ejected from the program left her with much disdain, primarily directed at me as I continued to have success in my career.
Throughout the remainder of the marriage she would try numerous times to get back into any residency program, regardless of specialty, but was always denied due to the black marks that were now plastered all over her medical records.
Started A Family
Family members, and myself, thought that perhaps starting a family could take her mind off her career troubles and she could instead move on by concentrating on being a mother.
Therefore in 2005 we welcomed our only child, a daughter, into the world.
I thought surely being a mother would give her a sense of renewed purpose in life and reduce the angst she felt of a medical career cut short.
I was mistaken. In fact things worsened as I saw more behavioral issues start to crop up in day-to-day life.
In Indian custom divorce is shunned upon and, as such, quite a rare occurrence. Because of this cultural pressure, I endured my marriage as long as I could.
Another reason why I tolerated such an awful marriage for as long as I did was because of my daughter.
I did not want her to be a product of divorce if I could help it.
It seemed however that even I could not withstand the depths that my marriage sank to, as the behavioral changes of my wife got increasingly problematic.
Related post: Financial Dependence Is The Worst: Why Each Spouse Should Have Their Own Funds
The Beginning Of The End
After eight years, which felt like pure hell, I decided that I could no longer remain married and I filed for divorce.
Part of the reason I decided to file was a close friend I confided in about the situation told me that I was actually causing more harm to my daughter by staying in an unloving and quite tumultuous marriage and having her witness it firsthand.
In February 2010 I officially signed the paperwork needed for divorce proceedings.
This act apparently woke up the sleeping giant that was my wife and a truly vindictive person emerged.
As was previously referenced, the divorce proceedings were lengthy and highly contentious.
My wife found an unscrupulous lawyer who saw me as having “deep pockets” being a successful physician in the community and between the two of them they fabricated so many allegations that I had to defend.
In this watered down version of what truly happened, all I can say is I had to defend myself across multiple court jurisdictions during these proceedings, including juvenile court and federal court, constantly being bombarded with the frivolous allegations this nightmare pairing of two people kept conjuring up.
Nothing stuck or held true with their accusations but since they never received any reprimand or financial disincentive, they continued to carry on unfazed.
Divorce And Finances
The divorce was finalized 13 months from the date of filing and required numerous lengthy hearings throughout.
Because of the lengthy and contentious nature of the divorce, just the legal fees I accumulated alone were staggering. I was hemorrhaging money each month as all money coming in would be earmarked for my legal defense.
When all was said and done, the damage to my net worth breached $850k:
- $300k+ for my own attorney fees.
- The entire value of our 401k ($140k). The judge awarded her the entire amount to balance the $125k worth of shares I had in my office practice that I kept.
- The entire value of my Health Savings Account ($25k).
- Alimony for 3 years: $75,600.
- Child Support for 6 years before I gained custody of my daughter back: $151,200.
- Equity in two condominiums ($60k).
- $100k cash due 30 days after divorce decree to offset her legal costs.
By this time I had completely depleted my savings and had to pay using credit card access checks.
What I Was Left With After The Divorce
“Do you know why divorces are so expensive? Because they are worth it.” – Willie Nelson
I was left with the marital home which was underwater with respect to the mortgage balance due to the housing crisis that had just occurred as well as my student loan debt.
I wish I could say that I completely washed my hands off of my vindictive ex when I finally divorced her, but unfortunately her lawyer and her had one last parting shot at me that caused me to incur another $225k of expenses when all was said and done.
This brought the financial damages from this ill-fated arranged marriage over the 7-figure mark. So don't think that just because you marry and Asian person, you'll end up living a rich and long life! There are no absolutes when it comes to marriage. Bad things happen all the time.
Climbing Back Up The Cliff With Broken Legs
I was truly financially devastated and, at the end of a very painful and emotionally intense chapter of my life, I was running on fumes.
I could have called it quits and fully complete the death spiral I was currently on (believe me I came close on more than one occasion).
But something kept a small spark going in me and that, coupled with the fact that I did not want to give my ex-wife any more satisfaction from seeing me fail, motivated me to pick myself up from the rubble and build anew.
I was about to turn 40 a month after my divorce was finalized.
I knew that I had to do something drastic that would allow me to retire at all, let alone early, as I was essentially starting from square one again.
Hitting Bottom And Rebounding
It was at this financial low point that I saw the financial light.
I developed a keen interest in personal finance, frequenting sites such the Bogleheads, and later Financial Samurai.
I would voraciously read through personal finance books that helped shed light on the financial mistakes I have made in the past so I would not repeat them in the future.
As I employed the tried and true methods championed by these personal finance giants, I not only saw my net worth grow to its pre-divorce levels, but I quickly saw it surpass it by leaps and bounds.
The best revenge on someone who has caused you harm is to show that person that, despite his or her best shot at you, you not only survived but are now flourishing.
Focused On My Personal Finances
I decided to throw all extra cash coming into my household to pay down what remaining debt I had, and became completely debt free April 2015.
I was especially proud of this achievement, as it was just a mere 4 years after I had just experienced my financial lowest point.
By following the principles of saving, living below your means, and avoiding lifestyle creep, I positioned myself to my current financial standing where many would say I have already achieved financial independence status at the age of 47.
I have shared a version of this story on my blog as part of my multipart series, “I Made Every Mistake In The Book” and have received so much love and support from that particular post that I thought others may receive similar benefit.
I therefore opened my platform for readers to share their divorce stories (anonymous or not) in the Divorce and Fire series I created.
Every participant has written back to me expressing the gratitude of being able to release something that he or she had been bottling up inside as well as from receiving encouraging words of support from other commentators.
Advice Before Getting Married
1) Be on the same financial page. It is of utmost importance to find a life long partner that has your same financial beliefs. If one is a saver and the other is a spender you will never make any financial headway, much like a colander will never fill with water despite how much you pour into it.
2) No shame in a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement should be strongly considered, especially if one partner is bringing in a disproportionate amount of assets into the marriage of if there are prior children involved (“blended marriage”).
3) Seek premarital financial counseling. Premarital financial counseling may help bring to light concerns from both parties that can be addressed prior to combining finances.
4) Do not cave into familial/cultural pressures. You are the one that will be living day to day with this person, not them. By trying to appease others like I did, you are putting your own emotional health at risk if you were forced into something you felt inside was wrong.
Know that even the picture-perfect couple likely has something going on with them. Take, for example, Mr. Money Mustache, an acclaimed personal finance blogger who has consistently written for years how his life was so awesome. He'd try and get on as many documentaries, tv shows, and article publications as possible to build a cult of followers.
Yet, behind closed doors, his marriage was falling apart and he announced a divorce. This was despite having a still highly impressionable pre-teen son. Please don't get fooled by all the curation of perfect lives you see online. They never tell the full story.
Thanks for reading. -Xrayvsn
Protect Your Wealth From Divorce
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Readers, anybody go through a contentious divorce? What are some lessons you've learned? What would you do over again besides never marrying that person? Is marriage overrated? Female perspectives more than welcome!
Related: The Cost Of Raising Many Children Isn't Just The Money
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83 thoughts on “A Divorce Ruined My Life, But I Clawed My Way Back”
Anyone here know what a Maglite is? You should look up what happened to the inventor of those flashlights. He didn’t marry the woman he was living with, but she sure managed to divorce rape him as if he had! The info is on the Internet.
Just another reason to not have a steady woman in your life whether you marry her or not. Take heed young men!
I got married at 24, divorced at 31, and the only way I managed to come out relatively unscathed is by opening a “Company” that deals in financial assets. On the day of our divorce I had 500k USD worth of shares belonging to a “Company” and not myself and thus saved myself from declaring them as they did not belong to “me”. I never saw a divorce coming but its always better to protect yourself since day one. Better a pre-nup and a trust that owns a company than years of pain and depression. If someone loves you, then will still love you prenup, trust and company included.
Remember the lawyers make more monry the longer it drags out. They have an incentive to keep it nasty and punitive and some are sociopathic and do not care about anything other than their bottom line. Try to find a lawyer who practices collaborative family law if you can. Of course a vindictive spouse is another beast in itself.
I want to share my story for those who believe that divorce and alimony only apply to men paying women. I am a female school teacher, and what they say about school teachers is true, we do not make impressive incomes. However, in my divorce case, I am paying ridiculous amounts every month in alimony for life, my pension, my supplemental account for working above contractual duties, my sick days, my life insurance, my annuities, a large lump sum as an “equalizing” payment….I am sure I have left something out. I don’t even get my share of his Social Security retirement. Our Family Law is outdated and punitive. The one with the most ruthless lawyer wins.
The more ruthless attorney absolutely wins regardless of facts in the case. The legal/judicial system makes a difficult situation exponentially worse.
Very true. Marriage has no upsides to it for a man. Generally, it’s a matter of status for women to be married and not feel “left out”. People change over the course of years and circumstances. For one party to continue receiving benefits just because a relationship was dissolved is ludicrous. It’s merely a means of transfer of wealth abetted by the illegal system. Debtor’s prisons were abolished but seems like they have found a way around it.
You are right in stating that the word contract should be added because interestingly your obligations don’t end after the dissolution of a relationship. There are rarely any penalties for a woman. A good way to keep your wealth is to keep it.
I am a female school teacher paying ridiculous amounts of alimony for LIFE, my pension, my supplemental account earned for working extra duties above those which are contractual, my life insurance, annuities, he even took my sick days.
The current legal system is outdated and punitive to those who have worked hard and awards those who have not. I had no agreement with my ex that he be a “stay at home” parent. He was just a complete mollusk and continues to be so even though we are divorced. For me it is not a gender issue. It is a moral issue. If you are a mentally and physically capable individual, it is your obligation to stand on your own two feet. We are an entitled culture and it is never so clearly depicted as it is in Family Court.
Anytime you hear the work marriage add the word contract to the end of it. Marriage by itself represents romanticised fantasy. When you say marriage contract then it is more apparent what marriage represents: a legal contract. This legal contract entitles a person with a vagina to take continuously take resources from a man without an obligation to provide anything in return. She can even sleep with other men if she wants to.
I am a female school teacher and am stuck paying ridiculous amounts for life! It is no longer a gender issue. My lovely ex-husband gets my pension, my life insurance, my supplemental account for working extra duties above contract, my sick days, a lump sum as an “equalizing” payment, and monthly alimony in ridiculous amounts with no end date.
Thoughts on Mr. Money mustache getting a divorce? It seems strange that for a guy who writes about intentional living and living his best life while being frugal but making millions of dollars and having financial freedom did nothing to save his marriage. It’s not like he had a stressful job or lacked finances. He’s always trying to get on TV and in the newspapers for more fame.
Now it seems like once he has gotten really rich and famous, he decided to divorce his wife similar to JD Roth and get rich slowly once he made millions selling his site.
Heartbreaking about MMM… Truly is. I’ve spend many years reading Pete’s work and am saddened to hear the direction the marriage ended up going. I remember recently reading that he left the house to her, and bought property nearby so that he can continue being close to his kid and living the frugal lifestyle. Just absolutely heartbreaking seeing the all-too-common scenario of men being kicked out of the family home.
But I will say this– as a 29 y/o single male… I realize my numerous shortcomings as a man. I am not better than MMM, Xrayvsn, or countless other great men that have gone through the grinder. Seriously, I am probably never going to be as patient, loving, caring, or any of those other traits as many great and wonderful men before me. I’m selfish and don’t care about anybody other than me. I AM NOT MARRIAGE MATERIAL. I’m honest about it. There is no way a woman will tolerate me long-term. But there is satisfaction in being honest with myself. I just like to be left alone and have the least amount of obligation as possible. I find beauty in simplicity.
That being said– if maybe a decade+ from now I think I’ve matured enough to have children, I see myself paying out of pocket for top-of-the-line genetics thru egg donation, and the rest being paid out for a surrogate. Similar to what Cristiano Ronaldo did to get his 2 boys. I know it’s not whats advocated generally, but again, I know my shortcomings and see exactly how it plays out for me long-term. I will learn from Xrayvsn, MMM, Jeff Bezos, and many other countless men and accept the objective reality that I AM NOT MARRIAGE MATERIAL.
Most divorces are due to finances, followed by infidelity. If Mr. MMM actual practiced what his preaches on his blog then they might have been living like well below their means. Mrs MMM may have gotten sick of the constant frugality for frugality sack and sent him packing ( most divorced are initiated by the wife fyi). If thats the case MR. MMM is more in love with himself than his family…… Or maybe someone was giving extra marital mustache rides
Thank you for sharing. I really needed this as I have felt I am the only one going through such a horrible divorce. My ex as used every strategy in the book including launching the atomic bomb in divorce proceedings.
I’m so sorry you are going through it. I wouldn’t want to wish my story on anyone (well made the opposing lawyer and my ex).
It was a terrible time in my life and even when it was over it took a long time to pick myself back up emotionally.
I wish you get to end this part of your life and start a new and happier chapter. Keep me posted and you always have someone to turn to because it really does help when someone lent me their ear.
Great question TexterJoe.
For the first 2 years after my divorce I did not want to have anything to do with the opposite sex. Didn’t date until a little over 2 years later as the wounds started to heal.
I have been in a very committed and great relationship, this time of my choosing, for 4 years and going strong. There has been no pressure from her end to get married during this time but it is something that I plan on doing in the future with her.
I get your sentiment about putting your hand in the fire twice but if you can get married to the right person I do think the sum is greater than the parts and nice to have someone in your corner for the rest of your life. This time because I have a daughter to consider as well, I will definitely have proper protection in place like a prenuptial etc.
Thanks for the comment
Keep those lawyers on retainer. You’ll need them again. Have you looked at the statistics on second marriages? As time goes you’ll be nearing retirement. If you think you won’t have to pay vaginamony after retirement, think again. They are all “not like the other woman” until they are.
Would you please stop being so disgusting, online and in your own mind. Do you think that women are not severely harmed by men? Is it possible for you to see us as people, equally deserving of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? When in doubt about any situation, try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Maybe then you will be unable to harbor and share such hatred, especially n such a crass way. We were raised to be better than this. Remember the golden rule? It applies to both men and women, sisters and brothers. Try harder, please. As things stand, you make of this world a more harsh place for women than it already is. Let’s work together to create a real civilization.
After seeing the reality of divorce pillaging, do you think you will marry again? I have not figured out why a guy sticks his hand into the fire TWICE. What does your current GF think about marriage? Any pressure?
I am so sorry you experienced this, Doc. Congratulations on bouncing back to an even greater financial position. I hope you and your daughter are thriving and wish you success, good health, and prosperity.
My hope is that readers will learn from your experience to protect themselves in marriage.
Good on you for not giving up!
Thank you for the kind words. It is sad, but I have already been contacted by 2 different Financial Samurai readers who are currently going through an eerily similar process as mine. Hopefully I was able to help them a little go through this awful process.
Thanks for posting. A heart-rending tale.
I had a friend staying this week who is going thru a divorce, in England, and is currently fighting in court over money. So much stress.
While there are no happy endings in divorce, the closest in my circle is a chap whose life philosophy is “never argue with anybody over money”. He was true to his word with his ex wife. He is far more positive, balanced and grounded over the whole experience than anybody else I’ve seen go thru it.
Prenup could have been helpful and would be worth considering for others contemplating a marriage in a similar situation even before earning a large amount of money with defined assets to protect prior to the marriage. In essence, your future earning potential is your largest asset that you can protect through the prenup. You can waive community property (electing personal property) so that your personal income stays separate. Very reasonable to do if at the time of the signing you are both residents with similar career aspirations. Not your fault if afterwards your spouse gets kicked out of their program. Additionally, you can waive alimony, although this can be a bit harder to enforce, especially if it is held to be unconscionable at the time it was enforced.
To do this both parties will need to have legal representation signing onto the prenup as well. However, I suspect that the no alimony clause with either hold up or lower the total amount/time of alimony if a family court were to intervene. Finally, you can stipulate an arbitration clause which is worth its weight in gold as this post illustrates, as the back and forth with lawyers can take up well over half of the total expenditures with divorce. I got married in between residency and first attending job to a dentist also in her early career. We are still happily married and the prenup was a good starting point for discussion. Stories like this really show why any high income professional should consider a prenup. We all have one, it’s just the one established by the state you live in unless you elect to do it yourself. I consider it “divorce insurance” and is well worth it considering the time and expense I put into getting my other insurance products (personal disability, homeowners, car, life etc) set up.
Wow excellent points. I wish I had known about them before I signed up for marriage. I just assumed that since I had no assets at the start of the marriage that everything I subsequently earned was fair game in a divorce
No one is really talking a out the gorilla in the room here. Thr unfair anti male alimony laws that favor gold digging females. Call me politicaly incorrect, but I will call like I see it. No real truths are ever expressed whilst worrying about other people’ s reactions. Power seems to be in the hand of women and some will abuse it to the max. No one really talks about this abuse of power that can have permanent psycological impact on the man. Isn’ t that mental abuse by women? All everyone wants to talk about these days is everything wrong with masculinity and the virtues of femininity as its in vouge to bash men. Anyway, I digress. A good woman can save you from destruction and a bad one can annihilate you.
Point of order here.
I’m female, I was the breadwinner and my spouse was like Xrayv’s, never did anything. I divorced when his relationship with my daughter started to get abusive. (Ours already was.) Mr Wonderful did everything he could to drag out the divorce, even insisting on the house so that my daughter never finished high school but got a GED. I had to go to a shelter because I was still paying all the bills and no money for an apartment, too. Talk about humiliating.
Working on my own FIRE, but I ended up with my retirement from 20 years’ work and the credit cards. Financially devastating, and by the way, I did not see anything preferential in my treatment because of my gender–although I was smart enough to have much lower lawyer bills than the other party.
Short reply: this happens to women, too. Narcissistic personalities come in either type of plumbing.
Wow. So sorry you had to go through that ordeal as well. You are right that the system can be abused by either gender.
If you have one party that is moral and abides by the law and the other that has no such moral compass you can be put through the ringer. I always find it amusing that the whole premise of the court is for everyone to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and make it seem as if this is actually what occurs when you place a hand on the bible.
Your story is one I would love to have featured on my blog if you are willing to write about it as this precisely why I created the Divorce and FIRE series to tell of harrowing tales of divorce that have people overcome that ordeal. I would be honored if you consider doing a post for me. If interested here is a rough outline that might help you formulate it (and feel free to do it your own way if you are so inclined):
The legal standard for a restraining order, which effectively seals the deal across the board — custody, support, asset allocation — for a man, is literally “has been exposed to verbal abuse.” In a country that supposedly protects parental rights at a fundamental, constitutional level is a fucking joke. The uniform act is unconstitutional and unconscionable. I suspect 20 years from now, absent change, divorce rates will surpass 70 percent. You have to me insane to get married as a man absent a prenup, even then youre still a moron for taking a risk so great. System is beyond broken, having been so captured by neo-feminist bullshit. I for one will stay the hell away from the opposite sex and commitment all together. Fleshlihht, virtual reality nation here we come.
Honestly, all the financial and investment advice out there cannot impact your wealth as much as marriage and relationship.
Just taking a step back from marriage, focusing only on friends. A lot of doctors have doctor friends. When we go out dinning with our friends, it is easily $150-$200 per couple. Then when the wives start talking about vacations, it’s less about the culture and the natural beauty, but more about which hotel or resort you stay at. Now you are pressured into the $500/night hotel instead of $150/night.
I really appreciate your perspective. I feel the FIRE community 99.9% small happily married family with a focused common goal to save aggressively and live frugally. That just does not represent the real world. In the real world people fall in love the the wrong person and spend every they have to make this girl happy. Or maybe he married an insecure vindictive wife and end up in a costly divorce – 50% of america. These are real life challenges to FIRE. We wish it is only as simple as saving 50% of you after tax income.
I hate to hear this story, but it is an all too common one. I went through something similar (although not nearly as bad). I am an attorney and so was my ex. One would think that as smart people, we might look at this rationally and not want to throw good money after bad, but that wasn’t the case. In reality, ours took nearly 2 years to resolve a large part of which involved the hiring of financial advisors to value our respective practices (which was a waste, because they were a wash), but that alone took about a year. In the end, our division was more favorable to me than I would have imagined – early on I was ready to part with some things just to get done, but because she pressed for 90% of our assets, we couldnt agree.
But things are much better on the other side. The one issue I grapple with now is whether to take on that next job that would be a substantial increase in income, if it means giving up some of the flexibility that I have at my current place (which means less time for kids soccer games, etc.). I am trying to figure out an ROI on that, but have not yet resolved it. . .
Sorry you went through a rough divorce as well. It sounds like we both had contentious people to deal with.
I’m glad we both found happiness on the other side of a very rough time.
Best of luck with your decision regarding different job or not. I know it can be a challenging decision. For me at this stage I choose family time over money but if you are just clawing your way back up it would be understandable to sacrifice some family time to earn more (just remember that that extra money comes in at your highest marginal tax rate so you don’t keep as much anyway after taxes)
Insane story mate! What’s interesting is that divorce, as much as it usually sucks, it’s the solution that can make life good again. I’ve been in a few long term relationships that almost ended up in marriage and somehow, through the grace of god, I was able to dodge that bullet. The truth of the matter is that very very few of us, including myself, are mature and emotionally stable enough to succeed at marriage and, most importantly, to enjoy it. Love your work, yourself, your friends, your family, your life FIRST and then maybe consider marriage if it makes all those things better.
Its sad and good to know how you traveled thru these Ups and downs. These days, Everyone is behind the money, Success, power rather than virtues. Congrats for establishing and making it yourself higher even after such a big headache..Fortunately your career/profession and most of these days careers like Engineers gives back lot of opportunities to come back and succeed
Divorce is still stigmatized, which is why what you wrote is such a gift. Indeed there are many people going through this nightmare who have nowhere to turn for guidance. Mental illness is another one. Now combine the two. Unfortunately in the early stages it is easier for a high functioning ill person to act like a parasite and feed on its host, with the courts and dysfunctional legal system enabling this. Combine with that the fact that it is harder than ever to make someone who is ill get the help they need. They can drag everyone into the abyss well before it becomes clear to everyone involved.
Remember people — it is a contract, easy to get into, hard to get out of. Should be the reverse. And the difficult legal process — that is truly criminal. Watching the lawyers enable each other to pad their hours, with the judge seemingly in on it as well. Continuances and all manner of process meant to extend the process. All the while who suffers? The children. The wronged spouse.
Young blockchain entrepeneurs — here’s an idea — reimagine marriage. Create smart contracts that manage this in a humane empathetic way that prevents this type of manipulation. The current system is broken.
Good on you Xray that you had the strength to persevere and ultimately triumph. You are a wonderful role model for your children.
This comment epitomizes what I felt during and after the process. Every part of the legal system looked to grab what it could from me and it almost encourages shady lawyers to just create frivolous allegations just to increase billable time.
Holy crap! That’s pretty bad. What doesn’t kill you makes you more resilient, right?
Good job fighting back from that. It sounds like a terrible situation to be in.
It was painful, but it’s worth it for your daughter to have a better environment.
Needless to say, don’t repeat this mistake again. ;)
Best wishes to you and your daughter.
Thanks for the wishes. Yes, I am far stronger now than I have ever been in my life with a lot of battle scars to prove it. Definitely worth fighting to get my daughter back, but in my opinion it was way too long before 3rd parties could accept that what I had been telling was the truth from the beginning. I feel that there is still a court sentiment that favors the mother in all custody cases and puts the dad always behind the 8 ball.
A great example of how you conquered adversity! And it’s also amazing how you took the topic of divorce to help others in your series. I’m very familiar with the culture you speak of and although parents are starting to ease up a bit, there continue to be cases where marriages fail because of a lack of initial understanding.
Thank you so much for the kind words. It really had to do with how much support and kind comments I received when I started my blog out with my own failures (which included the divorce) that I thought there have got to be other people that would like to share their story and help those in similar situations.
Even though I’ve read your story on your blog, I’m still suprised you pull a 180. It must have been incredibly stressful and not only did you survive, you thrived and lived to tell the tale. Amazing! Is your ex wife aware of your online presence? Is she functioning better now? How’s your daughter doing these days?
Thanks for the kind words. Yeah it was the worst period of my life and lasted for a couple of years. It was really the help of close friends and actually immersing myself in work that allowed me to keep myself distracted from it.
I’m not sure about my ex-wife. We do not communicate with the exception of an occasional call to my daughter which I just hand the phone over to and monitor it.
My daughter is doing great, she seems to have even more resilience than I did and she is doing well in school (8th grade) and has made a lot of friends here.
You were very brave for finally putting an end to the marriage even though it costed you to go into debt. I grew up with Asian parents who were also arranged and unhappily married and it wasn’t a pleasant environment. You made the right choice for your daughter and thanks for sharing your story!
Thank you for the kind words.
I agree that I think you end up doing more damage to the kids by sticking in an unhappy marriage. Arranged marriage is a custom that I do hope dies out with the older generations
In your list, your wife only ended up with ~300k, while the lawyers got 400k, and 151k went to your daughter’s care for 6 years. She actually didn’t walk away with much for 8 years of marriage (less than 40k per year). Was she employed at the time of your divorce? I imagine she probably had a difficult life after the divorce, 300k doesn’t go very far if she had to find a job after getting kicked out of medicine. Does she love your child and still see her?
Thanks for sharing your story, and sorry about the difficulties you had to go through.
Thank you for the sentiment.
She was not working at the time of divorce (even till the end she was trying to get back into any residency that would have her).
She ended up moving back to England with my daughter and for about 6 years I didn’t have any contact with either. Finally she deteriorated so bad her issues became obvious to the casual observer and I was able to win back my daughter with full custody.
She has supervised visits in summer (she stays with the maternal grandmother when she’s there) for 4 wks. Otherwise it is weekly phone calls which I supervise as well.
I agree that the only people that really walked away with a lot were the lawyers from the divorce on both sides.
Obviously i feel she deserves the financial situation she put herself into and if I had to choose I rather the lawyers benefit than her.
I’m also fairly certain what money she walked away with was lost quickly when she hired the divorce attorney AND a second attorney to go through with a civil lawsuit against me (she wanted jury trial and 4 million in damages). After the 1 wk trial she was awarded $0. It cost me $125k to defend legally so I’m sure it cost her way more and luckily I didn’t have to pay her attorney fees this time.
Oh man, so sorry to hear you weren’t able to see your daughter for 6 years!
I hope she and everybody involved, including your ex-wife has recovered and found strength and love again
I obviously know nothing about the whole situation, but from what you wrote perhaps she was mentally ill rather than just a bad person, and perhaps needed a little compassion as well? Wish you all the best, including her.
I would wish the mother of my child to have a decent life even if our relationship was a mistake from the start and miserable.
Hey Joe, without going into too much detail you hit the nail on the head. That was how I won my daughter back after 6 yrs when she was deteriorating even more and then became obvious to the lay person and not just me.
Honestly I can never forgive the opposing parties involved in this proceeding and that was just because I was put through the ringer and had my reputation tarnished. A bigger man may wish her to have a decent life, but that is something that I cannot ever bring myself to do.
Dude, I was in the same boat.
Thanks for sharing the story.
I’m an Indian American (born here).
I met my first wife in college – she is from Sri Lanka (came here when she was 11).
She never got along with my parents and family from the start.
Both sides of parents pushed our marriage and we did the ceremonies “their way” right out of college (Hindu and Catholic weddings). They didn’t believe that she should of lived together and it was sinful.
Fast forward 8 years from our marriage… divorce.
We have 3 kids together.
I’m now happily married to a woman from Thailand and have two kids (now 4.5). She is totally different than my first wife – way better – doesn’t gossip, compare themselves with others, worry about image/status, talk too much, any of that shi*.
My first wife and I have been divorced 12 years now.
We maintained joint custody (the kids were 8, 6, 4 when we were divorced) and between the houses.
At the time of divorce, I kept the primary house, “bought her out” and was totally underwater (OMG).
I became “hungry”, and really made my way back financially and am doing awesome now.
The hunger was due to the love of the kids and needing to support everyone.
Good luck, bro, and don’t get burned again!
Would you say that despite the divorce, you feel blessed because you have 5 kids, and would do it again? Or is that the wrong read? Thanks
Absolutely, it was my 3 wonderful kids that kept me going to be in a financial superior position where I am now – they drove me to get back up when I was 6 feet under and now am soaring the skies. It wasn’t easy. I had to do unorthodox things (“I was hungry”) to get to where I am.
So, I did do it again (married and had kids). I’m blessed with my new wife (who doesn’t complain and fit the profile of a woman who is never satisfied) and my youngest two kids (twins).
I really did a 180.
Thanks for allowing the guest reader to publish, and great article.
It’s very important for people to understand how quickly things could go sideways (financially) and there could be light at the end of the tunnel (if you really work hard to recover)!
Thank you for the kind words as well as sharing your story too. Thrilled that you were able to pick yourself up again and create a wonderful life with the right person (the right person makes all the difference in the world and I feel the single most important decision financially and emotionally an individual can make).
Thanks for the story.
Aside from a prenup, are there other legal or financial things that can protect what happened to you? For example, would an umbrella policy cover the civil suit for emotional distress and its legal charges?
No. The principal of insurance is to cover for fortuitous events (aka happening by accident or chance rather than design). Marriage is intentional, a civil contract for the meeting of minds, like any other legally binding contract. Just like going into business with a partner.
I am amazed by this story and these calculations.
Question for Xrayvsn: If you were to do it all over again, knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently (if anything)? I see your advice for before getting married, but how about any thoughts on better ways to go through the process? I’m not asking for personal interest – ha! – just curious if you have any other lessons learned.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the comment. Unfortunately a prenuptial would not have had much of a difference in my particular case as I married before I started making the “big bucks” and really had no assets to speak of (I was a homeowner but the bank really owned it).
If I had to do it all over again I would go with my gut feeling and not cave into familial pressures (easier said than done in some cultures). In the end I rather have my family “upset” with my choice and me happy (again even if I chose its not a given that it ends up being a success given the divorce rate of non cultural marriages) than the other way around.
I also should have stuck to the original plan of her going back to London and seeing if it works out rather than put on the spot then and there (in my mind if she had gone back to London I would highly doubt I would have proceeds with the marriage).
Thanks for reading my story
In retrospect, is your family sorry for pressuring you into marrying her? And you think they would never have pressured you if they knew what would have transpired?
What do you think is the reason why some cultures aren’t willing to let their children find love for themselves? How bad is it if you found someone outside of your own race and culture? And if it is bad, why is that if there is love?
My mother never formally said she was sorry after all the events transpired. She did see the damage first hand as well and got drawn into the court proceedings and aftermath.
I have never really forgiven all parties involved and my relationship with my mother is tenuous at best.
In her mind she still thinks arranged marriage is the way to go and this was an outlier result. She even has gone so much to suggest other Indian women which I have not shown in trjong this again.
I am in a long term relationship with a wonderful woman (from South Korea) and despite me being the happiest I’ve ever been my mom still has made it difficult for both of us using subtle and not so subtle attempts to drive us apart.
I can’t speak too much on why some cultures are adamant on continuing this practice. It smacks of racism thinking no race can be as worthy as your own (which I clearly don’t feel).
Fortunately this sentiment is falling by the wayside as younger generations are letting this aspect die away.
Given your situation after all this, if there’s still no acknowledgement of wrongdoing on your family’s part, I would cut off all contact with them. It would be better for you and certainly better for your daughter. It saddens me when people take a bullet “for the family” in a way that makes them miserable, broke or alone.
Being a Canadian living in South Korea – I’m curious if her folks are alright with you two either (if you don’t mind telling us). Koreans also have a similar concept of racial superiority/purity (민족) and generally consider marrying a non-Korean as sort of a ‘plan B’ or alternative lifestyle, especially a non-white non-Korean. There’s definitely some families out there that would let their kids know it is not an option. Just wondering if you’ve come up against anything like that?
PS: I am checking your site out now. IMHO you should think about cleaning up the menu categories and simplifying the color palette. Just my uninvited 2 cents!
Thanks for the comment. She actually was adopted so there was no such cultural issues about me from her end. But I agree, that Asian cultures do have a lot of familial pressures placed on their kids and it is hard to break free from that.
Terrific – thanks again for sharing this personal story of yours. Take care!
WOW! I applaud you for standing up to your Ex and your mom. I went thru a terrible divorce after 20 years because I inherited wealth I didn’t know was coming. I also have a neurological disease that made it easier for him to take that Harley and go. I would never have married him in the first place except my parents insisted on a marriage with him. He fit their profile. He was nice to me. He was nice to my son.
After the parents died, he got his pay and was gone. nearly 1/2 of my inheritance.
I feel better knowing that someone else pleased the parents and met society’s pressure of what and who you should love. And most of all I am so happy that your recovering all the happiness and peace you deserve.
I too share my life now with a South Korean man. We weren’t allowed to marry 38 years ago it was taboo. I’m too old to get the wealth back I think. But the peace and the love are great.
I appreciate you sharing some of your story too and sorry you got taken advantaged of like I did.
I was under the assumption that if you inherit something, it goes to you even if you are married at the time and is not considered a marital asset. Is that not the case?
I am glad you did eventually find happiness as well. Peace and Love trumps wealth.
In the state where I live, you must keep any inheritance separated or not in joint accounts. If you’ve been with someone for 25 years, and married 20 of those without a “problem” then the assets get mixed from the last 5 years because of “I’ve always wanted a Harley.” “I always wanted a bass boat.” “I really would like to have some rental property.” and the best is when you sell your small, sweet 7 acre farm in the mountains that you built yourself, to help your husband who is getting close to retirement, be closer to “civilization.” LOL…We give not counting our costs at the time out of the “act of love”. And it is good. Love is a verb. as in arranged marriages that do exist among people we grow into the action. We miss the reaction. I was busy nursing dying parents, I compensated for my being gone. I wanted to please. I wanted to be loved even though the MS was taking my body. Its not a matter of law. Its what happens in life. Out of all that was lost, my farm I miss most. The mountains changing colors, the coolness in the evenings, the goats, and chickens and horses. I was so at peace. I always knew nothing that good could last. But for a while, I had heaven on earth. I will let that carry me for now.
I see this story a lot on the No More Mr. Nice Guy forums. I asked Dr. Glover a long time ago if he worked with Indian people and he said he is in Seattle (at the time, now he lives half in Mexico) and with Boeing and Intel there, it is full of Indian folks. He said because of prearranged marriages, Indian men never learned these skills of dealing with women. Part of the reason I spend so much time helping folks on the No More Mr. Nice Guy forum is to prevent this from happening to them, because there are more married guys on that forum for whom this has happened to.
I am not privy to the details of the situation, so certainly I would not doubt your side of the story. However as a devil’s advocate, if prenup would not have help your situation, since “the big bucks” came after you were married, splitting would seem fair, would it not? During that time, your ex-wife contributed 8 years of her youth that she can never get back.
I sympathize with you on taking a massive financial hit, in additional to any emotional pain and suffering. At the end of the day, divorce is a situation where everyone losses, including your ex-wife.
Perhaps I am naive in my thinking, as I am not yet married. But I hope you’ve found peace, now that you are happily in a long term relationship with someone you love.
Appreciate the comment and yes I am happy now in a loving long term relationship.
As far as the splitting seemed fair in this situation I am going to play devil’s advocate to your devil’s advocate.
Say you worked hard, sacrificed your youth while others partied, didn’t go out and delayed your gratification for a decade or so. Then before all that hard work/labor bears fruit, you decide to get married. That person did absolutely nothing in the marriage (my ex did not cook, take care of kid, etc by the way). And the reason the marriage lasted so long was because of a child. Then the money starts rolling in from your hard work/sacrifice for over a decade before you married. Now you divorce, do you feel that your ex deserved the results of your labor from decades before of sacrifice?
It is not like she helped me with my career in medicine, or sacrificed her life so I could get my MD (which I know some couples have done that, and one partner gets the MD and then files for divorce, I completely feel that the non-MD spouse deserves 1/2 because of the sacrifices made during that doctor’s training). My ex in essence came in at the last possible moment and then enjoyed the fruits of my sacrifice. That is a tough pill to swallow and even then I would be ok if she didn’t make a spectacle out of the whole thing and tried to squeeze every last drop (the lawyers got rich, neither of us did).
Therefore it actually brings me great pleasure knowing that she has pretty much lost whatever she has gained from the divorce when she tried to go for even more with the civil lawsuit (asked for $4 million in damages, got $0). I thankfully didn’t have to pay for her legal fees during that fiasco and given that she had 2 attorneys working on the case and it was a 1 wk jury trial as well as a couple of years of prep, it couldn’t have been cheap (just my 1 lawyer got $125k from me and my defense).
It certainly sounds like the marriage did not work out for you two. If I were in your shoes, I’d be quite upset as well if the marriage did not meet the expectation brewed into us by friends, family, parents, or society as a whole.
Thank you for being open and shared your story with us all. I will take your advice to heart as I plan my own wedding and life after.
Interesting story and congratulations.
However, you know; the financial effects of divorced are talked about in the “manosphere” part of the internet like the redpill forum which got quarantined from reddit previously all of the time. There’s plenty of information on how to avoid financial ruin from a divorce if you look properly, even if you just went to lawyers sooner perhaps.
Once again congrats and take care.
Sam, you might want to put “Guest Post” in the title. I was worried for a split-second!
Thanks for sharing your story and being so open and honest about your experience. Divorce can really bring out the worst in people as I witnessed when my parents split. My dad continues to say to this day that my mom got everything but has let go of his ill feelings (I think!). In the end it was good they got divorced and moved on with their lives.
Sorry you had such a difficult marriage and even harder divorce. So glad you were able to bounce back and improve your life and get happy again!
Most people lack the clear reason you had for getting divorced and most people do not bounce back the way you did.
Wow, thanks for sharing your harrowing tale. It really sounds like your divorce put you through the ringer. All that time spent in an unhappy marriage really can take a toll on a person.
I’m glad to hear you turned your financial low point into a high point in what seems like no time at all. In times of intense pain or stress, I try to remind myself you need to know the valleys in order to appreciate the mountains.
Thank you Young and The Invested. You are correct that you don’t appreciate the highs without the lows (although I don’t think I would advise anyone to feel the lows I did in order to appreciate the highs I have now).
When I got married 18 years ago my wife’s grandfather said, “Marriage is the hardest thing you’ll ever do – and the best.”
I think he’s right if – and this is a major caveat and a real thread throughout this painful story – you select the right partner.
Thanks for sharing your story.
This is where personal life is more important than personal finance. There is truth behind the old joke: why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it.
That truly is a scary story but it is obvious you are a much wiser and stronger man now. None of us really know the person we marry until it is too late. Some, like me are blessed but for others it is a curse. I’m glad you made it through and are willing to share the lessons you’ve learned.
Thanks Steveark. If you marry the right person it really turbocharges everything as you have two people with common goals that can be each other’s support system and sounding board. Unfortunately given the divorce rate we have in this country, it seems to be a coin flip if you marry well or not.
I’m of Indian desecnt so I know many people who have gotten married this way. I’m also a major contributor to the No More Mr. Nice Guy forum (based on book from Dr. Glover) and can see how these unresolved issues cause marriage disaster. For me, I’m glad I found that resource when I was young and single so I could marry better.
Thanks Sam for sharing my story to a much larger audience then I could have hoped to achieve.
Hopefully any one in a similar situation can have solace that although things feel like they are crashing down there can be light at the end of the tunnel.
Wow Doc. It’s so amazing that you bounced back so strong from something like that. Your story shows that it’s never over, you can always turn the ship around.
Thank you Dave. Yes, I was fortunate to be in a profession that allowed me to right the financial ship relatively quickly. The emotional ship took a little longer to right, but now that looks on course as well :)