Divorce is an unfortunate reality of MLC marriage. Most of you who come to this site come here because you do not want a divorce and it is my goal to help Standers. But I don’t want to lead you on; divorce happens and it may happen to you. I don’t like that and of course you don’t like it; you don’t want to hear/read it; you don’t want to think it…and truth be told, you don’t want to face it. Me neither, but sorry, that’s tough; we need to face it as a possibility.
I am not going to ask or advise you to prepare for divorce. Or rather, I am not going to ask you to act with that as your motive. But the great thing about Standing and Mirror-Work is that the things you need to do to save your marriage are the same things you need to do if you choose not to Stand and they are the same things you need to do to protect yourself—Standing or not. So a checklist for what you need to do to protect yourself financially can be preparing to divorce if that is your intention, but your motives may be to assist your Stand rather than being anything to do with divorce. Same actions; different intentions. Financial protection is for both of you. By avoiding financial ruin yourself and possibly curbing your MLCer’s spending you could be preventing your own future resentment and giving your MLCer greater financial stability to return to.
Financial Protection Checklists
This site is a resource for Standers. I have tried to arm you with information about MLC in order to help you understand your spouse’s crisis, now I want to arm you with some basic information to enable you to initiate the process of protecting yourself; you must be your own advocate. I don’t want to give you an exhaustive list of the important things to do in order to protect yourself because exhaustive lists become…well, they become exhaustive and many will just skip over them or become overwhelmed. But I do think it important to provide a short starter checklist. What you can and cannot do legally varies worldwide and this is a global forum. The recommendations are considerations which may not apply to your situation or they may not be possible legally in your area. Consult an attorney to learn your rights and what you need to do to protect yourself, your finances and by doing those things you will also be protecting your marriage for reconciliation.
The first checklist was posted at the forum by Ready2Transform. I compiled the second list from moderator suggestions and a variety of websites.
Financial Protection: Questions to Ask Yourself
- Is my spouse contributing to mortgage/rent willingly?
- Is my spouse contributing to the support of the children willingly?
- Do I have transportation?
- Has my ability to provide basic needs like food/utilities/school expenses for the kids changed?
- Do I have my own bank account, or am I totally dependent on a joint account that I could lose access to?
- Do I have my own means of taking care of phone/insurance and should those suddenly be revoked?
- Is my spouse accruing debts that are also my legal responsibility, but not to my benefit?
- What’s my career status and what needs to happen to earn a wage that would cover all of this?
Should I to return to school so that I will have the ability to support myself and my family?
- What’s my base level monthly incoming/outgoing, with and without my spouse?
Financial Protection: Things To Do
- Consult with an attorney to learn your rights and what you need to do. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation.
- Open your own checking and savings accounts. Consider using these as your main accounts or at least start putting money into them.
- Open your own credit card accounts. Consider freezing joint credit card accounts to avoid being responsible for MLCer spending. (This may not protect you if Community Property is the law).
- List all known assets, liabilities, real estate holdings, and business interests
- Gather important documents: financial, assets, debts, income…
- Monitor your credit reports and shared bank accounts and credit cards for inconsistencies; continue to monitor these throughout the crisis
- Do you need to update your will and insurance policies? Maybe not now, but keep this in mind.
- Separate your Internet connections: stop using and close shared accounts; credit cards are often linked to these accounts for easy purchasing.
- Stop sharing gadgets
You are afraid of what your MLCer will think and do if you take action to protect yourself—like getting an attorney or removing their name or yours from shared credit cards. Do you fear your MLCer will Monster even if you express the idea that you need financial protection. Will they become angry and lash out at you? Will it shock them and they will fear losing you and lose their own secret hope of a return? These are some of the basic fears that keep LBSs from protecting themselves; they don’t want to upset their MLCer even more.
Fear drives a lot of LBS actions and inactions. MLCers are unpredictable and you need to do what is best for you and it is impossible for what is best for you to be bad for your Stand. Some LBSs are afraid to detach because of how their MLCer might react. Not detaching is bad for your Stand. How can failing to protect yourself be good for you?
Chuck Monstered when I mentioned I would get my own lawyer. I told him I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s how these things work. There are some things that your MLCer will force you to respond to—such as divorce action. Complete inaction in such an event just gets you divorced without getting a say about what you will leave the marriage with—like shelter, your children… I know this is scary—really, I do and I know that many of you just aren’t ready to take protective action and nothing anyone says will change that; only experience will change it and you will do what you must when you are ready. I get that and accept it, but some of you will read this and be ready to take action and for those not ready, maybe you will come back to this when you are ready. Protecting yourself is part of empowering yourself and Standers need their power.
Divorce Quickly OR Drag It Out
I’ve said it before and will repeat myself: Standing is risky. Standing and being divorced are not mutually exclusive. Standing and initiating a divorce are not mutually exclusive. You can Stand during and after divorce even if technically you were the one to file. Please don’t take those words and twist them; in no way am I saying you should file for divorce. But it is important that you know what you are getting in to when you choose to Stand. Many Left Behind Spouses who are several years past Bomb Drop have determined that in the beginning when an MLCer is both feeling guilty and desperate to escape they may be more inclined to offer and sign a fair and equitable settlement, giving you financial protection with little argument. Waiting a few years into the crisis may see a dissipation of guilt or a greedy and pressuring alienator and they will fight more, increasing the conflict and contentiousness of the divorce proceedings which results in a higher court and attorney fees as well as you receiving a less equitable settlement—many will not care about your financial protection when deep in Replay and Angry Monster.
Standing is risky.
What I don’t know is how common it is for divorce to create a psychological barrier to reconciliation—for LBSs and MLCers alike. Personally I believe reconciliation is more possible if the Standing spouse maintains an open line of communication regarding their Stand (overtly or covertly communicating their Stand) so that an MLCer who becomes interested in returning senses that the door is open. If you choose to Stand and divorce quickly—because you respond to divorce action or initiate it—are you risking a greater chance at reconciliation? If you choose to not divorce quickly—by not filing or contesting to drag things out—are you risking your financial protection and loss of shared marital assets?
Standing is risky.
If legal separation is an option in your area, that may provide you with the financial protection you need while avoiding a divorce. Does that mean I advise it? No; I advise you to consider your situation dynamics, what your MLCer is providing and what you need along with what you are ready and willing to do.
Chuck filed for divorce a few months after Bomb Drop—soon for an MLCer. He stopped that legal process even faster and from then on neither of us took any legal action regarding our marriage. He did not go MLC crazy regarding finances, so I felt secure in my financial protection. As a Clinging Boomerang who very much wanted my approval and to be in my life I did not want to scare Chuck into believing I was not Standing which could thereby lead him to throw it all away in despair and become fiscally irresponsible. The danger of course is that many of you assume that your MLCer will be like Chuck and so you take the risk that I did. It will pay off for some of you and for others you will lose big. And I still did a few things to protect myself. I got a lawyer before he filed for divorce because I knew it was coming and needed to learn what I would need to do in response and I opened a savings account in my name only; my checking account was already in my name only. He did not learn about the account for a few years, so there was nothing for him to Monster about. He was upset when I said we were not going to share a lawyer; he Monstered at me and I hung up on him and did it anyway. Being upset that I was getting my own lawyer seemed to me one of those absurd things MLCers complain about that make no sense and to be honest, I gave his anger no thought other than to shake my head in bewilderment.
Yes, Standing is risky, but doing nothing in the name of your Stand is more risky.