The Educated Divorcee
It was suggested recently to me by a friend that my blog needs to be more educational. Emphatically suggested. This was in response to her encounter with a woman who just obtained her third divorce and unfortunately was not aware that if you are married longer than ten years you are entitled to some of your ex's social security. Even more unfortunately for this woman, she signed her divorce papers ("divorcing a DOCTOR no less!") nine years, eleven months and three weeks after her marriage date.
My friend could not believe the tragedy of the situation. I will withhold my own judgment here, but I think there could be some far more serious things to be stressing over around this matter.
The purpose of my blog is not to be educational in the sense of "how to get a better divorce," a fact that seems completely lost on my friend. I am against the current system of no fault divorce and the purpose of my blog is to bring to light some of the issues that surround it and to share my experiences in going through it.
I am not an accountant, (which is partly why X divorced me in the first place, ha ha) nor am I a tax adviser or financial planner, although I can be pretty savvy when it comes to money, contracts and reading the fine print. I am also very skilled at writing strongly worded letters when the need arises, but I digress.
I had an inkling that my boyfriend was going to pop the question. One reason was that as a 51 year old woman, I felt stupid saying "boyfriend" in the first place and I had told him so. I had also already bought a wedding dress. But I digress.
I had done my research and discovered that because my marriage to X was 26 years, I would be entitled to half his social security benefits. This of course, subject to all the blah blah governmental rules and regulations, schedule Es and Form 2910s. (I made that part up.) One of the rules is that you cannot remarry. I knew that rule when I said yes to the proposal that October morning, but some of you readers might not have known about it, so look, more education!
Again, to be clear, if I remarry I cannot receive any of X's social security benefits.
Assuming X works another ten to fifteen years, that adds up to some nice accumulation. If he remarries, his new wife will benefit from those years, by osmosis. That I am sure they are well aware of, since X indeed had found his greener grass with an actual accountant.
Of course, I will probably benefit from my fiance's years of social security accumulation too, so the whole point is moot anyway!
A few nights ago, when my friend called to tell me this terribly sad cautionary tale of the woman almost married long enough, she assumed that I did not know the social security rules. She went on to urge me to call the wedding off because I really deserved that money. Why couldn't I have a commitment ceremony instead, just not make it legal?
I considered that for about, oh, two seconds. And I would be lying if I said I definitely didn't weigh it before the proposal a few months ago.
Later in my life, that extra social security money could really be important to me. It could mean the difference between store brand or actual Depends. It could mean that I wouldn't have to eat all my dinners out before 5:00pm to get the early bird specials. On the upside, I'll get the married discount again on my car insurance. Seriously though, options chosen out of fear or greed probably aren't the right ones anyway.
To me, to wait for that money would also mean that I caved in to a system that I never agreed with. What? I am not going to move on with my life in the way that I feel is most authentic to me so I can get some extra money? Yeah, right. That isn't me at all.
I compromised my principles already in being forced into a divorce in the first place. I was 100% against it. No fault divorce does make it easy for couples who agree that their marriage is over and want to move on quickly and cheaply. It is not a fair option for couples where one partner is completely against divorce. I don't have statistics, but I would bet that typically, the person against it is usually the woman. I believe that no fault divorce laws hurt women disproportionately. There are plenty of things about a marriage that can't be quantified during the settlement process.
Here is something that I do hope is educational. This is important. You attract what you are, you attract what you are putting out there into the world.
I was still in a heart centered space during the divorce, for the most part. I had a hard time getting with the typical divorce mentality of trying to stick it to the other side, mainly because I had difficulty in approaching my marriage as being "sides" in the first place. I actually even tried to help X a few times, but the wall was too high. My attorney did drag me swinging into the ring eventually, but I didn't stay stuck there. I believe that because I stayed true to myself, I was able to connect with a loving, couple oriented and compassionate human being and together we are truly a team.
Am I only in love with the idea of being married? No. I believe I finally found someone who sees marriage the same way I do. In many ways, yes, it is just a piece of paper, especially for a couple with a connection as rich as ours. However, I also feel that a true marriage partnership is possible and beautiful and if he and I can be an inspiration in a world full of division, I am happy to make a stand for it. Especially for my children and his to see that love really is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
This is a personal choice and I am not judging anyone who chooses a different path either into or out of couple hood. Everyone must make the choices that are right for them.
Getting a divorce: Thou$ands of dollars.
Starting www.RillPOWER.com: $100.
Celebrating an engagement with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot: $75.