As I was going through my separation, I recall a conversation I had with a young co-worker. She was 27 years old, an art student, and she’d been divorced for one year. Her marriage had lasted five years. During the bulk of it, both she and her husband had been students. She told me grandly that she didn’t believe in any woman asking for alimony or asking for anything from her ex. She had left her marriage with nothing, and she felt that all women should do the same.
I looked at her astounded, saying, “I am only asking for 50%, nothing more and nothing less.” I wasn’t even asking for alimony. In fact, at the time, 50% of my salary went to Bob; while only a small portion of his much more considerable earnings supported me. I remember this young lady quarreling with me and disagreeing to such an extent that I felt defensive. After that one conversation, I let the matter drop. My energy was limited, and I needed to preserve my wits for more important things.
During the years, I have not forgotten her statements, and have pondered over them often.
I might have agreed with her had Bob and I divorced after five years. He and I were students well through our thirties. We had purchased a house, but its proceeds went towards paying off our education. We were living in apartments filled with second hand furniture. Our cars were old and rattly, and we hardly owned anything more than the clothes off our backs.
After five years, I would have still been 29 and going to school. In addition, I would have had no trouble finding a well paying job soon after my education. I also would have had no trouble dating, being the gregarious, sociable sort. Plus, so many men I knew during that period were still single. In my fifties, the reverse is true.
Flash forward 21 years. I had been out of the job market for a considerable amount of time, supporting my husband’s career rather than my own. We owned a house, a vacation spot, an expensive boat, three cars, stocks, bonds, pensions, IRAs, and insurance policies. We had accumulated 26 years of memories and STUFF.
Dividing one’s possessions is never easy, not when emotions are involved. But I suppose, the separation of our combined assets would have been much easier after five years of relative poverty. After 26 years, we were faced with the prospect of dividing a considerable amount of accumulated “wealth”.
It’s all a matter of time and perspective, isn’t it? Just don't let anyone talk you out of what you know to be right for your situation. When the time comes to divide up your property, you will need to hang tough.
Here's some advice about dividing your assets:
Dividing Assets: Who Gets What Where
Divorce: How to Get it Right and Get on With Your Life