Ben and Clare were married for 18 years. Their daughter, a high school student, was 17 years old. Ben was a contractor who had made quite a good living until two years ago when the economy tanked. Before that Clare had occasional part time jobs and she volunteered for several charities. The glue that held this marriage together was Ben’s ability to support the family. When that started unraveling, so did the marriage.
When they first met with me, Ben had been working as a handyman at close to minimum wage for the past year and a half. Clare has been working as an executive assistant for the owner of a mid-sized company for two years. She had already received 3 raises and was making more than twice Ben’s take-home pay.
Ben and Clare owned a 2 family house. They rented out one apartment and lived in the other with their daughter. Clare moved out several months before they called me. Their daughter was in her last year of high school and intended to go to a local community college after graduation.
Their situation reminded me of the 1977 song by Billy Joel, Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”
“They started to fight when the money got tight… And they just didn’t count on the tears”..
Ben and Clare chose to settle their divorce-related issues through mediation. With my help, and their efforts, they put aside their negative feelings of anger and frustration to focus on deciding on a fair settlement. Also, they asked a divorce financial planner to help. He figured out a fair plan to save taxes and leave more money for the family to live on.
Billy Joel’s song ends with:
“they got a divorce as a matter of course,
And they parted the closest of friends”.
Neither Ben nor Clare would say that they “…parted the closest of friends”.
But they attended their daughter’s graduation together without fighting.
They were also able to celebrate with her when she got engaged to a classmate.
No doubt they will be able to enjoy her wedding and, perhaps, even walk her down the aisle together…..an unlikely result had they litigated.