Believe what you will, but I’m telling the truth. This is my story about marital debt:
When I got divorced in February 2012, I was in a situation that many divorced people find themselves: the final judgement assigned over $10,000 of credit card debt to me, along with my fair share of marital assets. It’s in moments like these when you reconsider your decision to abandon your career aspirations in order to raise and home-educate your children.
Having a 25-year-old business degree and absolutely no work experience for the past 21 years doesn’t bode well for immediate job opportunities, if you know what I mean. I looked around for jobs for about a week. I completed at least 25 applications and went to 10 interviews.
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At the time, I thought it would be fun to be a waitress. After all, I cooked and served meals for 20 years as a stay-a-home wife and mother. I thought I was qualified. Hiring managers at the restaurants near my house did not agree with me on that – not at all. Seriously. No restaurant was willing to hire me since I did not have any experience.
But something had to give in order to get that marital debt paid off.
It wasn’t like I was going to be making enough money to be paying down huge chunks of debt in any meaningful way. I considered asking my parents, but that would be an absolute last resort. I created the mess I was in, and it was my responsibility to clean it up myself.
As I went over some of the small accounts the court awarded to me and spoke with a certified financial planner, I found that several were really bad investments. Most were whole-life policies that we bought as a young married couple. At the time, we were trying to be financially wise and provide for our young family. We paid premiums for years, and it was only after my divorce that I learned they were not a great investment for us at all. So I cashed them in.
As it happened, the cash values were just enough to cover all of the marital debt. I couldn't believe it!
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Obviously, this is not normally the case for many women in the wake of divorce. Many of my friends who have gotten divorced have been saddled with a ton of debt and little means with which to pay it off. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Men and women experiencing divorce need to be careful to protect themselves financially, and should educate themselves about exactly what is happening to joint assets in their marriage, and a divorce will affect those assets.
If you don't understand your financial position now, you cannot hope to be in a good financial position if you find yourself in the middle of a divorce.
Be open to examining every financial decision you made and changing things up to match your new financial reality. It may hurt, but you just might find yourself on a better road in more ways than one!
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