Multiple divorces make asset sharing messy


Q: My husband is a Boston police officer and I have been home raising our three children for 10 years. I recently found out he was having an affair and started talking with him about getting a divorce. He doesn’t want another divorce and swears he’ll be done with his girlfriend if I consider counseling and find a way to put this behind us.

I want to be smart about it. I know he wants to retire in 10 years when he can maximize his pension and focus on his side business – small construction jobs. Also, by then, her child support and college payments for her eldest son will be over. He keeps telling me he doesn’t want a second divorce for religious reasons. I don’t think he wants to share his pension anymore. I wonder if it’s not better to try to solve the problem and give him more time until his pension is worth more. Then, if things still don’t go well, I can divorce when the kids are closer to college age. Is there a financial advantage to insisting on a divorce now?

A: Only you can decide if you are able to try to counsel and continue your relationship. It is a deeply personal decision that is different from the financial question of whether it is better to divorce now or later. So I’m going to focus on the financial part of your question.

Before you get too excited about splitting his pension now or later, you need to get a copy of his first divorce and see if it was split with his first wife. His pension can only be divided once. Assuming it was shared with his ex, you get nothing from an asset split perspective. You can, however, use the income that arises from the pension while it is in payout status for purposes of calculating child support, alimony, and college dues for your children.

From a purely financial standpoint, you better wait until he retires and starts getting that stream of income on top of whatever he gets from construction in retirement before you file for divorce.

Another point to keep in mind is her current child/college support order. When calculating the child support you will receive for your children, the child support he pays for his eldest son will be deducted from his income before the child support for your children is calculated. So not only will you not receive a share of the support, but you will receive less child support than when this other obligation is finished.

The bottom line is, if you can hold your nose and stick to marriage for now, your bank account will thank you in the long run.

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