AZ asks: Ida Independent Part 4

Ida Independent is a 48 year old stay-at-home Mom of two children who is now going through a divorce.  Ida and her husband had decided early on in their marriage that it was in the best interest of the family if she did not work outside of the home so that you could spend her time concentrating on the children and the family.  As a one income family, with no work experience outside of the home since her marriage, Ida was shocked to learn that their financial status had deteriorated to a level that now would require her to find a paying job as soon as possible. Ida had trusted her husband to protect the family financially, but their lack of communication about money played a major role in the derailment of their marriage.

AZ asks:  You must have been frightened not to mention devastated when he just walked away without saying anything?

For some reason I wasn’t as frightened as I had been before. My husband obviously couldn’t face what was happening and perhaps walking away was all he could manage to do, but that wasn’t an option for me.  I had no choice but to put on my big girl pants—get over it—and get going. There were certain things I was already very clear about. I had to take care of my daughters! I had to work on our financial mess! And, I needed to find a job as soon as possible!

AZ asks: Do you know where your husband went?

No, I didn’t know at first. I kept trying to reach him on his cell phone, but it would always roll over into his voice mail. I called his friends and they all said that they had no idea where he was. There was no office to call because he met with his clients at their offices.  He had a business partner who also was now not reachable. I hated to worry his Mom and Dad, but when I ran out of options, I finally had to call them. They were pretty upset and shocked to say the least. They hadn’t heard from him in over a week and were just about to call the house to make sure everyone was OK. They were also surprised that he had left so abruptly…they said it just didn’t sound like him and wanted to know what was going on. I told them that I really didn’t even know, but I was trying to find out.

AZ asks: Where did you go from there?

I knew that if my husband wasn’t going to be part of the solution, then I would have to consider him part of the problem.  I had my work cut out for me. The first thing on my To Do List was to collect as many financial documents as possible so I could see exactly where we stood. I had learned that it doesn’t matter whose name is on the accounts or papers, as a spouse I had the right to see all of the records.

I started collecting bank and credit card statements, the deed to our home, mortgages, tax returns, insurance policies, bills, auto papers, college fund statement; retirement plans—anything I could get my hands on. I learned to be resourceful. For instance, my husband had always done our tax returns and I couldn’t locate them so I contacted the Internal Revenue Service. I had no idea what our taxable income was or had been. The IRS told me they could provide copies of any tax returns that I had signed. I was able to get a copy of the Deed to our home at our County Registrar’s office. I made a trip to the bank and got copies of our statements including our first and second mortgages, loans and credit card.

I wasn’t sure if I was missing any documents so I also requested my credit report which hopefully would let me know what else was out there.  My friend had told me I was entitled to one free credit report a year if I was unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days. Well,there was no question that I now met those requirements.

AZ asks: What did you find?

Saying it wasn’t a pretty picture wouldn’t even come close to describing how our financial situation looked to me personally.  I began to get that overwhelming feeling again…it was now time to get some outside help!

To be continued…

Ida Independent is not affiliated with nor endorsed by LPL Financial.

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw