It always surprises me that many normally rational women will come in to my office and say things like, “I know I don’t have a right to that; he told me so!”
I really don’t understand why these same women will then tell me that he’s a habitual liar. “You can’t trust anything he says,” they tell me. And yet these same women believe that he is telling the truth when it comes to what they can expect to receive in a divorce settlement.
It’s not a good idea to just take his word for it, especially when it comes to what your fair share is in divorce. Why not? Well, for one thing, because your interest in his are exactly opposite of each other now. When you were married, you were a team. Now that you’re separated and contemplating divorce, you’re opposing teams. You can’t both win, and his self-interest is best protected by convincing you that you don’t have a right to things that you deserve.
Of course he doesn’t want you to get a share of his retirement! That means he’ll get less of his retirement for himself, and he definitely doesn’t want that. He also doesn’t want to pay you spousal support—temporarily, for a defined duration, and definitely not permanently. So, in an effort to convince himself that you won’t get it and to convince you that it’s pointless to ask, he’ll tell you that you’re not entitled to it. But do you think he has spent any time at all looking into it to determine whether what he’s saying is legally accurate? Of course not!
The best advice I can give you is to find out for yourself what you’re entitled to. You may choose to meet with an attorney to learn about your specific entitlements, or do your own internet research. Either way, make sure that you are thinking independently, and don’t ever just take his word for it. Similarly, if he presents you with an agreement, make sure that you know, in advance, whether it’s a good one for you. Read it and understand it, and never, ever, ever sign it without being sure that it’s what you want, and that you can live with it’s terms forever. Contracts like this are virtually impossible to overturn in court, so you should be sure you know what you’re signing.
Many attorneys will meet with you for an hourly fee to review separation agreements, even if you don’t hire that attorney to represent you in court. This is often a very good way to get good, solid legal advice about your situation without having an attorney handle every part of your divorce. It’s also a good way to make sure that the agreement itself is fair to you.
If you and your husband are separated and considering divorce, its safe to say that you can regard anything he says about your divorce with a little bit of suspicion. Think independently, and make sure that you know what you’re entitled to. You won’t regret it.