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What do you do when there's just no money to divide in divorce?

We All Need A Champion

The standard in property divisions in Michigan divorces is not half and half, 50-50.

The legal rule is that the property settlement, overall, is to be "fair and equitable," which, by the way, does NOT mean 50-50.

The main reason for that is that the spouses very well not be in a 50-50 state: one spouse (usually the woman but not always) may have been out of the workplace, or never in it, as she took care of the homefront, kids, etc.

This kind of effort, being the homemaker and child care giver, is regarded in cases and reported Court opinions in Michigan as having real, economic value and is not, as it once was thought, valueless, just a fact of life and the norm in human relations based on views about gender roles.

Those days are long gone.  Today the issue is what exists to divide.  What legal commitments have been made.  Did this spouse AND the other one sign the promissory note?  Was that student loan just hers, whether he also thought it would be good for her to go back to school for sake of their future economic prosperity?

If he didn't sign the note, will the Judge rule that he has to pay some of her loan?

If he had two children with another woman (when previously married or not) and has to pay child support to them, what effect does that have on child support for children in the marriage that is breaking up?

Will such a husband have money to pay spousal support/alimony or pay her attorney fees, when she really and truly has no money to pay attorney fees or really support herself with only child support, possibly, maybe probably lessened by what he already has to pay for past kids, even ones he never sees or even cares about???

What about the mortgage?  Who pays that?  Can anyone in the picture?  How fair is it to leave that burden on the wife who doesn't want to disrupt the children's school arrangements or living arrangements, particularly if she has sole physical (and maybe also sole legal) custody and wants to stay in the residence.

These can be the kind of problems we confront when someone comes to us and has decided that the marriage, if it ever really existed as a practical matter, needs to end.

It truly may be that ending the marriage is the first step into a new world that opens up opportunity and a level of happiness that makes initial financial struggling worth the trouble.

Commitment to the future and as much positive vibes as one could muster helps get past serious anger, sense of betrayal, even the anger at oneself for ever getting tangled up with such a person as the spouse that is being divorced.

Silver linings are to be looked for, just like we know to try to learn from every experience in life, INCLUDING the ones we hate ourselves for having agreed to, wanted, participated in, wished for -- whether it turned out wholly sour, which can and, unfortunately does happen.

There is no real balm that can be spread over the aching body or pill or drink or any magic potion that makes bad become good in a flash, especially if money is just not there to even the score.  It is, instead, the recognition of what really is the situation and most of all the prompting of hope and the effort everybody has to put in, in their own lives, to make the future a good place to inhabit. 

The saying goes, your life is up to you; no one else will, or can do that for you.  No one.  Not even a good husband.  Or a good wife.  It's always the same: you simply have to keep paddling and sometimes it is upstream.

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