Q: My husband is a Boston Police officer and I have been at home raising our three kids for the last 10 years. I recently discovered he is having an affair and started talking with him about getting divorced. He doesn’t want another divorce and swears he will end it with his girlfriend if I will consider counseling and figure out a way to put this behind us.
I want to be smart about this. I know he wants to retire in another 10 years when he can maximize what he gets from his pension and focus on his side business — small construction jobs. Also, by then his child support and college payments for his older son will be over. He keeps telling me he doesn’t want a second divorce for religious reasons. I think he doesn’t want to divide his pension again. I’m wondering if it’s better to try to work this out and give it more time until his pension is worth more. Then, if things still aren’t great, I can divorce him when the kids are closer to college age. Is there is any financial benefit to insisting on divorcing now?
A: Only you can decide whether you are able to try counseling and move on with your relationship. That is a deeply personal decision that is different from the financial question of whether it is better to divorce now or later. So, I will focus on the financial part of your question.
Before you get too excited about dividing his pension now or later, you need to get a copy of his first divorce and see if it was divided with his first wife. His pension can only be divided once. Assuming it was divided with his ex, you don’t get any of it from an asset division stand point. You can, however, use the income that flows from the pension when it is in payout status for purposes of calculating child support, alimony and college contributions for your children.
From a purely financial perspective, you do better waiting for him to retire and begin receiving that stream of income on top of whatever he makes from construction in retirement before filing for divorce.
Another point not to overlook is his current child support/college contribution order. When calculating the child support you would receive for your children, the support he is paying for his older son will be backed out of his income before support for your children is calculated. So, not only do you not get a share of the pension, you will receive less in child support than you will once that other obligation is finished.
Bottom line, if you can hold your nose and stick with the marriage for now, your bank account will thank you in the long run.
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