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Thread: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

  1. #1
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    Default Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    I had a friend crap out on Saturday at 2:00 AM... sat up in bed complaining of feeling "weird", then keeled over and was dead before he hit the floor (according to the Docs) of a massive brain aneurysim.

    This isn't so much about him, but the effect this has on his Significant Other, a lady he'd been living with for five years.

    She'd sold her house and moved in with him last year, and while they weren't planning on an imminent marriage, he was trying to persuade his (20-odd-year) estranged wife to give him a divorce so they could marry. As you may imagine, most of the stuff (house, car, phone, internet) was in his name, although they had separate bank accounts and separate brokerage accounts.

    The Wife showed up at the hospital and completely shouldered the S.O. out of the way and, when the papers had all been issued, cornered the S.O. IN THE GRIEVING ROOM, and asked how soon she intended getting her stuff out of "MY" house.

    NOT a pretty situation. S.O. is devastated and just about comatose. Several of her friends showed up on Sunday and packed her and moved her things into a friends (unused) apartment and are mounting a "watch" on her. She's tough and will recover, but what a blow!

    So, what's all that in honour of?

    I know there are more than a few couples here on the Forum who are couples but haven't (or can't, or didn't want to) have their union "legitimized" in one way or another.

    If, perchance, YOU happen to fall into this group, for GOD'S SAKE take some steps NOW to ensure that both you and your lover have legal status as far as the house/home, tangible assets you may have jointly acquired, bank and brokerage accounts, etc.,etc.

    GET LEGAL ADVICE AND HELP on this... it's a very tricky morass and even with good legal advice, it can get litiginously sticky, very quickly.

    The same thing happened to my Next-door-neighbour about five years ago. He and GF had set the date (May) and in January, he developed some sort of liver infection... was in the hospital four months and was due to be released the following week, just in time to be married, developed a staph infection and was dead in two days.

    She lost EVERYTHING but her clothes as it was all in his name, and his daughter (beneficiary in the will) took it all. GF wasn't even invited to the funeral.

    A more publicized case was that of Hepburn and Tracy.

    Take whatever steps you can to proactively alleviate the suffering of your S.O. should either of you pass. It's worth the effort.

    Farewell, Pat. I loved you like a brother, but in this case I can legitimately say, "I tol' ya' so!".

    Damn.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    That was the first thing I did when I found Sweet Thing. She never asked....but I took care to totally protect her....sorry about your friend....
    Last edited by paladin; 12-02-2008 at 03:12 PM.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry about your buddy.
    The Wife showed up at the hospital and completely shouldered the S.O. out of the way and, when the papers had all been issued, cornered the S.O. IN THE GRIEVING ROOM, and asked how soon she intended getting her stuff out of "MY" house.
    What a shrew. What happened to "Posession is nine tenths of the law"?

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    There is someone in need of being "bitch slapped" if there ever was one. Sorry for the loss of your friend, Vince.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry for your loss, Vince.

    This kind of thing is the major reason that I'm in favor of gay marriage (or the total separation of religious marriage and legal union); the legal alternatives allow too many people to challenge the relationship, the documents, ....

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    First Vince, very sorry for the loss of your friend. Secondly, thanks for bringing this up as it applies to me and I need to think about it more than I do. I'm curious if your friend's state (Pennsylvania?) has a common law marriage law. Washington State does not, to the surprise of a lot of people, but I understand most states do.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    I am sure my step mother with do the same and take what my father has built for over his career.

    Women, when it come to that kind of thing get nasty !

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry for your loss Vince. I guess you and others here are at the age were we loose friends more and more frequently.

    BTW, good advise

    JD
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by htom View Post
    This kind of thing is the major reason that I'm in favor of gay marriage (or the total separation of religious marriage and legal union); the legal alternatives allow too many people to challenge the relationship, the documents, ....
    Exactly my thoughts. Sorry you lost a friend, Vince, but I'm glad your other friend has someone to stand with her in her loss.

    What are you doing about it?




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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by paladin View Post
    That was the first thing I did when I found Sweet Thing. She never asked....but I took care to totally protect her.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    First Vince, very sorry for the loss of your friend. Secondly, thanks for bringing this up as it applies to me and I need to think about it more than I do. I'm curious if your friend's state (Pennsylvania?) has a common law marriage law. Washington State does not, to the surprise of a lot of people, but I understand most states do.
    Pennsylvania abolished "Common Law" marriage many years ago.

    The point here is that technically, Pat was still married to wife one, even though they had not lived together for twenty years... she would not "allow" a divorce on religious grounds and Pat was too nice a guy to get all medieval on her in court and screw up the kids more than they already were. I had a similar situation where I lived separately from "The (censored)" for eight years before I finally said enough, and got a divorce decree. After a while, if begins to feel "natural" and you forget all about the legal ramifications.

    Thanks, all for your sympathies. I can't tell if I want to feel sad or just wanna kick his (now ethereal) ass.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Vince, I'm very sorry indeed. Dreadful situation.

    Here in Canada, after 2 years of co-habitation, the common law partner assumes half the assets/liabilities of the household ...
    "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Land of the Noble beaver, a civilized place, indeed.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    Here in Canada, after 2 years of co-habitation, the common law partner assumes half the assets/liabilities of the household ...
    For some reason I'm thinking that's now six months, but I don't have a definitive source handy...

    What are you doing about it?




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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Fourty years after spouse number 1.....and her last 2 husbands and 5 kids.....when she has money problems she calls my son or daughter and has them call me for a "loan"....as soon as they call I know what it is for.....and with both husbands, at one time or another they have forged my name to documents to sell a piece of property, or to buy a car with minimum down and then drive off without further payments...Number 2 came back 4 years after the divorce with similar stunts after living with the first idiot for a year, then marrying another guy and divorcing him a year later.....from my experience...ya gotta get a clean break after the divorce and get all ties disposed of that can come back to bite ya......
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    The bottom line is that the gentleman was still legally married. Thus, at his death his property goes to his wife. Sad but true. Even if he had had a will, the wife probably would have contested it.

    We've had a couple of occasions over the years where a divorce was in progress and the other party kicks off. Amazing how the bitter couldn't wait to be divorced gal becomes "instant grieving widow" We even had one here in St. Augustine that won a major settlement against a trucking company when her soon-to-be (couldn't wait to be rid of the worthless bum)-ex drove under a truck making a u-turn on the highway...

    Heed Vince's advice to get your affairs (not just a will) in order. Also, heed the hidden message that maybe you consider your own affairs, should the person you are with not have his/hers in order...

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry for the loss of your friend Vince. Sounds as though he was too nice for his own, and SOs good.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry to hear about your friend Vince.
    Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry for you loss Vince,,I can't understand why folks don't get divorced when they are no longer together, esp. if they've taken up with someone new.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    I'm sorry for your loss, Vince.

    This is a situation that the S.O. in a gay relationship often faces. The disapproving family of the deceased partner swoops in and starts grabbing.
    okay, now apply that to tattoos


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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Having just applied for Social Security, I discovered that the woman I was married to 30 years ago for a total of four months will get my SS survivors benefits instead of my SO that I have lived with for the last 22 years . This thread is reminding me that, among other things, I need to get that changed.

    Also, I have been told by an attorney friend that there is such a thing as a "marititious relationship" and in court a judge can rule based on that. He also said however, that it is a hell of a lot easier to just get married .

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    Having just applied for Social Security, I discovered that the woman I was married to 30 years ago for a total of four months will get my SS survivors benefits instead of my SO that I have lived with for the last 22 years.
    In fact if you'd had a dozen or so wives they'd ALL get a survivor's benefit as long as they haven't remarried.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by John Teetsel View Post
    In fact if you'd had a dozen or so wives they'd ALL get a survivor's benefit as long as they haven't remarried.
    She has remarried, but I haven't. Therefore she is my most recent legal survivor. But I may be misunderstanding it; I have a call in now to the ss office.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    She has remarried, but I haven't. Therefore she is my most recent legal survivor. But I may be misunderstanding it; I have a call in now to the ss office.
    Here's some quick answers to common divorce / survivor / length of marriage / benefit questions:

    http://www.ssa.gov/gethelp1.htm

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry to hear of your loss, Vince. Ah, the tangled mess we weave behind...
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by Concordia...41 View Post
    Here's some quick answers to common divorce / survivor / length of marriage / benefit questions:

    http://www.ssa.gov/gethelp1.htm
    Thanks, good link. According to that, evidently marriages of less than ten years don't count.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    Vince, I'm very sorry indeed. Dreadful situation.

    Here in Canada, after 2 years of co-habitation, the common law partner assumes half the assets/liabilities of the household ...
    Tom if you are still legally married it still gets sticky in Canada I know I'm trying to get a divorce from my first one now after 12 years of seperation but I can't find her.My fiance is getting p.oed but at least I put everything in both names.still would be a hassle if anything happened to me.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Sorry Vince.
    The Reverend

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    What a tangled web we sometimes weave. But at least we aren't all black widow spiders, are we? Or are we? My BIL was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. He and his S.O. decided to go ahead and get married. A year later, he died. So tell me, why did he not update his will? Why were large chunks of his portfolio still jointly owned with his ex? Why has his ex's husband hired a lawyer? Why did the wife have to buy the two grown kids out in order to keep the house? We all thought this BIL was a multi-millionaire, but now his widow may lose the house.

    Write it all up, put it in a trust, keep the trust documents updated.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Yup. In the midst of life, and all that. At 52, he really didn't have that "intimation of mortality" yet, I suppose.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Don't know much about the law in the USA but I think the lady should get a lawyer and sue the estranged wife if it is anything like the law in Canada.

    Randy

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Vince, I'm sorry about your friend.

    Time to fill out some paperwork.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Trust me, OldSub, here (and especially in Pennsylvania), the S.O. of an estranged person has as many rights as a run-down snake. Essentially she (or he) is, as far as the law is concerned, a non-person, having no legal connection to the deceased and therefore no legal standing. As long as there is still an undissolved marriage, that marriage takes precedence over all other considerations.

    Like Margo said. Suddenly the person who, just prior to their death, was less than the dirt beneath one's bootsoles becomes the dearly beloved departed.... at least until the goodies are appropriated.

    It may suck, but it's the law.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Yeah - the SO would have some protection here too. Two years living together and its the same as being married.

    My wife works with a woman who was with a guy for 23 months and he broke it off. He came back after a few months and the clock was ticking again. Yep - 23 months and he's gone again. I doubt that he will be back.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by Katherine View Post
    Vince, I'm sorry about your friend.

    Time to fill out some paperwork.
    That's why I posted, Kit. To try and help prevent this particular albatross from coming home to roost on someone else I'm fond of.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Vince, I'm very sorry about your friend.

    Thanks for the reminder. It is very important to do the full break when a relationship ends.

    I feel for his lady. What a rotten, unethical thing the x "vulture" did.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Under Australian (English) law, and I suspect US is the same, real property (ie your house) can be owned by a couple in 2 ways. Joint tenants, or tenants in common. (They are owners, not tenants, but the language remains). Most couples own as joint tenants. As such, if one dies, their share automatically and immediately passes to the other. Doesn't matter what the will says. So even if your mate had a will which left his half of the house to the SO, the wife would still get his share. Tenants in common on the other hand have a more complete interest in their half of the property. Their half can be sold, or disposed by will. Worth checking what sort of interest you have.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Vince, that is a very sad story. Something very similar happened to me. And I am very sorry that you lost your friend.

    All I can say is that one has to keep their eyes on the truth of the matter- that they had found love together and shared it. How very fortunate. No one can take that away from her. Indeed, that is the only real and true thing that anyone gets to keep.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Brennan View Post

    The point here is that technically, Pat was still married to wife one, even though they had not lived together for twenty years... she would not "allow" a divorce on religious grounds and Pat was too nice a guy to get all medieval on her in court and screw up the kids more than they already were. I had a similar situation where I lived separately from "The (censored)" for eight years before I finally said enough, and got a divorce decree. After a while, if begins to feel "natural" and you forget all about the legal ramifications.

    Thanks, all for your sympathies. I can't tell if I want to feel sad or just wanna kick his (now ethereal) ass.
    These things get complicated and not knowing all the details, it's easy to simplify the situation, but I believe thatif he didn't spell out his wishes in a will, then he didn't protect himself, or everyone he had obligations to and for. And, despite my sympathy for his SO, he (and she) appear to have been satisfied with a situation that, at it's core, is untenable. The law is pretty explicit in these things. My advice to my daughters is "Don't mess with married men." And this situation explains why.

    Now, for my statement that explains my initial caveat: Your friend was living within an essentially dishonest relationship, as was his SO, who was it seems willing to accept second class status. He should have sued for a divorce. Notwithstanding my singular viewpoint on this, I agree that the situation is very sad, and undoubtedly will get even sadder as the battle lines are drawn.

    When I write my book, there will be three chapters in it on how a similar set of circumstances rained on my family's parade.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Good thing she didn't help him buy the house with the money she got for hers.

    Take care of her, Vince. She's in an emotional mess right now, and it's pretty serious.

    And if you ever get a chance, tell the ex just what you think of her behavior Sounds like someone who will only understand if confronted.
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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Brennan View Post
    Trust me, OldSub, here (and especially in Pennsylvania), the S.O. of an estranged person has as many rights as a run-down snake. Essentially she (or he) is, as far as the law is concerned, a non-person, having no legal connection to the deceased and therefore no legal standing. As long as there is still an undissolved marriage, that marriage takes precedence over all other considerations.

    Like Margo said. Suddenly the person who, just prior to their death, was less than the dirt beneath one's bootsoles becomes the dearly beloved departed.... at least until the goodies are appropriated.



    It may suck, but it's the law.

    I would say that if the common law partner can say that the deceased always promised that he would take care of her in his will and failed to do so, she could argue that he held the property in trust for her. Sue on that basis and drag it into the court system. The "wife" may soon find that she doesn't really enjoy litigation all that much. If her name is not on title, then years of estrangement would reduce any claim she might have to it.

    I am not a lawyer in Pennsylvania so I may well be wrong, but I sure wouldn't recommend that the common law spouse walk away without talking to a lawyer there.

    Randy

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Here's a citation for common law marriage. Even in the states in which it is available, certain steps are required of the participants.

    http://www.unmarried.org/common-law-...act-sheet.html
    A society predicated on the assumption that everyone in it should want to get rich is not well situated to become either ethical or imaginative.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    It's always hard. I'm sorry for your loss.

    When Bill passed he wasn't intestate, but his will was out of date. Kudos to the couple who were his good friendz. It takes a good friend to point out hard facts. "Bill, the docs say you are dying. You can't put off amending your will any longer." Mike and Ann were neither interested in stealing from him. They loved him and wanted his last wishes exercised. Mike held his health care proxy, and Ann was his executor. Both, but especially Ann, worked very hard to see his wishes carried out.

    If someone asks you to be their executor, think long and hard about it. It's hard work, a work of love, a tremendous responsibility. There are, even with the most organized person, many loose ends.

    I hear stories like Vince's and just shake my head. How can people be so petty?
    So many questions, so little time.

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    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    Having just applied for Social Security, I discovered that the woman I was married to 30 years ago for a total of four months will get my SS survivors benefits instead of my SO that I have lived with for the last 22 years . This thread is reminding me that, among other things, I need to get that changed.

    Also, I have been told by an attorney friend that there is such a thing as a "marititious relationship" and in court a judge can rule based on that. He also said however, that it is a hell of a lot easier to just get married .
    But this has NO EFFECT whatsoever on YOUR benefits. And if you were married, would have no effect on your SO's right to collect death bennies.

    What I would question is the length of your previous marriage (4 months) I don't believe that is long enough for her to get death benefits now that you're divorced. IIRC it's 10 years and no remarriage (or if remarried, then divorced or widowed from that spouse)

    My grandmother was divorced for almost 30 years and got a call from SSA that her XH (my unknown Grandfather) had died and she was eligible for benefits even though he left a widow. All she had to do was show a copy of their divorce decree. (which she had never gotten a copy of b/c she never wanted to marry again!)

    True to her character she made a nice gift to each of us grandkids w/ her newly found "wealth". A very poor woman (in $$$ terms) but what a lady. Even now, 12 years after she died at 91 I still miss her.
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    Loudoun County, VA
    Posts
    1,773

    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Your friend's SO should check to see if he had a LEGAL SEPARATION AGREEMENT in place.
    Here in VA when XW and I split we had a Marital Separation Agreement that went into place before we even got divorced. And would still be in place even if we hadn't gotten divorced. Describes how you're going to split up your assets.

    BUT HERE IS THE IMPORTANT thing. There is a section in the agreement that says we both will not seek to benefit from the other's death. Can't/couldn't collect from life insurance, can't sue for damages if they die, can't inherit, don't get JACK. In fact the agreement says in boilerplate language that we HAVE to renounce anything we might still be entitled to under old paperwork.
    Now I'm sure if I had died before we were divorced or before I changed any paperwork she could have TRIED to collect, but that clause would have made it hard for her to get anything.

    Oh, and in VA at least, property owned as tenants of the entirety (husband/wife) automatically converts to tenants in common when the divorce isfinal. So if you don't buy out the X, then if you die your heirs own the house w/ the X; she doesn't get it all!


    You might want to have your friends SO check to see what legal paperwork governed his separation.
    The only difference between [where I work] and the TITANIC is... The TITANIC had a band.

  46. #46
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Northwestern Missouri
    Posts
    4,008

    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    Damn, that is tough one Vince....
    Going through similar problem with my dad's belongings..
    Trying to get my dad wife who been separated for ten years, to help...
    save a nose, pick a banjo

  47. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Seattle. WA
    Posts
    19,944

    Default Re: Sudden death of a Significant Other...

    What is difficult for me to understand is how or why a person who is now involved with another woman wouldn't get a divorce across a 20 year span to "protect the children."

    If he really needed to protect the children he would consider them in his will. In any case, after 20 years, the kids are hardly children any longer.

    It's very possible that your friend was simply too weak to deal with all the issues of separation and divorce. Many people are. Adults however identify the consequences of their behavior. Frankly, I don't find the wife's behavior surprising at all. Unpleasant, maybe (but only if I had all the details). I'd just need more information before making a ruling, as people are rarely honest, or at least in touch with themselves, about complex affairs like this. The information given by the friend to his friends is necessarily suspect. The wife could have many reasons for being bitter; or, she may just be a bitch. But poking one's nose in and giving advice without intimate, accurate knowledge is very risky.

    I will say your friend and his girlfriend were engaged in very foolish behavior if they were completely involved and he didn't get a divorce. These deals frequently take three to tango, including at least one person who doesn't feel strong enough to know what they want. Frequently more than one.

    This doesn't mean that the ex wife isn't being a total bitch; it is a statement of
    doubt about a very complicated arrangement. Your friend created this circumstance when he got involved with a second woman without clearing up the arrangements with the first, however painful. The children weren't spared. If anything they were tormented by a long, confusing relationship with no legal standing. I am sympathetic to their plight, and to the triangle of emotions created by this weak and selfish behavior, but it will not be solved by "Oh mys" on the forum.

    I posit that there will likely be much at work here that is unknown to us, and may always be. These situations are rarely "good vs evil." Frequently enough, the evil masquerades as the good. They don't call them private matters for nothing. They're private because people are embarrassed to talk about what is really going on.

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