Certified Financial Divorce Advisor (CDFA)

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January Journal Continued  . . .

It was time to put my support team together.  After loads of research I learned there was such a thing as a Certified Financial Divorce Advisor.  That was exactly what I needed. I was still working on the hundreds of interrogatory questions and needed help, especially with the financial portion.  And so I hired a Renee, and asked her to review our taxes since, when living abroad, were very complex.  Scott’s company had provided the firm KPMG to prepare them annually. And I had many, many questions.

CDFA

The role of a Certified Divorce Financial Advisor (CDFA) is to assist the client and lawyer how the financial decisions made today will impact the client’s future.  And, after divorce how to best position your assets.

Back when we lived in Puerto Rico, Scott told me that KPMG had miscalculated our taxes as part of the tax equalization process and we owed $60,000.  I was shocked.  That was nearly our entire savings and we supposedly had to pay that money back to The Company. In all the years since, it never sat right with me.  Our taxes had always been around just a few thousand dollars that we either owed or received in return, not $60,000!  And the check for the payment was written to our local bank, not to the IRS, not to The Company.  When I had questioned Scott about it then, I was dismissed.  Scott said, “You don’t understand finances. You’re stupid when it comes to numbers.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.”  So now I asked Renee to look for that transaction and documentation.  Nothing.  I then asked my attorney, Bob, to add that to a second set of interrogatory questions for Scott.  

When Scott saw I’d hired the CDFA (using our joint accounts), in retaliation he began bombarding me with requests for my business records and receipts.  I crafted as a hobby and for stress relief.  I was crafting like crazy at the time!  Sometimes I would sell my wares at craft shows.  I spent more on supplies then what I made back in sales.  But Scott always refused to claim my income, concerned that it would raise red flags with the IRS.  Then Scott accused me stating, “I know you’re hiding money.  You’re a spending whore,” amongst other choice insults.  My hiring Renee spooked Scott — he was unusually assertive and angry. 

Renee was a huge help.  But I never got the answer about the missing $60,000 from Puerto Rico.  All of our Puerto Rico bank statements also mysteriously disappeared at that time during the divorce. We even went so far as to subpoena the Puerto Rican Banks. They refused to respond stating they were a US territory and needn’t comply with US rules and regulations.  Later I also hired a PI – to look for hidden funds.  Just for a domestic sweep (within the US) cost $750.  To do an international sweep I was told would cost thousands – thousands I didn’t have access to at the time.  I’m sure Scott got away with it all.  Living internationally, it was easy for Scott to stash cash.

 

 

Police Report #1

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January Journal Continued . . . 

The kids needed cash for various things such as ski club and travel money for our daughter’s upcoming Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) trip.  Scott refused to give me or the kids any money.  So, I went to our local credit union and withdrew $100.  Scott even stated that he will not pay the overdue credit card bill that is in my name, purposely damaging my credit.   

I had opened a new card about a year ago to get the double airline miles.  When I applied online, I couldn’t figure out how to add another name.  Besides, I thought at the time I should start building credit of my own, having contemplated divorce even then. But I considered it a family account as I put all the monthly utilities and joint expenses on that card, most being direct debit and all paid from our joint bank account.  

“I refuse to pay for anything that isn’t mine; you have to pay for your own expenses and attorney fees,” he said. (I was so glad I had secretly began recording our conversation, showing proof of his attempts to alienate me from our finances.)

When I expressed “You know I don’t have any money of my own. It’s all in our joint account,” Scott then stipulated, “Well then, I guess you need to sell some of your jewelry or go get a job.  I’m not paying your credit card bill.” 

Having heard enough, I left and headed over to a neighbor’s house where we drank a glass of wine and soaked in her hot tub.  I did not want to have to deal with him anymore that day knowing there was no way I could battle with the silver tongued devil.  When I returned to the house later that evening, Scott pounced on me in the kitchen the moment I walked in the door.  He was obviously drunk, slurring his words and visibly angry with his stance.  

He wanted to know, “Where did you go?  Who were you with!?”   Once again if insinuating that I was having an affair.  Then he accused me of being drunk having noticed that I took a bottle of wine with me when I left earlier.  

Finally he got around to the real subject that was bothering him.  He had noticed the tax files were missing from our home office, and asked, “Where are the tax files!?” 

I explained, “I dropped off the tax files to be copied.” I did not tell him I had left the tax files with my new attorney. But it didn’t really matter either way.  His reaction was NOT normal, unless he had something to hide.

Because I had temporarily removed the tax files Scott was now accusing me of violating the MSQ and MRO orders. Scott then demanded to know when, where and with whom I left our tax files with?  When Scott didn’t get the answers he was seeking, I could tell his anger was quickly rising.  He stood within a few feet of me, purposely invading my personal space, screaming now within inches of my face demanding answers.  

Not knowing what else to do, I bolted, running up to my room.  Scott was right behind me as he chased me into the master bedroom. I managed just in time to lock myself in the master bathroom slamming the door in his face. Terrified I dialed the police.  I didn’t doubt for one second it could have escalated to physical abuse if I hadn’t locked myself in the bathroom.  He was crazy mad, and Mr. Hyde was banging on my door yelling “I’m pressing charges! You just assaulted me with the door!” (Keep in mind, I am recording everything.)

Not long after I made the call, the police came and made sure I was ok. The officer told Scott to leave me alone, and left.  Instead of listening to the officers, Scott’s irrational and erratic behavior escalated.  I had to take refuge in the master bathroom again while I heard Scott pacing outside the bathroom door shouting more obscenities and ranting. (Thank goodness I had video taped Scott’s erratic behavior that day, proving I hadn’t assaulted him with the door. It would come in handy later.)

When all was quiet and it seemed like Scott had given up, I went to check on Cooper. I hoped our son slept through the whole ordeal. I was relieved to find him sound asleep.  When I went to go back into my bedroom a minute later I found the door shut and locked. Scott must have waited for me to open the door, then snuck in while I was checking on Cooper. I was banished to the basement again without my PJ’s, toothbrush, and my medication.  I could have picked the lock, but I wasn’t about to sink to his level, nor did I want to disturb the drunken Supreme Being, afraid of his retaliation.  I’d had enough of Scott that night.  Best to stay away. 

Unbeknownst to me, Scott sold more E*TRADE stocks that day and requested that the check be sent to him via overnight express. Another MRO & MSQ violation. 

Battleground – January

War of the Rooms

I made a mad dash for the master bedroom, purposefully going to bed earlier than usual to claim my ground.  While I was sound asleep, Scott picked the lock once again. Startled, I awoke to Scott poking me on the shoulder.  Obviously rattled with a angry tone he asked me, “What did you do to MY (not our)  Merrill Lynch account!”  

Stunned and baffled why he woke me up, I assured Scott, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.  I haven’t done anything to your account.”  Reluctantly and obviously agitated, he gave up and stomped out.  I was grateful he left, and didn’t climb back into my bed again.

Stupidly, I admit that I had left all the finances up to Scott. It was my job to pay the bills and run the house.  Scott would always make sure there was enough money in the checking account to cover those bills each month.  That was our arrangement over the years. Scott invested our savings into various stocks through E*TRADE, Merrill Lynch, and into investment properties.

New Attorney #2

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After much searching, and five consultations later, I found and hired a large firm with a good reputation to handle my divorce.  I explained my marriage history and warned my new attorney, Bob, that I think this was going to be an ugly divorce.  This was already evident by Scott’s threats and behavior already.  Bob reassured me that this is normal, and that his large firm will protect and serve me well. I signed the appropriate documents, handed Bob my retainer and a copy of my original filing for divorce along with our box of tax files for him to copy.

Interrogatory Questions

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After I shared my new attorney’s information with Scott, we immediately received his interrogatory questions for me to answer. Bob was stunned. He has never seen such an extensive packet of questions.  According to him, I have just 28 days to complete literally hundreds of questions. These ranged from the typical financial questions to the ludicrous such as “#121 – Describe your current emotional and physical state,”  or “#78 – Why do you think you are a good parent?”  Those types of questions weren’t simple yes or no answers, and will take me hours upon hours to prepare.  I can’t figure out what Scott hopes to learn from his extensive list of questions.  I am a simple housewife.  I have nothing to hide.  All our bank accounts are joint.  In return, my attorney sent out a standard set of interrogatory questions for Scott to answer with a few tweaks here and there. 

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Financial Alienation 

Since the day we decided to file for divorce, Scott has put me through deliberate and intentional alienation from our finances.  He shut them down, stating it was his house and his money.  Scott refuses to give me money, knowing I don’t have a working ATM card with our main bank in Chicago.  I always thought it was strange that he kept our bank account in Chicago, even while living abroad.  After we moved back to the States, Scott still kept that account, even though the bank is more than a three-hour drive away.  Scott coordinated most of our banking and managed the checkbook.  We had opened a small account at the local credit union who financed our mortgage, but there is never much money in that account.   

It wasn’t until months later that I learned Scott had once again hacked my Yahoo email account; once at 7:17 a.m., and again at 8:39 a.m. that day.  He was also busy violating both the MRO and MSQ Orders moving joint marital funds around and selling off E*Trade stocks. Now it all made sense, why Scott was so upset when he had problems accessing the Merrill Lynch account that day.