Divorce after FIFTY, yes, FIFTY (50) years

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2012
Divorce after FIFTY, yes, FIFTY (50) years
Fri, 02-21-2014 - 9:38pm

Hi all,

I'm writing on behalf of my mom.  My a$$hole father has decided, at 72 years old with metastatic colon cance and after many years of faithful love and caring from my mother that he wants a divorce, a better life, wants to get remarried to his homewrecking HS GF he saw at his reunion last summer.

Leaving out a WHOLE lot...I'm going with my mom to see an attorney Monday but I have heard so many conflicting things I was wondering if anyone had any advice/experience in this area.  I know laws vary state-to-state, we live in NEW YORK.

1) Is my mom entitled to alimony?  (She was a homemaker, as well as did the bookkeeping for his business for over 40 years.)  She only gets about $650 a month in social security, she is 69, by the way.)

2) He's threatening to sell her car (in his name...but marital property, yes, as it was acquired during the marriage?) if she "refuses" to divorce him or makes him pay her attorney fees (HE'S the one who wants the divorce!)

3) My parents have an IRREVOCABLE trust with ALL their assets in it:  house (paid off); property upstate (paid off), etc.  My sister and I are the trustees.  How would that play out in a divorce, in NY?

4) Before anyone asks, he flat out refuses to leave as the house is "half his", and she will have to buy him out.  Frankly, I can't see either one of them being able to buy the other out.  Oh, at the same time, he has been threatening to leave since last summer yet he still here.

5) He wants to take her name off joint credit cards so she can't run up biills (which she has never done nor would do)...who's to say HE won't run up bills on joint cards?

Any input would be most appreciated!  Thanks!


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Fri, 02-21-2014 - 11:35pm

Your Mother needs a lawyer, YESTERDAY!  There's an attorney on these boards, that might answer general questions, but you need a lawyer to look at all the paperwork, trust, wills, liens, credit cards, etc.  He may SAY he won't pay for her attorney fees, but the court will decide who pays.  My ex said he wouldn't pay too, even though the judge ordered him to.......but in the end he did, because of the same situation, he wanted to get married, and my lawyer wouldn't file the paperwork until he was paid, and until it's filed with the court, it's not a divorce.  It sounds like there's a lot of money involved, and in that case, since HE wants the divorce, I'm sure the judge will not leave your Mother penniless.  Help her look at the upside.........she has a lot of life ahead of her at 69, and she won't be spending it taking care of a sick old man with cancer!  It's sad at their age, but one can only hope that the childhood g/f will turn out to be not so sweet (the g/f is always great, until she has to LIVE with him 24/7!).  I know it's your father, but it sounds like there's not much love lost........be your Mother's shoulder to lean on, and help her thru the process.  First step is to get a GOOD divorce lawyer for her.  Good Luck.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 02-22-2014 - 12:22am

Forget the lawyer.  The FIRST thing you should do, is get your father to his dr.  I would put money on his cancer having metastasized to his brain, or the radiation and chemo having caused damage.  This is not uncommon.  You may have to have him declared unfit, AND your mother may need to have a someone stay in the house with her.  A friend of mine's MIL, with cancer dementia, pushed her 92yo husband out his wheelchair and down the stairs, killing him, while she was accusing him of having an affair with the cleaning lady.  DO NOT WAIT. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2012
Sat, 02-22-2014 - 6:45am

Thank you both so much for your comments.  One good thing is I happen to live here, with them.  While it is pure hell under the circumstances, at least I can help my mother.  I had once been here out of financial neccessity, and, ironically, continued to stay once I was financially secure because although we were hardly perfect my family was basically happy and we enjoyed being with each other.  I have been so tempted to leave but I cannot leave my mother in this hell; in fact, I am always afraid to go to work because I am afraid to leave him with her, he is so cruel and threatening (mostly threats of taking eveything away from her).  Plus I make a fairly decent salary and can help her out quite a bit, but I don't know if I could fully support the both of us, here.  If he were to leave, and the house (which is paid for) would be soley hers, without her having to buy him out, then yes, with my salary and her SS $, we could manage.  I even wonder if I could buy him out, but I don't know if I'd be mortgageable for that much, as I'm sure he would NOT be reasonable in the asking price for his half.  I really don't think it is right for her to be forced to leave, or the house be sold, that they had built and she has lived in and took care of for him for the last 50 years, because that's what HE wants.  My mom has serious medical issues of her own, by the way, and I am so afraid the stress will take a toll on her.  In fact, I'll be blunt, I sometimes think that is what he waiting for, hoping something will happen to her so her can swoop in and take everything.

Sabrtooth, after a year of accompanying him to chemo appointments (plus what we went through when he was originally diagnosed 4 years ago), shifting insurance around to cover his chemo to avoid thousands of dollars in medical bills, countless hours of research trying to save his miserable, life, helping him manage horrible side effects of the chemo, plus all my time off work, he has REMOVED MY MOTHER, SISTER AND MYSELF FROM HIS HIPPA.  He has, in fact, talked of putting his %^(%(^% GF on there!  He will NOT, repeat, NOT tell us a single thing about his medical status anymore and obviously we cannnot accompany him to any appointment nor call his doctor for any updates, medical personnel won't even say hello if you are not on someone's HIPPA.  So his doctor could tell him tomorrow he has a month to live and we would never even know.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 02-22-2014 - 9:43am

Honey, I worked for 20 years in health insurance claims, and ANOTHER 20 as a dental hygienist.  I know all about HIPPA.  AND I know if as you said, your "...family was basically happy and we enjoyed being with each other..." and then his personality began to change, that it was caused by illness.  He's 72.  Even without the cancer, he could have had a mini-stroke that caused brain damage, or have the onset of dementia.  You need to contact his doctor, and tell them his personality is changing, he is threatening your mother, and that YOU BELIEVE he is a danger to her.  If your father is NOT MENTALLY RESPONSIBLE, and is a threat to himself or others, then HIPPA doesn't apply.  Be prepared to have to DEMAND help.  Ask for a psychiatric referral.  Ask how to proceed with getting an MRI or brain scan, or whatever you need to prove he is unfit. 

I know it is hard, but you need to stop blaming him, andd start seeing him as ILL. In another case I know, the husband began threatening to throw the wife out of their house so he could move in his GF--the waitress at the local coffee shop.  The wife shot him.  Turns out the "gf" served the guy coffee and pie, smiled and made nice conversation, and that was IT.  The wife ended up in JAIL.  In another, the husband of 50+ years told his wife, "This should be YOU (dying of cancer).  I don't deserve this.  You never loved me." 

Being aggrieved, and desperate for help because you've lost the father you loved,  is going to get you a lot further than being angry, and desperate to protect your financial interests.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 02-22-2014 - 4:41pm

I really don't have any expereince with the medical or possible dementia issues but I am a divorce lawyer.  I seriously recommend a visit to a lawyer anyway because as least your mother will know her rights.  I would think about this--is your father around the house all the time?  Is it really possible that he has a GF or do you think it's in his mind?  I did know one example of a guy who had been married 40 yrs & had 8 kids and did meet his old GF at a high school reunion, got divorced and went with her--he & some of his kids owned a family business together and it was all in an uproar and lawsuits and the kids taking the mother's side.  

As far as alimony, does he make money?  I assume he's retired & on SS too--if he doesn't have income, how can he pay alimony?  I think (but am not sure) that your mother's SS might go up if they get divorced.  After a long term marriage, most of the time the total assets would be divided equally.  That means that it would be unlikely that your mother would get the house w/o having to buy him out, unless the other property that they own or other assets would be in equivalent value.  

Also, another thing to keep in mind is that if he starts becoming abusive to her or you, she might have to get a restraining order against him to get him to move out.  It does seem odd to me that even if he did get a GF, after a long term marriage that he would suddenly start being very abusive and angry and have a whole personality change, so I would go with Sabrtooth's idea of trying to find out if there is a medical reason for this.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2012
Sat, 02-22-2014 - 6:40pm

Hi Music,

Thanks so much for responding.  Well, there is pretty good evidence of a GF or whatever you want to call it (he still claims its a "friend").  Besides the usual sneaky behavior that usually indicates cheating; buying/guarding multiple, pre-paid phones (I found a list of all his phone numbers, one for talking, one for texting, one for the car), LOTS of time on the phone (from someone who always hated the phone and was never much of a talker period), mostly in the detached garage (where he spends about 90% of his time), disappeaing for hours at a time, money missing...all met with a curt "none of your business" when questioned.  Very out of character looking back over the last half-century.  But...the clincher was when he was supposedly "upstate", for what was supposed to be a usual visit to check on property he/my mom own, and he accidentally butt-dialed mom's cell phone...and we got an earful of conversation between him and another woman, complete with amorous declarations of how will they make it till they see each other next time, etc. etc.  I've got a copy not only on her cell but in another location as well.  Plus, this OW has spoken to my mom and declared she has been pining for my father all these years and is waiting for him to be a "free man".  Plus he admitted to my mom that during these upstate trips, he was with her...INCLUDING on Thanksgiving; yup, he ditched his family that day to go out to dinner with her.  So, as much as I'd like it to not exist, it does.

Yes, he is retired and gets about 3x the amount of social security my mom does, as well as an additional $1,000 from retirement account that has about $160K in it (unless he drains that marital asset).  And my mom gets $650.  Perhaps if she had had a career for herself all these year instead caring for him, the house, children, not to mention handling ALL the bookkeeping (for free) for his very successful business, as well as all the personal bookkeeping (he does not even know how to write a check), she would have a pension, etc...doesn't seem quite right.  Or, expecting a 69 year old diabetic with leg ulcers and severe circulatory problems to just up and leave her lifelong home just becuause her husband decides he's done with her after a lifetime together.

The irrevocable trust makes things complicated.  It would be long and expensive to break into it.  I believe even upon divorce, it would still be in effect.

Thanks again for the advice.  Hope the attorney we see is a good one.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2010

Bless your heart! I am so, so sorry for everything you and your mom are going through. Divorcing after 20 years was hard enough, I can't even imagine how heartbroken your mom must be after 50 years and everything she's gone through with him having cancer plus her own health problems. And you, honey, you've got so much on your plate right now; please take care of yourself as well!

I'm not an attorney and don't live in your state but I can tell you that I received alimony for life and half of my exH's pension after a 20 year marriage. So, I would most certainly think your mom would be more than entitled to alimony and half of the assets.  I hope you have by now seen an attorney and if not, do so ASAP!

It just breaks my heart that you and your mom are having to deal with all this. I know how hard it was on my daughters dealing with their father's infidellity and the divorce and it has to be even harder for you. I'll keep you all in my prayers. Sending love and support your way!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2012
Sun, 02-23-2014 - 5:47pm

Thank you so, so much for your kind and encouraging words.  I cannot even begin to express how much they mean.  I will be sure to pass on what you said to my mom.  Thank you again!!!  ***HUGS***

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Sun, 02-23-2014 - 10:14pm

      After reading the responses and having gone througj similar things.  My suggestion is to see a good lawyer and explain everthing.   But do not burn bridges.  Do not take sides.  You may want to.  But I strongly suggest not doing that. 

    I have seen people self destruct over these things.  The court will decide a lot of the issues.  Give your mother support.  

My mother died from colon cancer.  I was there for years.  When people face death there is a list of things that they need to do.   To you it seems odd,strange,etc.   There is no profit in negative emotion.   It will be hard on you.  Protect the money but do not punish your father. 

    In the end after all the years have passed your actions will be a memory.  A good one or not.  That is your choice.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-15-2014
Sat, 03-15-2014 - 11:49pm

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