The Cost of Revenge is Staggering: A Tale of Divorce and Financial Ruin

by Darwin on May 27, 2010

Sometimes I’m amazed by what people do to each other – and their children.  What started off as a somewhat typical occurrence in American culture (sadly) resulted in the complete ruination of a family’s future due to poor choices and impulsive behavior.  I bumped in to an old friend of mine the other day and he was telling me about an old friend we hadn’t seen in a while.  The story goes like this:


Man and wife both work at a fairly large successful company.  Neither of them have a college degree, but with their highschool backgrounds and hard work over the years, they’d both worked their way up to well-paying jobs within the company.  These jobs were their meal ticket – to attain a similar position or salary at another company would be highly unlikely given similar competition with college degrees, etc.  I’d venture they were each making mid-high 5 figures at said company and could make probably half that if starting over as a semi-skilled employee at a new firm if they were lucky enough to land a job in this economy.

The Affair:

It turns out (allegedly), one of the spouses was cheating on the other, then vice-versa, then one left the house and they continued to fight.  This on and off fighting, reconciling and fighting went on for over a year.  At one point, the fighting became so acrimonious that our old friend sent some profanity-laden emails and Facebook messages to his wife with threats and all kinds of other inappropriate messages.  Apparently, some of this occurred using company computers as well.

She ends up reporting him to the company.  Upon review of the details, he is summarily fired.  Well, guess what?  Then comes the nuclear option.  He claims in retaliation that she is just as guilty of the same behavior and turns over similarly inappropriate and offensive materials – apparently sent from a company computer as well.  She is summarily fired.

The Financial Impact:

They’re both out of work.  He’s not even trying to find a new job apparently and I don’t know what she’s up to.  They have 4 children.  Who really got hurt here?  If you step back a year, they were (possibly, I don’t know what their spending/savings habits were) in a position to be able to send their kids to college and provide for an upper-middle income lifestyle in comparison to much of the country.  Now, their family life is a mess, their financial situation is a mess, and in my mind, it would be highly improbable that these kids will have a shot at college help from mom or dad in the future given the dim prospects of finding similar employment opportunities in the future.

This situation manifests itself everyday – you probably know someone who’s been through something very similar.  Divorces can get so ugly that one side is willing to throw away as much money as is available at legal fees just to “punish” their spouse.  But who suffers?

The intent of this story isn’t just to reflect on how good you may have it now and to appreciate some stability in your personal and financial life, but also, to provide some insight into how quickly things can go from bad to worse if you don’t step back and take a deep breath before acting impulsively.  Just a few keystrokes, text messages or phone calls in anger can destroy the lives of the ones you love most – no matter how angry you are at someone else that hurt you.

Any similar stories come to mind?

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1 Money Beagle May 28, 2010 at 8:10 am

What a sad story! I haven’t seen any divorces turn this ugly but I know there are plenty of stories out there. The kids are the ones that the parents should have been thinking about here, and the saddest part is how they put their children aside for the points that they were trying to make to one another.

2 Jeff @ sustainablelifeblog May 28, 2010 at 10:10 am

I agree with beagle, it’s quite a sad story. You often wonder how these things happen, and unfortunately, what’s going to happen to the kids. I hope they are OK.

3 Aury (Thunderdrake) May 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Absolutely tragic. I don’t think anyone settles down with anyone who shares core values with one another. So many live in the moment, grow dissonant a year or two later, then decide to litigate as hard as possible for selfish gain.

I’m surprised with all that into account, my family still wonders why I’m so terrified of the dreaded M word.

Crystal Reply:

@Aury (Thunderdrake),
You just have to be careful about whom you choose to marry. My husband and I have been together 12 years total-10 married and 2 engaged but our oldest child is only 5. I wanted to make sure we were on teh same page before bringing kids into it

4 Kate June 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

What a horrible story. This is War of the Roses brought to life. I can only hope they will be able to find jobs – just imagine if this is what they would do at work, what horrible things the kids have been exposed to on the homefront.

5 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Idiots. Poor kids.

I am way too attached to financial security to do this even if my beloved broke my heart. I might end up in jail due to the murder, but our finances would be immaculate. 😉

6 Len Penzo June 4, 2010 at 12:40 am

Oh my gosh! That is absolutely terrible. As you pointed out, it is really the kids who got screwed here.

One would think that the company might have better considered the circumstances and reprimand the couple with perhaps a week suspension and/or a transfer (if possible) for one parent.

My $0.02


Len Penzo dot Com

7 Hope to Prosper June 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I’ve seen a couple of divorces turn really ugly lately. I think the spouses get so emotional about the break up they start to do irrational things. This seems to be even worse if cheating is involved. The worst part are the horrible things witnessed by the kids.

I saw a statistic that said 77% of wealth is lost in a divorce, which is much higher than the 50% it should be. I don’t know how this is calculated, but it makes a lot of sense. Between the lawyers, foreclosures , bankruptcy or fire-sale that often accompanies a divorce, it is devastating financially.

8 Make Cash Now June 16, 2010 at 2:25 am

That is a terrible story, but that is what you get with revenge, right? Love is just like the stock market, you have to take you emotions out of it in order to stay focused on the all mighty dollar.

9 Ducass June 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

My exwife sent inflammatory letters and emails to my employer (Top 4 consulting company) alledging that I wasn’t paying child support etc (when I actually was as proved in court which cost my daughters education fund to sort out (I could have been jailed!). She also conspired with some shareholders in the company I owned and was CEO of (before the consulting job) to get them to fire me too.

So I emigrated to the USA!

If being arrested falsely, having my career destroyed and being financially ruined aren’t enough…she wanted a divorce from me becuase “I am an #$%^hole who works too much and she and the kids never see me.”

So from being a top earner (with top MBA etc), I now sell cars for a living (ouch!) in a foreign country where she can’t get me and smile every day.

Love this place!!!!!

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