He says he does, and so does she. She takes
only one sentence this time to say that she
refuses to pay him any money from her earnings. He says nothing. She then starts to talk
about how much she dislikes her job and wishes
she were working fewer hours even if she were
paid a lot less. He says that is fine with him, that
he wants her to be in a job she likes, that he will
not insist she continue working at that high
level in order to support the family, i.e., him.
I explain to him how helpful it is that he said
that. I want to reassure him he is not in the
doghouse for being late, nor behind the 8-ball
because he wasn’t here for the conversation
I had with his wife. I also am grateful because
not every would-be payee of alimony is so
generous about the obligation of the payor to
keep working at a high-paying job under great
stress. I want to make sure she heard what he
said, as I am forming a hypothesis that this
statement is the key to their divorce settlement. It works for both of them, and makes
both of them feel good.
Ten minutes later I am looking at Catherine
and asking if she can imagine a divorce where
neither of them pays any alimony to the other.
She says, “But he would not agree to that.” I
say to her, “In effect that concept is what Seth
has already said.”
Not looking at him, I tell her, “I am now speak-
ing for him and he will tell me if I am wrong.
When he says he wants you to be in a job you
like, even if you make a lot less money, he is
saying he does not need you to pay him any-
thing. In this model, you both are free to earn
as much as you can and want, and neither has
to disclose earnings or tax returns or any other
financial information to the other. He is not obli-
gated to you and you are not obligated to him.
You are both free.”
I still have not looked at Seth, but I do not hear
any objection from him. When I turn to him to
check in and hope for validation, he is still there,
and does not look upset to me. He does not
voice any disagreement.
The rest of the meeting moves on to other
basic subjects such as asset division, and we
clarify our process for resolving them at our
next meeting which we all very carefully write in
our calendars. They leave to go to their cars, and
he waits so he can escort her to hers.
ACR in Groups