The Moneyist: My husband sponsored me to move to the U.S., but he makes me pay all the bills and keeps his own salary

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Dear Moneyist,

I met my husband 17 years ago online. We have been married for 15 years and have a 12-year-old son. I am from another country, and my husband sponsored me to come to the U.S.

I already had a business degree from my home country. But I have always wanted to be a nurse, and my husband encouraged me to go back to school, which I did. I am now a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing, and will have my master of science in nursing in a few months.

He said a divorce would be devastating to our son; he’s our only child. My husband was married twice before, but I found that out after we got married.

When I was in school for those five years, I didn’t have to work. My husband paid all the bills. I took on a lot of student debt, which I’m now paying back. But ever since I started to work, my husband seems to believe he shouldn’t work anymore.

Seven years after we got married, I asked my husband for a divorce. He said a divorce would be devastating to our son; he’s our only child. My husband was married twice before, but I found that out after we got married.

We went to couple’s counseling and decided to stay together, but his lies and deception have taken a toll on our marriage. The mortgage for our current home is in my name only, and I pay all the bills.

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He left his job in 2012 and got a little over $200,000, putting that money in an account with his name. It now has just $10,000. He refused to tell me what he did with the money, and he has since closed the account.

I have had three surgeries since our marriage and my husband was not by my side during any of those difficulties. He believes that I owe him my life and achievements because he sponsored me to come to this country.

He believes that I owe him my life and achievements because he sponsored me to come to the U.S. I am willing to split everything 50/50 with him. My brother says I should take 70%.

I am willing to split everything 50/50 with him. My brother says I should take 70% and give him 30%, but I believe that’s too harsh. I want to be fair with him.

Sometimes, I feel like walking away from everything and starting over fresh. I am 10 years younger than my husband. Our home is valued at more than $450,000 and currently has a mortgage of less than $100,000.

I have no family in this country except my husband, his family and our son. I have to pay for all our vacations, but he finds the money to take his mother and sister to the Caribbean. He also flies all over the country for family reunions while I work. We are going on vacation in two weeks, and I am paying for all of it.

He started working again last May. He puts his salary in our joint account and then writes a check to withdraw the exact amount of money. What type of person does things like that? I know in my heart that he’s ruining me financially. I’ve not been able to save any money for the last 10 years.

Florida Wife

Dear Wife,

I have taken the liberty of writing down on a large sheet of paper all of the things you owe your husband. I have even taken a photo of the page and included it below as part of my answer. It’s what we call in the business “the takeaway.”

Your husband, on the other hand, has taken enough. It’s time to make appointments — in no particular order — with a lawyer, an accountant, your bank manager and a therapist. You need a team to help you take action.

Gather bank statements and all documents, tax returns, mortgage statements, property tax statements, stocks and bonds you own, check stubs and letters to make your case. Copy them and bring them to your lawyer’s office.

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Enough is enough. You have one life, and it’s insane to allow him to hold you to ransom for the rest of it. I could talk about how your husband has taken you hostage and used your son and/or your good nature as collateral, but let’s not spend any more time on him.

You need to put yourself first. Your story reads like a bad dream where you want to open a door and walk through it, but every time you try, you’re back where you started. Gathering documents and making appointments will be a good first step.

Sometimes, taking action is the toughest thing to do. We become imprisoned by other people’s expectations and our own sense of responsibility, guilt and inadequacy. Filing for divorce and advocating for yourself is the best example you can set for your son.

A list of everything this woman owes her husband of 15 years.

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There’s only one good time to file for divorce from your husband: now. As soon as possible. Once the wheels start to turn, you will need all the advice and support you can get from your professional team and friends. Your husband will try everything to get you to stop. Don’t.

He has appealed to your good nature, and he may eventually believe you have earned his anger. Nothing he does should stop you — it should merely confirm that you are making the right decision for yourself and your son. You have contributed more than enough.

Florida is an equitable-distribution state. I am optimistic that your lawyer and a divorce court will determine what is community property — assets to be distributed 50/50 — and what is yours to keep. I suspect that his keeping his $200,000 savings and salary will be a big part of that decision.

There is one thing that is precious than money: your time. You have a life to live. Go get it.

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