Dispute & Resolution

Our Marriage is a Mess…

Background

Sharon and Joe met in 2001 where both studied computer engineering.

After graduation, Sharon got a job in Seattle and Joe got a job in Utah. When Sharon was in Utah visiting her family, she ran into Joe and their long-distance romantic relationship started. Sharon found a job in Utah and she and Joe were married in 2003.

By 2004, they’d bought a beautiful six-bedroom house that they intended to fill with children. Unfortunately, children did not arrive as planned. Eventually, they sought out a fertility specialist. When there was no alternative they proceeded with in-vitro fertilization. They were then happily blessed with three children.

When their first child was born in 2007, Sharon and Joe decided it would be best if Sharon worked part time rather than quit her job since Sharon’s mother was willing and eager to help care for their daughter. In 2008, Sharon became pregnant with twins and her mother was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer. While Sharon was on maternity leave, her mother passed away.

Sharon and Joe agreed that she should not return to work. Luckily, at this time Joe received a significant advancement and pay raise. Additionally, Joe and Sharon had made several investments that Sharon could now manage.

For about nine years, Sharon cared for their children and managed their investments. The investments and the children thrived. Joe continued to advance in his workplace.

Their lives took a turn for the worse in 2017: They made a bad investment and lost nearly everything, including the majority of their savings.

Joe, who traveled for work, started using the couple’s credit card to cover his gambling debts.

Sharon confronted Joe when she found out about the credit card debt; they agreed to refinance their house and pay off the credit cards. Joe would go to counseling to deal with gambling and they would go to marriage counseling.

Without first telling Joe, Sharon approached her previous employer hoping to re-enter the job force. Sharon discovered her skills became redundant because of the time she’d been out of the workforce.

Unfortunately, Joe continued to gamble and continued to incur credit card debt. Their relationship was in shambles.

Sharon was ready to file for divorce and Joe did not want a divorce.

Sharon and Joe came to me to discuss their options.

Discussion

Sharon and Joe met me at my office. We talked about their children, their finances, their work histories and their income. Sharon wanted to know what would happen with their children if they divorced, what would happen to their home, how she and the children would have enough money to live and who would pay Joe’s gambling debts.

I provided them with copies of Utah Code §30-3-35 and §30-3-35.1 that provide parent-time guidelines. I also calculated child support using the Utah Uniform Child Support Guidelines. Joe’s monthly child support obligation would be $2,452.

Sharon told Joe that she no longer qualified as a computer engineer because she had been out of the workforce too long.

Joe told Sharon he did not want her to go back to work, he wanted her to continue caring for the children, their home and to do what she could to rebuild their investments.

Sharon was adamant that if Joe continued to gamble and incur credit card debt, she would file for divorce. From Sharon’s point of view, Joe’s gambling was a betrayal.

Resolution

Joe will sell the boat and pay off the credit card debts. Joe’s name will be removed from all but one of the credit cards, and his spending limit will be reduced to $500 per month. Sharon will take the classes necessary to re-enter the job force as a computer engineer. When the children are in high school, she will return to work. Joe and Sharon will continue to see their marriage counselor.

Mediator Notes

I hope Joe and Sharon make a go of their marriage and I’m glad Sharon didn’t file for divorce before she and Joe came to mediation.

The time spent was seven hours at the hourly rate of $250.

If you have a dispute you would like me to consider in this column contact me at 801-994-6000 or [email protected]. You can also check out my website at: www.krisrogers.com.