By Quentin Fottrell
My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We were both working professional jobs when we got married, and I left my demanding job when we had our second kids.
I have been a stay-at-home mom for seven years. We have three kids together, and my husband had one kid from a previous relationship. He has provided us with a very comfortable life, and is making good money.
Over the years there have been talks about me going back to work, but it didn’t happen. My husband has always been understanding and supportive. He never made me feel unappreciated, and we usually make financial decisions together.
We live in North Carolina where we own a house. He is on the mortgage, and I am on the deed of the house. Now, he wants to take a HELOC ($200,000) to finance a business venture. I am well aware that he needs my consent, and I am all for it since I believe in him.
However, where we disagree is my share of the business. He doesn’t think I should be involved in the business. I do.
He thinks that because he is the working spouse, and has made all the money over the years, he should own 100% of his share of the business (he has a partner who will own 50%). I disagree. I believe that since he is funding the business out of a communal property, I should have a share of the business as well.
My main concern here is I just don’t want to stay on the sidelines. I want to make sure that whatever happens I maintain a stake in the business. I have heard too many stories of husbands channeling business funds elsewhere to hide them from their spouses, or diverting funds etc.
I don’t think it will happen, but we never know. At the same time, I don’t want to frustrate my husband. What should I do? Let it go? What is fair, and what is not?
He doesn’t want me on the partnership agreement or to have any stake in the business. Honestly, he made some valid points such as: I will be the first one to enjoy the lifestyle. I will always get 50% of everything he owns, and will also benefit when the business is successful.
Dear Stay-at-home Mom
If the business is successful.
Don’t worry about frustrating your husband. That goes with the territory with any relationship. Some days, you’re frustrated. Other days, he’s frustrated. And other days you’re both frustrated. But don’t make decisions based on other people’s responses — negative or otherwise. Make decisions on what you believe is the right course of action. That way, you can stand over your choices come hell or high water.
North Carolina is an equitable-distribution state, so in the event that you divorce your assets are divided fairly and equitably, according to your circumstances. Marital property — assets acquired during the marriage — is generally divided equally. During the marriage, even a happy marriage, it’s hard to justify only one party having full control over an investment mined from the family home.
You are a stay-at-home working mother. You have put in just as many hours into providing for your family, if not more, by raising three children. You have every right to have a stake in a business that is using community property — especially money from your family home — and you have every right to have agency and a voice in that business that you are helping to fund. You are both taking the financial risk.
A HELOC will provide this business with a large sum of money at a relatively low interest rate — certainly lower than a personal loan — with a flexible amount of time to repay the loan. But it also comes with substantial risk: Your house is used as collateral, and interest rates are going up. We also face an uncertain year with the double-edged sword of a global pandemic and rising inflation.
You can only make an informed decision jf you have a say in the business. Think carefully. As equal partners, you are not obliged to go along with the plan.
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More from Quentin Fottrell :
• ‘Our friends always yearned for a relationship like ours’: My husband of 16 years left me for another man. I don’t want them to live in our properties. What can I do? • ‘She trusts me completely’: My sister offered to pay off my credit-card bill. I’ll repay her over the next 4 years. Am I taking advantage of our relationship? • ‘He is the most computer-illiterate person I know’: I was my husband’s research analyst, caregiver, cook and housekeeper. Now he wants a divorce after 38 years.