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Feb. 25, 2020, 2:11 p.m. EST

‘My husband’s ex-mistress is ruining our life.’ She claims she gave birth to his child and is extorting us for money

‘After he signed a waiver, I removed my husband as beneficiary from my retirement accounts, and he took his name off our joint checking and savings accounts’

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By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch

Dear Moneyist, 

Twenty years ago, my husband foolishly and selfishly got involved with his much younger employee, thinking that it would be a couple times of casual sex that he could get away with. My husband’s ex-mistress is ruining our life.

Unfortunately, she also fell for him, refused to let him go, and threatened to tell me if he did not comply with her demands, including sex. 

The Moneyist: ‘What did he do with all the money?’ My dying husband cashed his $700K life insurance and emptied his bank accounts

She was an undocumented immigrant, so when she moved back to her home country with her parents, she told my husband that she was pregnant with his child. She demanded that he send the money to help with this child and he did so for several years.

Two years ago, she contacted me. She demanded more money or she would sue my husband for child support. I decided not to get divorced because we still owned a house together and can’t sell it now because our younger son still lives with us. 

He is regretful and agreed to do anything that I decide regarding our finances. After he signed a waiver, I removed my husband as beneficiary from my retirement accounts, and he took his name off our joint checking and savings accounts.

The Moneyist: My mom asked for a divorce. My dad made his mother his pension beneficiary — and then he killed himself. Now my mom and grandma are feuding. Who’s right?

She recently hired a lawyer in her home country and sent my husband a threatening letter, threatening to sue him for child support. We both have wills specifying that her illegitimate child are excluded from receiving anything when we die. 

Is that enough? What else can we do to make sure that she cannot get her hands on this house or anything else? The only asset we co-own together is our primary residence. 

We live in New Jersey. Too bad she is not living in the U.S.  If she did live here, I would sue this mistress from hell for ruining my life and my marriage.

Worried Wife

Dear Worried Wife,

It’s smart to divorce your finances, if not your husband.

Given what you have been through, signing a waiver to remove himself from your retirement accounts, and your bank accounts is the least he can do. In your divorce, your house will be divided 50/50 so that seems fair. He has also spent a considerable amount of money over time on keeping his affair quiet and/or providing support for a child who may or may not exist. We simply don’t know. He has no evidence that what this woman says is true. If she does have a child, it would be wise to conduct a DNA test to confirm his/her paternity.

Legally, I don’t see how your husband’s former mistress/employee has any further hold over you or your husband. If she does have a child with your husband, he/she would be over the age of 18 now and the statute of limitations would likely have passed for back child support. Her ability to sue would have depended on where she currently lives. Obviously, it’s better to consult a lawyer on your state’s laws rather than pay more money to this woman. Plus, your husband has thus far complied with her demands, and I assume he has records of their correspondence and his payments.

If this child does exist, don’t blame him/her. Why not set up a trust so he/she can study in the U.S.? Rather than think about suing his mother, consider how you can help her child.

The Moneyist: My stepfather and mother pooled resources to buy a home. My mom died in 2003 and he just passed away. His kids are selling their house — am I entitled to anything?

It’s not your husband’s ex-mistress that is ruining your life.

Your husband ruined your marriage. Twenty years ago was the time to confirm the validity of these claims instead of dipping into your joint funds. You appear to be united in protecting your assets from any potential lawsuit. As I said, I don’t believe you have any worries on that count. I would, however, caution you about remaining in a marriage that has broken down. We do know that you and your husband have a minor son living under your roof and, if you were to split and/or he were to move out of the family home, he does and would have an obligation to him.

Think carefully about your future. You are entitled to a happy relationship with a man who is honest and respectful. He is far from the gold standard. He has encouraged you to believe that this fiscal infidelity and affair is your problem, too. This has all the hallmarks of a co-dependent relationship. Your husband’s former mistress sounds manipulative, but as my Irish friend’s mother would say — as God made them, he matched them. Has he made amends, financial or otherwise? I hope you find a way forward either with your husband, or without him.

Don’t live for tomorrow. You have savings, a retirement account and — no doubt — you have worked hard to build a life for your family. You deserve to be financially secure and happy, too.

The Moneyist: My father-in-law’s business went south and my mother-in-law has never worked a day in her life. How can I avoid supporting them?

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

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The Moneyist: My father left everything to my son. When I called the attorney about the will, my son got very upset. I now need financial help. Should I ask him for money?

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I often talk to lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and other experts, in addition to offering my own thoughts. I receive more letters than I could ever answer, so I’ll be bringing all of that guidance — including some you might not see in these columns — to this group. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch's personal-finance editor and The Moneyist columnist for MarketWatch. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

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