Inheritance Money: He Doesn’t Want to Share It!

Dear Robin:

My husband and I married 16 years ago and the past few have been tough.  We have a prenup setting aside our own assets.

We have been considering divorce but so far remain together for the kids (11 and 13).  We would both probably be happier apart than together.

His father died in April and left him a significant amount of money.  He opened a separate bank account and when I asked him why he said this was money left to him, not to us, and he felt it was best to isolate it from our other assets.

I’m upset because our house could really use a new kitchen, especially if we end up divorcing and needing to sell it. The $80,000 or so that would take is a drop in the bucket compared to what he got.  I also would like a new car as mine is 4 years old.

I secretly met with a lawyer who said be prepared to be served with divorce papers soon.  He also tells me I can fight for my share of that money in Oregon if we get divorced and have the prenup set aside because I did not have it reviewed by my own attorney (I went to law school and felt competent to do it myself).

Should I be worried?  Do you think I can be awarded some of that money?


Dear Rachel:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I do believe Rachel has what can be described as the quintessential example of a First World Problem.  However, this blog does not discriminate against rich people with too much time on their hands so let’s tackle Rachel’s issue together.

Rachel, thank you for your letter and for chatting with me on the phone last week.  

First I’m going to say something nice to you because my management team tells me I need to soften the Velvet Hammer of Truth a bit.  


Here we go:

Robin’s Nice Statement

I’m terribly sorry your marriage is not what you wish it to be.  The 3 years of marital counseling isn’t working and I’m sure that’s a huge disappointment to you.  Everyone dreams of a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime but we don’t all get to live that dream unless we die on our honeymoon.

Please know that staying together for the kids is actually detrimental to them for reasons I will explain further in my book.  Send me your address and you’ll get a copy when it’s published.

From our conversation and recent actions by your husband I would expect your divorce to commence soon.  

Prepare yourself for a difficult time ahead and know that you can survive and thrive after divorce but your chances of doing that are small if you act like a greedy, selfish, gold-digging, short-sighted, money-grubbing bitch.

Whoops.  Those last few words probably should have been used below.

Robin’s Maybe-Not-So-Nice Observations

  • You went to law school but stopped working 3 months after finding out you were pregnant, bringing your life total of time spent working to a staggering 2.5 years total.  You are quite the little go-getter, aren’t you?
  • Your husband works an average of 55 hours per week and has provided you with a very nice lifestyle.  
  • Your own parents have money set aside for you in a trust that you will receive in 2 years on your 45th birthday.  Please have your parents contact me if they would like to adopt another child.
  • Your interest in having the prenup set aside does not extend to a hypothetical divorce taking place after your 45th birthday or after your parents die.  Shocking, I tell you!  
  • Your secret lawyer has a terrible reputation as a shit-stirrer.

Rachel, I am not your lawyer and I will not be giving you legal advice as to whether you can go back on your word and have a contract rescinded because you are avaricious and allergic to work.

Instead I’m going to give you decent human being advice, something of which you could use a mighty dose:

Own your choices.  

YOU decided to marry this man.

YOU decided to waive representation and review the prenuptial agreement on your own (you were 10th in your class and aced family law and contracts, I should add).

YOU decided to sign that prenuptial agreement and had your own assets to protect.

YOU decided to abandon your career and focus solely on raising your kids (against your husband’s wishes, I would add).

Where is your sense of personal responsibility for your decisions over the past 16 years?  

I hope to Goddess your husband is able to counteract your entitlement-minded worldview as he raises these children because you aren’t doing them any favors.

Your husband’s parents worked desperately hard for decades building a successful business.  You played no part in that.  For you to expect any of this money is disgusting, whether or not there is a valid prenup.

In addition, litigating the prenup will be the first shot across the bow signaling this is going to be a long, ugly, expensive divorce.  

If You Love Your Kids, Knock it Off!

Rachel, you told me you love your children more than anything in the world.  You told me you would die for them.  

So why then are you about to engage in a dirty divorce deed that will have negative ramifications for them in countless years to come?

Robin’s Advice for Being a Decent Human Being

Have a conversation with your husband about whether you should finally split.  If you do divorce:

  • Keep your word and do not litigate the prenup
  • Sell your house as it is – the market is hot so get on it and let the buyers deal with a remodel.
  • Buy yourself a new car when you get your own damn money from the divorce settlement or your Spoiled Brat fund in 2 years.
  • Always keep in mind how your behavior affects your children.  Keep things amicable.
  • Fire that asshole and hire a collaborative lawyer or mediator (or me, if you don’t hate me too much) and settle your case quietly and fairly.  That will be easy if you adhere to the prenup.
  • Build yourself a new and beautiful life.  You don’t have to be a lawyer again, but for Christ’s sake woman: DO SOMETHING!  You said you’ve always wanted to open a small clothing boutique.  Your share of half the marital assets will leave you with plenty of money to chase that dream.  Do it!
  • Begin meditating daily with this as your mantra:

I am responsible for my choices.  I am responsible for my success.  I am responsible for my life.

I’m pulling for you, Rachel, but you have to change your mindset in a big way to come out of this divorce in a good place.  Please write me back and let me know what’s happening.



This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. tamsen

    Oh good grief. Lady, follow Robin’s advice, for so many reasons. And I don’t know your lawyer or Oregon law (only California) but in California, and I wouldn’t doubt Oregon, inheritance money is NOT community property, it is separate property. In California you wouldn’t have any right to it at all, no matter what your shit stirring lawyer says. I would assume Oregon is the same, so ask an another lawyer before you proceed down that very ugly path. And for Christ’s sake, DON’T go down that path. You clearly don’t need the money, and good grief, you want a new car because yours is 4 years old? You must be joking. Really?

  2. Keith Stone

    Good job Robin… 🙂

  3. kelly

    Excellent advice! Those kids will be extremely lucky if their mother loves them enough to take it!

  4. Larraine

    Oh my! I have never witnessed such bloody entitled behaviour in all my life, the attitude of the PMS always amazes and quite honestly disgusts me, Mrs I suggest you follow Lady Robins advice to the letter, get your own job and your own income, you weren’t born with a right to everything that you wanted you have to earn it. It’s a lot like respect, it doesn’t just happen it is a two way deal, you give you get and lets be honest here, you are not GIVING SOD ALL! Get down off your high horse and start earning, you will hopefully then realise what it is and just how bloody good it can feel to be a truly independent member of the human race. Go on give it a go, it can feel pretty damn good I can promise you that.
    Robin, you are on the ball as always.

  5. Teri

    The attorney she consulted with is definitely a shit stirrer and not doing her any favors. Senate Bill 386, passed in 2011, declared that inherited and gifted property is NOT subject to the presumption of equal contribution. Therefore, if he keeps it separate, which he has, it likely will not be divided. Please pass on my information to him. I would be happy to represent him and go after attorney fees!

  6. winedrinker

    I’m sorry, her car is 4 years old? HOW HORRID!

    Great advice, Robin.

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