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Financial Separation Question
Old 05-22-2022, 04:01 PM   #1
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Financial Separation Question

Hey everyone. I recently broke up with my girlfriend of seven years, and had a question regarding our financial separation.

I came into the relationship with not much money, whereas she was more established with a house that earned rental income. We truly thought we were going to be together forever, and looked at out finances as one big pot that supported both of us.

As the years went on, we ended up getting into a big financial hole (as we both struggled to earn income as we transitioned careers). To help support us during this time, she ended up selling her home and walked away with a considerable surplus of around $250k. To help balance the financial disparity between us (as again I didnít have much money), she ended up paying most of our bills in about a 2 year stretch from the pot of money she earned from her house sale, whereas I saved and invested all the money I earned during this period (I had almost around $50k saved/invested at the end of those 2 years).

Fast forward to today. As was the case for many couples, the pandemic really affected us negatively (along with a few other factors). We have decided to separate just a few months ago. She has now made it clear that I owe her the money that I was saving during the time of our relationship. I donít fully feel this is right to rewind the clock and hit an undo button on the choices we made at the time.

Just wanted to get everyoneís opinions on this. How would you proceed if you were me?
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:04 PM   #2
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This is a tricky topic...
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:09 PM   #3
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With the info you provided it sounds to me like you may owe her something... But that's my opinion based on the info provided and I'm sure I don't have all the details... Maybe ask yourself "where would you be financially" if you would have been by yourself for the past seven years. (Or maybe not)
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:11 PM   #4
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Before I comment what is your position. You freely admit the SO paid the bills for 2 years. How much did she spend
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:13 PM   #5
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She was paying for all our bills during this time. Again, we thought we were going to be together forever and our mentality was that we were just balancing out the funds between us. Looking back at this now, I admit this does not look good on my end.

I am absolutely going to pay her back, it's just a matter of how much.
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:18 PM   #6
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That's a tough one. Do you feel that you owe her anything, based upon her contributions? I would think about that and then have a discussion with her about your rationale and then listen to what she has to say.
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:23 PM   #7
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My gut feeling is that if you earned 50% of the total income over the period, you should reimburse her 50% of the expenses over the period.
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:36 PM   #8
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If you two can't agree I'd probably find a divorce mediator who hopefully would just charge you to look at the facts and viewpoints from each of you and make a decision in a couple of hours. Any longer and it cuts too deeply into the money and neither of you will be happy.

Do it only if you both agree you will accept the mediator's ruling.

Only hearing a little info from one side of the story with some conflicts (one big pot for finances but a separate pot for your savings?) I wouldn't try to answer this. It's assuring to read that you acknowledge that you are willing to pay something back. I've heard a couple of somewhat similar stories where nothing was paid back as far as I know. My friends were on the other side, and I wasn't asked for advice so I didn't offer any. One was from years earlier anyway.
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Old 05-22-2022, 04:42 PM   #9
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To be perfectly fair, I'd try to determine the joint expenses over the 2-year period (excluding any big ticket items she bought herself, or that you bought, which, IMHO, you should pay full value for), and pay her back your half of the expenses, up to what you saved ($50K). If half of those joint expenses exceed that amount, I'd consider the living arrangement and any difference water under the bridge. IMHO, if she allowed you to save while she covered expenses, then the assumption was that the savings were joint.

The other fair way to go about it would be to determine your and her 'separate' property, and add in gains and losses, to the end of the relationship, and split the debt and gains as you would if you had been married (in most states).

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:13 PM   #10
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I would ask her to give you a number of what she thinks you owe her and if I could and if it was reasonable I would give it to her.
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Old 05-22-2022, 06:12 PM   #11
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To be perfectly fair, I'd try to determine the joint expenses over the 2-year period (excluding any big ticket items she bought herself, or that you bought, which, IMHO, you should pay full value for), and pay her back your half of the expenses, up to what you saved ($50K). If half of those joint expenses exceed that amount, I'd consider the living arrangement and any difference water under the bridge. ...
That is just what I was thinking as I read the OP. The OPs share of the various expenses that DGF paid for over that 2-year period that were shared expenses like rent, food, utilities, entertainment, etc... as if they had shared those costs 50/50.
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Old 05-22-2022, 06:20 PM   #12
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This is a tricky topic...
Tricky is an understatement. Honestly, unless any of us hears the other side of this story it is near impossible to give advice. Lawyers would have a field day on this thread and none of us is qualified to post with any degree of certainty.
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Old 05-22-2022, 06:58 PM   #13
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Shoe, other foot, how much would you want her to pay you?
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Old 05-22-2022, 07:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
...Only hearing a little info from one side of the story with some conflicts (one big pot for finances but a separate pot for your savings?) ....
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Tricky is an understatement. Honestly, unless any of us hears the other side of this story it is near impossible to give advice. Lawyers would have a field day on this thread and none of us is qualified to post with any degree of certainty.
Yes, but normally, when we hear one side of the story, it sounds one sided.

OP is admitting he owes something, admitting she had the house before their involvement, and that she paid the bills while he saved.

But that one really hit me, as RunnngBum said - "(one big pot for finances but a separate pot for your savings?) " Why the heck was OP putting money into savings while she was paying all the bills? If my daughter told me she was handling a relationship that way, we'd have a long talk.

So OK, if OP viewed this as a long term thing (what's ours is ours), then I guess I could kinda see it, still wacky though.

So my view is, you at least owe her half the expenses during that time, plus whatever gains you made with that savings - you wouldn't have those gains if you were using the money to pay your share of the bills. She should get her share of the gains.

Probably more, since you got to live in the house that she put a down payment on, etc. You don't get to share in any gains she had in the house, as she brought that to the relationship.

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Old 05-22-2022, 07:10 PM   #15
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DH and I were here once or twice. At first, she earned more than me, and she paid most if not all of the bills for a few years. Then I started earning more than her and we started doing more of an equal financial partnership. Now, for about the past 10 years I have earned much more than her. She often feels uneven about her financial contributions but she contributes more beyond just finances that is hard to sum up in a dollar term. I sometimes find myself criticizing her lack of income, but then we make up and the truth comes out and I really do appreciate all that she brings to the table beyond just an income. We sometimes need to remind each other of our vows... for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, etc. We make a great team and have a great partnership but it seems I will always make significantly more than her. The therapist reminds me there was a time and could be another time...but probably not. She really was the lightning rod behind pushing me to better my financial position in life and seek out better opportunities, I do owe her some credit for that.

In your situation, I would ask her what her number is, and come up with your number and make it as fair as possible.

I had a buddy who went through something similar, recently where his GF covered lots of expenses and bought lots of things for the household. When she left, she took all the things, he sent her and her girlfriends on a nice vacation, and they parted ways more amicably. Its never going to be even down the middle, life just rarely works that way. Best of luck!
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Old 05-22-2022, 07:35 PM   #16
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Legally, you owe her nothing.

Morally...well, that's up to you.
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Old 05-22-2022, 08:29 PM   #17
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Just wanted to get everyone’s opinions on this. How would you proceed if you were me?
I think the fair division of money on separation is something for you and her to work out. I don't think anybody here has any way of knowing what would be fair or not.

But I do have an opinion on how to proceed. Eventually you will find someone else, and begin a new relationship. If possible, try not to mix your money. Keep your money and her money and financial obligations separate.

Money is the source of so many relationship arguments. Frank and I have kept our money separate since we first met. We found that we have little to argue about since we don't spend each other's money.

(Frank is sitting here, nodding his head, and says, "yes, exactly".)
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Old 05-22-2022, 08:58 PM   #18
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Curious if money was one of the things that drove the relationship to this point
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Old 05-23-2022, 12:11 AM   #19
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Sorry that you are going through this. Breakups are never easy.

I agree with you should do what would you feel would be fair if the shoe were on the other foot.
If that doesn't work,
I agree with find a someone to help mediate this issue assuming you both agree to follow the mediator's decision.
I also acknowledge that there is a great deal of missing data. Car payments, medical payments, is/was one of you in school during this time, etc.

FWIW, You don't say if the last 2 years were the 2 years that both of you spent most of the $250k or if it was an earlier 2 year period. I suppose that doesn't matter. In those 2 years together you both spent $250k. At first blush your half of the expenses was $125k for 2 years. And you were making $25k/year (if you "saved and invested all the money I earned during this period"). At second blush, assuming together you lived in a 1 bedroom place, and she would have needed to pay rent, utilities, etc. on the place if she lived there alone anyway, the additional cost of having you there would not have been 50%. Maybe only 20%.

In either case, with the data I have, I can see her point that you should give her the $50k.
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Old 05-23-2022, 03:58 AM   #20
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For me it's an ethical issue, which I believe is not subjective. One is either ethical in their relations with others or not, and being ethical is too valuable to trade away for money.

But, that said, one thing to try: put yourself in her shoes and explore how you would feel in this situation, if it were you who paid all the expenses for those two years while your partner saved their salary.

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