I'm very late to the conversation and although I tried to read all of your posts, I didn't read everyone else's (not that I'm not interested but I'm up to my eyeballs in some other stuff right now and pressed for time). So please forgive me if I comment on something and it’s out of context or based on an incorrect assumption.
I was married, happily as far as I knew, for 45 yrs. My (now) EX was a pain in the neck, always grumpy with and about everyone else, never wanted to do anything or go anywhere and when we did, everything and everyone ticked him off. We got along fine and never had a cross word (although in hindsight I can see he never treated me as well as he should have but that’s not because he’s mean, it’s because he just doesn’t know how to consider anyone besides himself). Anyway, in an effort to cheer him up, I packed him up with new clothes and used my frequent flyer miles and sent him off to his 50th High School class reunion in the Midwest. Well, he got cheered up all right - bumped into his old girlfriend from senior year and that was the beginning of a long horrible twisted tale that turned my life upside down and ripped my heart out and melted my brain (I exaggerate but you know what I mean).
But the moment I realized he was not mine exclusively anymore, I told him to leave and I went directly to a divorce attorney. I realize you’re in CA and the laws are different but my attorney pounced and told me to file immediately and ask for almost everything and that if he was feeling guilty or anxious to leave for TX (where she lived), he might agree. And by golly, he did.
So the things I wanted to bring up to you are:
She has betrayed you and now she has manipulated you into believing that she deserves half of everything that you built together. She has also lied to you about her partner buying her out. That’s so insulting, it makes me furious for you. And I hope you realize that you owe her nothing and you do not have to be nice about any of this. I’m not saying to be ugly but to quit trying to be “fair” and “nice.” You shouldn’t care what she thinks of you anymore and she has no right to ever comment on anything about your life ever again. Your connection and commitment to her is finished. And for God’s sake, you no longer have any obligation to look out for her best interests! She fired you from that job and fully intended to keep you on as the husband while she had her fun in France. Let “him” look out for her best interests and you look out for yours.
2.She wants to live in FR, you don’t. Therefore, is there any benefit to you to divorce now? You’re already retired, right? So it’s not like if you put off the D, your pension will be higher later on down the road. If you don’t D, you can just stay in sunny CA and collect your full pension, live in the home she abandoned and play golf everyday and wait for her to come back. Not to mention that if she rebuilds her business, it’ll be financially to your benefit to still be married to her when it’s worth more. And I’m guessing that’s part of her plan - get divorced from you, sock you for everything she can get her hands on and then rebuild her fortune in a way that you can’t touch it.
3 If your attorney is considering any type of agreement that doesn’t give her 50% of your pension, I think you should consult with another attorney because as soon as the D is final, I think she can go back and demand the 50% and your attorney should know better. I think CA law mandates that she get 50% in spite of anything you sign so if your lawyer is going along with anything else, I think you need to consult with another. And I admit I don’t really know but I always believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
4. I’m also wondering if you’ll collect SS, if not on your own contributions but on hers? I know the laws about SS can vary when people work for various city, county and state agencies so it’s something you should look into. I also believe there’s a different formula for couples when one is under the SS system and the other isn’t. The usual goal of the divorce process is that you have similar incomes in retirement. I believe you can make an appt. to talk to a SS rep and have them run all the numbers and figure out your best case scenario. And don’t believe anything anyone has told you about this - call Social Security and have them run the numbers for you. I have a friend who was positive I was wrong that she could start collecting on her ex-husband’s account while she was still working (she was past retirement age). I’d figured it out and she could have gotten $900/month but she kept listening to everyone else. But I kept nagging her and one day she was talking to a woman who happened to work for SS and guess what? She started collecting $900/month.
I realize I’m jumping all over the place here and I apologize but I also wanted to point out that you can figure out a fair split with her getting half your pension and then you getting money from her IRA to make it come out fair. I can’t find the post where you spelled out the numbers but here’s an example, using made up numbers (monthly figures).
Sally pension = 300
Dan SS = 500
Sally SS = 2000
Sally from Dan $4000 pension = 2000
Dan from Dan $4000 pension = 2000
Sally’s IRA = 25,000
Dan’s IRA = 10,000
So the joint monthly income is $6800.
So then you add up hers:
Sally from Dan pension = 2000
Sally pension = 300
Sally SS = 2000
Sally total = $4300
Dan pension = 2000
Dan SS = 500
Dan total = $2500;
The monthly payout from the IRA’s will be another $1000/month for a total of $7800 per month joint.
So you work it out that you each get $3900/month. But she’s already at $4300 so she should transfer all of her IRA to your IRA under that scenario.
If you send me all the numbers, I’ll do it up right so you can see what I’m saying. But wait until you consult with SS directly.
So my EX and I did this:. He kept all his pensions and 401K and I get monthly spousal support for the rest of my life. If he dies before me, my SS will increase by almost the amount of the monthly spousal support, which was a coincidence but made it easy for us to do it fairly.
He had a life ins. policy through his job and I’m the permanent and irrevocable beneficiary of that, with our kids as secondary. That ascertains that the AP (his now wife) doesn’t get that money. He earned it while married to me, it will not go to her. I could’ve had it go straight to our kids but they were both in rocky relationships at the time so he agreed that it should go to me and I’d save it for them until things settled down in their lives. At the time, when I suggested it, I explained the idea and said “and you know you can trust me to keep my word.” He did have the decency to hang his head in shame and agree with me.
I’m also the beneficiary of his 401K the same way but he’s probably spending that down as fast as he can to keep me from getting any but I couldn’t win them all.
Anyway, I wish you well. And my advice to you is: don’t let anyone tell you what to do and don’t do anything until you feel like it and feel comfortable with it. There’s no hurry here and you want to get it right.
One last caveat: when I brought up my suspicions about him having an affair, he denied, denied, denied and was being sweet and loving and kind and open and warm. When I showed him I had proof, he hung his head down and when he looked back up, he was a different person. He made a fundamental shift right in front of my eyes. And he’s been a horrible SOB every since. I suspect your wife will do the same thing. (And it is a psychological phenomenon, I forget the name of it, but believe me, she’ll do the same thing - don’t be tricked by her doe eyes and sweet smile).
My heart breaks for you but I’m also jealous because I’m sure you’ll have many more opportunities for love. I just read that there are 128 women for every 100 men over age 65. So I’m resigned to a future of petting my cat and exchanging casseroles with my Golden Girls friends. :)