Saturday, November 22, 2008

Victim #73: Agony in New Jersey

I'm 62 years old, was divorced in NJ after a 28-year-marriage. She wasn't cheating, I was. No, it was not nice, but it is done. Those were not the grounds. I was somehow drawn into serving her. The judge served up child support (no issue) and lifetime alimony. Even my lawyer said it was the custom. The judge said "Don't lose your job." I did, at the end of 2001. That's where I learned about a case called Lepis v. Lepis that has made law in Jersey. You can have your change of circumstances, but you can also sell your 401(K) to keep the lady in her accustomed lifestyle.

I impoverished myself and sold my future to a stockbroker. I took my ex to court 3 times in 2002 and lost every time. My circumstances were considered "temporary." My arrested alcoholism (still is) was a "so what" matter. So were the other psychological issues that went with it. I gave up.

When I returned to work 18 months later I was immediately "wage executed" again. I was early 40% than I was in 1998 but I refused to go back to court. Instead I declared bankruptcy because I had card-kited to live during the time out of work and the salary did not cover it.

I left that job in January for a job that paid $12K more. Sixty days later it was over. You cannot debate any point even if you are not arguing in a family-held business.

No savings, no pension, no nothing. I just stopped paying. I am quite delinquent. They don't put you in jail in NJ anymore, debtor's prison is gone, but they can take your unemployment benefits. I went to see a so-called lawyer from Monmouth-Ocean Legal Services, and he said these words to me: "You have no hope."

Unemployment can be stolen but it is not a grounds for reduction. Go figure. I almost told the lawyer to drive me to the nearest bar and give me a ten dollar bill for seed money, but I didn't. I will not give my ex the satisfaction. She knows my situation--I have tried to be direct and honest with her. But I'm running out of steam. Lifetime alimony is farcical, since she works, has her own social security, a chunk of mine, and a pension. I have
nothing. But I, the great sinner, am supposed to keep paying.

I am tempted to just retire and live on nothing, but there is a vestige in me of Fight.