The Art of Dividing Up a Marriage
To the average American, the word “divorce” can conjure up images of the messy end of a marriage, the messy aftermath of a messy divorce. But one family might find them different.
For Daphne and Daniel Hays, a simple question about money became a big deal. Daniel and his wife had been living apart after their marriage was dissolved in the late 1980s. “She wanted to make sure the house and all her things were paid for before she divorced me,” he said. “I was willing to put up the money so they didn’t have to take everything out of the house.”
But when Daphne and her mother went to confront the Hayses in the late 1990s, they discovered Daniel’s business was in trouble with his creditors.
“I didn’t think I would have to pay my debts,” Daphne told me on our recent trip to Los Angeles. “I had made a lot of money in the business. But because of the economy, it was just a question of whether we would be able to pay the bills or whether we could take some of the money out of the business.”
That’s why Daphne and her mother decided to take Daniel to court. Daphne said she didn’t get a lot of support from Daniel’s family, who she said treated her like she was a “child” who needed to learn her lesson. But in January 2001, she and her mother went to court to get the money that Daniel was leaving her. The Hayses were told the divorce was their only option. Daniel’s mother, Linda Hays, said that in a typical divorce, the husband simply pays the wife’s share of the property. But Daphne was told she could not keep Daniel’s shares of the company because he had sold them for a fraction of what they were worth.
“I felt like I was losing Daniel,” Daphne said. “But even if I kept all