1. Follow your heat

One day he decided to leave. It was completely unexpected and hit her like an atomic bomb. That is, it completely destroyed her. They were a lovely family, like from a commercial – a mother, a father, an eldest son and a little princess, all smart, all accomplished, all painfully beautiful and most of all bonded by love. When she married him, she finally felt complete and even got him a surprise when she arrived at the wedding with a new tattoo which read “follow your heart”. They worked together, she was his best friend and he did not take a step without sharing it with her and seeking her opinion. When he returned from work that Tuesday that she would never forget he told her he had decided to leave. He would not say why, completely denied an out-of-wedlock relationship and only said repeatedly that his heart was telling him to leave. He packed a small suitcase and left.

Her world collapsed and she wept for days, begging him to come back to her and restore the life that she lost and their united family. The children were also devastated. They did not understand how everything could fall apart like that as there were no early signs. They saw their mother cry for days on end and their little hearts broke. When they asked their father why he had left, he replied that he was following his heart. ”Mom,” they asked her, “how could it be that dad follows his heart? he always said that his heart was here with us.”

It took some time but she started to regroup and think about how to move on. Every time she thought about her economic future, she was gripped by unease. She had been working with him, without pay, throughout their marriage and was entirely depended on him. That is until he decided, as mentioned, to follow his heart and leave her with a broken heart and an empty pocket.

He promised to end things amicably and that she would get everything she deserved, hinting that with the proceeds from half of their prime-location apartment she could buy a nice apartment in a lesser location. Therefore, when she came for consultation, she thought that all she was entitled to was half of their beautiful apartment in Tel Aviv and said she did not know how she could survive financially with only that. When she realized that she was also entitled to at least half of their business, half of the funds in his accounts in Israel and abroad, half of his 401k funds and other employment benefits and half of his yacht, she was amazed. A smile crept across her face and she said she believed it would break his heart to part with half of everything.

She was right. At first, he was angry and argued against her claims and then he went for legal consultation. When he realized what was the price for following his heart he asked that they go back to being together… She didn’t go back.

The moral of the story:

Even if you are sure that your marriage is unbreakable, know that everything might change, so never ever be financially dependent on your spouse.

When you choose to follow your heart, first examine the implications of such a move and only if your heart still asks to leave, follow it.


2. Better safe than sorry

He was widowed at the age of 65, still a viral and handsome man. Despite the difficulty he felt at first, he soon began dating women again and looking for a relationship. It wasn’t easy. He found women who wanted him for his money, women who refused him after the first date, one who thought that after two weeks she could discipline him and one whose children threatened her with a boycott if she went out with another man after she got divorced.

After five difficult years, during which he almost gave up on finding love, it

Finally came. He met her at the wedding of a friend’s grandson and was enchanted by her feminine body and her free spirit. She was a widow of 56 and the 14 years that separated them did not bother her, on the contrary.

They soon moved to live together and had a fairly stable relationship for 10 years. Fairly – because every now and then, especially after a fight she would usually instigate, she would disappear for a day or two, claiming she was staying with her sister.

After 10 years she started making financial demands. Then she threatened to leave him and made good on her threat. He was very sad and depressed, refusing to leave his bed. Eventually she came back. He was revived, his eyes gleamed and he felt ten years younger and happier. After two months she left again and he sank into depression again, telling his daughters that he had lost his desire to live. A few months later she decided to come back yet again, promising that she loved him and could not do without him, and so the spark returned to the 80-year-old man’s eyes and the smile to his lips.

His daughters, who witnessed his emotional roller coaster, were beside themselves. It was clear to them that she was receiving a lot of money from him but they preferred to see him with a spark in his eyes and less money in the bank. That is until at some point they realized that she had long-term plans to take control of his inheritance. He had four apartments, which came from his widow’s family, the girls’ mother. Incidental comments that she threw here and there revealed that she had her eyes on two of them, high value apartments in a prime location in Tel Aviv.

At this stage they had a talk with their father. Since he was still lucid then, he understood that his property should be protected and after some legal consultation decided to transfer all the apartments in the name of the girls, two apartments registered to each of them and one apartment registered to the grandchildren. This involved a purchase tax charge, albeit reduced, but still a significant amount, which the girls preferred to pay now. ‘Better safe than sorry’ they unanimously agreed. The father was asked to keep the matter secret and not to say a word to his eccentric, fickle girlfriend.

Six months later she left again. Every day he called to beg her to come back and she refused. After three months, his health and mental condition deteriorated. Depression was not good for his body and he was already 82 years old. He continued sending her flowers every day and pleading for her to come back. She then asked to talk to him and said that she needed financial security and that if he wanted to get back together he should transfer two apartments in her name so she can give them to her sons, an apartment each. She came with a preprinted document and had him sign a confirmation that he was gifting the apartments to her. He was so down that he signed whatever she wanted, as long as she would come back, and she did.

A year later he passed away. She tried to do whatever she could to inherit him but to no avail because he had a will in which he transferred all his property to his daughters. Then she filed a motion for a declaratory judgment asking to declare that the apartments were not part of the estate, presenting the document she had printed and had him sign as a binding agreement. At the first hearing, the judge realized what was happening and explained to her that the apartments were no longer his when he signed that document and that the document looked to be executed with extortion and exploitation. Therefore – he advised – she would be better off withdrawing all her motions immediately.

The moral of the story: the safest way to ensure that property is transferred to the children and not to a third party when the parents die, is to transfer it while still alive. Better be safe than sorry.


3. Pharaoh

They were a religious couple when they married, raising four observant children. After 10 years of marriage, they decided to divorce by mutual consent, following years of not being able to stand each other. Very quickly each of them found a new relationship. While she fell in love with a more religious man than her, he fell in love with a secular woman, who had no affiliation to religion.

Her home was kept more religiously, with no television but with a computer and the children received a strict religious education. In his house, however, the situation was different. His second wife did observe Shabbat and kosher but only ostensibly for him and his children, who came to them twice a week and every other weekend.

At some point the children were occasionally exposed to the fact that she did not really observe Shabbat. She had a hard time avoiding her cellphone and from time to time the children saw her receive messages and answer them or log in to Facebook. They did not say a word but when they returned to their mother’s home they told her how the Sabbath was being desecrated in their father’s house, being appalled by it. The mother began to send stern messages to the father, he answered her in the same manner and soon their interactions were filled with insult and resentment.

Passover time was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The children saw that he had changed her username on his phone to “Pharaoh,” which he did after receiving five consecutive hate messages from her that he ignored. They were hurt by what they discovered, but more so by finding chametz (leavened bread) in the freezer. They were in the kitchen when the father opened the freezer looking for ice cubes and accidentally exposed the loaves of bread in there.

They called their mother crying and asked her to come and get them. Since then they have not seen their father and refuse to stay with him. The angry mother submitted a motion to stop his visitation arrangements with the Rabbinical Court (where they approved the divorce agreement). This is how a battle begins.

The moral of the story: Be very careful with what children see and hear at home.

Keep in mind that they see and hear everything and have feelings of their own to consider.