At our first meeting, my divorce lawyer looked across his large desk, fixed his gaze on my swollen, weeping eyes, and said, "The hardest thing for women like you to understand is that your life as you know it is over."
It was a harsh assessment of my future financial prospects, and one that didn't immediately sink in. I had come to interview this lawyer a week after my husband of nearly 14 years left me for his pregnant mistress and just days after the first lawyer I visited looked across her desk, characterized me as a gold-digger and said that I should not expect a financial windfall from the situation.
Never mind that I was the aggrieved party and I now had two children to support, that my husband had been the sole breadwinner, that I had put my journalism career on the back-burner as we followed his banking career around the world. The first bit of legal wisdom these lawyers chose to impart was that I should not expect to profit from the end of my marriage.
When my husband broke his news out of the blue one day in 2012, we were living in a 5,000-square-foot home on three acres in the country. We had settled there less than a year earlier, after returning from roughly six years in Asia, where we lived a lavish expatriate lifestyle.
He was an executive at a global bank and I was a foreign correspondent, and, over six years in Singapore and Bangkok, we lived in fashionable and opulent homes with live-in help. Our children attended private international schools, we traveled business-class to exotic locations, and I never looked at prices in the supermarket. It was our own personal La-La Land.