Schmuck of the year finalist.  An NY man and woman were married for 30 years.  8 years prior to his death, man obtained an uncontested divorce on grounds that his wife abandoned him.  Man continued to live with woman for duration of his life.  Wife did not discover divorce documents until cleaning up his finances post-death.  Wife claimed that they had been happy.  She was aware that he had tried to sell a house previously without informing her.

As a widow, she was entitled to his pension and perhaps other benefits.  As an ex-wife, she was not entitled to those and he could leave them to his children (or mistress).  She was able to successfully overturn the divorce and fend off the claims of his children from a prior marriage.

Lessons to be learned:

1.  If a spouse is ill, it behooves the other spouse to stay married because a widow is generally better positioned financially than an ex-wife of the husband/ex-husband.

2.  If a spouse tries to sell a house without telling the other spouse, the trust level in the marriage should become zero.

3.  One woman’s apparently happy marriage can be another man’s misery.