Steel Advice: Stay out of your sister's divorce

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DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My sister, "Luanne," is in the process of getting a divorce. She and her ex have no money. So there is not that much to fight over, but she wants spousal support and part of his pension. I actually believe that she is entitled to this as well. My brother-in-law is of the firm belief that it is over, she needs to move on with her life and is not entitled to any financial support from him. If he had a 401(k) through his work, he would feel that the entire money amassed is his because he worked for it while she raised the kids. He doesn't get that it is marital money. Luanne is ready to dig in her heels and fight to the bitter end. Remember, she has no money. She told me she is going to tell her ex that I am willing to fund the divorce battle for as long as it takes until he gives up. This is not the case. I do not want to be involved in this messy situation. I do not want my brother-in-law to think I would even consider doing this. Do I tell him this? I told her I would not fund her fight, but she just said she knows and is just using me as a threat. Help!


DEAR RELATED: Half of a stone is still a stone. Tell your sister to get realistic and begin to investigate her legal options. For starters she should go to the library and get some books that will help her become familiar with basic divorce rights, procedures and terminology. Leave the books out in the open at home. "Luanne" needs to stop the threats and educate herself to what the law says she may be entitled.

She is trying to bully her husband with the biggest club she has right now: your money. In spite of what she tells you, she may believe you will fund her divorce and finance her fight. Reiterate that is not an option. Advise your sister to think logically not emotionally. She needs a clear head as she navigates the legal system. If you speak to your brother-in-law urge him to pay for a divorce mediator. Then back off and stay out of it!

DEAR STEEL ADVICE: My friend and I were celebrating his 96th birthday at a local restaurant last week when our server came over and said that a woman at the bar wished to send us drinks in honor of the occasion. We were surprised and expressed our delight and thanks to our waitress and asked her to pass it on to our benefactor. I am asking if one or both of us should have gone to the bar and thanked her in person. This has never happened to either or us before and probably won't again but just in case.


DEAR GRATEFUL: You did the right thing. It is not necessary to get up and thank the sender in person. Acknowledging the gift with a wave or a raised glass is very appropriate. The woman who sent the drinks was able to share your joy without intruding on your privacy. Her small contribution to your celebration made her happy. You can pay her thoughtfulness forward by sending drinks or a dessert to another table at a future dinner. Unexpected generosity and kindness go far in building nice memories.

Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice. First Published September 3, 2013 4:00 AM


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