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Melissa Hutsell is an award-winning freelance journalist with a deep rooted passion for both community and international journalism. She was born and raised in Northern California, and has lived, studied, worked, and traveled in more 20 different countries. Melissa holds a Master's degree in Global Journalism from City University London, as well as degrees in Journalism and Globalization from Humboldt State University. Though she covers various topics as both a writer and editor, she specializes in business and cannabis journalism.
Death, Sex & Money partnered with BuzzFeed News to produce the series Opportunity Costs, which reports on class and money, and how those things affect our daily lives and relationships. This episode centers on Jaimie Seaton, who — like many — experienced a class slide after divorce.
Seaton lived a privileged life while married to her ex-husband, a high-ranking banker. She didn’t pay attention to prices tags when shopping, and stayed in five-stars hotels when traveling.
But she wasn’t always wealthy. She put herself through college, and at one point was homeless. After she graduated, she moved to South Africa where she met her husband. She then didn’t have to think about money, until after her husband left.
“One of the things about divorce is that it’s a devastatingly personal process to go through, and it also is a financial process to go through,” explains host Anna Sale.
Sale asks Seaton how she handled her lifestyle change. “I was in denial about the finances,” Seaton says. Her divorce lawyer told her: "One of the hardest things for women like you to realize is that life as you knew it is over."
When marriages end, it hurts both parties economically. But in straight marriages, Sale notes, it disproportionately affects women. In fact, after divorce, women’s household income falls by 41 percent — nearly double the loss experienced by men.
It also affects children. The series hears from many people whose social class changed after their parents split.
Seaton worries about money all the time. The freelance writer works seven days per week, and receives child support and alimony from her ex-husband. But when her children move out of home, she will no longer receive the majority of that support. That thought keeps her up at night.
The podcast further explores Seaton’s plans for the future, selling her house, dating, her kids’ college tuition, and more of the dynamics she faces as a divorcee and a mom.