How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask socrateaser Your Own Question

socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34831
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
10097515
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
socrateaser is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have been legally separated since 9/09 and unfortunately

Customer Question

I have been legally separated since 9/09 and unfortunately have had three attorneys for various reasons resulting in one delay after another in getting this matter resolved. My wife's attorney is also well known for churning cases and has amassed a $30K legal bill. Our situation . . . . I work for the Federal government and am a W-2 employee. The wife is an RN but has not worked full time recently. One 16 year old at home, a 21 year old in college. No businesses to divide nor real estate other than the marital home. Assets include my 401K account, her Roth IRA, a joint mutual fund, my Thrift Savings Account and Federal Employees Retirement System balance (have worked for the government for 7 years).

I have received promise after promise of a settlement proposal that was to be provided since 10/09 . . . and when we went to mediation in 7/10, what was provided was entirely one-sided and unacceptable.

We had a preliminary hearing in early October where at least the martial home was decreed to be sold and it is now listed for $359K (bad time to sell . . . . and we had a buyout offer from the government for last Fall for $379K cash!). We were also ordered to go back for another full day of mediation which cost $750 per hour for the 3 attorneys and resulted in some agreement but nothing where we could both agree to sign the agreement.

The final court date is scheduled for January 2011.

So now my question . . . . .

My attorney has been in continuing discussions with the mediator and opposing counsel. I have reviewed the draft agreement but it seems less and less fair as I review it. What I wanted to see was what I should expect since I am being told to "accept the offer and move on". The points that stick out are:

1) For alimony, the wife's earning ability is being imputed as minimum wage; i.e., $7.25/hour. With my salary being about $60/hour, the alimony is being computed as being $2,400 perpetual . . . . being an RN, does minimum wage sound realistic and if not, what can I push for; i.e., $10/hr+?

2) Wife is demanding I pay health insurance for her. She has no pre-existing conditions and can get insurance on her own. Am I required to provide coverage and if so, is there a time limit? I would be willing to offer basic PPO coverage (not the Cadillac Blue Cross plan I have now) for 3 years - is that realistic to have the court accept?

3) Tax Return - she is demanding that we file married and joint for 2010 despite the fact we have been legally separated the entire year and all taxes have been paid by as as were the expenses that could be deducted. The attorneys are suggesting we file joint and I give the refund to her attorney for legal fees. Should I accept this (what would the court order) or hold for filing either joint (and offering a small percentage such as 20% to her) or file married and separate?

4) Attorney Fees - Despite going through 3 attorneys, my fees have amounted to about $10,000. Her attorney is claiming about $30,000 yet nothing has been done other than a lot of calls to the wife. I am willing to pay $7,500 but the mediator is suggesting $12,500 is fair . . . . thoughts?

5) The sale of the marital home may in fact result in negative equity. The wife is saying we split profits equally yet I absorb any loss . . . . can this in fact be court ordered considering we had a buyout offer which she declined last Fall?

6) I was to receive a relocation incentive if I remain in my current duty station for 18 months. The wife and her attorney are demanding half of this bonus which would have been earned after we legally separated. Does she have any legal claim to this incentive amount?

Thanks . . . . .
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 4 years ago.
1) For alimony, the wife's earning ability is being imputed as minimum wage; i.e., $7.25/hour. With my salary being about $60/hour, the alimony is being computed as being $2,400 perpetual . . . . being an RN, does minimum wage sound realistic and if not, what can I push for; i.e., $10/hr+?


A: An RN is one of the most desirable job descriptions in the current economy. Earning capacity of $7.25 is absurd. I would obtain an expert vocational evaluator to consider your wife's real earning capacity, and tell my opponent that if we go to trial, I will make mince meat out of this frivolous assertion.


2) Wife is demanding I pay health insurance for her. She has no pre-existing conditions and can get insurance on her own. Am I required to provide coverage and if so, is there a time limit? I would be willing to offer basic PPO coverage (not the Cadillac Blue Cross plan I have now) for 3 years - is that realistic to have the court accept?


A: Wife needs to get a job. I would avoid orders for anything other than cash, because non-cash orders are capable of changing - and with health care, the only direction is up!


3) Tax Return - she is demanding that we file married and joint for 2010 despite the fact we have been legally separated the entire year and all taxes have been paid by as as were the expenses that could be deducted. The attorneys are suggesting we file joint and I give the refund to her attorney for legal fees. Should I accept this (what would the court order) or hold for filing either joint (and offering a small percentage such as 20% to her) or file married and separate?


A: A taxpayer who lives separate or apart for the entire tax year must file as single or head of household. Based upon your stated facts, you must file as single. Any other filing status is tax fraud.


4) Attorney Fees - Despite going through 3 attorneys, my fees have amounted to about $10,000. Her attorney is claiming about $30,000 yet nothing has been done other than a lot of calls to the wife. I am willing to pay $7,500 but the mediator is suggesting $12,500 is fair . . . . thoughts?


A: The court will divide your total obligation in half. Don't offer to pay more than one half of the total.


5) The sale of the marital home may in fact result in negative equity. The wife is saying we split profits equally yet I absorb any loss . . . . can this in fact be court ordered considering we had a buyout offer which she declined last Fall?


A: Laugh at them. The objective of frivolous demands is to emotionally disable you in the hope that you will just throw in the towel. Note, however that family law judges can and do make absurd orders, that are seemingly, and probably are, pulled right out of thin air. So, if you go to trial , expect the unexpected, and you won't be disappointed.

6) I was to receive a relocation incentive if I remain in my current duty station for 18 months. The wife and her attorney are demanding half of this bonus which would have been earned after we legally separated.


A: It's your separate property. In the end, however, everything is a bargaining chip. You just have to get used to that reality.


General comment: You and your spouse are so far apart that it's a waste of time to negotiate. Though, frankly, there is one issue that is worth negotiating over. My goal is always to try to get the other spouse to waive all future rights to alimony. In my view, it is worth a significant amount of money to have the peace of mind knowing that when the judge signs the judgment/decree, you are done forever.



Edited by socrateaser on 11/2/2010 at 3:47 AM EST

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
< Last | Next >
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    8085
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    8085
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney and Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    6424
    27+ years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FL/FLAandNYLawyer/2012-1-27_14349_3Fotolia25855429M.64x64.jpg FiveStarLaw's Avatar

    FiveStarLaw

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    6336
    25 years of experience helping people like you.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    5987
    I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    5773
    JD, 15 years legal experience including family law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BrianTMayer/2010-01-06_200119_BM.jpg Brandon M.'s Avatar

    Brandon M.

    Family Law Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    3810
    Attorney experienced in all aspects of family law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/TU/TUSA/2012-6-6_55219_test.64x64.png Thoreau (T-USA)'s Avatar

    Thoreau (T-USA)

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2634
    Attorney
 
 
 
Chat Now With A Family Lawyer
socrateaser
socrateaser
4153 Satisfied Customers
Retired (mostly)