It is my pleasure:
1. Does this change his chances for alimony and do I need to prove he is co-habiting?
A. It typically would improve his chances, except in the event of co-habitation with a member of the opposite sex. The burden would be on the spouse claiming cohabitation
to prove it.
2. What do I need as proof?
A. Like most words, "cohabitation" is not defined under the law in the state of Florida for all purposes. When a word is not defined under the law, the courts will interpret words looking at their plain meanings. Looking at the plain meaning, cohabitation means "living together."
If you are wondering what "living together" means, there is no bright-line rule; you have to look at the totality of the circumstances and oftentimes, if there is disagreement, it must be resolved by a judge. Personally, I would start by asking where the couple keeps their toothbrushes.
1) He is unwilling to speak with me any further. I have all of his possessions and he has told me to deal with them but I would like to get them out of my house. He also has several big ticket items of mine, including a mobile phone and laptop with confidential legal documents, etc. that I would like back immediately. How do I get these items back and give him his items?
A. Ideally, you would be able to sort it out between yourselves. If you can't work it out, possession during the pendency of the divorce can be decided by the courts upon motion to the courts. Once the divorce is finalized, personal property
will be divided according to the order of the court. If no divorce is pending, the courts cannot get involved.
2) If he has said in an email that he will not come after me for alimony, is that legally binding?
A. The best way to answer that question is to say that it is relevant and it could only help your case, but it is unlikely to be binding.
3) If I paid for flights for him to see his family over Christmas and he asked me not to cancel them, does he owe me for his travel expenses? I booked them before I found out he was cheating and they were non-refundable.
A. That can be argued either way. If it was pre-separation, you would typically not be entitled a refund. If it was post-separation, you would probably have a decent argument for a partial refund, depending on the source of the funds, but he could argue that it was a gift in which case there would be no right to reimbursement. I wouldn't plan on getting refunded, but that issue will likely need to be settled either by agreement or by the courts.
4) How do I start filing for divorce? Do I need a lawyer or is there a way of doing it myself? Would you recommend I use a lawyer?
A. Assuming you meet the Florida state residency requirements, you would start by completing the standard divorce forms and filing them in your county court. You can get a forms packet from the court directly, or you can visit the following website:
Whether you can handle it yourself without the assistance of legal counsel depends on you. The family courts have gone to great lengths to make themselves more accessible to the public. They have partially succeeded--things are nothing like they were 30 years ago, but the process is not at all intuitive. Handling your own case is like preparing your own income tax returns; some people will always need professional assistance, some people are sophisticated enough to handle their own matter, but the majority of people can stumble through their own issues successfully as long as there is nothing unusually complex about their case. I would recommend that you at least consult with an attorney for an hour or two to help you organize your initial filings so you can at least start off on the right foot.
As for the subscription, the way it basically works is that follow-up questions to clarify an existing answer should be asked in the same question thread, but new questions should be presented in new threads. I can continue in the existing thread with any set of questions at my discretion and I have been happy to answer your questions all in this same thread, but for organizational purposes the website requests that new questions are presented in new threads, so that is the way to go in the future.
We have some great attorneys here, but if you would like to work specifically with me, the best way to ensure that your question reaches me is to ask for me by name in the opening of your question thread (e.g. "Attention B.T. Meyer" or even "This question is for B.T.") That way if I am not immediately available (I do eat, sleep, and operate a private practice when I am not answering questions online) the other experts can direct the question to me when I return.