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AlexiaEsq., Managing Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 13521
Experience:  19+ Years of Legal Practice in Family law matters.
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Hello. I am a spouse living in Germany where my husband is

Resolved Question:

Hello. I am a spouse living in Germany where my husband is with the USAF and stationed at Ramstein AFB. We have been here for 6 years and I am unemployed. My husband has decided that he now wants a divorce, is going to take my 2 year old daughter away, has removed all money from our checking account providing me with no support (our rent bounced today because of this), is refusing to make payments on credit cards, filed our 2011 taxes jointly and is refusing to give me any of the money (the refund is over $6000), says he has filled out Early Return Spouse paperwork to have me sent back to the states (I have no residence there) but won't give me a copy, and so much more. I have went to Family Advocacy and they have claimed they can not help me and a German lawyer told me they did not know what to to.

What can I do???

Angela Walsh
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  AlexiaEsq. replied 5 years ago.
*Due to rules of your state bar or mine, nothing herein is intended as legal advice, only intended as general information to better help yourself.

Hi, I am so sorry for what is happening to you. Can you please tell me if you are an American Citizen (or German)?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes. We both are. He has just been stationed here for 6 years and our home of record is Penn.
Expert:  AlexiaEsq. replied 5 years ago.
Have you been to see his Commander?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He has told me that if I do I will be immediately sent back to the states without my daughter and no place to live.
Expert:  AlexiaEsq. replied 5 years ago.
That is incorrect. The commander does not control what you do.

However, the military will not divorce you either - that is a civil matter. You could file for divorce in Germany, possibly, but you would want to use a German divorce attorney familiar with military spousal issue - and it may be a decent wait for the necessary time frame. He does NOT have more rights over your child than you do. I would also consider contacting the U.S. embassy for assistance, since you are abroad. However, if I and my child have passports, I'd be hopping on the next plane to the U.S. and file over there - as I understand it, if your residence is PA you may not have the issue of most people moving there of establishing residency first for 6 months. I realize you likely aren't working because you have a small child. Now is the time to avail yourself of all those close relationships with family or even friends you have nurtured over the years - get the money together and start protecting yourself on a proactive basis. I would not leave the country, however, without my child - so if that means filing for custody in Germany now (how on year does dad have time to babysit while working full time?) and asking permission from the court to return to the US, I'd consider doing that. You will also want to seek spousal support.

Above all, he seems to be making threatening statements in an affirmative way to scare you into submission - i.e. false statements, such as, he has the power to take your child away from you - he has no such power under the law. Only a court can dictate who gets custody, and as a the caretaking parent the child relies on day to day, it is likely a court will want that status quo continued. I also wonder if your husband has a girlfriend - typically they don't act this stupid unless there is a girlfriend waiting in the wings.

You may also have to face the probable reality that life is about to change - assuming your relationship is over, even in best case scenario, you have to start planning life as a single parent of a small child. This means, realizing you will have to get a job again, pay for child care, scrape by. Yes, you will likely get child support, but that is not going to support YOU - and it won't provide your child all she needs for a flourishingl life - you have to provide the other 'half' of her needs.

But first things first is filing to get custody, child support and spousal support - regardless of how long a divorce may be in the future.

Now, I am not personally familiar with this firm, but here is one that purports to handle American/German family matters cross border - he may be a good one to inquire with.

Again, I am so sorry things have happened here like this - keep your chin up and PLAN and ACT. Lack of planning to protect yourself previously is why you are feeling helpless right now (even though they say that more than 1/2 of military marriages will fail) - you need to look out for A#1 - yourself, both for you and because your daughter needs you too.

I hope this helps clarify for you.

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