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lwpat, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 25386
Experience:  Practicing family law attorney
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My 83 year old husband, retired Lt. Col., US Army Medical Services,

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My 83 year old husband, retired Lt. Col., US Army Medical Services, has Alzheimers/Dementia and is in the VA Med Center Continuing Life Center, locked down Dementia Unit. I am his wife of 10 years, and his caregiver/ health care surrogate, etc. I do not have a Power of Attorney. He is in an end of life program and I have downsized my home and am coping as well as I can. I am 75 years old.

His ex wife, divorced 1989, was awarded permanent/life time alimony. Since he was admitted to the Dementia Unit (end of life program), she has filed for enforcement of that provision. I written here in April that "we would not be able to send monthly checks until our finances straightened out and I his placement for continuing care was determined. The process drained our funds and he was finally admitted to the program 8/14/12, through a respite program and within a month the doctor determined he needed to be there and not sent home. Without any discussion she filed in Highlands County (Florida) to enforce the decreed alimony by deducting from his retirement. Two times her attorney attempted to serve papers on him (once at our home) and the deputy was told the circumstances and he sent the papers back to the orgination point. Again, the papers were attempted to be served to him in the "nursing home" and the staff and physician told the process server that no one in that unit had the capacity to understand nor receive any legal notices and sent the server away. Yesterday, when I visited him (1 hour away) the staff handed me an envelope from the law firm and enclosed was "Former Wife's Admended Notice of Hearing". (Former Wife's verified motion for enforcement of final judgement Re: Alimony)

No paper work was ever served on him. My name appears nowhere. I just found out that because there was no response from him that by default she moved forward with the filing. There is something terribly wrong with this picture. We are both retired and devoted to each other. I met him long after they were divorced and never questioned the permanent alimony and when I had to take over all matters and fight for his benefits I hit the wall on expenses. I told her I expected it to be temporary and would resume as soon as possible the string of hateful actions ensued.

The rescheduled hearing is 3 hours away in Sebring, FL (I live in Newberry) ... 4 hours away for him .... if he could travel ... which he cannot. What should be done?
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Since you do not have a conservatorship, you cannot file an answer or even appear in court on his behalf. However, you can retain an attorney to appear on his behalf and file for a termination of or reduction in the alimony. Otherwise, it is likely that the judge will award the garnishment. I am assuming that Highlands is where the divorce was decreed so that will be the proper court. It is never a good idea to simply ignore or try to avoid the fact that papers are attempting to be served. I am not sure of your county but you should be able to find some free or low cost legal assistance. Try

You should consider filing for a conservatorship and there may be other veterans benefits available to you such as aid and attendance.

The attorney can probably get the hearing postponed and then you can decide on the proper procedure. You will need a copy of the divorce decree to give to the attorney. If you do not have one you can get it from the clerk of court, it is public information. Alimony is normally always modifiable on a substantial change of circumstances and I have been successful in having alimony terminated under similar situations.
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