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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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My husband left me and moved in with his girlfriend We dont

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My husband left me and moved in with his girlfriend We don't have children but have been married 20 years. He confessed he has been having an affair with this girl 20 years younger for the last 3 years and now is in a committed relationship with her even though we are still married. No papers have yet been filed and he has been living with her for a month. An attorney told me because we make about the same money he doesn't have to pay me anything and can go on without recourse My problem is that I think about killing myself everyday and I am shocked I have been hospitalizred for pnemonia and depression 3 times in a month and am losing my job How can I have no recourse when he has destroyed my life 8 years before retirement. I am 50 and will lose my home and job and my future that I thought I had for the last 20 years. What can I do? What are my rights? I live in Maryland and feel so devastated.

Thank you for your question.

In Maryland, a divorce may be granted on the following grounds:

  • Adultery.
  • Desertion for at least one year before filing.
  • Voluntary separation for at least one year before filing.
  • Conviction of a felony, when the defendant has been sentenced to at least three years in a penal institution, and has served at least one year of the conviction.
  • Living separate and apart for at least 2 years.
  • Insanity.
  • Cruelty or domestic violence against the petitioner or a minor child of the complaining partner.


[Based on Maryland Code, Family Law, § 7-103]

 

In terms of distribution of property, Maryland is an "equitable distribution state." That means that if you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your marital property (everything acquired during the marriage) the court will do so for you in an equitable, but not necessarily equal, marriage.

When determining the division of the marital estate, the court may take the following factors into consideration:

  • The contributions of each party to the marital estate, both monetary and non-monetary.
  • The value of all property of each party.
  • The economic circumstances of each party.
  • Misconduct that led to the estrangement of the parties.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and physical or mental condition of each of the parties.
  • How the marital property was acquired.
  • The amount of alimony awarded.
  • Any other factors that the court deems relevant.

 

[Based on Maryland Code, Family Law, § 8-205]

As a loose rule, the longer the marriage, the closer the courts often seem to get to dividing assets 50/50, but again, a judge can consider all of the above factors and decide to award one party more if there is a need for that.

With respect to alimony/spousal support, it is not an automatic right. The fact that he has committed adultery doesn't mean a court has to award you support, unfortunately, regardless of how long your marriage has lasted, or how much trauma his actions caused you. Under Maryland law, alimony may be awarded to either spouse, with the court taking the following factors into consideration when determining a fair and equitable award:

  • The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting.
  • The time necessary to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment.
  • The duration and standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well-being of the family.
  • The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties.
  • The age and physical or mental condition of each party.
  • The ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her needs while paying alimony.
  • Any agreement between the parties.
  • The financial needs and financial resources of each party.


[Based on Maryland Code, Family Law, Sections 11-101 and 11-106]

Now, I am sure the lawyer(s) you met with are expressing their opinion based on their experience with family court judges, so their opinions do carry some weight. Ultimately, however, it is up to the judge to take into consideration all of the above factors are provided under Maryland law, and make a determination. As far as your rights, you have the same rights as your spouse - to request in a divorce that you be awarded alimony, and in the absence of an agreement with your spouse, the court will look at the above factors and decide whether it is appropriate or not.

The court does try to make sure that each party will be able to support themselves on their own, in a manner similar to what they were accustomed to during the marriage. If you make similar incomes and are awarded half of all marital assets, I can see why a lawyer would tell you that a judge may decide not to award alimony. However, you mention you are losing your job. Presuming you cannot find something in your line of work or another job that pays the same amount, there very well could be an argument that you should be awarded support so that you can continue to live in a manner similar to what you had during your marriage. Again, however, all you can do is request alimony to be awarded.

You may also want to discuss with a lawyer the idea of requesting temporary alimony (what is referred to as "pendente lite" alimony) when you file for divorce. This is alimony paid while the divorce is pending, and is based on your need, and the ability of your spouse to pay. Please understand that even if a court awards this temporary alimony, it does not necessarily mean, however, that you would be awarded some form of permanent alimony.

I know this is a lot of information, so if you have follow up questions, please reply to my answer and I will be happy to assist you further.

 

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