Your issues are quite diverse and questions quite numerous and would normally be better suited to multiple question threads. While I can’t charge you more for the question, when you are pleased with my assistance in addition to rating me highly you can leave a bonus for the additional assistance I gave you.
Does this mean if we lived apart but were working on the marriage, that time 'counts' as being in an active marriage? Yes, couples live apart for a variety of reasons---often including the fact that one works in another state or even country. if simply being away at work or school meant there was no marriage---then hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and other people would not be considered married. That is not how the law works in FL.
My debts are from when we were living together...I am in collections...I have horrible credit now. You should speak with a local bankruptcy attorney about the possibility of filing bankruptcy along with the divorce action so that you can get not only a clean start relationship-wise, but also financially. This is often what is needed to make a fresh start. The bankruptcy will not harm your credit any more if you already have a bad credit report---all it will do is get you out from under the debt.
Also, even though someone had little assets and a lower salary...the judge doesn't look at their Savings right? Because monthly alimony can just come from monthly salary...? Or I suppose some people get a loan? Spousal support is not based on a person's wealth, but their income and the lifestyle that the couple lived in the years before the marriage ended.
If I asked for alimony plus lawyers fees, would his lawyer fee's be a completely separate bill for him as well? Or will that eat into my settlement? If the court orders that he pay your attorney fees, then his attorney fees will be his separate bill as well and won't impact on the money that he owes you.
But his lawyer is asking why I "deserve it, or think I am entitled to it?" An award of Lawyer's fees are based on need---not on whether it is deserved or not. The attorney making those kinds of statements knows better and is trying to take advantage of your lack of knowledge of the legal system.
1. I am currently unemployed, worked hard to get back to a mindset to begin again - what I used to do...but I am living in a small town with no film/video production. (Thus is why I am trying to move). Being unemployed is one good reason for spousal support to be awarded.
2. I have 2 Bachelor's degrees, but they & I are older...and not very useful I'm afraid. The court will look at the usefulness of your degree, the amount of time which has passed since you worked in that career field, and how long you have been unemployed. The further distant the degree and employment in the field is, the less valuable the degree is. For many people, even a Masters degree from 15 years earlier, absent recent work in the career field---is almost worthless in today's job market, and the judges know this.
3. I had some emotional issues before we married. A bad marriage of course just increased this, so I suppose, this was known. This should not negatively impact your situation.
6. The 'standard of living' will be a sticking point I am sure. Because when he first left, it was a break up - but then we decided a week later to work on things. A one week tiff is not the end of a marriage and when the decision to work on the marriage was reached, that resulted in the marriage being present, and not in the past. When he first left, we were just about to move out of the country together. Since he went alone, I was 'dropped off' at my mothers apartment in PA. When prior years I lived in Seattle & San Jose & made up to $42,000/yr myself, and owned a home. I have now been in her place for 4 years. The first 2.5, I had extreme depression and could not work/leave the house. Then, all I could manage was minimum wage jobs. I feel better now and ready to move on, but this two years prior 'standard of living' is not reality for me. Besides from being deathly ill & only my mother could care for me. The judge will look at how you have been doing in the past couple of years and what your needs are today. The fact that you earned $40,000 a year 6 or 8 years ago is not indicative of your earning capacity today---and you are not in San Jose or Seattle now either, where jobs are more readily available.
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I wish you the best in 2013,