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Does your father have any other assets beside the house that his estranged wife would inherit if they remained married until the day he died? (keep in mind that even if she is not listed in a will prepared by your father, if she is still married to him when she dies she can set aside any will that tries to cut her out of the estate and claim a widows portion of 50% of the estate) -- so are there any other assets that she might be interested in owned by your father so that it would make it worth her while to drag the divorce out for as long as possible??
Hello again -
Then there are no real reasons to delay the divorce any longer and sign the house back over to her in the process of doing so. The only problematic thing here is her accepting responsibility for the bills -- first, if the creditors refuse to remove your father's name, then they do not have to remove it even if there is a court order stating that she is responsible for the bills after the divorce. If there are any bills remaining in your fathers name at the time of his death and there is nothing in his estate, then the creditors will not be able to get anything from your father's estate (any life insurance passes outside of the estate directly to the beneficiary of the policy and his bills will not have to be paid from the proceeds of the life insurance). So I really cannot think of any good reason to delay the divorce (there is no need for marriage counseling at this point due to his advanced age and physical and mental conditions). You do need to have a serious discussion about the bills and what creditors will realistically remove his name (probably not many and so the most you may be able to do is get an agreement or a court order stating WHAT he is responsible for after the divorce). Regarding the attorneys fees - it is not unusual to pay up to about 5K for a simple divorce due to the paperwork filings and court appearances and dragging it out like these parties have only makes the fees somewhat higher. So, the fees that you are describing do not seem unusual but you might want to seek out a free or lower cost attorney by contacting your local county bar association and asking for a referral to other attorneys in your area.
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So, if we do nothing will the divorce eventually go through? What would be the pros/cons of just letting it ride out? Is there a way for us to be able to get his belonging out of the home? Would that be a require a court order?
You will have to prepare a list of his belongings and if she will not give them to you, you can ask the court for an order making her turn those items over to you. The divorce may not go through if it has been sitting around without any action for the last two years -- you should ask your attorney to look into whether or not the divorce is ongoing or must be refiled.
So, if we choose not to persue the divorce because it will probably cost us more in legal fees and we really do not like this attorney, seems to not really have dad's best interest in mind, can we just petition the court to get his belongings back or do we have to go through a Masters hearing like we were told? Is there a form we can do ourselves? At this point it is a marrige in name only and we hold his power of attorney, medical as well, she can no longer do anythng to hurt him, she doesn't evenn know where he is living. Am I correct in assuming that if they are still married when he passes that the bills will revert to the estate, which is her home? Thank you.
Yes, the bills will revert to his estate. If you want his belongings you will have to petition
the court and they will set it up for a masters hearing. You may be able to get a motion form at the clerk's office of the family court to do this -- otherwise you will have to write it up yourself or have the attorney do it (some courts have forms for almost everything and other courts do not).
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