Ask a Lawyer and Get Answers to Your Legal Questions
Good morning. I'll be assisting you with your question.
I know this is a difficult situation, but I'll do my best to help.
What state are you in?
I am in New Mexico. He took a job in Berkeley, California. Prior to his statement that he wanted to divorce me, he was commuting back and forth from Berkeley to NM.
So, you are separated as of right now, and he's refusing to pay the bills at your home in NM?
Yes, we are physically separated, not legally. He's willing to pay some but not all.
Are you willing to file for divorce?
I suppose I will have to, but I don't know if it is too my advantage to do so. Why do you ask?
If you file for divorce, the judge can order him to make payments to you or to pay the household bills while the divorce is pending.
Absent some court intervention, there is no way to force him to do so. In other words, you can't sue him to force him to pay the bills. That is accomplished throught he divorce process.
Further, after the divorce is complete, the judge can order him to pay you alimony. I know divorce is not something most people want to go through, but sometimes it's the only option.
I understand. If I do file, he will have to pay the bills while the divorce is pending. In my financial situation, there is no way I can pay any of the bills, even after we are legally divorced
The jugde can order him to finincally maintian the house. I can't promise the judge will do so, but he has the authority to.
Can the judge order him to make car payments, etc as well?
After you are divorced, you will have to assess your financial situation including the divorce settlement, alimony, and whatever income you may have. If that isn't enough, you may have to move.
I will definitely have to move. That is a given. Still, I don't have a job nor do I have experience. Will the judge force me to get a job? I am 55 years of age.
The judge won't force you to work.
meaning...he'll just let me live in poverty?
It's not that I can never work. I just don't see myself making anything above minimum wage.
I can't really address what your standard of living will be, but I can tell you that the judge will fairly divide up you and your husbands assets and may make him pay you alimony. Whether you work or how much you make is not something the judge will get involved with.
So if I have no income and my husband does, that will not even be considered in alimony?
Yes. Below are a set of factors the judge will look at to determine whether or not he has to pay alimony, and, if so, how much:
The court will consider the following factors when awarding alimony:
Okay, thank you. One more question (I think): I have a teaching degree that is dated Dec. 1989. I have literally never used this degree to teach because of having children and following my husband to various places. Can the judge say theoretically that I would have to go and teach or could he just deduct from my alimony what he thinks a teacher should make? I have no experience as a teacher, but I have worked as a very over-qualified Educational Assistant when my husband wasn't working.
That is a very difficult question for me to asnwer specifically, but I can tell you this: one of the factors the judge is to consider is "efforts to maintain employment or become self-supporting." If the judge belives you are intentionally not working in order to collect more alimony, he can reduce the payment. That said, it won't be by the amount a teacher makes since that would be most, if not all, of the alimony payment. If you can show that you've tried to work, but can't get hired, that will help negate that factor.