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RBinJax
RBinJax, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 731
Experience:  I have handled family law cases in Florida for over 20 years.
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Two days after my wife hooked up with her new boyfriend, she

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Two days after my wife hooked up with her new boyfriend, she went to a local attorney for a three hour consult. She then came home - threw my clothing out on the front steps, changed the addresses on our utilities and told me we are officially separated. Are we? If so, what is my financial obligation at this time?

John
Raleigh, NC
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  RBinJax replied 7 years ago.

I will try to address this as much as possible but may need some additional information if I assume in error, so please respond back to me with any errors so that I may correct them.

The first is that you are separated if your wife says you are. All that is required is for one party to say that the marriage is over and they wish to separate. If you wish to try to save the marriage, you may allege that in any pleadings filed or correspondence between attornies (you should consult with a family law attorney in your area to make sure you protect yourself, and I suggest you consider hiring one).

Next, you have no financial obligations at this time beyond those you had at the time of the separation. If you had credit instruments in your name alone, those remain your responsiblity. She apparently has moved the utilities into her name at the former marital home, so you will need to establish them at your new residence. As she has done so, you have no obligation for utilities at the former marital home beyond the time she effectively evicted you.

The trickier matter is any joint debts the two of you may have. If both of you are on the mortgage note, the mortgage payment should be split 50/50 until or unless a judge says otherwise. If your name alone is on the note, you need to keep it current, even if she is living in the house, to protect your credit, and file a motion with the court to have a judge order either that she pay the mortgage payment in full or that she relinquish the house to you or that the payment be apportioned appropriately between the two of you. (It used to be that you would request the party keeping the house to refinance it in their name alone, but the economy has limited that option severely).

If you have joint bank accounts or credit cards, those need to be frozen, particularly the credit cards, before she runs them up or down as the case may be. This may take a court order to accomplish. If she is a permitted user on any cards in your name, cancel her privileges immediately. You should open a bank account in your name alone, and may wish to consider doing so at a new bank to protect yourself.

It may be that your wife will petition the court for support from you (if she does, you definitely need an attorney to represent you), but unless a judge says she is entitled to spousal support of some nature, you owe her nothing. She may still be holding personal property of yours at the home, which also may require a court order to have returned to you, although I suggest first sending a letter by certified mail requesting the return along with a specific list of what you wish, and a note that other items may come to mind in the future.

I hope this answers your questions. If I have misread your post as to the facts, please advise. If I have answered your questions, please click Accept so that I may be credited for my assistance. This answer is for informational purposes and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Thank you and good luck.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
So clearly stated: I am not required to deposit my paycheck in the joint checking account any longer? I get paid tomorrow.
Expert:  RBinJax replied 7 years ago.
No you are not, and no you should not. If you do, she has unfettered and complete access to the money from your paycheck as soon as it is credited to the joint account. Open a new account as stated earlier.
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