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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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I have a question about divorce. I live in the state of Texas

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I have a question about divorce. I live in the state of Texas and so does my soon to be ex-wife. I became Disabled in July 2011. I received 6 months short-term disability thru work and then was put on long term disability up until January 10th, 2013. The Disability Insurance Co. stopped payments at this time. I also started drawing Social Security Disability in January 2012. I had a Stepson with my soon to be ex-wife, she drew SSA Disability due to my disability also starting in January 2012 b/c of dependent Stepson.
Sometime in October 2012 she started having an Affair while I was sick. We separated on December 7th, 2012. She is still drawing $700 a month from SSA because of me and she does not want to sign divorce papers b/c she does not want to lose this money.
Also, to complicate matters, I filed an Appeal with a Disability Lawyer against the Insurance Co. and won the Appeal. I just found this out this week. I will now get a lump sum from the Disability Ins. Co. for roughly $9400.00. Plus monthly benefits going forward of about $1560.00 per month, and SSA Disability will continue at $1400.00 per month.
Does she have any rights in the state of Texas to my lump sum and future monthly payments from the Disability Ins. Co? Also, what can I do to force her to sign Divorce papers? Neither of us have any assets or savings, I filed Chp. 7 Bankruptcy this year. I'm depending on this Disability payment for my Life, it means everything to me!

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

This is a tough situation to be in. Let me respond to the first issue first. Generally speaking your spouse is NOT entitled to disability because disability payments are deemed to be separate property. While she can arguably demand a portion via alimony and spousal support depending on length of marriage, she cannot demand a portion of the actual benefits for herself. Those benefits were earned by you and are based on your payments and income, which means that other than filing separately on her own against your benefits, she wouldn't be entitled to more.

The more difficult issue here is compelling her to agree with the divorce. That, generally, cannot be done by force. While you can compel or ask her, you cannot coerce or force her to agree. What you can potentially do is if she is refusing to sign off, you can go to court and request the right to file for a 'default divorce', which is a divorce granted when the other party is unable to be found or is refusing to sign off. For this option I would suggest retaining counsel as it makes the process somewhat more complex.

Good luck.

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