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Andrea, Esq.
Andrea, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12554
Experience:  25 yrs. experience in family law, estates, real estate, business law, criminal defense, immigration, and employment law.
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A friend of mine who has been married for 17 years told me

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A friend of mine who has been married for 17 years told me that her husband abruptly and without warning walked out on her and her 3 children. He took his personal effects, cleaned their joint bank account out of all but $250 and took the kids birth certificates. He is in the National Guard and has been the primary breadwinner for their family. She doesn't want a divorce but at this time her husband is refusing to communicate with her. She is asking me to help her but I'm not sure what she needs to do to protect herself and her children legally and financially. She has no money to pay a retainer for an attorney. What at her options?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 4 years ago.

Hi, Welcome to JustAnswer, My name is ***** ***** my goal is to provide you with Excellent service,

I am sorry to hear of your friend's predicament and it is kind of you to want to help. You should tell your friend that if this is what her husband wants, there really is nothing that she can do to prevent the inevitable. The best she can do is to protect her interests and that of her children.

1. She should immediately file a Petition for Spousal Support and Child Support. If she has been a homemaker and has no money, the Court will not penalize her because the Court realizes how important the responsibilities of a mother and homemaker are. Therefore, the Court will award her Spousal Support and Child support;

2. If and when the husband files for a divorce, she can get an attorney to file an Answer to the Complaint in Divorce and file a Counterclaim for Alimony Pendente Lite (Temporary Alimony during the divorce Proceedings) and also for Interim Counsel Fees. The Courts do not like to see an uneven playing field simply because one party has the finances to retain an attorney while the other spouse does not. Therefore, the Court will Order the husband to pay part or all of the wife's counsel fees. The wife's attorney can file a Petition for Interim Counsel Fees periodically as his itemized bill increases and the Court will Order the husband to pay her counsel fees periodically. The Counterclaim should also include a Count for Alimony so that at the end of the proceedings she will be awarded Alimony. It is usually "Rehabilitative" in nature and if the children are of school age, the Court will expect the wife to use the alimony to learn a new skill, or brush up on an old skill and joing the work force and become financially independent as soon as possible;

3. Marital property will be divided according to the laws of the State of her residence. If she lives in a community property State, then all marital property will be divided equally. If she lives in an equitable distribution State, then the Judge will divide the marital property equitably, but equitably does not always mean equally. The Judge will start out at 50-50 division, but after applying several factors, the division might be 55-45, 60-40, and so on with the wife getting much of it if she was a "stay at home mom". Marital property and community property is defined as all property acquired, earned, or purchased during the marriage, regardless of whose name is ***** ***** title and regardless of who paid for it, except for gifts, bequests, or inheritances which remain the sole, separate property of the recipient spouse.

The important thing for you to keep reminding your friend is that she has a lot going for her and the Court will not leave her destitute and in the street with the children. If she lives in a house with a mortgage on it, her attorney may ask the Judge to consider giving her sole occupancy of the house until the youngest child reaches the age of 18 and to have the husband make the mortgage payments each month. Then when the youngest child reaches 18, the house can be sold and the proceeds divided between the former spouses,

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Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you,