Getting Started

After struggling with this decision for a very long time, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to end my marriage. There are many reasons for my decision, but simply put, we’ve grown apart. That said, I’m just starting to explore the process of separation/divorce and would appreciate any information you can provide.

• What happens when only one party wants the divorce and the other refuses to consent to separation? If one person wants out but the other is content to stay in the marriage, can the process still move forward?

• What constitutes abandonment? I’m anxious to separate to avoid frequent arguments, but if my spouse does not agree to end cohabitation, could this open the door for allegations of abandonment? If so, is there anything I can do to protect myself from such allegations?

• How is the responsibility for alimony and/or support payments determined? My spouse is unemployed, but may soon qualify for social security. My modest salary is currently our only source of income and our savings is almost non-existent. Regardless of who stays in the house and who relocates, a major concern for us both will be financial management of separate households. Since I’m employed, does that mean this burden will fall primarily on my shoulders?

Thanks for your time!

Often times one party to a marriage wishes to remain in the relationship, that does not mean the marriage must continue, and separation and divorce can certainly happen.
Abandonment is bringing about the end of cohabitation without the consent of the other party. It can have an effect on spousal support. One way to avoid a claim of abandonment is to negotiate a Non- Abandonment agreement, or a full Separation Agreement and Property Settlement prior to leaving the marital residence.
Alimony is based on several factors, the first being a finding that there is a dependent spouse who is actually and substantially dependent on the supporting spouse, and a supporting spouse who has the ability to pay. Alimony is intended to allow a dependant spouse to maintain his or her standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage. Of course, practically speaking, it I very difficult to create two households on the same amount of money it took to run one, but nevertheless, based on the facts you list, it seems to me you will have an alimony obligation.
I suggest that you schedule a meeting with an attorney before you do anything in order that you may create a plan of action moving forward.

I really appreciate the quick response. Just a few more questions please…

• My spouse has been unemployed for about two years, but despite encouragement, has made little to no effort to find a new job. If someone is capable of working and supporting themselves, yet refuses to do so, could that impact determination of alimony obligation?

• Also, if my spouse qualifies for social security soon (which would provide them at least some means of support) would it benefit me to wait until that income is in place before trying to negotiate a Separation Agreement? Could it help reduce my alimony obligation?

Thanks again!

The court determines the amount they should receive based on many factors, in addition to what their reasonable needs are. Income can be imputed if the court finds a party is depressing their income in bad faith. Her Social Security will be counted as income to her, so that can have an impact on your case.

I suggest you read more under the alimony tab on the home page, there is even a video you can watch which describes all the factors involved in an alimony case.