Hello - This is a multi-tiered question. I’m currently looking for a lawyer but am quite picky and am having a hard time making any sort of decisions. I’m a former legal assistant and have some knowledge of the law, but my knowledge of NC law is limited.
My husband is an Army JAG officer. He cheated on me orginally 4 years ago with a fellow soldier (same rank). We went to counseling, I tried to make it work. He told me the affair was over. I had my doubts as to whether the affair was over and I’ve come to find out that it never ended. Not only that but he’s had an affair with at least four other women (that I can prove and probaby many more), one of which is a lower ranking enlisted solider (Possibly considered a subordinate since they do work together on occasion), one is a civilian client (now former client but at the time active client), another is a fellow soldier.
I filed bankruptcy before my husband and I were married at his behest (He had lawschool loans that were non-dischragable, and he wanted me to file before we were married so as to not hurt his credit). I had a successful career as a legal assistant, however he decided (after we were married) to go back active duty and moved me from Florida to Arkansas. I had to quit my job and attempted to start a career that would lend to moving a lot. Since then we’ve moved three more times and I do not have a job or income. We will be married 9 years in August (10 years by the time the separation and divorce are final). When we were first married the plan was that I’d work until he became established and then we’d start a family. After we were married he said he didn’t want children and he had a vasectomy. He’s currently in Iraq (and I believe has started an affair over there as well). I have proof of his affairs from flowers he’s sent with notes attached professing love, credit card charges showing he was in his lover’s town when he came home on leave and told me he was alerady back in Iraq, I have cards from his lovers, and emails detailing sexual acts along with a journal of his detailing various affairs, and I have receipts of clothing he purchased from Venus Clothing (similar to Fredericks of Hollywood) for various women (some showing they were sent direct to the women’s homes). He has NO idea that I have this evidence. His demeanor also suggest he might have every intention of serving me with papers when he returns home from Iraq in April.
Does the first person to give notice/prepare the separation papers/file the divorce papers have any sort of upper hand?
Pension: I believe that I’m entitled to part of his pension if we’ve been married for ten years (This is more than justified since I’ve helped take care of his ailing mother for the majority of our marriage, quit my job - where I would have had my own pension, and fully supported his career.) We will be married 9 years this August and since we have yet to put together a separation agreement it will be 10 years before the divorce is final (I hope). What percentage of his pension am I entitled to (He’s currently putting his paperwork in to make LTC which means he’ll have a higher pension as well).
Separation Date: He’s been in Iraq a year and my fear is he is going to claim that we’ve been separated a year already. However, he did come home in October and stayed here a week (No intimate contact). Since he did “live here” that week and all of his belongings are here what can he claim as a separation date? I would like the separation date to start from the date that I inform him I want a separation (March). At the very least, since he was home in October, the separation would start from October? How would this affect my right to his pension if he were to get a court to agree that his year in Iraq constitues a one-year separation?
Alimony/Separation: For the one year separation I want to continue living in this house and have him continue to pay everything he’s been paying, including my cell phone bill, cable, internet, heat, trash removal, house payment, everything. I’d also like him to continue to give me an allowance for food, gas and spending (This is what he’s been doing since he’s in Iraq anyway). Is this feasable? Beyond that do I have any right to alimony after the fact? (Keeping in mind that he’s severly in debt).
Property: We own a house together but it’s in his name–Though I did have to sign something when it was all finalized. We owe more than the house is worth right now as it’s a brand new home and we’ve only had it for a year and a half. While I do want to live in the house during the separation, I can’t afford the payments and will move out after that time. Should I quit claim my right to any interest in the house being that it’s his plan to hold onto the house and rent it out (He’s due to be PCS’ed in August and will be moving anyway). If I don’t quit claim it how do I keep my interest in the house. If he squelches on the loan or files bankruptcy how will this affect me?
Belongings: I want him to pay off my car (or continue to make the payments on my behalf). I want him to pay off the one credit card debt that’s in my name ($7,000 balance) and i want to leave this marriage with the same debt I came to it with–Nothing! Is this feasable - Also note, that while he’s been gone my name has been on his American Express which has a sizeable balance due (But the balance was incurred before my name was on it), and one of his sizeable law school loans/lines of credit because I’m power of attorney and he asked me to write checks on the account on his behalf. I plan on getting my name off of both of these accounts. I never wantd my name on the law loan to begin with but they wouldn’t honor the power of attorney to write checks for him (He’d tell me he wanted x dollars deposited into checking and I would sign his name, but they noticed the signature was different, when I told them I had power of attorney they called him and it seems he put my name on the card without even telling me.)
I want him to pay/reimburse me for any of my attorney fees.
I have drafted a sepration agreement using my previous legal assistant skills and I’m wanting someone to look it over and I’m give advice on the detailed points above, but I’m not sure where to turn. Every single attorney I try to contact wants a consultation fee. The thing is, I understand attornies need paid for their time, but I can’t give an attorney a consultation fee just for the opportunity to find out if I like them or not (There’s a 50/50 chance I’m throwing money away). Any suggestions on making this decision?
Thank you!!! I’m desperate at this point!