Newly separated


#1

I have been married for 21 years. It was an abusive relationship.
We have 3 daughters, ages 11, 16, & 18. I was a stay at home mom for 11 years (his choice). I ran his business and handled the accounting and financial end, transported the kids to school, and managed the household, with no salary paid to me.
In the 11th year I began to work part time. All my earnings were put into a joint household account. When my oldest daughter turned 16 and was able to help with the transportation, I began to work full time. At this point I was forced to deposit all my earnings to his business account and there were no joint accounts or any accounts, for that matter, with my name on them. I was totally dependent on him financially (also his choice).
The house we resided in was purchased from his mother 1 month before we were married and has been strictly titled in his name and paid for using funds from his business account . He paid her $5k (in one lump sum) a year for 5 years. At that time, his business was incorporated and still was when he finished paying for the house. The business is now a sole proprietorship. Not sure what rights there may be as to how these two standards are viewed….incorporated vs. sole proprietorship.
His business income is approximately $120k/year gross and averages $50k/year after expenditures. My income has never exceeded $25k/year for the 3 years I worked full time.
I lost my job August 2008 and did not obtain employment until July of 2009. All of my unemployment checks went back into the business account. I started a new job 6 weeks ago. I moved out of the house 4 weeks ago and moved into an apartment (I was forced to do so quickly and secretly due to his violent temper and fear for my safety). Two weeks ago I lost that job. I am currently unemployed.
All 3 children are living with him (their choice). Currently, they do not wish to see me…they are angry that I have left. I have attempted to contact them and to see them on several occasions since I have left. I fully believe that he is filling their heads with lies but cannot control that. I have a few questions:

  1. What are my rights as far as the children are concerned? Do you think I will owe any child support?
  2. As far as who files for divorce, or beginning the proceedings, is there any benefit to being the one who files?
  3. We have been “separated” out of the marital bedroom for over a year but not out of the physical address. Can this be considered as part of the beginning of separation?
  4. What are my rights to funds from the house purchase? Do I have any rights to the house since it was purchased 1 month before we got married?
  5. In your opinion, based on the disparity of earnings and years not working, am I entitled to any alimony? Any rights to his IRA, etc?
  6. There are 2 vehicles currently titled in both our names. Do I need to attempt to have my name removed or wait until property is divided? One of the vehicles is paid for but the other currently has a loan attached to it and my name is on the loan along with his….do I need to get my name off of this loan?
  7. What is my best form of proceeding? I of course cannot afford a lawyer at this time and don’t believe that he will want to pursue a lengthy divorce, although he has threatened to sue for full custody of the children. Should I look at some form of standard agreement and use a court mediator or get some counsel first and then proceed?

#2

Child support will be determined in what is called a “self support reserve” standard given your unemployment status the most you would pay would be $50.00 per month.

The party who files an action first has no advantage, however based on your situation I strongly advise you file an action for Equitable Distribution, Post-Separation Support, Alimony, Child Custody and Attorney’s fees as soon as possible. You are entitled to receive support from him, and should start the court action rolling as soon as possible.

The separation period does not begin until you are in a separate residence. North Carolina does not recognize constructive separation (separate bedrooms) as part of the separation period.

The home is separate property, but there is a martial component in the form of any active appreciation (renovations, mortgage principal reduction) in value from the date of marriage to the date of separation. This value is divisible and you are entitled to one half.

Based on the facts you list you are entitled to alimony and as well to one half of the value of any retirement savings acquired during the marriage.

The car titles can be transferred at the time of the distribution of property, and the loan should be refinanced by your husband if he keeps the encumbered vehicle.

Family court issues are difficult to handle and are best managed by retaining an attorney. You are entitled to seek an award of attorney’s fees from your husband based on the facts you list. I would strongly suggest you meet with an attorney to create a plan of action.


#3

Child support will be determined in what is called a “self support reserve” standard given your unemployment status the most you would pay would be $50.00 per month.

The party who files an action first has no advantage, however based on your situation I strongly advise you file an action for Equitable Distribution, Post-Separation Support, Alimony, Child Custody and Attorney’s fees as soon as possible. You are entitled to receive support from him, and should start the court action rolling as soon as possible.

The separation period does not begin until you are in a separate residence. North Carolina does not recognize constructive separation (separate bedrooms) as part of the separation period.

The home is separate property, but there is a martial component in the form of any active appreciation (renovations, mortgage principal reduction) in value from the date of marriage to the date of separation. This value is divisible and you are entitled to one half.

Based on the facts you list you are entitled to alimony and as well to one half of the value of any retirement savings acquired during the marriage.

The car titles can be transferred at the time of the distribution of property, and the loan should be refinanced by your husband if he keeps the encumbered vehicle.

Family court issues are difficult to handle and are best managed by retaining an attorney. You are entitled to seek an award of attorney’s fees from your husband based on the facts you list. I would strongly suggest you meet with an attorney to create a plan of action.