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:
- What are my rights as far as the children are concerned? Do you think I will owe any child support?
- As far as who files for divorce, or beginning the proceedings, is there any benefit to being the one who files?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?