Not Sure What My Options Are, Here


#1

Short version: Was married for 15 years. My Mom died in March, stepfather in June. I was encouraged by my husband in mid-August to stay at my mother’s condo for a few weeks to get it ready for sale. I did so, only to have him tell me in the beginning of October that he was moving to another town, had a girlfriend, and was divorcing me.

He tried to use the fact that I had stayed at mom’s condo (despite NEVER having mail sent there and making it ABUNDANTLY clear that it was a temporary stay only) as grounds for separation - essentially, he claims I left him and thus having a girlfriend into our marital home (and bed) in my absence was appropriate.

I do not have access to the cell phone records any more - I did long enough to take pictures of his records as far back as early June, showing he was in constant voice and video contact with this woman at that point - but I know that the records will prove that he treated me as wife, and I treated him as husband, until October. They will also show that I announced multiple times that my stay at the condo was temporary and was NOT intended as a legal separation, and that I was eager to return home as soon as possible. His responses will also show the same, and that we BOTH considered each other to be actively married with no intention of dissolving the marriage.

They will also show that he was telling his girlfriend that he and I were already split up and had not been acting as a married couple for some time. They will show that he was carrying on the affair long before he suggested I go to mom’s, indicating that he engineered my departure to legitimize his circumstances.

My question is this - if the divorce becomes disagreeable, is there a way for me to gain full access to those phone records and text/picture messages to show that I did NOT, in fact, separate from him at the time he claims, and that he DID begin the extramarital affair before I even left for my temporary stay? I believe he engineered the whole thing to try to shift his affair into “separated” status to keep from dealing with the legal ramifications of his adultery.

He also did a lot of his communicating with her on facebook via chat - do I have a way to access that as well to show more evidence of the true timelines here?

And lastly, I don’t think it would be fair for ME to have to pay for the divorce since he’s the one who has decided the grass looked tastier elsewhere - is there a way to use the above information to force a divorce before the usual mandatory year-long separation period and still have him be responsible for the fees for said divorce?

I’m not trying to be bitter, but he hasn’t even sent separation papers yet (his girlfriend’s husband is refusing to sign their separation agreement, so I am supposed to wait til she is available for my own husband to legally announce his intention to leave me). He has chosen to do this while I am trying to grapple with TWO probated estates and the loss of my parents. I don’t want to turn it into a fight, but neither do I care for being dragged around by the nose. I’ve been through enough already.

Any advice would be MUCH appreciated. I’ve never dealt with divorce so I’ve no idea how to go about things here.


#2

There is no way to expedite the one year separation period, or force him to pay your legal fees. If you file a lawsuit you can ask for attorney’s fees for spousal support and child custody and child support, but it will be in the judge’s discretion whether he or she will award them.

As far as the affair goes, this only will have an impact on your case from an alimony standpoint. If he was the supporting spouse during the marriage, the affair will obligate him to pay alimony. If he was the dependent spouse during the marriage, the affair will prevent him from receiving alimony.

You can ask to get access to the phone records and Facebook chats through discovery, after the lawsuit has been filed.


#3

Thank you for the clarification. I am left with three questions only:

  1. What is “discovery” and what is its process?

  2. If he continues to refuse to sign the separation papers, how do I go about proceeding with the divorce?

  3. Neither of us was dependent upon the other, except for brief periods of unemployment on his part. So if neither of us is going to request alimony, does that mean that the affair is of no legal consequence whatsoever?


#4

Discovery is the process by which you can request documents and information when your case is in litigation. It can take many forms, but it is basically the mechanism used to get information from an opposing party.

You can move for an absolute divorce after 1 year, but if you have not executed a valid agreement or court order on spousal support or equitable distribution before the divorce is entered, and you haven’t preserved those claims, they will be lost forever. You need to preserve those claims before filing for divorce.

The affair does not impact your property division.