Separation or divorce with deadbeat husband

I have been married for 20 years and have one 14 year old daughter. I have been continuously employed during this time and have supported our family. My husband has not had consistent full time employment.

  • I have funded two advanced degrees, neither of which he has completed.
  • He worked part time for about 5 years, with an income of less than 20K per year.
  • He worked for one year in 2013, but lost his job.
  • We did not have an agreement that he would be an at-home parent. In fact, our daughter was in a day care near my office for 2 years before she started attending school full time.
    He has not worked since 2013, and for the past 2.5 years, did not actively look for work, claiming that his area of work is highly specialized (religious education) and he is not willing to consider other types of employment. He does take our daughter to and from school, but that is the extent of it. He has applied for less than 5 jobs in the past year.
    I am concerned about the extent of spousal support to which he is entitled by law in terms of amount and duration. We have been married for 20 years, and I fear I could owe him spousal support for a long time. He shows very little energy in his job search, but I don’t know how to prove that he is acting in bad faith. I know that I am responsible for child support in a 50/50 custody arrangement and I understand that. But I’m 48 and I cannot face the idea that in the event of a divorce, I still might have to support this man for years to come. Can someone provide some feedback about expected outcome here?

I can’t really provide any input on how a judge would rule, but if your spouse can prove that he was financially dependent on you during the marriage, he may be able to recover spousal support. The judge looks at what his need is, what your ability to pay is, and what the standard of living during the marriage is. The judge will also consider his ability to work, and if the judge thinks he is capable of finding full time employment but just isn’t, that may reduce an alimony award.