I ended a 22 year marriage in the Florida courts today. Pro se. I used the services of a “para-legal” who prepared documents stating that I was asking for child support, back child support, temporary and permanent alimony. I have been separated from my now ex-husband for almost three years and it took me that long to get the money to pay the high court fees and service fee of the paralegal to initiate any action. I appeared in court today prepared to show that my husband (a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a JD/MBA) is earning more than miniumum wage and that I spent 18 years as a dependent spouse (living in foreign countries most of that time)and had been finanacially abandoned for three years prior to and three years after the separation.
None of this mattered (and the paralegal and all the other clerks and pro se guardians along the way failed to point out.) The judge told me it was not in her jurisdiction to order child support or spousal support as my husband is a resident of North Carolina, not Florida. She granted the divorce and custody to me. But I am left with nothing, financially speaking after two decades as the wife of a highly mobile international banker.
It was a default judgement as my husband failed to answer. He had refused to file in North Carolina.
My question is now, how do I pursue spousal support in NC as well as child support and back child support. I will apply for state benefits tomorrow (food stamps) and hope that FL speaks to NC. But this is more than a case of a minimum wage earner. This is an educated man earning in excess of $50K a year, with the ability to earn far more as he had done during a twenty year marriage. Trouble is, I am the one on food stamps and he is the one in the cat bird seat. He will soon re-apply for the North Carolina bar.
Can you speak to the sympathy of NC courts as to this kind of circumstance and spousal support? Can you estimate how much it would cost to pursue the collection of same and what my payment options are? Is a man able to just walk away from his responsibilities with the full protection of the law as long as his former spouse is shackled by a financial inability to fight it?