Spouse refuses to sell, but cannot afford it


#1

In my situation, my STBE wife is on disability. We separated in Jan 2018 and I am counting down the days until i can file in 2019. I of course have moved and she is still at the marital residence. I am currently still paying mortgage, water, gas, and electricity bills, along with her car insurance AND medical insurance which is taxing on me. The agreement has yet to be signed because she is “trying to see how much her disability benefits will be” now that our daughter is 18.

In the agreement that is being “volleyed” back and forth right now, I want to simply pay her directly for spousal support. Right now she is using the fact that the bill accounts are still in my name to keep me paying. But I have told her time and time again that the legally binding agreement will hold me to my obligation.

She is also refusing to sell or buy me out of the house. Both our names are on the deed and I am solely on the loan. Now of course I do not want a foreclosure on my hands so I don’t know what to do. I am even wiling to give her over half of the equity after the sale of the home.

Here are my questions:

  1. Am I being too nice?
  2. How do I get out of the utilities that are in my name?
  3. Is there any legal action that she could take if I ended [utility] services after notifying her?
  4. How do I get her to sign the papers before I file?

#2

(1) It is difficult to determine if you are being reasonable or not in your offers without knowing the full financial picture of the marital estate however, you offer to pay alimony directly to your wife and offer to divide the equity in half is, without knowing more, is reasonable.

(2) You would either need to shut off the utilities or she would need to transfer them into your name.

(3) Before you turn off the utilities, you should notify her in writing that you plan to turn them off on a certain date (giving 21-30 days notice is generally reasonable). However, she could use the fact that you shut off the utilities as a reason to file in court for postseparation support and alimony and say that you have failed to provide for her.

(4) If she is not agreeing to the terms and the negotiations are at a standstill, you would need to have a mediator in place or attend a binding arbitration. You can also file a claim for equitable distribution at the time you file for absolute divorce which would put the marital property issues before the court. It is important to note that once an absolute divorce is granted, you will be unable to ask the courts for help with equitable distribution unless there is an equitable distribution action pending at the time the absolute divorce is granted.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#3

Update:

I emailed her and let her know that I would be filing for absolute divorce at the beginning of the new year (Happy New Year!). I asked about the agreement and what we would do about the house. I explained the options of settling it together or to allow the court to decide (Equitable Distribution). I also did a breakdown of when each of the utilities’ billing/service cycle and when my last payment would be and she went totally silent. The only comment I received was “court”. I have no idea what it means and have attempted to get clarification with no response. I feel like I did everything the correct way, so we will see!


#4

You may need to file for equitable distribution in court in order to make any progress in settling the distribution of the marital assets and debt. You can include that claim in your complaint for absolute divorce.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#5

So not only did she not respond to any of my messages and attempts to contact her, after she was served, she contacted me. She stated that the date of our separation was incorrect and also stated the severity of falsifying a court document (of which I’m aware the severity). However, I tried to contact her to come to some sort of agreement (as previously mentioned) and did not hear from her until now. I contacted the court and they told me that I can file for dismissal and wait until the agreed upon date, and file again which I plan to do.

My question is, would it be held against me to not pay what I have proposed (the mortgage, until the hose is sold and $200 for utilities) until we have come to an agreement?

I feel that this is all I have in my corner to get a resolution. If it is not smart, what should I do to get her to meet with a mediator or come to an agreement?


#6

Without a court order or separation agreement, then you would have no court-ordered or contractual obligation to pay the mortgage and utilities. Keep in mind that if any of these are in your name, failure to pay could affect your credit.

If you are the supporting spouse and your wife is the dependent spouse, you should voluntarily pay some level of temporary support as you would have an obligation by law to provide support for your dependent spouse. Oftentimes this temporary support can be paying the mortgage and/or utilities.

As long as you are separated, you can file in court at any time for equitable distribution (but before the absolute divorce is granted). If you are not able to come to an agreement outside of court, filing in court will be your only option. Many districts have local rules that require mediation prior to a court hearing.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#7

Crazier by the day! So my STBX contested the divorce after I filed. However, it was not before I filed for a dismissal of the trial. Her written reasons were 1. An agreement has not been made about the marital residence. 2. Spousal support and the separation agreement have not been finalized. 3. She claimed that I admitted to infidelity twice.

As you know from this thread, I have made attempts to come to terms on items #1 & #2 but she has not been cooperative. She waited until I filed to come out with all of this, after not replying to an email and letter I sent in December regarding the closure of utility accounts along with my plan to continue that support her until the agreement is signed. So she was well aware of what my intentions were. If that was her plan, SHE GOT ME. My questions are…

  1. Because I filed for dismissal on the 28th of January and she filed her contested statement on the 29th, we no longer have a court date, correct?

  2. She stated that she wants to keep the house and I continue to pay for it. How often is that ordered by the court, if ever?

  3. She has no evidence and it’s all hearsay. Plus, I also know that she had been unfaithful in our relationship because of messages I saw in the past, but I don’t have proof of that either. Does infidelity require proof in court?


#8
  1. Correct. The dismissal was effective the date and time it was file stamped at the clerk’s office.

  2. For permanent resolutions, it is unlikely this would happen. Generally, whoever is keeping a house will need to assume financial responsibility for it. This kind of agreement is more common in temporary resolutions.

  3. Yes, you must prove illicit sexual behavior by inclination and opportunity. Inclination would be text messages, emails, Facebook messages, phone calls/logs, texts logs, etc. and opportunity would be hotel receipts, private investigator evidence that shows her with another man at a house overnight or going into a hotel and staying the night, etc. Generally you will need a combination of these types of evidence in order to successfully prove that the other spouse committed an act of illicit sexual behavior. A person making the adultery allegation must be able to prove it before the court can consider its impact on alimony.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.