Taken to Small Claims


#1

Hello, My soon-to-be-ex-husband and I separated on Jan 21st. So he couldn’t say that I abandoned him or took our child from him I wrote him a letter, read it to him, left him a copy and sent it to him via email. I ended up moving out of the apartment we shared with both of our names on the lease. The situation was becoming very toxic and not a good environment for our 3 year old son. Since moving out I have filed for custody and child support on my own without an attorney. Once he received the custody papers he hired an attorney and they responded to the custody papers he received. At this time we don’t have a separation agreement in place but this is in the works from my attorney. I recently received the papers he filed (on his own outside of his attorney) for taking me to small claims court over the follow items: unpaid rent, trash, water, breach of lease, pet damages, wall damages and and for not cleaning before I vacated the apartment. The total on the claim is $9556, where this number came from I have no idea, our lease is up on August 28, 2017. While we shared the apartment for 3 years, I never once paid the rent because I contributed in other ways by taking care of our health insurance, preschool, groceries, cable, medical bills from the birth of our son and anything else our son needed. Essentially my expenses were way exceeding the rent he was paying on our apartment. There is one small detail that I think is pretty relevant to the amount that he is seeking. After I moved out I got an email from him questioning me on missing money from his safe (which I never had a key or access to the key) the amount was $9500.

My questions are:

  1. Will this hold up in small claims court or will they see it as a matter that should be handled in our separation agreement? Otherwise it would look like he is double dipping?
  2. Should I bring up the fact that I never paid rent in the first place because I was taking care of the other expenses?
  3. Should I bring up the email where he questioned me on the $9500?

Thanks!


#2

Depending on the language in the lease, it’s possible he could succeed on some of his claims in small claims court. These same issues can be worked out in a separation agreement.

You can bring up the fact that you never actually paid the rent but it may not make a difference since the lease likely had you obligated whether or not you were the one that actually funded the rent payment each month.

Yes, you probably should bring up the email where he questioned you about $9,500 in the safe since that amount coincidently is the same as the amount he is asking for in he small claims case.


Anna Ayscue

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

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