Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins
Question: My husband is a charming 58-year-old professional who was married three times before he and I tied the knot two years ago. This is my second marriage. Although he told me -- and I believed it -- that our marriage would be forever, within six months of our marriage, he began seeing a woman in her mid-twenties who works at a local bar. Because of the shock and hurt, I contacted his first two wives and guess what -- he did the same thing to them. Not to seem conceited, but his ex wives and I have at least some degree of class. He tells me that he wants a divorce and is not willing to pay me support – even though I lost the alimony I was receiving from my first husband and stopped working at his request so I could "be available" to him. I have hired a divorce lawyer who tells me that because of the short duration of our marriage, I will probably not come out very well financially. I have moved back in with my folks who are in their 70’s because I have no money, no job, and no health insurance.
I am very angry that I believed this womanizer and allowed this to happen; however, it looks like the courts will help him leave me stranded. What can I do? And don't tell me that I should have had a premarital agreement! I already know that. And don't tell me that I shouldn't be angry. I know that too!
Answer: "Marries Class, Sleeps with Trash" is not only a country song, but also the way in which one of our readers described her philandering ex-husband. And it appears to fit the bill here. Although you certainly have every right to be angry and upset, allowing your anger to overboil and cloud your good judgment will not solve your financial dilemma.
It is important to remember that since Family Courts are courts of equity, judges have broad discretion to right wrongs and injustices by fashioning remedies that fit the circumstances. Since good divorce lawyers are creative, it seems to us that by using a combination of creativity and preparation -- even when dealing with a short marriage, an experienced divorce lawyer could make a compelling argument that your husband should be required to put you in the same financial situation you occupied before your married him.
At a minimum, you should be able to receive an award of temporary alimony. And the generalization that long-term alimony is not granted to spouses who come from short marriages, we believe, is a fallacy. We suggest that you discuss this approach with your lawyer. Unless your lawyer can convince you that you can not prevail with this argument in your state, we suggest that you take your chances -- provided you have the resources to move forward. That means, borrowing from your folks or other relatives. And if your lawyer is not motivated to proceed, then we suggest you find one who will attack this problems within the parameters of the law of your state. What do you really have to lose?
Question: My husband is a self-employed professional and, since we separated, he claims that he does not have the money to support me and our children. I have found out that he is not only taking cash that can't be traced, but that he is getting some of his regular customers to pay off his bills -- like his car payments, clothing and credit card bills, etc. My lawyer says that since the money is not going through his account, it will be hard to prove his income. What do you think?
Answer: We disagree. When third persons pay debts for your husband, this is income to your husband. Instead of sitting back and telling you how difficult your situation is, your lawyer should begin doing what good lawyers should do: Subpoena your husband's creditors and customers, prove that the payments have been made, and then take your husband before the judge so he can explain, under oath, why he is defrauding you and the court.
Question: Ever since he was young, our son has had difficulty paying attention. He is overly mischievous and has been suspended from school several times. Even though the situation was obvious, my husband steadfastly refused to admit there was a problem and refused to allow me to take our son to professionals for evaluation and treatment.
Because of the resulting strain on our marriage, my husband and I have now separated. Now, I am having the same problem with my lawyer that I had with my husband: My attorney says that hyperactive children outgrow the problem. I am at my wit's end because I know that my son needs treatment and I won't be able to afford it without my husband's help. What do you suggest?
Answer: Your letter points up a very disturbing pattern about which more and more of our readers complain: Attention Deficit Disorder and learning disabilities are ignored in many two parent households, and "more ignored" in divorce and separation. A growing number of our separated readers -- mostly mothers -- tell us that their spouses refuse to admit either the problem or the need for treatment during cohabitation, much less at the time of divorce.
Since the stress of separation often intensifies these problems, we believe that not only parents, but also matrimonial lawyers and courts. should be aware of the problem and of some of the potential treatment options. If your son's problem is ADD, everyone involved must be made aware that this is truly a treatable disorder that continues into adulthood and is not "outgrown." In order to assure treatment, satisfactory arrangements must be made. You may choose to join C.H.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders) by writing them at 499 N.W. 70th Avenue, Suite 109, Plantation, Florida 33317.