I'm trying to figure out if I would be eligible for any form of alimony. I'd also like to know how I can stop her from "stealing" household items I had before we married, as well as things we bought together.
I've been married for 4 years and have been with my wife for 9 years. I found out my that wife was cheating on me, but I've been trying to work things out and I thought things were fine. But I recently found out that my wife just put a deposit on an apartment and is planning on leaving me and filing for a divorce.
In the years we have been together, we have always had separate accounts and would pay bills half and half. However, the last 2 years I have been unemployed and she has paid for everything.
Family Law Attorney
Spousal maintenance is a pretty grey area in family law. The statute has two components. Under the first section, the court must determine whether you qualify for maintenance based on certain factors. Once there is a determination that you qualify, the second section helps the court to determine "how much" and "for how long."
Generally speaking, it is more difficult to obtain spousal maintenance in a marriage of "short" duration (e.g. less than 5 years). This, of course, depends on the circumstances of your unemployment and your ability to work.
Another major consideration is the difference between your incomes. E.g., when you were working, did she earn considerably more than you? If you were working full time, would you have the ability to support your reasonable needs (even if not the marital standard of living)?
As to your second question, if you owned items prior to the marriage, they should be classified as "separate property," and not subject to division in the divorce. Items that were purchased during the marriage are presumed to be community property, and therefore, subject to equitable division in a divorce. Once a divorce is filed and served, there is an injunction that prohibits either party from removing community items without the other party's consent. It would probably be a good idea to make as thorough an inventory as possible of household items (both separate and community) in case this issue is not resolved.
Thank you for your question.
** This is intended to be general information and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship **