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I'm a stay at home mom. My husband controls all the money. I am thinking about filing for divorce. What am I entitled to?

New Haven, CT |

My husband and I have three children. When we married 7 years ago, we both agreed I would stay home with the kids. Everything is in his name, even the house. He keeps most of the money in an account under his own name, which I have no access to.

I have only worked part time on occasion. How can I get my feet on the ground and what am I entitled to? Also, will it hurt me if I'm the one who files?

Attorney Answers 2

  1. You should consult with a local divorce attorney to discuss your options and your rights. Most courts will require that in a divorce the spouse who controls all the money in a marriage pays the legal costs of the other spouse as well.

  2. I will answer your last question first. If the case goes to trial, the plaintiff (who initiated the case) presents evidence first. Literature about the art of trial advocacy puts a premium on getting to tell the story first. So, being the plaintiff is good strategically and there is no stigma attached to being the first one to see that the marriage is broken down beyond repair.

    A spouse should not be able to prevent the other from obtaining a divorce by controlling the marital assets. You will need to find an attorney who will accept your case without a retainer. The lawyer may wait until the end of the case to be paid from your settlement or from what you receive per the court's orders. The lawyer also can file a motion seeking attorney's fees from the your husband while the divorce is pending. Many divorce lawyers, including me, will make these arrangements in appropriate cases. It will be more difficult to find help if your financial circumstances are poor, because the lawyer risks there being no money to pay for fees at the end. However, if your marital estate is solvent, you should be able to find someone even if your husband controls the money now.

    Depending on the age of your children, the settlement or verdict in your case may make it necessary to rethink your decision to stay home with the children, but it is impossible to predict the outcome of that issue from the facts you have given.

    Your question may not be a complete or accurate description of the problem. My answer is not legal advice. No client/attorney relationship exists by virtue of this answer. Laws are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and frequently change. Do not act on any information provided without consulting with a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction who has experience with the kind of issues that concern you.

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