Post # 1
I need some legal advise Bees…
My parents have been separated for like 15 years. My dad liked the bottle a little too much and in turn kind of destroyed our family. No biggie! *sense the sarcasm*
So anyways, my mom moved us from our house just outside NYC to Upstate, NY where the rest of our family lives. She has been trying to get him to sign the divorce papers for years but he’s always refused. He’s a real class act.
My parents have an annuity together that requires both of their signatures to withdraw from. My father decided that he wanted to retire so he wants to access this money. My mother told him that she would be happy to sign the papers to withdraw the money but that he had to sign the divorce papers first. He REALLY wants this money so we thought that he would follow through with his side of the deal by simply signing the divorce papers and sending them back but that doesn’t appear to be the case. My mother is also legally entitled to half of the annuity which she needs to make sure she gets. My father never paid a PENNY of child support so if you ask me, my mother should get the entire thing. If it comes down to them going to court to fight over it, I am more than ready to talk to whoever I need to, to help my moms case.
I feel like there has to be some kind of loophole that would consider them divorced though my mom doesn’t seem to think there is. She’s consulted with an attorney who seems like a total flake and is not very helpful.
My parents have been separated for about 15 years and lead two totally different lives. They no longer own anything jointly and their only child (me) is an adult. Is there anything that my mom can do to get the ball rolling on this? Both she and I really want this whole ordeal to be over with so that we can move on with our lives.
Post # 3
Divorce is a very state-specific thing, and can also be very complicated (especially in unusual situations like yours). I really think this is important enough she should go see another attorney. If she didn’t like the first one, go to a different one. At least to find out what her rights are.
Post # 4
Divorce laws vary by every state, and when it comes to money, being separated usually isn’t good enough – you need proof of divorce to start dividing up assets. I’m sorry that the first attorney wasn’t very good, but she should really consult another attorney. It sounds like it might be a little complicated, and you really need someone who knows the law to help your mom get everything she’s entitled to.
Post # 5
I think your mom needs to find a different attorney. She should be able to go to the court house and talk to an advocate for some advice. The laws for divorce a different in every state, so that would be her best bet. She may be able to get a default judgement for divorce for desertion, but she would need to go through an attorney for that to make sure all the “t”s are crossed and all the “i”s are dotted. As far as the annuity is concerned, she may be able to get all or most of it by going through an attorney too. She just needs to find a better one than she has now.
Post # 6
@UpstateCait: Hmmm, I’m no lawyer but it seems to me that if she can show that they’ve been apart for 15 years and there is no hope of reconcilliation, that she could get a divorce granted even without his consent. I think she (or you) should research state law and/or consult another attorney! I would also hope a new attorney could help her attach the annunity to pay her for child support owed!
I’m just curious here (forgive me) but why won’t he sign the divorce papers?
Post # 7
Well, laws differ from state to state, and I live in Canada so it’s probably alot different there. I know of a couple who rather than divorce decided to stay separated. The husband makes ALOT of money and it would be in his best interest to give his wife alimony instead of half of everything. (he owns his own company) The wife thought that further down the line, they might resolve their issues so it made more sense to her to just separate. Now the husband has a new girlfriend and the wife doesn’t want to sign the divorce papers just to spite him. Would their be an ulterior motive as to why your father doesn’t want to sign the papers? maybe try finding a divorce lawyer who gives a free consultation, to maybe understand all the options available to your mom.
Post # 8
Honestly, I dont know why he hasn’t signed. I think its just to hurt my mom. Neither party is overly wealthy so its certainly not a money thing. I’ll also add that my mom hasn’t been REALLY trying to get the papers signed this entire time (like she’ll go a few years without even bringing it up). She is content with her life and prefers to not even think about him though, she would much prefer that the divorce was final.
I really think he’s just a jerk and is trying to control her. My mom has been in a fantastic relationship with my “dad” (her boyfriend who is more of a father to me than the biological one ever was) for more than 10 years and she would really like to be not legally married to this other man anymore.
The attorney that she hired sent what we are assuming was a subpoena to my fathers house months ago. A few days after it was sent out, my father called me. He only calls when he wants to get in touch with my mother because he doesnt have her phone number. I made the mistake of giving him mine. I dont answer when he calls since its not like he’s calling to see how his only child is doing or anything, he just wants his money. He was told that all communication needs to go through the attorney. That subpoena being sent to him was the last correspondence that either my mother or the attorney has had with him.
Side note for comic relief: My father is almost 60 years old and still lives with my grandmother. The only time in his life that he didn’t live with his parents were for the 15 or so years that my parents were dating and married. He also doesn’t work yet decided that he wants to RETIRE. My mother almost fell on the floor laughing when she heard about this.
Post # 9
Re New York divorce:
Your mother does not need your father to respond or sign any papers.
If the parties were married outside of New York and have never lived together as husband and wife in the state and the grounds for divorce did not occur in New York then, one spouse must presently be a resident of New York and have resided continuously in the state for at least two years prior to filing an action for divorce.
*When the defendant is served but does not answer the legal pleadings the plaintiff may seek a default judgment by application to the court. If the divorce is started with a Summons with Notice then the grounds will either have to be proven by plaintiff’s affidavit or by testimony at an inquest if the divorce is uncontested or to be granted by default.*
Because your dad did not respond- she can get her lawyer or another lawyer to proceed.
Post # 10
Ugh, What a shitty situation. I don’t know anything about divorce laws, but there shouldn’t be too many problems with getting the divorce if they’ve been separated that long.
PS, kudos to mom for moving on with her life!
Post # 11
Yah – I’m with @julies1949, I’m pretty sure that while many states differ as to their laws regarding divorce, if one person does not want to be married, legally, there IS a way out of it, even if the other person is not being cooperative.
Sad that your mom has spent 15 years thinking that she was stuck in this situation when she didn’t have to be!
Post # 12
New York just passed a much more liberal divorce law, which will make it much easier for your mom to get her divorce. Tell her to get a real lawyer, or check around and see if there is a family law hotline or pro-bono advising office at the courthouse to help her fill out the forms.
Post # 13
@edb: Thanks for the info!
Post # 14
I volunteer as an individual financial planner at a women’s shelter; controlling/stealing finances is one of the biggest ways exes “control” and “restrict” women after the ex can no longer physically harm them. Exes also use money as a way to show the woman that she is powerless and is too “dumb” or “little” to do anything about it. Your father denying your mother her money is not only breaking the law, it is a form of emotional and psychological abuse, which makes demanding what is rightfully her from your father as emotionally fraught as facing down a man who physically abused her (which your dad may have done as well, I don’t know the whole story).
I would call a local women’s shelter/assistance org and explain the situation and ask for a few referrals. Meet with the lawyer before introducing your mom, so that you can “judge” the attorney without letting the emotions that she’s feeling override your better judgement.
Keeping her out of the process until you find someone that you feel comfortable with and can tell her “mom, this person and I are going to help you fix this” is one of the best things your can do for her.