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Will I Owe My Husband Alimony if We Separated 10 Years In the past?

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Expensive Penny,

I have been separated for greater than 10 years after a 30-plus-year marriage. The previous 10 years, I’ve supported the household residence, paid off all excellent payments and paid off the bank card debt of over $15,000. 

I additionally bought the household residence final 12 months and break up the proceeds equally. Earlier than promoting the house, I couldn’t afford an legal professional for a divorce. (I made half of what I make now, and holding on to the home took most of my cash.) I filed alone behalf, but it surely by no means went wherever as a result of they want documentation from each events which (on his half) by no means occurred. 

I now have cash to rent an legal professional, however I’m nervous about my financial savings and retirement accounts and cash from the sale of the household residence. I nonetheless work and now make over $80,000. However the issue is he has no job and resides off the sale of the house. He’s 62 and will file for retirement however needs to attend some time longer. 

Just a few years in the past, I used to be suggested by an legal professional {that a} choose may require me to pay alimony as a result of it was a long-term marriage and I’m the one one with revenue.   

I’m trying into investing the cash from the sale of the home. Hopefully, that shouldn’t be a problem as a result of I break up these funds. Nevertheless, I’m apprehensive about my retirement accounts which have grown considerably these previous 10 years. Additionally, for the previous seven years I’ve contributed $50 a month for my 5 grandchildren in a 529 plan.

I actually need the divorce as a result of I do know it should make me really feel higher, however I  do not need to fall again into one other wrestle financially. Earlier than I rent an legal professional, do you’ve any recommendation for shifting on with my life? 

-D.

Expensive D.,

Assembly with an legal professional isn’t the identical as hiring an legal professional. You’re not signing as much as serve your husband with divorce papers by scheduling a gathering. You may ask the identical questions you pose in your letter to somebody who is aware of your state’s divorce legal guidelines.

Please simply take step one and ebook a session with an legal professional. Within the meantime, I’ll supply my non-lawyerly tackle the monetary points you increase.


Your retirement funds would most likely be break up if you happen to divorce. Cash you saved plus the earnings earlier than getting married would probably be yours. However cash saved and earned when you had been married would most likely be divided.

The principles fluctuate by state. In a nutshell, it’s usually a 50/50 break up if you happen to stay in one of many 9 neighborhood property states. However the different 41 states use a course of referred to as equitable distribution. Basically, the court docket tries to divide property pretty, however not essentially equally.

Clearly, you don’t need to share the previous decade’s price of beneficial properties along with your estranged husband. However that’s a motive to not delay any longer. You need this divorce. By dragging this out, you’re risking a part of your future beneficial properties.

Court docket-ordered alimony is a risk, but it surely’s not essentially a given. Once more, the legal guidelines fluctuate by state. A choose would think about a slew of things, together with your husband’s skill to assist himself. Presumably, your husband has managed on his personal for 10 years with out alimony. Maybe that might bolster your case towards spousal assist.

As for the 529 plans on your grandchildren, your husband may go after that cash if you happen to personal the plans. However you owe taxes plus a ten% penalty when 529 funds are used for non-educational functions. For that reason, most {couples} select to not break up 529 plan property after they divorce.

Clearly, divorce has humongous monetary penalties. However think about the results of not divorcing. When you’re married, you possibly can’t take away your husband because the beneficiary of any office retirement account, like a 401(okay), with out his consent. Your husband remains to be your subsequent of kin, that means he may make medical and monetary selections in your behalf if you happen to’re incapacitated. In case you stay in a neighborhood property state, you’re collectively liable for any debt your husband racks up when you’re nonetheless married.

You’ve had the previous 10 years to fret about each attainable situation. I don’t need to downplay the seriousness of this resolution. However typically once we spend a very long time stewing over a giant resolution, the outcomes we think about are far worse than the fact.

Have a look at what you’ve completed within the final decade: You’ve doubled your revenue. You’ve paid off debt. You’ve been the only breadwinner. You will have monetary hurdles forward, however I feel you possibly can overcome them.

Attorneys are costly. So are divorces. However you’ve been caught in limbo for 10 years. Transferring on will likely be priceless.

Robin Hartill is a licensed monetary planner and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Ship your tough cash inquiries to [email protected].


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