What are my options if my wife has abandoned me and our children?

Full Question:

My wife moved out on me and I still have a 16 year old with me. I also have 2 more older ones at home that are 21 and 18 who depend on me. I get no help from her. She has her own company. Is that abandonment and what should I do?
02/02/2007   |   Category: Divorce   |   State: Florida   |   #418


The official word for divorce in Florida is dissolution. Florida is one of the many states that has abolished fault as a ground for divorce. This law lessens the potential harm to the husband and wife and their children caused by the process of divorce. All that is required is that the marriage be "irretrievably broken." Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. All that has to be proved is that the marriage is broken. Fault, however, may be considered under certain circumstances in the award of alimony, and determination of custody issues.

Florida statutes and case law provides for an "equitable distribution" of marital property. In essence, the marital property should be divided fairly or equitably (not necessarily equally) between the parties regardless of how the title is held. The division is based upon all facts of the case and the contribution of both spouses to the marriage.

The division of marital property (any asset acquired during the marriage by the efforts of one or both parties) is considered in conjunction with all other awards of alimony and interests in property.

There is no fixed way to determine how you or the court should divide the property. Liabilities as well as assets must be considered. Other factors include the nature and extent of the property and whether it is marital property or non-marital property; the duration of the marriage; the economic circumstances of each spouse. If you and your spouse can agree, and if your agreement is reasonable, it will be approved by the court. If you cannot agree, the court will divide the property after a trial.

The court may grant alimony to either the husband or the wife. Rehabilitative alimony may be for a limited period of time to assist in redeveloping skills and financial independence or permanent alimony until the receiving spouse's remarriage or the death of either party, or the Court may grant some combination of the two. Also the court may order through lump-sum alimony one party to pay the other party a lump-sum payment of money or property. Although adultery does not bar an award of alimony, the court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances of that adultery in determining the amount of alimony to be awarded.

In awarding alimony, the court considers all relevant economic factors, such as: the parties' prior standard of living; length of the marriage; age and physical and emotional condition of both spouses; each spouse's financial resources and income-producing capacity of the assets they receive; the time necessary to acquire sufficient educational training to find appropriate employment; and the services rendered in homemaking, child rearing, and education and career building of the other spouse. The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the husband and wife.

You have the right to find out about all your spouse's income and assets through the use of discovery procedures which your attorney will explain to you.

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