Friday, June 6, 2008

Victim #6 - Significant Other's Concerns

My significant other (we will call him Bill) filed for a divorce in May of this year and has been waiting for a mediation date which is now set for September 6th in XXXX. He will probably be raked over the coals by his soon to be ex-spouse (we will call her Emily). They have been married 21 years and have an adult (20 year old) paraplegic child that lives with the wife (he moved out last October). The child is receiving social security that more than covers his expenses and has outside care or school 63 hours per week. Bill has been paying all her household expenses since he moved out.

Bill's attorney has not responded to most phone calls and e-mails (at one point for a 2 week period), and seems to possibly be going through some type of personal crisis. He has "misplaced" Bill's financial affidavit twice, and has not provided a copy of Emily's financial affidavit to Bill. I feel he is not going to serve Bill's best interests, and worry he will enter mediation not well represented. The attorney has reassured him that the worst case scenario will be around $2100 per month in rehabilative alimony, and not to worry.

My experience tells me he should worry, as Emily has not worked for the 21 years of marriage, and has been fired from her commission only real estate job (she has a Florida real estate license but decided she did not like working and her max income was $10,000 in 2003 or 2004), and she has been the primary caregiver of a physically and mentally challenged child for the last 20 years. His income was around $90,000 last year, $200,000 this year, and will likey be in excess of $300,000 next year and beyond.

I have read how "open ended" Florida law is regarding alimony and it seems to be up to the discretion of the judge. Emily has stated that she will take everything she can possibly get and that her goal is to financially destroy Bill. She is very smart and has endless time on her hands (we had to file an injunction against her because she illegally accessed MY email account by finding out my mother's maiden name and then accessing my password), so I am sure she has spent the last 9 months figuring out how to best serve her own needs in this divorce.

Bill, on the other hand, works so many hours that he has not had time to consider the enormity of the situation. I don't think he realizes that this is probably the most complex and important legal event in his life, and that his preparation is vital to the outcome. His attorney has not given him any information about even what to expect from the mediation.

I have stressed to Bill that he can always be more generous than the court dictates (it is his nature to always provide for her and their son), but he can never give any less. Reality could mean lifetime alimony that will be a substantial percentage of his income, and that she will reopen the case as his income increases to ask for more.

She is capable of being employed, and has more than 60 hours per week of free time. They also have the option of moving their son to a group home in XXXX that will provide 24/7 care for him at no expense to them. This would negatively impact her (she nets about $300 per month from Social Security) and she is opposed to considering that option.

Bill has their son for a 3 day weekend once per month and wants to convert to 2 weekends every month. She has been very unaccommodating and unreliable when they agree to meet him half way so he can take their son (she is in XXXX and he in in XXXX and they must swap vehicles since he is in a handicapped accessible van), and she has gone so far as to causing him to miss business flights by no-showing at their designated meeting time and place.

She has also been violent throughout the past year, and has done things such as making a bonfire in their back yard of his wardrobe, putting holes in walls and breaking doors, and on one occasion even beating him senseless (she is also very athletic and extremely mean). He has refused to file restraining orders or document her violence because he is worried she may be taken to jail and there would be no one to care for their son in that event.

His future and possibly mine will be affected by the outcome of this divorce, and I do want to see that he has proper counsel. At minimum, maybe you know some desperate sap who will capture the heart of Emily and turn her into a nice person!