Monday, June 04, 2007

The Trip to the Attorney's Office

I had a consultation with a family law attorney up near my office. I'm still a little stressed, so this may seem a bit scattered.

The thing that struck me was her reaction as I tried to explain my situation with the job. I had prepared for some sort of "What is wrong with you?" response. What I got instead was a look of disbelief about my wife. The reluctance to relocate, combined with the threat of separation, didn't add up to her.

She didn't buy the, "I'll lose my support network" defense my wife was peddling. I said it was tough for me to grasp as well. I had thought it might have something to do with my wife's upbringing, because relatives typically did not move far away. I also said that she seemed to have "an unusually strong bond" with her best friend. She hooked into that, asking me to clarify. I told her that I didn't have definitive proof, but it seemed that she placed a higher value on their friendship than she did our relationship.

She didn't seem surprised about my difficulty finding jobs in this area, and she even articulated a lot of my worries about my career without me bringing them up first. She seemed to understand where I was coming from and didn't fault me for wanting to take the Online Payment Subsidiary job.

Regarding the question of support. There's no doubt that I'd have to pay child support because I was the major breadwinner of the household. Based on the pay out West, I used a calculator at a state government website to estimate that it could be on the order of $300 a week. She said that a judge probably wouldn't be sympathetic to my wife regarding spousal support, since she is able bodied and has employable skills.

She said that moving out of state would not adversely impact the nature of a separation or a divorce, but it would most likely limit my rights to influence certain decisions, such as religious upbringing, education, and medical decisions.

I asked about the likelihood that my wife would have a case for abandonment, if I decided to move unilaterally. She said as long as I was sending back money to pay the bills and provide for them, there wouldn't be a case. She said I didn't look like the type who was trying to keep money from his wife so he could afford a Porche and a bimbo.

She recommended against filing for a legal separation because in our state, such decrees are valid for only a year. After that, the separation needs to be either dismissed or rolled over into a divorce. You can't renew the separation indefinitely. Another thing that would make a separation undesirable from my standpoint would be that it might give my wife an extra piece of leverage for continued spousal support after the divorce.

She made a good impression on me, seeming concerned about my well being (I probably looked pretty shaken at the time). I also got this vibe that she could be fierce in the courtroom if this got ugly. I don't want to go to war over this, but if my wife decides to go for the jugular, I may need that kind of representation.
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