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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Support/alimony to disabled spouse

    For the past 5 years, I am considering divorcing my husband of 20 years. I feel that I need to start the process but I have not broached the subject of divorce with him yet. Background information: We were both in grad school when we married and neither of us had much in the way of capital or property when we entered marriage. He graduated first and started a professional career that lasted for about 7 years. He quit work to work part time for for a few years, then became permanently disabled due to a progressive disease and began receiving SS disability income by the 11th year of marriage. I have worked for the past 17 years in a professional career (same profession as his) and he has been dependent upon me financially. I perceive that we are middle class -- by no means wealthy but we are reasonably comfortable and we live OK within our means. I take care of all the household chores and financial management as he is prone to significant fatigue and physical pain. There is no possibility of recovery and his physicial condition will worsen as time goes by. We have no children, a decison we made after learning that he had a 50% chance of passing on the disease to our children. Currently, he is on my employer based health and dental insurance plans but he also receives medicare benefits. We are still making mortgage payments (30 year mortgage --our sole debt) on our modest 1700 sq foot house that we bought about 10 years ago. We have one 10 year old car and a time-share. We have no individual indebtedness and have good credit. We each have own retirement investments but we have a joint banking and joint savings account.

    I am assuming that I will be required to (and morally should) make alimony payments to him (or some equitable financial arrangement with him) since we have been married for 20 years and I have been the major source of financial support to him. Neither of us will want this to be a costly divorce so I think that we will try to work out a settlement with as little conflict and court involvement as possible. I want to be fair and equitable because I want to sleep well at night. Problem is that I don't know how to determine whether something is fair or not.

    I realize that a divorce will make a tremendous impact of our quality of life and I want to make good decisions to minimize the adverse financial impact and emotional upheaval for both of us. I want to plan it out before I make the announcement. I am not under any time- pressure but I don't want to procrastinate to avoid dealing with complicated issues. I've been reading my state's divorce law as well as online articles on divorce (dividing up property, taxes, etc).

    My questions: what can I be expected to pay each month in alimony? Is there a formula or percentage that takes into account his SS income and my income? Will I likely to be asked to pay for private health/dental insurance premiums for him? If I am required to pay for his health care insurance, will that factor into the alimony payments? Are there alternatives to alimony payments? Are alimony payments and property division related-- do they affect each other or are they always decided upon separately? Are there some unique issues to consider because I am the sole breadwinner and he is disabled? Does the time of year when filing a divorce make a difference financially (for taxes etc)? At what point in the process does one spouse move out of the house? Any advantage to pursuing a legal separation first? Are there any good books / websites that you would recommend about the process of a divorce-- the general stuff about what to expect and what to plan for?

    None of my friends have gone through a divorce so I don't have a good sense of what to do, what not to do... I'm a bit obessive-compulsive and can easily get bogged down in details. So much of what I read does not apply to my situation such as child-support, custody issues, single women going back to the workforce, and single women establishing credit.

    I know that each state is different and each divorce case has it's own twists and turns but I imagine that there are some general principles that would apply. Even when the parties in the divorce are amicable, it still seems hard.

    Thanks for your time.

  2. Moderator Honorable Colleague

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Chicago area
    Thanked 183 Times in 182 Posts
    Since you don't mention your state, here's a link to state-specific legal information regarding divorce. Find your state in the list.

    The site also has a link to state codes if you care to read through them.
    Last edited by irish223; 01-17-2009 at 07:59 PM.
    I'm not a lawyer

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