Bel Air, MD asked in Divorce, Family Law and Elder Law for New York

Q: If a husband walks out, is he financially responsible for shared bills?

My mother has been a full time caretaker for her husband for over 10 years. He is continuing to decline and his behavior and needs have become unmanageable for her at her age. In October, he was hospitalized with CDIFF and we tried to get help through a hospital social worker with no support. She left on Friday 10/28 in the care of his daughter to visit family in MD and to take a mental break. On Saturday, 10/29 the daughter moved him to her house and removed 1/2 of their financial assets. He is refusing to pay any part of their rent or anything that is shared. She returned to Rochester on Sunday 10/30 in response to his move. What are her legal options to get the support she deserves after taking care of him without opportunity to visit her family without repercussion? What are his responsibilities to her after deserting her- financially and emotionally?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Peter Christopher Lomtevas
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  • Dallas, TX
  • Licensed in New York

A: This question also appeared on Avvo, and it gave this writer pause. A husband apparently contracted a serious digestive disease characterized by the infestation of a parasite. So, a very ill spouse manipulates marital finances and bolts. The asker asks us legal professionals what to do, and reaching into our magic back of tricks, we come up with accessing justice.

Accessing justice means relying on government to help. The typical solution to the asker's problem is to file for divorce and to seek equitable distribution of the marital res. The typical solution is to move for spousal support to pay rent and incidental expenses.

Government does not help. Depending on the judge, the illness may help or hut the asker's case. Depending on the opposing spouse's expert witnesses (physicians), that opponent spouse may obtain spousal support from the asker. The courthouse has double edged swords and lady justice plays blind all the time.

As we are not psychologists, we cannot counsel the asker how to maneuver the opposing spouse so the asker can restore her possession of money and property. Maneuvering the opponent using interpersonal communication may result in positive outcomes rather than jousting in a court that has its own priorities and processes.

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