Q: My mom wants a divorce, so my dad went psycho and is cutting us off financially, what should we do?
My parents were married in India but we've lived in NJ for the past 22 years. My mom told my dad (100% narcissist) recently that she wants a divorce and to move to CA with me. She and my sibling (we're mid 20s) immediately flew out to CA where I live, and my dad is losing it. Canceling cards, changing accounts. My mom has never worked and is entirely reliant on my father. My sibling and I are still financially reliant on him. What do we do? I know legal protocols differ by state, and my parents were married in another country. We need money now. Concerning the law, we know just about nothing (can we talk to lawyers here in Cali, or only in NJ? etc.)
A: Your mother is not a resident of California, she will need to retain an experienced New Jersey matrimonial (divorce) attorney. The situation is more complex than you realize, but an attorney cannot represent anyone in a divorce case on a contingency fee basis. The situation is beyond what most attorneys will discuss with you in a free consultation. Pick the best attorney you can find and remember one rule: a good attorney is generally never cheap, and a cheap attorney is generally never good so don't choose based on price. With modern technology, you can be represented by any high-quality attorney in New Jersey irrespective of geography.
Teresa L. Reichek agrees with this answer
Thank you for your question. Your mother has likely not met the residency requirement for California. She should file for divorce in New Jersey. She should consult with experienced New Jersey counsel ASAP. Along with the Complaint, there are other things that can be filed with the Court to stop your father's behavior sooner rather than later. Under NJ law, he is required to keep the status quo pending divorce.
He may be required to provide interim support to your mother and her children pending divorce. The children would have to be unemancipated, which means full-time students if over the age of 18. There are some other requirements as well, which is why a consult is so essential. Your mother's divorce would be filed in the county where she and your father lived together. Where they were married is not relevant to where the divorce is filed.
If your mother has lived in New Jersey for the past 12 months continually, New Jersey has proper jurisdiction for divorce purposes. The fact that your parents were married in India has nothing to do with jurisdiction for divorce purposes. Your mother can meet with a divorce lawyer for consultation purposes and after being retained, as part of the divorce process, the lawyer can file an application with the court for interim support for your mother ( and possibly for you and your sibling) and the court has the authority to order it and if needed to garnish his income, assets, etc to ensure that your mother receives support during the divorce matter.
But for purposes of proceeding with a divorce, the lawyer will need to be paid a retainer (money paid up front against the hours billed by the lawyer for his time). Any lawyer who will handle the matter on a flat fee basis is not a divorce law specialist and should be avoided for a variety of reasons. This is similar to picking a surgeon. You would not pick the cheapest surgeon - you would pick the best surgeon that you can afford.
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