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Question #266:
I have a few simple questions about a very complex derailed divorce proceeding. we married in 1975 in New York. After 25 years of marital hell, my husband was arrested for spousal abuse. I filed for and was granted a one year permanent order of protection. I subsequently discovered that he had corresponded with a dominatrix and was a cross-dresser with an extensive collection of perverted pornography, some women's wigs and various s & m items.

In 2000, he filed for divorce shortly before I did. We have maintained separate residences since then. During 4 years of contentious negotiations, I was led to believe, even by my own lawyer, that the equitable distribution of our joint assets would be very complicated and could leave me in financial ruin. Just days before the scheduled date of the trial, my new attorney felt that the judge would almost certainly dismiss my husband's case due to the false charges he had accused me of and advised me to proceed as such. He said that it would give me additional leverage to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement. After less than an hour the judge threw the case out.

My lawyer never even attempted to contact my husband's to discuss settlement, My husband and I have, for the most part, maintained a good relationship for the majority of the past 7 years. We lead separate lives and maintain separate bank accounts.

For 5 years after our separation (not legalized) I continued my teaching career and opened a 403 B account. Will the money I saved and the time accrued be considered joint marital assets? Although we are co-owners of the house I currently reside in, my husband has not financially contributed towards any household expenses in any way. I took out a $100,000 mortgage to do necessary repairs and renovation. Will I be held responsible for that debt? Could it be possible that the legal distribution of our assets will be calculated from the action that I originally filed in 2000?

We have not been able to reach an acceptable settlement in 11 years. Please don't respond with a simple "try mediation". I need answers to my questions. You have long maintained this site to advise people honestly concerning their legal rights in divorce proceedings. I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.


As long as you have not filed a Separation Agreement or filed for Divorce,
You are legally considered married, and all assets acquired during such time
Are “Marital Property”, both yours and his, regardless of in whose name the property is held.
If the previous case was dismissed by the Judge, it ended and a new case would have to be
Filed. One cannot generally start the separation of assets from the original filing date of a dismissed case.

The judge may have some discretionary power to allocate a larger portion to you,
But it will be up to the judge.

Good Luck!

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions
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