Question #216: I’m not married but I have been with my fiance now 14yrs! I have a 4yr old daughter, and we just purchased a home 1yr ago in NJ. Things have not been going well in our relationship..we’ve tried counseling, but it didn’t work. We both talked about separating, but he says he has to have custody of our daughter. Both of us are good parents, we both work, and both do our share of things around the house. He works more hours than I do, and of course I do most of the spending time with my daughter..I do all the things a Mother has to do for there child. I’m not saying he’s a bad father..but I feel that I can take better care of her than he would. He say’s he’ll fight to the end, to have custody of her. Is there any way a judge can turn and give custody to a Dad instead of the Mother? and why? also, what would happen with our home, our belongings etc? since were not married? Please Help.

Based on the information that you provided, it seems unlikely that the judge would award your spouse custody of the child. In all likelihood , you would remain the residential parent , and perhaps both parties share custody.
With regard to your financial matters, it would be necessary to see exactly how title to the home is held and who paid for the furniture and household items you referred to.

Your situation is ideal for mediation, which would remove the entire matter from the court system and allow you and your spouse to sit down together with the mediator and resolve these issues.

Please call me at 212-370-1660 to arrange for a meeting for the three of us to discuss mediating your separation .

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./ Divorce Solutions

Question #173:I have been married to an abusive husband for 24 years and we have two children 19 who is a college sophomore and a 15 year old high school freshman…. I write a column once a week on the computer digital edition for a small town paper which has earned me 3400 /year my husband makes 68,000. I filed for divorce in the beginning of April of this year he buys what groceries he chooses, does not pay for my car being maintained told me to get used to paying things by myself….makes the kids beg for money if they need it ..there have been no allowances since April 1st for the kids. whati need to know is: since he says he’s not paying for college and that my son lives at school which he doesn’t he is home 5 months out of the year. he says he is not paying child support for him because he will not be living with me…my son doesn’t live at the school so i know my soon to be x has to pay for him till he is 23 how does college work or is that arranged thru the court if we cant figure it out with arbitration then the judge decides? my husband wants joint custody with my daughter who he cant get along with to save his soul it is another ploy to not pay so much in child support i know he is legally obligated to pay 25% of his paycheck to child support….. since we have been married for 24 years and i am not working ,i have a high school education and did not graduate i quit working when i had my son and became a stay at home and still do not really work only the col that brings in 30-60 a week depending on the length of it and what the editor uses. i am 48 years of age…..can you give me a rough idea as to what alimony or maintenance might be percentage wise? and how long? i have had no money and had to run my credit card up to 3,000 paying for things the kids have needed thru the months does he have to pay the credit card or is that up to a judge? what usually happens the first meeting what can i hope to get accomplished and what are my rights ……i would receive retirement or social security which was put in during the marriage or till i remarry? i mainly need to know now what percentage maintenance or alimony would be in my situation.. we live in new york

You raise many important issues, which unfortunately, I am unable to deal with in this short reply. However, with regard to spousal support open (alimony), unlike child-support, there is no statutory percentage of income, which is relegated to spousal support. It depends on many factors including net worth of each of the parties, the ability of the nonworking spouse to return to the workplace, the age of the children at home, the health and age of each of the parties, etc.

Please consider mediating your divorce instead of litigating it in court. It will be faster, cheaper and a lot less traumatic.
If you were living in the New York City metropolitan area, please call me at 212-370-1660 to arrange for a meeting to discuss this and all the other matters at greater length.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions

Question #165:My divorce horror story goes like this. I was married to a New York City Police Lieutenant. He punched me in the face, and a week later my daughter and myself moved into our own place. I signed a stipulation that allowed me to have full access to the marital residence for purpose of childcare and visitation thereat. The first time I tried to enter the family residence, my ex called 911. A little while after I left him, I found out that the police department requested his resignation. This was due to the fact that he had sexually harassed a female officer for 4 1/2 years. I left my two sons in the marital residence, since he made 90 thousand dollars. I had my own apartment and three jobs. I soon found out that my ex had forged my name on Janus funds accounts and stole 18,000. I got copies of the checks, went to the DA. in Nassau county and was told to file a civil action. In our stipulation, it required my ex to make the mortgage payments on the house. 10 months after 911 he failed to make the payments, while my name was on the house. During this time he started stalking me. I was doing a book for Great Neck and he followed me and sexually abused me by asking for sexual favors for money. He tried his best to mirco-manage my life. He made constant demands of me, even though it says clearly in my stipulation that nothing shall be construed as a duty or obligation on the part of the wife. He harassed me constantly and was always calling and the sexual advances turned into a sexual assault. At this time in my life I didn’t understand things the way I do now. Currently, I have custody of the17 year old. I had to go to court to get a restraining order to stop the harassment and the next day, he punched my son in the face twice with a clinched fist and was found guilty of maltreatment and abuse. I had documented my visitation for 4 and 1/2 years and I have my boys more than 3/4 of the time. It is my belief, since I was trying to not make his financial life a living hell, that he knew exactly what he was trying to do to me. I had been conned. Instead of him paying me child support, I paid him for many years until I went to court and sued him for unpaid spousal support and also custody of my children. He settled the case, under the advise of his attorney and gave me my son back in lieu of 10 thousand dollars unpaid to me. It says in the last court order that he failed to obey the order of the court and this failure was unwillful. Otherwise he would have gone to jail for 6 months. Also, my ex did violate the restraining order, called me 12 times in 2 hours and banged on my door while I was in the shower. He left me a threatening message and was arrested, although the detective did not believe me because my ex told them he was a retired police officer. I got him on tape and showed evidence to the court and the judge told me to record everything. I am now remarried and my ex wants me to pay half of the college expenses for my son. I am currently applying for SSI, since I have neurofibromatosis, nerve damage and fibromyalgia. My question to you is do the courts order the ex non-custodial parent to pay half or is this based on a pro-rated share of income. He has done his best to try and ruin me, but I am a former U.S. Marine and I will not let him. Please advise.

Generally, the issue of college expenses for children is addressed in the Separation Agreement. If you entered into a Separation Agreement with your spouse, I would have to review the provisions to see exactly what you agreed to. If there is no Separation Agreement, there may be some reference to higher education in the judgment of divorce or in an additional order from the court dealing with the matter.
If the matter has not been addressed in some legal document, then it will be up to the court to decide on the relative responsibilities of each parent. I strongly suggest that you mediate this matter, rather than going to court. It will be less expensive and will allow you to reach an agreement that you will both be able to live with.
If you are living in the New York City metropolitan area, please call me at 212-370-1660 to arrange for a meeting to discuss this matter at greater length.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions