My husband and I have been married for almost 23 years. During our marriage, he has had two affairs. Both times he moved out after putting me through a lot of verbal abuse. Both times, I took him back. The last affair that I know about was 9 or 10 years ago. This past year I went through an emotional roller-coaster. My brother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He and his family lived 3 1/2 hours from me, and I spent most of the year traveling back and forth to spend time with him. Not to mention, I had to be the strong one for my parents, my two kids and my brother’s wife, and three small children. My husband gave me no emotional support, although I begged him too. In fact, at times, he seemed to try to make things more difficult. After ten months, my brother died in November. I still was expected to stand firm for everyone else, which left me no time to grieve. Again, my husband was no help emotionally. Everything came to a head in late March of this year. I told my husband that I loved him, but I wasn’t sure that I was still “in love” with him and that I might want out of the marriage. I told him that, at the very least, I needed time for myself to regroup and find myself after losing my brother, who was a significant part of who I am. My husband moved out a few days later. He never gave me his address or phone number, although I could reach him at work. He continued to pay the bills, but he closed out our joint bank account two weeks ago. On July 3, I was served with divorce papers. He is charging me with “cruel and inhuman treatment.” I am employed through the school district, but I didn’t apply to work summer school because he had asked me not too so I’d be available to go on vacation. Of course, this was before he left. Now it’s too late to work summer school, so I have no income at all. He knows that I cannot afford a lawyer to defend myself. I have several questions. First, if I can convince him to do so, is it too late to change the grounds of divorce? If it is, how would these grounds affect the outcome? I only earn about $8,000 a year compared to his $50,000 a year. My second question is, since I just received the summons, is it too late if he agrees to it, to drop the divorce action, and get a legal separation instead? My third question is if he wants this so badly, can I legally have him pay for my lawyer? Isn’t it required that I have the right to representation? We live in Upstate, NY, and we have two children. Our son is almost 21, but our daughter is only 17 and soon to be a senior in high school. I’m scared and desperate here. I only have 20 days to respond to this summons, and as I said, I have no money to retain a lawyer. I hope that you can help me with some s to my questions.
He can amend the complaint to change the grounds. You can, in any case, deny the grounds
and contest the divorce, or you could deny the grounds he claimed and counter sue him
for divorce based on the same or other grounds.
He can amend or drop the suit at any time before a judgment is issued.
If he has provided the bulk of the support for the family, the court
will make him pay for your attorney and provide you with some interim
spousal and child support until the case is settled.
You must also request custody of the 17 yr. old child and to be the
child’s residential parent.
I strongly suggest you contact an attorney-mediator in your area,
experienced in divorce matters to help you both resolve this matter.
Stay strong! Do it for your children, if not for yourself!
Leonard M. Weiner, Esq.Divorce Solutions