Dear Jeff & Andrew:
My husband and I have been living in separate rooms of the house for almost two years. As shocking as it might seem, we have barely exchanged a word since an argument caused him to move out of the bedroom and into a guest room.
Since my husband will not talk to me, I have e-mailed him and suggested that we get a divorce. He said that he is not guilty of any wrongdoing and will not agree unless I leave the house for more than one year. I have heard that Ohio law will permit a divorce when the couple has been apart for a year but I do not see why I have to move out. We have not lived together as man and wife during our “separation”. Do I have grounds for divorce?
To obtain a divorce in Ohio, one does need to prove grounds. Living separate and apart for longer than one year is one of the grounds for divorce. Unfortunately, living in separate rooms under the same roof will not cut it.
Another ground for divorce is incompatibility, so long as it is not denied by the other person. Based upon your husband’s comments, we suspect that he will not agree that the two of you are incompatible, thereby paving the way for you to obtain a divorce. Although it sounds fairly harsh, “gross neglect of duty” is most likely the best ground for you to allege when and if you file for divorce. Ohio law provides that a husband and wife owe each other obligations of respect, fidelity and support. Courts have interpreted “gross neglect of duty” to include a failure to provide financial support, a failure to provide emotional support and the withholding of sexual relations. If you have been residing in separate bedrooms for a couple of years . . . well, you get the idea.
While the requirement to prove grounds may present some hurdles to clear, anyone in the State of Ohio who wants a divorce badly enough can ultimately get one.
Dear Jeff & Andrew:
This question may sound strange but it really is the truth. I am a very attractive woman and have been a bit of a flirt throughout my marriage. Years ago my husband thought it was a bit of a turn-on to have other men make comments and give me looks. Now he thinks it’s no longer proper for me to be a tease.
I think the change is in my husband and not with me. He said that he will divorce me if I don’t change my ways. What do you think?
You know that we give legal advice, right? Good looks, flirting and turn-ons (offs) are not exactly our thing. As family law attorneys, we spend a lot of time talking to people who are in unhappy marriages. It sounds like the two of you need, at least for now, a therapist and not a lawyer.
Dear Jeff & Andrew:
My husband moved out of our home after three years of marriage and has been staying with another woman from time to time. We have actually been separated for two years and I would have sued him for divorce but I do not have enough money to hire a lawyer.
I told him that he should hire somebody to end the marriage, as we have no joint assets or debts. He said that he isn’t going to do anything as he is getting along very well without spending money on lawyers.
Is there anything I can do to bring this nightmare to an end? I have a pretty good job but I honestly don’t want to spend a fortune paying for a lawyer when my husband is the one who moved out. What can I do?
There is no reason the ending of your marriage need be an expensive undertaking. With no children or joint assets or liabilities, there really isn’t anything to fight over. But people still find reasons to disagree. Amazing isn’t it?
If you and your husband both have good jobs, you may have benefits including retirement accounts, stock options, etc. While those assets are in your respective individual names, the money deposited into such an account, or the present value of the options, are technically marital assets which must be considered. At a minimum, you want to make sure you protect those assets or fully understand any value they might have.
Not all lawyers are expensive but you will have to weigh the relative value of consulting with one. At the very least, we think you should talk to an attorney to make sure you know your options. Find a young lawyer with some experience in this area of the law. There are plenty of candidates who work with more experienced lawyers, to whom they can turn for advice and assistance if it appears to be needed. Don’t be afraid to consult with a lawyer with limited experience; some are very bright and exceptionally underpriced.
Another alternative is to talk to your husband again and see if he will “sign off” on the papers if you have them prepared. He may agree and you can then move forward on an uncontested basis. Although we have previously advised our readers to be careful using prepaid forms, there are alternatives that should be explored.
One thing is certain... don’t ignore the problem. Things can only get worse if you allow too much more time go by without protecting yourself. Account balances may grow and, with the passage of time, there may actually be more to divide. If you are sure it’s over, start moving to end things now.