Q. I filed for divorce and my husband filed an answer and counterclaim alleging that I had an affair and that I was cruel and abusive to him throughout our 13-year-marriage. He doesn’t want a divorce. He has been living comfortably off my salary with no incentive to go to back to work since taking a sabbatical which turned permanent five years ago.
Initially I was supportive and suggested a career change for him but that conversation got old and the only thing he is interested in doing is going to the gym (I pay for his membership) and watching James Bond movies. I had hoped by filing he would get off the couch and fight for me. Instead it seems he is fighting for my wallet.
Will he get more money because he says I was abusive or claims I had an affair (I didn’t by the way)? I don’t understand why he would be saying these things unless there was a financial gain to him.
A. It is hard to know why some people feel the need to allege fault grounds in a divorce, especially when none truly exists.
For the most part, counterclaims end up getting dismissed in the end when agreements are reached on the underlying complaint. A very low percentage of cases go to trial. If he chooses to push for trial, he could try to prove that you had an affair and/or that you were emotionally abusive during the marriage but it is unlikely to get him more money.
There is a long list of factors Massachusetts law requires judges to consider when determining how to divide property. One of those factors is conduct of the parties and conduct does not just mean bad behavior – it also means good behavior. In other words, even if he felt that your efforts to get him to get off the sofa were cruel, I’m sure he would concede that your getting up every day, going to work, paying the bills, etc. was good conduct. I would imagine a judge finding that his failure to get off the couch for more than a trip to the gym is not so good conduct.
While I do not know what he earned before his sabbatical became permanent, it sounds like you have an argument for rehabilitative alimony rather than general term alimony. This means you would pay alimony for a limited period sufficient for him to get a job and be self-supporting.
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