Q. My husband has been very controlling and threatening. He followed me around the house, had cameras monitoring my every move, refused to allow me to have my family or friends come over — he insisted he was being careful with COVID. He had been trying to isolate me for a long time. He also became obsessed with true crime novels and collecting knives.
I was terrified by his escalating behavior. I finally had a friend help me escape the house when he was leading a work team Zoom meeting. I hid in a hotel using cash and got an emergency restraining order. At the return hearing, the judge believed him that I was crazy and he would never do anything to hurt me. I remained terrified but ran out of cash and had nowhere to go so I went home.
I filed for divorce. When I was in the hotel, he reported the one credit card that I had access to as stolen and I don’t have access to our bank accounts so I can’t leave again. He has been building a case to show I am crazy and has told me that I will get nothing because he had money before he married me which we used to buy the house. I make more money so he makes me pay all our expenses for the house until we are even. He keeps score. He says I will have to pay alimony and he will get to keep the house because of his deposit. I am so scared but my lawyer told me do not call the police because the judge didn’t believe me so if I do call, the judge will just think I am playing games.
What are my options?
A. First you need to hire a different lawyer. Keep your cell phone charged at all times and carry it with you in your pocket. If you are truly afraid for your safety, lock yourself in the bathroom and call the police. The judge isn’t going to give him all of the assets or make you pay alimony because you sought help from the police.
Second, file a motion to sell the house so you have money for your own place to live. While you are at it, ask the judge for an advance against the marital estate out of other assets so that you can come up with first, last and security deposit for a rental. Open a new bank account and have your income deposited there. If you can afford it, deposit enough to pay half the household expenses into the household account — he can pay the other half of the expenses. If he chooses not to pay the mortgage — his loss — pay your half and it will take a long time for the mortgage company to foreclose and if it gets to that, ask the judge to give you credit for your payments when the equity is eventually divided. Finally, alimony to him sounds unlikely.