Q: My husband and I have been living off our savings since early on in the pandemic. We were fortunate to have enough money to do so. We have each been commuting between other states with our siblings helping to care for our elderly parents and taking turns being home for our son who is now about to go off to college.
My parents live in South Carolina and I have gotten used to the nicer weather. My husband’s parents are in Pennsylvania. We drifted apart during this arrangement and I think will both be happier if we go our separate ways. I secured a job teaching in South Carolina starting in August and assumed he would go to Pennsylvania. However, he wants to remain here unemployed. He says we cannot sell the house until Max graduates college because he needs a home, and says I will have to pay him child support so he can keep the house.
Max is going to Wake Forest. I am not sure how often, if at all, he will return to Massachusetts — he might just come to me in South Carolina during vacations. My husband’s proposal really doesn’t seem fair. I thought we could wrap this up quickly before I move but now that seems unlikely. Can I still move in time to start my job? Can I make him go back to work and divide assets now?
A: Where parenting time for Max is not an issue, you can still move without complications. However, until things are finalized, understand you will be on the hook for half of the expenses related to your house. If you have not already filed your complaint for divorce, I highly recommend filing now. Ask for an equal division of the assets, equal division of college expenses, no child support and no alimony. You will need to rent something in South Carolina for now because if you buy something, half the equity will become a marital asset — its easier and cleaner not to add that complication just yet.
As a first step, you should make a motion to order your husband to engage in a job search or, alternatively, to have income attributed to him at his most recent salary. This will take away his ability to argue that you should pay him alimony. Once he either has a job or has accepted an attribution of income at his prior earnings, you can run child support guidelines but a judge does have discretion in ordering support once a child is in college. I suggest you attempt to agree there will be no support paid to each other, that you will each contribute to college expenses and you will each give Max a certain monthly allowance directly.
This is not a quick process that will end before you leave for South Carolina and you will have to return periodically for court hearings or depositions but don’t let that small inconvenience stop you from moving on.
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