Couples marry, have children and raise them together. When the kids leave home, however, sometimes the parents find themselves staring at each other, wondering what they have in common. Increasingly, divorce follows. One parent might even have quit working or taken a huge pay cut to stay home with the children. He or she will now need to upgrade their expertise or change careers in this new season of life if they divorce. The spouses will have to go through property division first, dividing such assets as life earnings, such as savings, IRA accounts or real estate. One spouse will often be ordered to pay alimony during this time of transition. But in Florida, a judge can order alimony payments until the spouse who didn't work or made less money remarries or until one of them dies.
Ex-husbands have tried a lot of angles to get out of paying alimony but this case out of Maryland may have raised the bar for creativity. For 18 years, a man we will call Mr. N was told everyone that he was married to Mrs. L. Mrs. L was the beneficiary on his life insurance policy, he helped her gain permanent resident status by telling Immigration and Customs Enforcement that he was her husband, and in 1994 the couple participated in a "renewal of vows" ceremony in nearby Arlington, Virginia. Then, after 19 years of marriage, Mrs. L decided to call the marriage off. She filed the usual paperwork asking for alimony, division of property and child support. Mr. N's response: "I am unaware" of being married.
Infidelity has blown up more marriages than probably any other cause. Most people who catch their partner in the act find a divorce attorney before the "I can explain" makes it out of the cheater's mouth. But it's what the aggrieved partner does next that will make all the difference when the divorce process begins. The temptation is to go ballistic. Those who handle these kinds of cases counsel calm.