When you’re sharing living space with your ex during divorce, it can be tough to establish (and stick to) personal boundaries. Sometimes you can’t afford to move out, or your Raleigh divorce lawyer may have advised you not to get your own place yet.
But what happens when your ex makes it almost unbearable to live under the same roof – like when he has a girlfriend and you’re not yet divorced?
Talk to Your Lawyer
Chances are pretty good that your lawyer has already told you not to date while you’re still married. Looks like your soon-to-be ex missed the memo.
Make sure you let your lawyer know that your ex has a girlfriend. While it may or may not have any bearing on your case, it’s a good idea to tell your attorney everything. Dating often comes up during custody disputes, and lawyers don’t like surprises – so tell yours as soon as you find out.
Talk to Your Ex
Ask your ex to respect your feelings. Whether or not he does is a different story, but he does need to respect your boundaries. If you don’t want her in the house, particularly when you or your kids are there, that’s probably a legitimate request (double-check with your lawyer first).
Setting Boundaries Right Away
It’s often helpful to set boundaries right off the bat if you know you’ll be living together during your separation period. If you and your soon-to-be ex can agree on ground rules, it’s easier on both of you. While you’re determining how you’ll divide the bills, the household chores and who gets to use the TV in the living room at which times, try to establish the rules about bringing outside parties around the house and address anything else that may make you uncomfortable.
If it’s too late and your ex already has a girlfriend (and he’s bringing her home), your lawyer can give you specific guidance that’s relevant to your case.
Talk of separation is often a financial wake-up call, especially if you’re not the primary earner in your marriage. When your spouse makes all the money and pays all the bills, what are you supposed to do if you split up?
Evaluate Your Potential
If you’re not earning anything, your Raleigh divorce lawyer might suggest that you start looking for work. While you may be able to get alimony, and child support if you have children, you’ll still need to be able to fend for yourself soon.
Take stock of what you already have, including savings accounts, checking accounts and anything else you can use as income.
What Your Lawyer Might Advise You to Do
Your Raleigh divorce lawyer may tell you to set up your own bank accounts – those that you will not share with your spouse. Because you’ll need your own money, particularly if you have to move out of your marital home or will be responsible for paying the mortgage in it if you stay, it’s a good idea to start building your reserves as soon as possible.
You can’t rack up your soon-to-be ex’s credit card debt, and you can’t drain all of the money from your joint accounts, either. Before you do anything drastic, make sure you’ve talked to your attorney. In fact, you’ll need to keep your lawyer in the loop about everything, including when you get a job and how much you’re making (your salary might affect your child support or alimony payments).
Untangling Your Finances
Separate your finances from your spouse’s to whatever extent is possible. For example, if you’re both listed on the utility bills but you won’t be staying in the marital home, talk to your lawyer to find out if you should remove yourself as a responsible party. This can prevent mix-ups when you do move (and prevent your spouse from sticking you with a bill you aren’t actually responsible for).
The key to handling financial matters during divorce is keeping your attorney involved. He or she can provide you with guidance that’s applicable to your unique situation and help protect you under North Carolina law.
Military divorce is rarely simple. Factors like housing allowances, military base privileges and medical benefits can be confusing unless you are both in the military, which is commonly referred to as dual military.
If you are dual military and are going through a divorce, your branch of service will continue to provide you with the appropriate housing allowance, or BAH. However, if only one of you is military, the BAH will stop once your Raleigh divorce lawyer hands you your divorce decree.
Living in military housing during divorce can be a huge source of confusion, so it’s important to talk to your lawyer about every step of the divorce process.
Basic Allowance for Housing: Living in Military Housing vs. Civilian Housing
BAH is generally only given to active-duty service members. Reservists and Guardsmen aren’t entitled to housing allowance unless they are in an active-duty status—working full-time for the military. Here’s how it works:
- The militarygives BAH to service members who have achieved a certain pay grade (generally E-5 and above) or who have families to support. BAH rates vary by location and can be used to pay for housing on or off a military installation. The rates also vary based on whether the service member has dependents.
- When BAH is used to pay for housing on a military installation, it is automatically deducted from the service member’s pay. When it is used for off-post housing, it is deposited into the service member’s bank account.
- Once a service member leaves military housing that is on an installation, the law requires the dependent family to move out within 30 days. That means if you are separated, the dependent spouse has to find a new place to live.
- The service member will continue to receive BAH for the duration of your marriage. The military does not recognize separations. However, if you expect your spouse to continue to pay for your housing, Army Regulation 608-99, which reflects Department of Defense policy, states that you must include that in your separation agreement.
If you are living in military housing, let your attorney know. He or she will combine knowledge of North Carolina laws and military regulations to help you create a plan that ensures you’re not left out in the cold.
When your ex (or soon-to-be ex) starts spending time with someone new, it’s normal for you to start questioning his or her motives for the relationship. Even if your ex insists that the new “friend” is just that—a friend—your gut might tell you otherwise.
Should you go straight to your Raleigh divorce lawyer with whatever information you have? Probably. But you should also understand why your ex might be fibbing about what he or she is up to.
“Why Would My Ex Lie about Dating Someone?”
First, it’s a bad idea to date during divorce; there’s just too much going on to devote attention to a new relationship. Your ex probably knows that and may be a little too embarrassed to come clean.
Your ex might also lie when he or she is up to no good because there can be legal consequences for dating while you are still married. Dating during divorce can even influence a judge’s decision on alimony awards in a North Carolina court.
Finally, someone who’s dating before they’re divorced might want to keep their new relationship under wraps in an attempt to stay on friendly terms. That way, they can convince you to be more cooperative and agree to their terms—terms you might not be so willing to accept if you knew your ex was seeing someone.
Can You Find Out the Truth?
Under the law, you’re not allowed to snoop in your ex’s email or social media accounts, even if he or she once gave you permission. In many cases, you can’t videotape or make audio recordings, either. However, public social media posts (including pictures) can be used to prove that your spouse is in a relationship if necessary.
When to Involve Your Lawyer
If you suspect that your spouse is seeing someone, you should let your Raleigh divorce lawyer know. He or she will ask for more information if it may affect your case.
Marriage counseling is always an option for couples who aren’t sure whether they’d be better off going their separate ways—but what happens when just one spouse is interested? Can counseling still hold a marriage together?
Marriage Counseling: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Because marriage counseling is designed to work only when both parties want to reach common ground (and are interested in staying married), it’s not for everyone. While your Raleigh divorce lawyer may be able to recommend a talented professional that you and your spouse can talk to, he or she will also make you aware of what happens during the divorce process so that you’re prepared if counseling doesn’t work.
Is Talking to a Raleigh Divorce Lawyer Counter-Productive?
If your spouse tells you that he or she wants a divorce, even if you feel you can work it out, you’ll need to consult with a Raleigh divorce lawyer. It’s a way of protecting yourself from being blindsided; your attorney can explain tricky subjects like how the courts determine alimony in North Carolina and whether children get to decide where they live. Your attorney will also explain whether your spouse may have to pay your legal fees and tackle all your other divorce-related questions.
When to Give Up on Marriage Counseling
Only you and your spouse can decide when it’s time to stop attending marriage counseling. If your spouse insists that he or she wants a divorce, despite the counseling, your energies may be better spent elsewhere.
Some spouses won’t agree to go to counseling at all. If yours won’t, you might still benefit from going to see a therapist on your own. Your Raleigh divorce lawyer may be able to provide you with a referral to a local therapist who can help you work through this difficult time.