Claire in Florida asks:

I have been married for several decades and I want to file for a divorce. I have been the sole supporter in my household for the past several years. We have resided in my mother’s home since she passed away many years ago. There was an outstanding small mortgage on the property, and my husband and I paid it off. My husband told me he would give me a divorce if I give him half of what we paid on this property. I don’t want to give him anything because I’ve been supporting him for years, but I would like a simple, no-stress solution. What should I do? Should I give him the money and accept the loss from supporting him?

Claire, here are my initial thoughts:

Florida is a no-fault divorce state, so you don’t have to wait for him to “give” you a divorce.

The fact that he is not employed is important, but the effect of it really depends on why he is unemployed. Is he not working because he’s disabled and dependent on you? Or is he just content to live off of your earnings? If he’s able to work but is intentionally unemployed, and you establish those facts in court, the judge may “impute” income to him (meaning, the judge will assume your husband is earning and has been earning the income he is capable of earning) for purposes of determining spousal support. But, taking that route is not a simple, no-stress solution.

If you have other assets from your employment at stake (for example, a retirement account), you very well might want to go ahead and give him the money and be done with it, but you should have him sign an agreement that he is waiving any claim to any other marital property (including homestead protections) or spousal support. 

You might want to review the procedures for a simplified dissolution, to see whether you can use this procedure. If you can, and if you both can agree to the asset and liability distribution, this could be the way for you to go.

I strongly encourage you to consult with a family law attorney who can help you write up an agreement that protects you and covers all the bases.

I hope this helps!

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