Getting a Fix on His Finances --and Possible Legal Recourse

Question: I agreed to a quickie divorce when my husband became involved with a woman at work. I was so emotionally overwhelmed by their affair that I wanted only to get as far away from them as possible.

We had two children. Our teen-age boy decided to live with his father, our daughter with me. Because we had shared parenting to a large degree, I accepted my husband's proposal that we each be responsible for the child that lived with us. It's now two years later.

I have worked steadily but am unable to find a job that pays more than minimum wage. I had not worked before, so I am not trained to do anything that pays better. I am unable to meet our expenses, so we were forced to move in with my parents. They do not believe in divorce, so it has not been a very happy solution. My daughter is only 9. The future can only get more expensive. How can I improve my situation?

Answer: Contact an attorney who specializes in divorce and ask for a consultation. Be sure to ask if there is a fee and, if so, how much.

Take with you all the legal documents pertaining to your divorce, a list of your daughter's expenses and a copy of last year's income tax form to show your income. Also take any information you might have about your former husband's income and place of employment.

Once you have given as complete a picture of the situation as possible, the attorney should be able to tell you if you have any legal recourse.

Improving your earning power will probably require additional training or education. Look into adult education courses in the field you'd like to pursue. Also look for jobs with companies that offer on-job training and promote from within.

Once you have a definite direction for the future, it will be easier to see a way to become independent. Good luck.

Q: What can I do as the owner of a small business to ensure that I get paid by couples getting a divorce? I don't want to be unreasonable, but often both husband and wife continue to use the same account while they are going through a divorce and then refer me back and forth for payment. If I ever collect, it's usually after much time and unpleasantness, and I end up losing both as customers.

A: To protect yourself you can offer to open separate accounts when an impending divorce becomes known or when a notice is published stating that one party will no longer be responsible for the debts incurred by the other. It's hard to predict which accounts will become problems in a divorce case ahead of time, so tread lightly, lest you alienate potentially good, ongoing customers.

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