What kind of support/property settlement is likely after 20 years of marriage?

Trying to get divorced but spouse lost job 3 years ago due to alcohol and now has complications of diabetes so he doesn’t work at all. He wants spousal support and half my 401K plus pay for his attorney fees. I borrowed $10,000 on 401K when I left him and continued to pay house while he lived there not working. So I feel that he has no claim to my 401K. Also, his alcoholism is the reason why he can’t work; so I feel should not have to pay support or attorney fees. Can I win this?

Asked on September 12, 2010 under Family Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As I am sure that you know, California is a Community Property state and all marital assets are divided 50/50.  That includes your 401K.  As for spousal support, that can also be awarded but is done so on a case by case basis.  Most states have a form of temporary support (also known as rehabilitative ) to allow a spouse to get back on their feet.  Some states allow permanent support due to illness, etc.  What you are going to have is a fight on your hands regarding the support and although ultimately you may win given the circumstances (nothing is 100% guaranteed), it may bankrupt you with legal fees in the long run.  Seek advice from an attorney in your area.  Consider a temporary amount of support for a limited time as a negotiating tool.  It will get rid of him.  You do not need him to become a problem of the state as then sometimes even ex spouses are collected from in that instance.  Good luck.

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