Question: My wife has told me the marriage is broken and that she wants a divorce. She has stated that she wants to move to a hotel or apartment.
I believe that she is expecting me to pay for her temporary housing. I pay the mortgage and all the bills, and the house is in my name only. She works part-time and makes only minimum wage.
What obligation, if any, do I have to pay for temporary housing for her until the divorce is final?
In most states, the parties can petition the Court for Temporary Orders after initiating a divorce action, and sometimes even before filing. The Orders often address temporary custody and placement (when children are involved), the payment of debts and other obligations on a temporary basis, temporary support, and grants one of the parties the exclusive use of the marital residence until the divorce is final. Often times, the Court is looking to continue the status quo, especially when children are involved or if there is a large disparity in income between the parties. These Orders are in effect during the pendency of the action. Failure to abide by the Order could result in the Court finding a party in contempt of court which could be punished with a fine and/or a jail sentence.
You should contact a domestic litigation attorney immediately to discuss your potential exposure in a temporary order hearing. Because I do not practice in your jurisdiction, I cannot tell you what the Court would do. Each state has different statutes for divorce procedure and temporary orders.
As a matter of strategy, your attorney may recommend offering a certain amount of support to your wife as a temporary stipulation; especially when he or she believes your exposure is much greater. Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Colorado who would be happy to meet with you.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.