Often when one spouse leaves the other, he not only emotionally abandons her, he financially deserts her too. She is suddenly saddled with paying all of the household bills by herself, usually with little or no notice.
What, if any, relief may be available to the spouse stuck paying all of the bills? It depends on the circumstances. As a general rule, the spouse seeking relief must file a petition seeking a contribution for household expenses and reimbursement as soon as possible. Any relief may be retroactive to the date of filing.
Depending on the resources available between the two parties, the Court may order the spouse who moved out to reimburse the other spouse his share of expenses and some contribution moving forward.
We recently obtained a judgment for a client for nearly $20,000.00 for past due household expenses. The judge found that the husband should have been contributing to expenses based on the fact that he had moved out of the marital residence and into a residence with his girlfriend. Based on those facts, he had income available to pay his wife and his current household expenses moving forward. The judge ordered that the husband keep paying $1,500 every month until the case is over. So, it also serves as an incentive to settle the case.