Am I legally required to support my wife beyond the car loan and insurance? 19 Answers as of August 30, 2011

My wife and I have been separated over 2 years (no kids). She refuses to discuss divorce and refuses to get a job as well, preferring to live off family. She has a college degree and I paid for her para-legal school. I pay her car loan and insurance. I'm trying to sort my finances to afford a lawyer in order to file, but in the interim am I legally required to support her beyond the car?

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
yes and no. It is a difficult situation you are in and the law is not solid on this point. As a married couple, you have an obligation to support your spouse but that is a two way street, she is obligated to support you too. File for the divorce as soon as you can and get moving, that is the best thing you can do.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/30/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
There is no legal obligation of support unless or until one has been established by a court order.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 8/29/2011
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
Maybe, maybe not. Until a divorce case is started and completed, you can't know exactly what your obligations are. For now, paying a car loan and car insurance is not paying for essential "support", but there ismore to answering your question than that and you don't provideenough informationto even guess. The thing that is clear is that you need to begin the divorce process in order to force your wife to begin plans to support herself.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 8/29/2011
Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO
Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO | Ryan J. Lewis
You are not legally responsible to support her in any way.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 8/26/2011
Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
First, if you want to get your spouse talking about divorce, stop paying for everything. It seems to me that would certainly grab her attention and cause her to consider that maybe something needs to be done about your situation. Since the two of you have been separated for two years, until there is some sort of court order in place, you probably don't have an obligation to pay for anything for her. Second, is your need to protect yourself. If neither of you pay some debt (like the car payment, for example), then, the car will get repossessed and your credit rating will suffer. As a practical matter, you are going to have to make some strategic choices about what you want to pay and what you do not want to pay, and how to deal with the results.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/26/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Unless and until a court order is issued otherwise, you are not legally obligated to support her.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    Technically, you have no legal obligation to support her without a court order. However, bills are bills and need to be paid.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Here is the relevant statute: Sec. 46b-37. (Formerly Sec. 46-10). Joint duty of spouses to support family. Liability for purchases and certain expenses. Abandonment. (a) Any purchase made by either a husband or wife in his or her own name shall be presumed, in the absence of notice to the contrary, to be made by him or her as an individual and he or she shall be liable for the purchase. (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, it shall be the joint duty of each spouse to support his or her family, and both shall be liable for: (1) The reasonable and necessary services of a physician or dentist; (2) hospital expenses rendered the husband or wife or minor child while residing in the family of his or her parents; (3) the rental of any dwelling unit actually occupied by the husband and wife as a residence and reasonably necessary to them for that purpose; and (4) any article purchased by either which has in fact gone to the support of the family, or for the joint benefit of both. (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a spouse who abandons his or her spouse without cause shall be liable for the reasonable support of such other spouse while abandoned. (d) No action may be maintained against either spouse under the provisions of this section, either during or after any period of separation from the other spouse, for any liability incurred by the other spouse during the separation, if, during the separation the spouse who is liable for support of the other spouse has provided the other spouse with reasonable support. (e) Abandonment without cause by a spouse shall be a defense to any liability pursuant to the provisions of subdivisions (1) to (4), inclusive, of subsection (b) of this section for expenses incurred by and for the benefit of such spouse. Nothing in this subsection shall affect the duty of a parent to support his or her minor child. (1949 Rev., S. 7308; 1957, P.A. 191; P.A. 77-288, S. 1; P.A. 78-230, S. 17, 54; P.A. 88-364, S. 58, 123; P.A. 92-140; P.A. 01-195, S. 35, 181.) History: P.A. 77-288 rephrased section, referring to spouse where previously either husband or wife was specified, added exception re liability for expenses of last illness of deceased spouse and deleted provision which required that husband's property be first applied to support family and entitled wife to indemnity from husband's property for any of her property which was taken or money she was compelled to pay for satisfaction of claims; P.A. 78-230 divided section into Subsecs., rearranging and restating provisions, and deleted provision re liability for expenses of last illness; Sec. 46-10 transferred to Sec. 46b-37 in 1979; P.A. 88-364 changed the first word of Subsec. (a) from "all" to "any"; P.A. 92-140 deleted former Subdivs. (5) and (6) of Subsec. (b), inserted new Subsec. (c) re liability of spouse who abandons spouse without cause, relettering former Subsec. (c) as (d), and added Subsec. (e) re abandonment by spouse as defense to expenses; P.A. 01-195 made a technical change in Subsec. (b) for purposes of gender neutrality, effective July 11, 2001. See Sec. 45a-393 re payment of funeral and last illness expenses of married person. Annotations to former section 46-10: Not necessary to first obtain judgment against husband, and have execution returned unsatisfied. 52 C. 406. Plaintiff may sue on implied promise created by statute. Id. Father not obliged to support child unlawfully detained by mother. 68 C. 256. Liability of husband for goods purchased for family not limited to those necessary or reasonable. 77 C. 390; 93 C. 453; Id., 515. Husband is liable for wife's reasonable apparel even though he has not abandoned her. 93 C. 515. That goods were purchased by wife in foreign country is immaterial. Id., 516. "While abandoned by her husband" qualifies next preceding clause only. Id., 515; 94 C. 267. If goods in fact went to support of family, husband's prior notice to seller not to extend credit to wife is no defense. Id., 267. Whether a plastic surgery operation to improve husband's facial appearance is a "reasonable and necessary" expense depends on all circumstances. 100 C. 168. Common law liability to provide necessaries to wife exists independently of this statute; scope thereof. 102 C. 705. Necessary allegations in action on statute. Id., 706. Cited. 108 C. 730. Wife is not jointly responsible for every business obligation husband undertakes. 111 C. 306; 115 C. 295; 131 C. 156; 134 C. 332; 142 C. 375; Id., 553; 143 C. 443; 144 C. 21. There must be a direct relationship between article purchased and the family benefit. 121 C. 663; 124 C. 249. Under former statute it was immaterial that husband supported wife. 112 C. 64. "Family" includes wife. Id.; 131 C. 156. In tort action husband entitled to medical expenses for wife's injuries, both past and future. 122 C. 338. Statute does not make wife guarantor but may make her liable on an implied promise. 124 C. 251. Husband has primary obligation to support and may be liable to wife for past support. Id. Her claim is legal rather than equitable and six-year limitation applies. Id. Payment by husband did not toll statute of limitations as to wife 125 C. 202. However, in suit by wife against husband, she may recover such expenses if creditors look to her for payment. 126 C. 146. Her claim not defeated by reason of having private means. 132 C. 80. Three bases of recovery when creditor sues husband for goods furnished wife. Id., 77. If wife lives apart without justification, husband's obligation to support is suspended. 136 C. 685. Husband and wife cannot make contract with each other concerning maintenance or custody of child which court is compelled to enforce. 137 C. 74. Undertaker's services are not included in those purchases to which the statute applies. Id., 450. Does not modify common law determining conditions excusing husband from obligation to support wife or child. 138 C. 6. Plaintiff not entitled to recover where her estate had not been depleted in any way and she had not expended money of her own for support. Id., 701. The husband must provide for his wife and child within the reasonable limits of his ability. 142 C. 553. Wife's doctors' bills cannot be recovered from husband as damages in tort action. 145 C. 663. Cited. 155 C. 545. In action by wife for indemnification of money paid out by her for support of herself and children, it is immaterial whether second ground for divorce was found where it was proved the defendant had committed adultery and wife was fully justified in living apart from and divorcing him for that reason. 156 C. 628. Cited. 162 C. 546. Section does not exempt wife from any legal obligation towards family. Husband has primary duty to support family, but wife is also liable for family expenses. 170 C. 258. Cited. 175 C. 527. Circumstances under which indemnity is available to wife under this section. 3 CS 211. Cited. 4 CS 144. There is no statute of limitations affecting this claim. 5 CS 459. Recovery by wife for expenditures for support of the family allowed only for payments actually made. 7 CS 153; 17 CS 208. Wife's right to indemnity is not defeated because she has private means. 13 CS 474; 17 CS 189; 20 CS 9. Cited. 14 CS 128. Liability of husband and wife for medical and hospital expenses rendered a minor child living with them does not exclude a minor married child. 16 CS 84. Conditions under which wife living apart entitled to sums expended and to be expended by her for reasonable necessities for support of family. Id., 235. Cited. 17 CS 189. Where wife left husband without just cause and where her return to him was not in good faith, he was justified in living apart and equitable support was denied wife. 23 CS 221
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    There is no legal requirement that you support her at this time. However, if she goes to court she could obtain a court order for support. But at this point, there is no obligation for you to support her.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    Unless you have a court order requiring that you support you wife, you have no legal obligation to assist her. Any obligation to support a spouse is determined by length of the marriage, age of the parties, earning capacity, health history and standard of living during the marriage. You really need to meet with a skilled family law attorney to explore your legal options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Legally, you are responsible for paying any bills that your name is on. If there is no court order requiring you to pay for anything not in your name, then you don't have to.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    Legally you aren't required to do anything right now. After you file, the court will determine what you should pay. The only thing I would probably keep paying is car insurance so if she gets in an accident there is coverage (otherwise the other party could sue you)
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    Unless there is a Court Order you are not required to pay anything for your wife. However, if you name is on the loan to the car and you quit paying the same this will impact your credit.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Those are questions you need to discuss with your lawyer, and you needed one two years ago. You do not have the time to keep "sorting things out."
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    You are not legally required to pay support until a court orders you to pay support. The length of your separation as well as the length of your marriage are going to be significant factors for the court (as well as her work history, or lack thereof). For now, you may consider continuing to pay the car loan and insurance, especially if the loan is in your name or the car is registered in your name. I suggest you keep saving and consult an experienced Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    You have a duty to support your family.How much depends on their needs and your ability to pay.You're not expected to starve.Most divorces are done without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/26/2011
    Law Offices of Bradley Hochberg | Bradley Drew Hochberg
    you are not legally required to support her until a court orders you to.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/26/2011
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