Expected settlement for abused wife
Both George, my husband, and I are on Social Security, with no other income. Our only assets are our $250,000 single-level house with worthless furniture and a 14-year-old car. I need 24/7 assistance due to various physical problems. I had daily help from health care workers from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. George was supposed to pick up my care the rest of the time. But he’s not been getting home until after midnight. So I can’t use the bathroom or get food or water. After we married, George started to denigrate me. Then he starting pushing me and punching or putting his hands around my neck while saying he’d kill me if I said I was being abused. When the helpers saw bruises on me, I said they were caused by my falling. Then George badly beat me one night and left me on the floor for hours. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to spousal abuse. I was taken to a hospital, then moved to a rehabilitation hospital, and I’m now in what I call a storehouse of disabled people waiting to die. Our divorce case will be heard in a month. My $60,000-plus medical and hospital bills were paid by a state agency. The state wants to be repaid from my half-share of the house. Is that the reality? You should end up with money from the sale of the house. The question is how much. I’d expect a settlement something like this: about $20,000 for the real estate broker, state taxes, recording fees, lawyer; $60,000 to the state; divorce lawyers to get $7,500 each if there’s no fighting and way more if there is resistance; $20,000 to be put in escrow to pay your bills that have not yet been billed; and furniture go to George to use wherever he goes to live, which leaves $135,000 to be divided equally. George will argue he shouldn’t have to pay half your hospital expenses. Had he not beaten you up, you’d not have those hospital bills, so he’s lucky to get off by paying only half.
Wendy O. Hickey has since 1994 been involved in and since 2003 been a trial lawyer who concentrates her practice on national and international family law. Any legal advice in this column is general in nature, and does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.