– from Mary A. in West Allis, WI

Question Details:

Me and my husband have been married for over 25 years. I was 18 when we got married. My husband insisted that I be a homemaker. He was adamant about me not working. We also have a 13 year old daughter. He has agreed to my getting custody, and has further agreed to support. We are currently in the process of getting a divorce, but he is telling me that I need to start looking for a job in order to support myself. Aren't I entitled to receive maintenance? If so, how long would I receive it before I have to get a job?

Family Law Attorney Response:

From your question details, it sounds as though you stand a significant chance of receiving maintenance, but nothing is guaranteed.

The fact that you have been married for over 25 years, you were essentially barred from obtaining work, and you have a minor child in your custody lean heavily in your favor. The duration of the maintenance is really the question.

Generally, maintenance is granted to a spouse in order to maintain living standards that are comparable to the standards that they experienced during the marriage. In the case of Vander Perren v. Vander Perren, 105 Wis. 2d 219, 313 N.W. 2d 813 (1982), a wife of 24 years was entitled to maintenance with a prolonged timeline. The courts would take into consideration the fact that you never held a job in your life, and will compare that to the standard of living you have enjoyed during your marriage.

I would advise you to consult a family law attorney in order to go over more details. They will be able to better provide you with an estimation of the maintenance duration, and a fair amount to request.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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