Stories of Justice: Lizbeth Goes Through A Difficult Separation
Lizbeth* and her husband John* immigrated to the US in 2010. After decades of marriage, John had become increasingly verbally and emotionally abusive with Lizbeth. John, in his 60’s, ended up leaving Lizbeth for a younger woman.
John, who worked at a supermarket earning barely above minimum wage, had been the sole provider in the household. The separation was not only painful but had a devastating financial impact on Lizbeth. She did not speak English, did not know how to drive, and had not worked since coming to the US. To make matters worse, Lizbeth had several serious health problems, including diabetes.
Although she is a permanent resident, Lizbeth did not qualify for Social Security Disability because she did not have the work experience required to make her eligible. After the separation, Lizbeth had no means of supporting herself, forcing her to move in with her cousin in a different county.
Overwhelmed by her situation, Lizbeth sought legal assistance from Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida (CCLA). CCLA filed a dissolution of marriage, where John answered pro se. No settlement was reached at mediation as John refused to agree to pay alimony. CCLA took John’s deposition before the trial but did not find any hidden assets. At the trial, the Judge granted Lizbeth alimony of a few hundred dollars per month, in addition to the divorce.
Why it Matters
Even though the alimony amount granted to Lizbeth was small, the judge awarded her most of John’s surplus income as permanent alimony. While Lizbeth had to keep counting on her cousin for financial assistance, she was thankful that CCLA had helped her get through this painful process. Lizbeth would no longer have to endure verbal or emotional abuse from John.
*Names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients
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