‘It’s still painful’: My wife of just one year left me, took all her belongings and won’t answer her phone. How do I protect my finances?

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Dear Quentin,

I have been married for almost a year. I bought my house before marriage. Two weeks ago, I came home to an empty house. My wife left me, and took all her belongings. It’s still painful and I feel like I’m grieving. She hasn’t said anything and won’t answer his phone. How do I protect myself?

husband in texas

dear husband,

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I’m sorry it happened, and the way it happened. It’s a shock to the system, and I’m not surprised you feel like you’re grieving. Contact mutual friends and family to make sure she’s okay, and to make sure there isn’t foul play or that she has some kind of mental-health crisis. You don’t say anything about your marriage, or what might be the reason for his leaving. “Fight or flight” is a primal response to how some people deal with stress and/or other threats.

In the meantime, contact a divorce attorney. Your attorney will likely advise you to file for a formal separation agreement and, depending on what happens with your wife, file for divorce. The rules vary by state, but your attorney can ask you to withdraw half of the money from your joint accounts, cancel jointly held credit cards, change your will and your power of attorney, and consider any such accounts. For which your wife is listed. Beneficiary.

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Gather all bank statements and financial documents, and make notes of any strange or unusual withdrawals. All this will come in handy during the divorce proceedings. Many states have “no fault” divorces, but Texas is one state that has “fault” divorces. Reasons for a “fault” divorce include abandonment for a year or more — which appears to have occurred here — mental or physical or mental cruelty, infidelity, a felony conviction, and/or mental incapacity.

“It is common for many couples to engage in mediation,” according to Larson Law Office in Houston. “During mediation, a neutral third party will try to help you and your spouse find terms that you both agree to. Mediation can help both spouses feel satisfied with the divorce, which Can help you build an amicable relationship in future.Staying on civilized terms with your ex-spouse is often beneficial to any children of the marriage.

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Texas is a community-property state and, as such, property acquired during the marriage is considered community/marital property, while property acquired before the marriage – for example, your home – is treated as separate property. “In Texas, the state generally views that home as your separate property,” according to Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth. But it can get complicated if you invest marital money in property and combine that property.

Dividing property as a married couple can be difficult. As a rule, the Sizemore Law Firm does not recommend unmarried couples buy a home together: “By doing so you create an undivided separate property interest in the home for each party,” the company says. “This means that both parties have the right to use and enjoy the house and do whatever they want there. Should the couple decide to divorce, they must approach the Civil District Court for the division of property.

Assuming that your wife has decided to leave of her own free will, and is not dealing with a mental-health crisis, there are a few things you can do in her absence. You could try to contact her – perhaps through her family – and suggest a marriage counselor to at least find out what happened, and give some clarity on the way forward. You asked for help here. It takes courage. You can also seek support from family and friends.

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