Who Am I:
My name is Stefanie (Steffi) Cardino and I’m seeking help in obtaining a divorce from my estranged husband Ramel (Ramz) Cardino. We’ve been married a little over ten years and separated a little over seven years.
What I need help with is the cost of course. Now that I’ve finally found a lawyer who can take my case and represent me, I don’t have any money or income coming in. I’m currently a single (well separated) mother of an 18-year-old son who is about to graduate High School and whom is hoping to get into college this coming Fall. We have had to accept the gracious offer of a friend to stay in their mobile home where they have 2 extra bedrooms, thankfully all I have to do is keep the house clean, do the laundry, and cook all the meals.
I’ve been struggling to find a job since 2012 after I returned back to the United States. I quickly found out that the 2 degrees that I earned while living overseas are both completely useless and a waste of the money I’ve gone into debit over (upwards of $60-80k in debit for student loans). I have even been working with my local Career Center in an attempt to get their help in being able to place me and they are running into the same issues I have been hitting … I’ve got the education down but I don’t have enough experience for them. This is because for most of my son’s 18-years, I’ve been a housewife/homemaker and didn’t have to work.
Then to top off this issue, I’m also waiting on a date to have spinal fusion surgery, this is not something that goes hand in hand with a new job. No employer wants to hire someone who maybe within a week or a month need medical time off for anywhere from 4-6 weeks to 4-6 months depending on how quickly my body heals since I am a diabetic.
My son’s biological father is one of those deadbeats that refuses to hold a steady job so he doesn’t have Child Support garnished from his wages. He’d much rather skirt on the coattails of his wife and let her work 2 jobs to support herself, him, and their 2 kids. Thus, leaving my son out in the cold when it comes to income for his needs. So anytime I get any money in, it goes for things my son needs and anything left over to the friend who graciously lets us stay in his house.
All I am asking for is the amount of the retainer fee ($600) and the filing fee ($136) This comes to a total of $736, but I like to round things up and have a little extra as a safety net. So, I’m asking for $800. The final total of the divorce that I was told could be between $1000 and $1200. That’s much cheaper than I paid for my first divorce.
I’d love to be able to come up with the full $1000, $1200 (thankfully the lawyer is cutting me a break and charging me $80 an hour instead of his usual $100 an hour), or even round it up to $1500 in case the lawyer runs into snags and needs to do a little extra work, but I’m trying not to be greedy and hope that after the $800 is paid I’ll be able to find a way to make up the difference somehow.
Everyone knows and expects young people to be well young and dumb … and I was no exception to this rule. Back in August of 2008 I made plans to visit the Philippines and spend three weeks with a Filipino who I’d known about two years and had been online dating for almost a year at that point. We’d met playing the same MMORPG and out of a friendship and a failing first marriage things progressed to more than just friends. Feelings turned to love, or what I thought was love.
After my first husband telling me, six months into a 2-year marriage, that he only married me for the sex … I was almost desperate for love. So, when Ramz told me he loved me, he’d waited until my first marriage had ended in divorce (my first husband and I had a prenuptial agreement and that was all I wanted to leave there with, I didn’t even want any of his pension money), I’d believed him. I’d loved him too. After a 3-week vacation I returned to the USA foolishly married. At the time I didn’t realize how foolish and stupid I had been.
A couple of months after our 1-year wedding anniversary my son and I was facing homelessness and that is when I made the decision to move to the Philippines and try to make my marriage work. Before our arrival Ramz and I had talked long hours and made several plans for our future as a family. So, in December of 2009 my son and I arrived in the Philippines and began a new life in a strange new country and with an even stranger culture … talk about a big cultural shock.
It didn’t take long to realize that he was in love with what little amount of money I had coming in. I was doing online schooling to obtain both my Associate and Bachelor degrees. With this schooling I had money that would come in every 2-3 months and this became the majority of the income we lived on. Ramz took my debit card and kept it in his possession and as soon as I had money deposited in my account, he was off to the city to pull the money off my card.
I rarely got out of the house unless his family from the province visited or we went to visit them. I wasn’t allowed to do anything a wife should do other than share his bed. I wasn’t allowed to cook, clean (other than the dishes which happened rarely), or the laundry. It didn’t take long before I began to feel like a dirty little secret that was kept hidden away.
Finally, after nearly 3-years and several health issues (In December of 2010 I’d had a silent heart attack) I decided enough was enough and that it was time to return to the US. So, using my health and my son’s education (he’d not been in school in 3-years) as an excuse to have to return to the States. That was in June of 2012 and I have to say that returning to the US after almost three years was the best ever decision that I could have ever made for my son and I.
In August of 2013 I had a family friend who is a paralegal draw up divorce papers for me. I marked where Ramz needed to sign and post mailed them to him, he signed them and post mailed them back to me. I then took them to the courthouse and did a self-file for a divorce, paying $132 at the time. I was told to return the next day to see if the judge needed anything more from me, and when I did that the judge tossed my case out and ordered me to get a lawyer.
It has taken 6 or so years to finally find a lawyer who offered a free consultation and who was willing to listen to the details of my marriage and my want for a divorce. After this consultation he agreed that he could take my divorce case and get it accomplished for me. Which this has led me to setting up this Begging Money page (I did try a Go Fund Me Page but it didn’t work out so well as I don’t have enough friends on my Facebook page) in an attempt to help me achieve my goal of $800 for the retainer fee and the filing fee so I can get this process started and accomplished, after all these years of being separated and more than ready for a divorce.