My ex-wife and I entered into a separation agreement in 2007 in Durham NC. During that time I was distraught as I did not want the separation. Her attorney drafted the separation agreement and I signed and agreed to the terms without having it reviewed by another attorney. I could not afford the fees, and my wife said if I did not argue about the contents of the agreement we would have a chance at reconciling. We did not reconcile and the divorce became final.
I agreed to pay alimony for 6 years, half the duration of the marriage, until death of either of us or she remarries. I also pay child support at a range well above the NC child support guideline calculations and cover all insurance and medical expenses for our minor son.
My ex-wife and son have been living with her boyfriend for the past 8 months. I have no problem with her boyfriend being involved with my son, but I do not feel I should have to continue to pay alimony since they live in the same home and are viewed as a family by the entire community. My ex-wife states that because our separation agreement did not include cohabitation in the agreement there is nothing I can do about it. She says if I stop paying she will sue me for breech of the agreement.
Also, just as many across the country, I lost my job and my home last year. I depleted my cash savings, IRAs, and 401K, and incurred a great deal of credit card debt during this time. Fortunately I am now once again employed, but am trying to get back on my feet. Even during the time of my unemployment I never missed an alimony or child support payment. I was a couple weeks late during one or two months of that period, but never missed a monthly payment.
My ex-wife has masters in nursing, but never worked as a nurse, and never worked through the duration of our marriage. She did however, work prior to our marriage. She states now that she will not return the workplace for anything more than “part time” odd jobs, and was even advised by her attorney not to seek employment even though she has a master’s degree in nursing, because she does not want to risk losing her alimony or reducing her child support.
After paying alimony in the amount of $1550 per month, child support well above the guideline calculations, and my living expenses and debt each month I have nothing left to contribute to 401K and/or cash savings, and very little that I can set aside for emergencies such as car trouble, etc. I am literally living paycheck to paycheck and holding my breath that I will not incur any additional unexpected expenses. My ex-wife laughs and says there is nothing I can do about the situation because I signed the separation agreement.
I am the first to admit and take responsibility for the fact that I made a stupid mistake by signing the agreement without having it reviewed by an attorney. However, it seems this must happen often as emotions run high and clarity is sometimes thrown out the window during separation and divorce. I would’ve done anything to keep us together at the time she wanted a separation. I now feel she took advantage of this fact at the time of separation and continues to take advantage of my mistake in judgment today.
Do I have any recourse? Can I modify the original agreement? Can I have the alimony stopped since it is common knowledge that she is living with her boyfriend? Is it possible to have the child support reduced to the NC calculation guidelines and have her take on a proportionate share of our son’s medical expenses? Is it fair that she continues not to work even though she has a master’s degree in nursing simply so that she can have increased alimony and child support?
Any advice you can lend would be greatly appreciated. I am not looking to shirk my responsibilities as a father for child support for my son, and will pay willingly the amount of the NC guideline calculations. I simply want what is fair and reasonable for both parties. I do not want to continue to pay above and beyond what is necessary and reasonable for the next several years in alimony or child support simply because of my mistake in judgment. Thanks in advance for your help. I am crossing my fingers you can lend some hope to my situation.