It is very difficult to give advice or input on a hypothetical situation but since NC laws are pretty clear then I’ll give it a shot.
NC is a no fault state, which means that there are only two reasons divorce is granted; 1) One year and one day of living separate and apart from one another, and 2) incurable insanity. There are no other reason needed. If you make substantially more money than your spouse, he/she could file for post separation support or alimony. An affair on either part would affect this. Equitable distribution is often not affected by an affair. If you have an inheritance given solely to you or property that was purchased prior to marriage then it would not be included in equitable distribution. Otherwise, all marital assets and debts are divided equally or however you two agree to divide them. Any property purchased will have to be deeded in both your names. Any bank accounts including retirement would be divided if the amount was invested during the marriage. Anything invested prior to marriage would be considered separate. For example, you put $5000 into a retirement fund before you marry and after marriage continue to put more into the fund. The initial $5000 would be your money but all the other would be divided. The same is true for your spouse. I am not sure about a school loan…but credit debts would be considered marital up to the date of separation.
Child custody is determind due to the best interest of the child and that has little to do with income. The best interest of the child is to have both parents as active and involved in their lives as possible. Who can provide a more stable home life has more influence than who can provide the bigger home. The fact that she is on antidepressants and drinks daily may have some influence on this though it’s difficult to say how much since you would have to show proof that this would affect the care she could give the children. If you have one drink in the afternoon to unwind, that is different than drinking a bottle daily…which could affect her ability to drive, attend work, and “care” for the children in general.
Child support is based on the number of overnights with each parent, the parents incomes, insurance and child care costs paid, and other prior child support obligations. If you retain joint legal and physical custody with equal time, which is the best situation for the child, then unless you and your spouse make exactly the same amount of money one will pay child support to the other. There is a calculator on the home site that shows what you would pay in any given situation.
My suggestion is that if things are working fine finacially the way they are, and you have no issue with continuing to pay the mortgage and utilities then I would have to wonder, were I your wife, why you suddenly started having me pay more after this long. This may cause problems that are not there now. If you are considering what may be down the road, there’s no way to know that. If you try to set aside money for the possibility of divorce later, that money is considered a marital assets and your spouse would have equal right to it also. You are asking for advice on how to handle this to reduce the emotional “sting” of a situation. My advice, realize that a marriage is a partnership and that you are equally entitled to your share of that partnership, the good (assets) and the bad (debts), including the children. The courts will not care that you put in 85% while your wife only contributed 15%. It’s a partnership and will be divided. If you want to sit down and write up a “In case” agreement and have your wife sign it and get it notorized, then I would say that it would hold up. I do not know if there’s something legally that can be drawn up. My suggestion is that you talk with your wife and let her know that you are concerned with this. She may have some of the same worries…Just some things to think about.