Property Distribution

My wife and I have been married for a little over 2 years. Prior to marriage I owned a home and had a separate brokerage account. During our marriage, I received an inheritance, which I put a majority of into our house when we refinanced. At the same time, I added her name to the mortgage and deed. Now my wife is asking for a no-fault divorce. We are both college graduates and during the first 18 months of our marriage earned approximately the same amount of money. Six months ago, my wife decided to go back to school and voluntarily reduced her hours at work. She has the option to work more hours with her current employer who does not require the additional education for her employment.

1.Since I put in a vast majority of the money and sweat equity into our house, will that affect equitable distribution once our house sells? There will be no appreciation when we sell the house, so the only money coming out, will be what I have put into it.
2.Since she is working and earning less, will I be required to make up the difference in alimony even though she has the option to work more?
3.Can I be required to sell my separate property (ie from my brokerage account) to pay alimony? Or will alimony be based on my present income? Will my living expense be considered when determining alimony?

Unfortunately your contribution of separate property to the home, and your subsequent transfer of the home to the marriage will likely be viewed as a gift to the marriage, making the home martial property. However, I do believe, given the length of the marriage, and the likelihood that you can trace the funds invested in the home give you a good argument to receive a more than 50% share of the home equity.

With respect to alimony, whether or not she is a dependant spouse will depend on whether she is actually and substantially dependant on your income to maintain the standard of living she has enjoyed during the most recent years of the marriage. My opinion is that her reduction in income being voluntary is a good argument that she is not a dependant spouse.

Alimony is based on your ability to pay with your current income, and expenses.