My wife and I have been married for 15 years. We have two children 9 and 11. Since the birth of our first child, my wife has been a stay at home mom by mutual agreement. She is a teacher by training and holds a Master’s Degree in Education. She has decided that she no longer wants to be married to me and is pushing for separation even though she is still not employed. We are trying to work through a separation agreement as amicably as possible, but the issue of spousal support is a difficult one given the lack of clear standards (yes, I have seen and read the NC criteria multiple times, but it is not very helpful in knowing what is generally considered reasonable in terms of either length or amount).
Right now, I make roughly 80k a year. That is enough to support us as a united household, but not sufficient to set up two households with the same standard of living as we have enjoyed the last few years. We are splitting custody 50-50 but since she is not employed, my child support payments will be over $900 a month. She is requesting $2,000 a month in spousal support for the one year of separation and an additional 8 years beyond. It does state that we can re-evaluate should she have a substantial change in income, but in theory, she could remain unemployed and I would be on the hook for $2,000 a month for 9 years! My total child support and spousal support payments would be just over 60% of my take home pay, which means I would have to reduce my standard of living to far below hers in order to make ends meet. All of this while still trying to provide a safe, comfortable home for our two children, which I will have with me half of the time.
My attorney does not think this is reasonable, but seems to want me to fight for no spousal support after the one year separation since she is employable. I would like to at least build in some protection that my spousal support decreases after the first year regardless of whether or not she obtains a job,
but don’t know how common or reasonable that is.
I guess my question could be boiled down to whether or not a judge, should we go to court or mediation, find her demands reasonable based on our situation? Both the amount and number of years seem excessive to me, but there is no good information out there to help me compare my situation to any reasonable standard. Can anyone help shed some light here?