Reasonable spousal support?

After a year of separation I’m moving forward with the divorce and my wife sprung on me that she wants me to pay spousal support of $900 per month (far more than my offer) for 15 years and thinks this is not only reasonable but actually low. She is disabled but on disability (depression/anxiety), has a part time work providing money and a place to live. Against me would be the fact that I’ve had a girlfriend since the separation…although she actually started dating me during her prior separation and (years ago) had an affair.

I was a good husband though and helped put her though school even though it was unreasonable to try at that time (she has a college degree, I don’t) and did most of the household work. She was a bad wife, overspending (driving us to bankruptcy), always spending time out with her friends and never out with me, didn’t help around the house or even for herself, etc. I’ll have about 2300/month after taxes and required deductions (pension)…she’ll have about $1700/month in total compensation after taxes. Oh, and yes, I understand that she’s potentially entitled to the equivalent of half my pension for the time of the marriage.

This $900 amount seems unreasonable even if it is to help with medical bills (for conditions which predate the marriage). Wouldn’t any actual spousal support requirement be a fraction of this for a fraction of the time or at least…something I could actually pay?

In order to give an accurate estimate of alimony I’d have to know your financial situation while married. Based on the facts you presented $900 is likely unreasonable.

I gross $37000. After retirement deductions and(then higher) taxes I will have about $29000/year.

She has about $21000 in total compensation ($900/month in disability, $400-500 per month in part time work plus a free apartment/power (worth roughly $450 per month). We’ve been married for 15 years.

Medical, the reason she feels she deserves lots of money.
Since I married her she has suffered from depression/anxiety but has for the most part worked at least part time. Her dream has been to teach so I have reluctantly supported her attempt to get her degree, which ended up with her having a breakdown and us being forced into bankruptcy. At that time she stopped working for about 2.5 years as she applied for disability and we consumed my small 401k (about $20000). Following that she became ever more dependent on medication/doctors instead of dealing with her problems herself (part of the reason I left)…and resulting in ever more medical bills. She goes to a general practitioner once a month but has no problems which require that many visits. She has gone to a therapist twice a month for years but has not significantly worked toward developing her own coping skills. She has made no real attempt to reduce her dependence on expensive doctors/medications until I was about to leave. My work insurance has cost me $600/month. In the past with the excessive medical and prescription drugs (which she was abusing) the cost of medicine/doctors, etc came to another $600.

She has also had a problem with overspending the entire relationship (the main reason we went bankrupt). Toward the end of the marriage I found out she had built up another significant amount of debt without telling me. The plan was to split up the debts from the marriage. We’ve managed to reduce the debts to about $6000 which we had planned on splitting. We also owe about $12000 on a 250/month car loan that I’ll be paying (she has a car that’s paid off).

Not an attorney


She or her attorney probably came up with the $900/month this way:

Difference between your salaries is about $1,300/month
Split $1,300/month in half = $650/month
Round down to $600/month
$600/month net = about $900/month (general rule of thumb)
Therefore, she rounded down and is saying this is low.

I hope this is not the way a starting point for alimony negotiations is calculated for a ~15-year marriage because if so I will also be screwed. I look forward to an answer from an attorney on your question, and I hope the answer can be specific enough to be helpful yet general enough to be useful to the rest of us. General enough to be useful to the rest of us would mean describing the process of determining alimony.