Wife wants to separate

Been married for 9 years (10 in September), and have two small ones (6 and 3). I did freelance technical support for the 3.5 or so years after we were married until we had our first child, though it was so little you might as well not call it anything. I did look, maybe not as actively as I should have, but did during that time. When she got pregnant, we discussed and decided that I would stay home with the children until they were school aged, then find something at that point.

We recently moved to NC for her career (I know absolutely no one here). We’ve been here for 11 months now, and I found out eight months ago that she has been in an emotional affair (she claims not physical, I don’t trust that with the sexting they’ve been doing) with a coworker who lives here since at least April of 2019 (and is still ongoing). I’ve tried to make it work, we’ve each done therapy on our own, but she refuses couples therapy, and has informed me that she doesn’t want to try to make things work.

She’s retained a lawyer, and drafted a separation agreement. She says it’s a fair deal, but it doesn’t feel like it to me. Custody is 50/50, though if we disagree on something, she gets to make the call. We each pay childcare costs/incidental costs when kids are in our care. She’ll keep the kids on her insurance, pay for extracurriculars, medical/dental. We each pay our own legal fees, she keeps her car, I keep mine (hers is 2x value). We each keep our retirement accounts, stocks, and debt. Of those things, I have about $9,000 in stock, and that’s it. Our only debt is mortgage (other than monthly credit cards, paid in full each month).

My rough estimate of net worth, taking a relatively low value of the vehicles, the price we paid for the house (not the $46,000 more the same model home sold for last month down the road), amount she has in the new checking account she opened and moved her paycheck deposit to (still paying bills out of the joint account), and guess at retirement account puts us at about $550,000. Her yearly salary is roughly $125,000-$130,000 (she just got a raise, but I have no visibility into how much that is). She is also eligible for a bonus of up to 20% of her salary yearly (she got the full bonus last year).

Her offer is that she gives me $75,000, no child support, no alimony, and we separate our physical possessions ourselves (outside of vehicles). She’ll keep the house, and as I mentioned before, I keep my stock, she keeps her retirement entirely.

Am I missing something I should be seeing here? And I’m trying to reserve judgement, as maybe this is the “good deal” she tells me it is, but it doesn’t feel like it. I’m going to need to find a lawyer myself I’m sure, but I’m unsure what I should expect, or what is fair, especially in the eyes of the law.

Without knowing your full financial background, there are several points that raise red flags, specifically:

(1) One parent having final decision-making authority for legal custody issues is essentially the same as one parent having primary or sole decision-making authority. This is not common unless there is a very important or major reason.

(2) The distribution of the marital estate needs to be equal and equitable unless equal is not equitable.

(3) No child support is concerning especially with 50/50 custody and if you earn significantly less than she does currently. You also are entitled to her income information. This includes 2020 W-2s, 1099s, etc., last 6 months of paycheck stubs, 2020 year end paycheck stub, and the last 2-3 years of tax returns if you’ve not filed jointly.

(4) No alimony is concerning if you earn significantly less than she does.

It would be prudent of you to consult with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation and allow the lawyer to point out areas of concern with this offer in order to ensure your interests are protected.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

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