Scanner - what is DC?
Doctor of Chiropractics. Scanner is a chiropractor, NiceGuy.
I actually feel pretty good about most of this as long as we don't turn into the War of the Roses. And I totally agree that I need that consult - free or not.
NiceGuy just so you know, I consider lawyers much the same as I consider doctors. NO ONE on the planet knows you or your situation as thoroughly as you do. Thus they may be experts, and they will give you the best advise available if they have the relevant facts...but in the end YOU know you and every fact, and in the end, it's your decision and your life.
Thus, I suggest learning as much as you can about the divorce laws in your state--for informational purposes. I suggest that you actually plug in real numbers and look up any available calculators, for child support (CS) and alimony. Find out how your state figures out alimony--most states have some sort of formula. Knowledge is a shield here.
Next, I recommend that you be honest and fair. The object is to remember that YOU are the one thinking of the future for the children and what would be best for them--she is only thinking of getting everything she demands or *thinks* she's entitled to. So after you've put in some real numbers, you can make a fair offer--even if it's for "here are my intentions from this point forward in the separation until it becomes legal." This will set a precedent.
Next, you agree to as much as you and do it in writing. This is where a mediator might be of assistance, offering REALISTIC, neutral options. It's very typical for a woman in your wife's position who's been unfaithful to unrealistically expect to get "the house, the kids, the cars, alimony, CS and all the stuff in the house" and just slide the OM in. Then life gets real and she realizes the house may be sold, she get 1/2 time with the kids at most, she gets the car...and the debt with it, she doesn't qualify for alimony, and CS is not enough to live on...and she only gets 1/2 the stuff in the house. So see what I mean? Why pay an attorney $300/hr. to do these kinds of negotiations: "Who gets the $30 porcelain bird?" No, agree to that yourselves or with a mediator.
When you're getting somewhat closer -OR- when she is being utterly stubborn and will not budge from her entitlement demands, then you would engage YOUR attorney to either review what you've done so far with suggestions to tighten it up...or to speak to HER attorney to encourage his client to GET REAL!!
If I look at this as a business transaction, I see no logic in spending my money on an attorney to reduce her income. Do you agree?
NiceGuy, the way you present it is SO confusing! So let's plug in some example numbers.
Let's imagine she makes $700.00/month on disability. And let's imagine you make $50,000.00/year ($11535/mo before taxes). She has on a paper that she can not take care of the kids or home on a full-time basis (so her chances of primary are fairly low). You also say she's completed her training as a nurse, but chooses to collect disability and not even do work PT, but she does watch the kids while you work.
The idea is for you two to live completely SEPARATE LIVES as if you were effectively strangers. She has to make her own way now. So she'd have to find a way to either live off of $700.00 or get a job, and you'd have to find someone to watch the kids and continue your job. She pays her own utilities, rent, bills, etc. Now if you two want to arrange it such that she is "paid" what any person would be paid to watch children after school (let's say $100/week) then that's your agreement. You could hire her as "after school sitter" and you'd pay her just like an employer. Okay so she has maybe $450.00/mo. as payment for the job of watching the kids--but you could also pay that to a nanny and it doesn't HAVE to go to her. Get it?
Other than that wage, you do not pay her for her rent, her utilities, her phone, her internet...nothing. That is now her business to decide how to pay that. And right this minute there is literally no court order in effect, and if you wanted to just utterly stop paying anything, there is nothing to prevent you from doing so. I'm not being mean--I'm just saying that my ex went to live with his mistress and said: "I'm not paying one dime until a court orders me to" and he didn't. I had to do it all on my own, and without the court order (like temporary legal separation or temp orders for a divorce) there was no way to "force" him to pay me to support the kids even!
So does that make sense? If you want to stop ALL PAYMENTS to her right now...there is nothing stopping you legally. The main thing stopping you would be your conscience and precedent. Setting a precedent means acting right now just as you'd like it to be in the divorce/separation agreement...and judges love to just continue things as they are! So tomorrow, just tell her, "Effective immediately, my paycheck is going to my bank account; I'm using it to pay for household bills and to provide for the children; and I'm offering you $100/week to watch the children after school. Otherwise I'm more than happy to find a nanny." The End. No need for an attorney to do that.
I DO have copies of some of her disability application papers stating that she can't care for the kids and the house without significant help from me and her mother. I actually see her being disabled as a major bargaining chip. She can take care of her apartment, and watch the kids a few hours each day after school, but she CAN'T - in her own written words - care for the kids and the house on a full time basis. We KNOW I can, because I've done it for the last 7 months.
Other things to consider - if she's forced to go back to work, we have to add in childcare expenses - she watches them while I work right now. I would have to start using vacation on days with no advanced warning to my employer when I have sick kids. Right now, she stays with them if they are sick.
As long as she isn't insane, she will do whatever she can to stay out of a courtroom and away from a judge. And I will remind her of that as often as I need to.
Just a note here, NiceGuy--if you two are separating or divorcing (whatever you decide) then it is no longer your job to "remind her of that as often as needed." She is a fully-grown, adult woman and needs to experience the consequences of her choices. Up to now, she has given you guilt as a way to avoid those consequences but that also keeps her from learning the life-lessons she needs to learn. She can not "guilt" a judge, and thus she will learn rather quickly if she chooses to try to go to court.
Let her learn.