I have been legally separated since 9/09 and unfortunately have had three attorneys for various reasons resulting in one delay after another in getting this matter resolved. My wife's attorney is also well known for churning cases and has amassed a $30K legal bill. Our situation . . . . I work for the Federal government and am a W-2 employee. The wife is an RN but has not worked full time recently. One 16 year old at home, a 21 year old in college. No businesses to divide nor real estate other than the marital home. Assets include my 401K account, her Roth IRA, a joint mutual fund, my Thrift Savings Account and Federal Employees Retirement System balance (have worked for the government for 7 years).
I have received promise after promise of a settlement proposal that was to be provided since 10/09 . . . and when we went to mediation in 7/10, what was provided was entirely one-sided and unacceptable.
We had a preliminary hearing in early October where at least the martial home was decreed to be sold and it is now listed for $359K (bad time to sell . . . . and we had a buyout offer from the government for last Fall for $379K cash!). We were also ordered to go back for another full day of mediation which cost $750 per hour for the 3 attorneys and resulted in some agreement but nothing where we could both agree to sign the agreement.
The final court date is scheduled for January 2011.
So now my question . . . . .
My attorney has been in continuing discussions with the mediator and opposing counsel. I have reviewed the draft agreement but it seems less and less fair as I review it. What I wanted to see was what I should expect since I am being told to "accept the offer and move on". The points that stick out are:
1) For alimony
, the wife's earning ability is being imputed as minimum wage; i.e., $7.25/hour. With my salary being about $60/hour, the alimony is being computed as being $2,400 perpetual . . . . being an RN, does minimum wage sound realistic and if not, what can I push for; i.e., $10/hr+?
2) Wife is demanding I pay health insurance for her. She has no pre-existing conditions and can get insurance on her own. Am I required to provide coverage and if so, is there a time limit? I would be willing to offer basic PPO coverage (not the Cadillac Blue Cross plan I have now) for 3 years - is that realistic to have the court accept?
3) Tax Return - she is demanding that we file married and joint for 2010 despite the fact we have been legally separated the entire year and all taxes have been paid by as as were the expenses that could be deducted. The attorneys are suggesting we file joint and I give the refund to her attorney for legal fees. Should I accept this (what would the court order) or hold for filing either joint (and offering a small percentage such as 20% to her) or file married and separate?
4) Attorney Fees - Despite going through 3 attorneys, my fees have amounted to about $10,000. Her attorney is claiming about $30,000 yet nothing has been done other than a lot of calls to the wife. I am willing to pay $7,500 but the mediator is suggesting $12,500 is fair . . . . thoughts?
5) The sale of the marital home may in fact result in negative equity. The wife is saying we split profits equally yet I absorb any loss . . . . can this in fact be court ordered considering we had a buyout offer which she declined last Fall?
6) I was to receive a relocation incentive if I remain in my current duty station for 18 months. The wife and her attorney are demanding half of this bonus which would have been earned after we legally separated. Does she have any legal claim to this incentive amount?
Thanks . . . . .