My husband has decided after 17 years of marriage that he is done. During most of the marriage, I made more money than him, but we have 8-year-old twins who, upon starting kindergarten, began to struggle both socially and academically. I gave up my side consulting and arranged to be home when they get off the bus so I can take them to therapy and tutoring appointments. For the last three years, he has made three times my income.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep them in the school system where their IEP is. My sister is single and our house is big enough for her. She is willing to sell her condo and “buy in” to our home. With her money, I can buy my husband out and keep the house.
When we first started dating, my husband was getting his masters and then Ph.D. I was working. He moved in with me and I paid our living expenses so he didn’t have to work or take out loans. I heard I can ask for alimony until he retires even though we were not married for a full 20 years. Is that true?
Also, can I make him let me keep the house? He thinks he can make me sell it to lower my need for alimony.
I am guessing it is not so much the house but the town he is looking to squeeze you out of. Given your children’s needs and their IEP plans, you have a good argument to stay in your town. If he does not agree, force his hand and ask the judge to order the house conveyed to you in the divorce in exchange for your buying him out of his half of the equity. Your sister’s offer is a creative way to keep your expenses stable and still get him the cash for his half. If you have to go before a judge, your argument would be that remaining in the home is in your children’s best interests in light of their IEP’s and social needs. Further, you and your children are entitled to continue to live in the same manner you became accustomed to during the marriage to the largest extent possible.
This means he has an obligation to pay child support as well as alimony in the amount that meets your established needs or the maximum percentage permitted by statute (assuming he has the ability to pay that number), whichever is less.
As for the durational limit on your alimony, gather all of the documentation possible to show you were financially supporting him early in the relationship and argue that you lived together in a financial partnership for more than 20 years. The judge can tack on the pre-marital years when determining how long you will receive alimony.