The facts are these:
We've been married eight years. We live in New York. There are no children.
For years my wife worked, earning significantly more than me, then got laid off about six months ago. Since then she's been sort of looking for jobs but doesn't seem that motivated (which is crazy and part of the reason I'm thinking about divorce/separation). Anyway, I haven't been happy for several years and have been in therapy and have made the decision that I do want to separate. I went in for a free consult and the lawyer told me I should wait until she's "back on her feet" so I wouldn't be stuck giving up 20% of my salary for a year and a half (this is what he said would happen). So I've been waiting. In misery. But at this point I'm not convinced she will ever be self supporting again, so I just have to do it.
So I'm wondering how bad of a hit I'm going to take here.
I make 80K. My debt is low. Got about 3K in credit cards (down from 20) left. My credit is great (780 FICO). Got 25K in the 401K (the recent crash, ugh). Like I said, we don't have any kids. We live in NYC so we don't own either (rent: 1800). I know for a fact that, if I were left to my own devices and were free and clear, I would be fine. I can afford to get a relatively decent apartment and move on with my life.
But of course it's not that easy.
My wife: Unemployed. Significant CC debt (honestly I don't know how much. We have separate cards in our own names). I know for a fact that, and am resigned to the fact, I would have to hand over half that 401K. Fine. I'm more concerned with being able to live. Since I make 80K (an amount that will be rising over time) and she makes 0, then will I really owe her 20% of my salary for a year and a half? Would this only be if she brought in a lawyer? (she can't afford a lawyer). What if we did it uncontested? Could I worm my way out of that? And what about her debt? I realize I may have to eat half her CC debt, but how does that work exactly? Does the debt go into my name? Therefore fucking up my credit? And if we're doing uncontested, then can I worm my way out of that as well?
Essentially,I'm trying to figure out if I can do this and live my life without her own lack of motivation and secret debt dragging me down. And the main question is this: Can we just agree to something, some sort of arrangement, in an uncontested divorce that works for both of us and won't kill my chance at freedom? 20% of my salary for a year and a half plus getting saddled with god knows how much bad CC debt would definitely kill it.
For example, could we come to an agreement, without lawyers, where I pay this bill and that bill each month but they stay in her name, plus give this amount (not 20%) for this amount of time (not a year and a half)or until employed?
I hate this shit. But it needs to be dealt with.
Thanks for any advice.