31 years married...one year of alimony? Seriously?


We have been married 31 years. The first 17 years I was a home maker raising our children. Once the kids were a little older, I took a part time job. The last 14 years have been spent moving 4 different times (each to different states) while my husband furthered his career. Each time I had to quit one job and search for a new job in the new state. My salary didn’t increase each time…it stayed exactly the same year after year. Within the last 4 years, I have worked at a job that finally paid me decent money. He makes about $20K more than me. He wants to pay me alimony for just one year. I’ve spent most of my adult life either raising our children or supporting him in his career while being the one who had to deal with the many issues involved in relocating a family time after time. In the state of North Carolina…what are the guidelines for alimony? While I realize each situation is different…how is alimony determined? Is there a legal chart somewhere that acts as a starting point in determining alimony? If so…where can I find it. Thank you for your help!


I’m very interested to read your responses. I was married close to 20 years when we separated. Ex made over three times my salary when we separated and hasn’t given me a dime of spousal support. I’m living in the house. He has paid nothing towards that either.

We’re headed to court to help him see the light! :wink:


How does that happen? How can he get away with paying nothing? I wish you the best of luck. Keep me posted on how it goes as you head to court to ‘enlighten’ him;-). I see my attorney this afternoon and will let you know what he says.

I am sick to death of all of this already…


There’s no alimony calculator since each situation is different, but general practice is that if someone is entitled to alimony, it usually lasts for 1/2 the duration of the marriage unless the recipient cohabitates with a member of the opposite sex. In marriages as long as yours, you may be entitled to a term longer than half the marriage duration.

Alimony is calculated based upon 16 factors outlined in state statute, but there’s a lot of leeway for the judge’s discretion. You can find information about this in “Alimony: by the numbers,” an article on this website.

Basically, the whole idea is to allow you to remain at close to your standard of living prior to divorce as possible, although in reality often the standard of living is lower because now there are two households to support rather than one.


Don’t agree to anything or sign anything until you have learned your rights or seen an attorney. You are entitled to 1/2 of all the marital assets, that includes retirement savings. Your stbx wants you to agree to this because if something is signed, or agreed to, there is no going back later.
athos is right about the 1/2 the duration of the marriage and some agreements have a loophole about the cohabitation deal…but IMHO, that wouldn’t be right to continue alimony after remarried. Also, about the standard of living…it’s normally not at the level while married, but that’s a sacrifice most people accept as part of the divorce beast.


I’m sorry for your situation. You said, "He wants to pay me alimony for just one year. " Since you are getting divorced, it’s not about what he wants anymore. It’s about what YOU need. I wish I had realized that much sooner. I got by by scrimping, borrowing from a relative and taking out a loan. The ex even knows I had major home expenses and did nothing other than say “that’s unfortunate.” The one thing he has done is pay minimum child support.

My ex got away with paying no spousal support for over a year and 1/2 because I tried to work with him and avoid going to court. This bit me in the rear because I wasted time and money. We never had a signed separation agreement. We are divorced now, but everything else will be settled in court in a couple months. I am asking for back spousal support, legal fees, etc.

My advice: Make sure you’ve got a good lawyer and rely on his/her advice. Refuse to try to reason with a person who is being unreasonable. I wish I had done that about a year ago.


My X (as the dependent spouse) made it very difficult to negotiate with her. It took her 2 months from the separation date to send me an incomplete proposal. It took another 2.5 months for her to get me the necessary information (under her custody & control) to complete the agreement.

She then had the gall to blame me for the delay and after issuing a 24-hr ultimatum (to me directly, rather than my attorney) on a day I was out of town, she then sued me. In the wrong state. With an ex parte hearing. Without prior notice. And asking for even more alimony.

3.5 to 4 months (and much $$$) later, the suit in the wrong state was thrown out for lack of (personal) jurisdiction over me. I later filed for E/D in NC to minimize any gains that could be made by her appeal from the dismissal.

Now that I had extra negotiating chips, she was much more willing to seriously negotiate, although she did get a “take it, see you in court, or counteroffer with something better than my offer.”

She opted for a larger property settlement in lieu of alimony.


Shellshocked…if you’re now making enough money to realistically support yourself…than why would you get alimony? Alimony is only to help you get by while you’re looking to self-sustain yourself…it’s not a penalty that your spouse pays.


Don’t feel so bad. My husband said since he worked all those years now I should work and paid him. I almost agreed to that until I got a lawyer.


Alimony is intended to allow the dependant spouse to maintain his or her standard of living, not to punish or reward either side. If your husband is only making 20k more than you are at this point I imagine it will be difficult to establish the need on you part. and ability to pay on his part. Despite the fact that many of the alimony factors are applicable here, the bottom line is there must be a dependant spouse and a supporting spouse.

§ 50-16.3A. Alimony (16 factors )
(a) Entitlement. – In an action brought pursuant to Chapter 50 of the General Statutes, either party may move for alimony. The court shall award alimony to the dependent spouse upon a finding that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and that an award of alimony is equitable after considering all relevant factors, including those set out in subsection (b) of this section. If the court finds that the dependent spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior, as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A(3)a., during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, the court shall not award alimony. If the court finds that the supporting spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior, as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A(3)a., during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, then the court shall order that alimony be paid to a dependent spouse. If the court finds that the dependent and the supporting spouse each participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, then alimony shall be denied or awarded in the discretion of the court after consideration of all of the circumstances. Any act of illicit sexual behavior by either party that has been condoned by the other party shall not be considered by the court.
The claim for alimony may be heard on the merits prior to the entry of a judgment for equitable distribution, and if awarded, the issues of amount and of whether a spouse is a dependent or supporting spouse may be reviewed by the court after the conclusion of the equitable distribution claim.
(b) Amount and Duration. – The court shall exercise its discretion in determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony. The duration of the award may be for a specified or for an indefinite term. In determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
(1) The marital misconduct of either of the spouses. Nothing herein shall prevent a court from considering incidents of post date-of-separation marital misconduct as corroborating evidence supporting other evidence that marital misconduct occurred during the marriage and prior to date of separation;
(2) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses;
(3) The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses;
(4) The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including, but not limited to, earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security, or others;
(5) The duration of the marriage;
(6) The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child;
(8) The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage;
(9) The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs;
(10) The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support;
(11) The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
(12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(13) The relative needs of the spouses;
(14) The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award;
(15) Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper.
(16) The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties” marital or divisible property.
© Findings of Fact. – The court shall set forth the reasons for its award or denial of alimony and, if making an award, the reasons for its amount, duration, and manner of payment. Except where there is a motion before the court for summary judgment, judgment on the pleadings, or other motion for which the Rules of Civil Procedure do not require special findings of fact, the court shall make a specific finding of fact on each of the factors in subsection (b) of this section if evidence is offered on that factor.
(d) In the claim for alimony, either spouse may request a jury trial on the issue of marital misconduct as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A. If a jury trial is requested, the jury will decide whether either spouse or both have established marital misconduct.


Sadly, there are no alimony guidelines The bottom line is how much money each spouse earns. Period. If you can support yourself and live in approximately the same manner as you could during the marriage, the Court will not likely award you any alimony. It makes no difference how long you were married or what your circumstances were during the marriage. IF you are the dependent spouse, meaning you earned considerably less during the marriage, then it is more likely that alimony will be awarded. The ONLY time an award of alimony is mandatory is if you are the dependent spouse and the supporting spouse committed adultery. Then, the Court must award alimony. With a differential of only 20,000 a year, it is not likely that you will receive alimony. You must prove dependency and with that litte of a difference in salaries, it’s most unlikely that alimony will be awarded.