Alimony expectations

Hi, I’m in the early stages of a collaborative divorce. I’m wanting to have a reasonable expectation of alimony before we get to that part of the agreement. We have two young children. We both have master’s degrees. We both have worked in our career for the past 15 years. She typically has to work about 60 hours a week, while I am on a standard 40. I make about 90k and she makes about 60k pre divorce. After divorce she will have to reduce her hours because she insists on primary custody of the kids. Her income will likely drop to about 45k. I’ve used the calculators for estimated child support. The alimony calculators bring up very wildly different results based on the different methods. Is there one method that is popular in NC?

Given our uninterrupted work history is she likely to get alimony just based on the fact she’s in an industry that doesn’t pay well, even for a high level of education? I in no way restricted her ability to earn, she choose her industry.

What is a typical duration for alimony? 3 years, 5 years? Surely not for life right?


North Carolina has no set formula for determining alimony. Instead, North Carolina uses 16 factors when making an alimony award and to determine the amount and duration. I’ve included a link at the end of this post for the 16 factors.

As you’ve seen, our alimony calculator uses different methods used by other states. North Carolina does not use any of those methods, so there is no method that is more popular or more frequently used.

When determining alimony in your situation, your wife’s income and ability/education will be considered in an alimony award but the fact that she’s working in a low-paying industry despite a high level of education will not be the only factor considered.

There must be a supporting spouse and a dependent spouse before alimony can even be awarded. A dependent spouse is “actually substantially dependent” on his/her spouse and would not be able to maintain his/her accustomed standard of living (from during the marriage) without financial help from the other spouse.

There is no typical duration of alimony but yes, it can last a lifetime, although we don’t see lifetime awards of alimony that often. Rather, alimony is awarded for a specified period of time depending on the 16 factors I mentioned above.

Check out our detailed article about alimony, which includes the 16 factors used to determine alimony: … -carolina/

What could I expect on my situation. My spouse and I are currently separated. I left the state to live with my family in FL. I’ve been supporting her financially but she has told me if i just want to separate our liquid assets she might resource enforce alimony on me. We have been married for 7 years, have no kids, and she is not my dependent. We have been filing jointly our taxes for the last couple of years. Is it true I might have to pay this for her? I just need to know if i really have this obligation or not. We do not have any property other than two financed cars. The mentioned that even because of our pets I’d have to pay alimony. If feel this is not right but I need to make sure and inform myself better before working on the separation of our money. Thanks.

Assuming your wife is a resident of NC and NC has jurisdiction, you could be ordered to pay alimony if you are found to be the supporting spouse and she is found to be the dependent spouse (i.e. the spouse that is actually and substantially dependent on the other spouse for his/her maintenance and support). You would have to have the ability to pay and she could not have committed an act of illicit sexual behavior during the marriage.

If all of this is met, then you could be ordered to pay alimony. The amount and duration will depend on 16 different factors.

Pets are irrelevant in alimony and there would be no circumstance in which you would owe your wife alimony for the sole reason of the existence of pets.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

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