My husband and I are divorcing after 16 years. I have a Ph.D, but gave up a successful career 14 years ago when our first child was born and moved to North Carolina where my husband’s family is and where he had more career options. We have 3 children ranging in age from 9 to 14. He is willing to pay the minimum child support per the child support calculator. I went back to work 2 weeks ago and now make $28000 per year. I am overqualified for most jobs, but have been out of the workforce too long to use my Ph.D. He makes $144,000 per year. He doesn’t want to pay me any alimony, but realizes that he will probably have to. How do I calculate what a fair alimony amount is? I can calculate my monthly expenses, but how do I put down numbers that give me credit for all the years I “worked” as a homemaker? How do I put down numbers that try to compensate for my loss of earning power?
Alimony is based on the reasonable needs of the dependant spouse, and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay. The best way to determine your needs is to create a budget which accounts for all of your living expenses at the present time. You will need to account for the child support amount, and remember that any alimony you receive is taxable to you which means you need to “gross up” any amount you receive to account for the income taxes you will pay on the support.
Your decreased earning power will be a factor in calculating alimony in that your earning power was decreased as a result of your devotion to the marriage, support of your husband’s career, and your homemaker contributions. This means that a court should not impute income to you at the level of PHD could earn based on your individual circumstances.