Alimony - Please Take A Swag

My income: Net around 49,000

Her income: Net around 35,000

Difference: $1,166 per month.

Will I have to pay her alimony? Her gross is around $50,000. She has a 401k, and some health care benefits through work. Median household income in North Carolina is around $46,000. Clearly, there is no “need,” but what are the odds that I’ll have to pay?

I know that NC doesn’t have a set formula, but I’d really appreciate an educated guess.

Thank you!

By the way, there are no kids involved.

How long have you been married? How old are you both?

I have no real knowledge on this, but I would certainly hope you wouldn’t have to pay alimony. It seems to me that length of marriage is a major factor though.

I’ve been married five years this August.

She is almost 50. I am in my mid-40s.

There doesn’t seem to be a need for alimony since it appears that she has a good job.

I would agree - But, I’d like to hear a guess from an attorney. Just an educated guess is what I’m looking for…


Any attorney care to answer?

Thank you!

NC determines alimony by figuring out who is the dependent spouse and the ability of the payor. Since your incomes are so close it’s hard to tell what you would owe. There is a general rule of thumb that alimony lasts half the length of the marriage. You would be exempt from paying alimony if your wife had committed fault.

OK - But if Kathleen could chime in it would be appreciated.


Sorry for the delayed response. I answer posts in the order received, and active posts (unfortunately) keep gettting bumped to the top of the forum (and the bottom of my list).

That said, the first determination the court makes is whether the she is a dependent spouse and you are a supporting spouse. You look generally at gross income because one party could have significant deductions that the other party doesn’t (health care, 401(k), FSA, HSA, etc.). At first blush, the income disparity isn’t significant enough for me to believe that you have a dependent/supporting relationship. It would really depend on a more indepth look at how finances work in your house and whether you actually support her.

Then, the court looks to the factors detailed in the statute, the needs of the dependent spouse, and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay. There are no calculators in NC to utilize, and a dollar amount is impossible to pinpoint without looking at actual expenses. That said, if an order for alimony was allowed, the most I think you could expect would be an order that equalizes the income of the parties, and we generally see alimony lasting for about 1/2 the length of the marriage these days.

I hope that helps.