Alimony


#1

My wife of 8 years is seeking a separation and likley a divorce thereafter. The reason she has indicted is a lack of trust between ourselves. We have a 4-year old daughter with type 1 diabetes. I foretunately work from home most of the time and I am able to watch our daughter until my wife returns home from her work. My wife works 2 10-hour days a week. Although my wife has advanced degrees and I simply have a bachelors degree, I make quite a bit more than my wife. If my wife chooses to go back to work full time (instead of half-time), I still would make quite a bit more than my wife. The child support calculation seems pretty stragihtforward, but alimony seems much more cloudy. We moved to NC originally unmarried when my wife was pursuring her PhD. During her 3 years of school, I supported her for 1.5 years as an unmarried partner and 1.5 years as a married partner. She did receive a stipen but she could not live on this money unless I supported her. During our recent turmoil times, she has become close to a male friend and recently spent 75 hours on the phone as well as hundreds of text message over a 4 week period that I was able to check. My wife admits a strong emotional attachment to this person, but claims that she is not sexually involved with this person. My wife is claiming that this person is simply giving her emotional support during our strained relationship.

My main question is about alimony if we move forward with a separation and divorce. I read that supporting her towards her educational advancement lessens the case for alimony. In addition, her emotional attachment to this other man could potentially be deemed as an alienation of affection which I believe impats alimony also. However, our difference in salary seems to point towards alimony. Can you give me some advice on what to expect and how I would move forward legally? If I had to pay alimony, how long would this last? I have indicated that I am not moving from our home unless we have an agreed separation agreement. My wife is the one who is anxious in proceeding with the separation.


#2

There is no straight forward calculation for alimony. It’s case-by-case, but takes into account standard of living that she is accustomed to, her reasonable needs and your ability to pay.

If you feel she has engaged in an affair it could bar her from receiving alimony (but not post-separation support). You phone records could bolster that assertion.

Additionally, rule of thumb is that alimony lasts approximately half the length of a marriage, especially one lasting less than 10 years.

You can work out a separation agreement on your own, however I would suggest retaining a lawyer especially since issues like child custody (tip: don’'t take less than 50% of visitation time with your daughter – very difficult to fight for more time later) and alimony get very nasty.


#3

The court can consider any of the factors listed in the statute when making a determination of alimony, both the amount and duration. A typical alimony award is based on the demonstrated need of the dependant spouse (budget of reasonable expenses less income) and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay (budget of reasonable expenses less income). There is no specificity in the statutes regarding the term, but many attorney’s use half the length of the marriage as a rule of thumb in setting a term.

A non-sexual emotional/romantic relationship with a third party is not a bar to alimony. You may however pursue an action for alienation of affection against this man and seek monetary damages.


#4

During marriage, spouse was not interested in marital relations. Immediately after separating, he joined adult hook-up sites and other X sites. Does this have any bearing on alimony or is it only if I caught him in actual physical affairs which was difficult to do since he traveled out of state 2 - 3 nights each week for biz. I read on your site where behavior after separation might impact alimony. Is this an example? thank you.
Also, he hardly answered any of the Interrogatory questions for phone calls and computer disc backup. I know a motion to compel can be filed, but does this really make a difference with regards to alimony?


#5

Post date of separation behavior does not have a bearing on alimony unless it is used to corroborate evidence of pre-date of separation behavior. In any event, the adult hookup sites themselves are not proof of adultery.

The records may be important, as they may lead to evidence that show a relationship actually did exist prior to separation.