We facing divorce due to irreconcilable differences, too much baggage that we cannot work through after trying for years. We’ve been married 39 years. We have been devastated financially due to helping our daughter escape an abusive marriage. He borrowed 30,000. from his 401K to pay for her legal battles. He is working and earns around 90,000. I am not working right now. I have worked in the past and have owned 2 businesses but have not worked since 2007. In 2010 I tried to get a new business going but failed due to having to spend a great deal of time helping family with various problems.Our home is refinanced so we don’t have much equity in it. He tells me that I will walk away with 5,000 or less and that he can’t afford to pay alimony. He has retirement money, although not a lot. He expects to inherit a good sum of money when his mother dies. She is 85, in a nursing home with Alzheimers. He wants to settle without lawyers and says we cannot afford them. I want to know if I am entitled to alimony and can I expect a court decision for it even though he is claiming he can’t afford it?
I totally laid down my life for our daughter for a year and 9 months while she left her abusive husband and worked to put her life back together, even staying in a battered womens shelter with her for 2 weeks. I poured myself into starting my business in 2010 but he asked me to shut it down because I didn’t have enough business to offset cost of insurance, website, etc. and I have poured myself into my family and home but he does not see the value in that.
Do I have any hope of alimony? I really want a lawyer but have NO money! I feel so trapped!

-Not an attorney-

It sounds like he has taken the time to do the right calculations and is being quite rational. Based on what you said you did for your daughter and the failed businesses it is not surprising that he says you can’t afford the attorneys. I am learning they cost a lot - between the two of you it would cost maybe $15,000 without a court battle, $50,000 with a court battle. You should calmly ask him if he can show you his calculations to support his comments about not being able to pay alimony and what you would each get if you sold the house.

Unfortunately for you, the fact that he will inherit money from his mother has no impact on alimony or anthing else for you. You are obviously trying to avoid going back to work, but I see no way you can avoid it. Sounds like finances are tight and with a split comes two households to support, which can’t be done at the same standard of living as before unless your income increases. With or without some alimony you won’t have enough to live on, and you will still have to get a job to increase the overall joint income, so you should start trying to accept that.

Dear niceguy,

You’ve made assumptions. I am not trying to avoid going back to work. I know that I will have to get some type of employment, whether I stay or whether I go.The 2 businesses I had in the past did not fail, they were successful. I mentioned them to show that being in business for myself hurt my work record for a current work history, so employers would not hire me because of it. My 3rd and last business, a personal assistant business, was starting to take off. I was doing some pet sitting and ironing, but he told me to shut it down because he didn’t want to pay for insurance and website anymore because it was not generating enough $ to cover it. I was very involved in networking and put forth a great effort in this business, but also had to take care of our daughter and grandkids in va. I had to make periodic trips there to babysit and help out. So it was very upsetting to have to shut it down. I have always worked, mostly part time, and have tried very hard to balance it with taking care of family and home. Even if I worked 50 hours a week though, I would never get any help at home with cleaning or yardwork. I worked at AutoZone when we first moved here, after leaving my cleaning business in NY. He asked me to quit that job because the boss expected me to drive a van with a heavy payload in it with very bald unsafe tires. He said working there for $7./hr. wasn’t worth risking my life and lives of others on the road for. So, even though I liked the job I quit and looked for other jobs, applied for about 30 jobs over the 2 years that I didn’t work and was dealing with a bad relationship between me and my husband and a bad relationship between him and our teen daughter. He was extremely verbally abusive to her and she was devastated from that and from moving from NY and all her friends, some of which she had been with all her life. She even started cutting herself from all the emotional pain. He would attack her like he was the teenager and she would look at me with a look of intense pain and pleading look that said, are you going to let him do this to me? I got us into counseling where he proceeded to say horrible things about her wchich were not true and which devastated her to the point where she would never go to counseling with him again. He’s a jerk! I should have left him years ago! I have worked many jobs in the past and don’t mind working but I feel he should pay me alimony if he can. I would like to have a decent place to live. I would actually like to stay in my house but could only pay the mortgage if he paid me alimony.

No fault and no dependent kids I doubt you get the house and have HIM pay for it no matter what happens. From what you have stated, house with no equity and $15 in CC debt a 50/50 split would be both taking debt away from the marriage. Your certainly going to get alimony and you will certainly be required to look for work… he will have to be more flexible. Courts will try to balance so you have close to equal lifestyles. That are attorneys that act as mediators, that can recommend a split without representing either one of you. I would think this would be a good route to take. I would certainly say you should try to start trying to sell the house, if there is money left over take care of as much of the debt as possible. You would generally be entitled to half the 401k money (what is left of it). He has some leverage also, if you have been married for 39yrs that would put him at, near, or over retirement age. He always has the option of retiring and not owing you alimony.

The alimony analysis is complicated, and there is no set formula in NC. You can check the new alimony calculator on our website which compiles the formulas from several states. You may find it here: