No Income for two tax years

At the time my ex and I separated we filed our 2014 Joint TR. I had ZERO income for 2014 so it benefited us both to file joint. (He asked for a divorce 1/25th, separated 2/1st) Since neither of us could afford an attorney at the time of separation we opted to prepare and sign our own separation agreement, not filed through the court system. We get along fine, no arguments. He walked out after we had agreed to just live together until I could get a job and I would move out. I begged him not to leave but he was insistent to do so. So he agreed in the SA to pay the ‘household’ bills while I stayed in the house (mortgage, utilities, HO insurance, cable, internet, exterminator). I have had no income for two years; 2012 was minimal while self employed. 2015 has been minimal, part-time only $100 per week; unable to find FT employment. Even if I did I would not have been able to work due to health issues since last Christmas that resulted in major surgery just 6 days ago. The only asset left to distribute is the house. And we have it up for sale. No savings. Nothing. I fully intend to file as soon as the year is up but my concern is alimony. NC does not have a set formula for calculating alimony. I know I will be entitled based on income but my question is whether the circumstances have any baring on the alimony? Abandonment? The adultery? or is it just based on income? Trying to plan ahead and get a feel for what to expect. Also, do we HAVE to incorporate the SA into the divorce? And Thirdly, does the fact that he has being paying the household bills going to hurt me at the time of divorce?

The full list of factors that a court will consider in an alimony case, is as follows:

  1. The marital misconduct* of either of the spouses.
  2. The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses.
  3. The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses.
  4. The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security…
  5. The duration of the marriage.
  6. The contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other.
  7. The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
  8. The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.
  9. The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs.
  10. The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt of the spouses, including legal obligations of support.
  11. The property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
  12. The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
  13. The relative needs of the spouses.
  14. The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
  15. Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper. and last but not least:
  16. The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties” marital or divisible property.

We discuss abandonment in our article: abandonment.

Alimony is completely discretionary, there is no formula or guidelines in North Carolina. It is based on your income (and earning potential), your spouse’s income (and earning potential), your need, and the standard of living during the marriage. Because judge’s are given so much discretion with alimony, it is hard to predict what your award will be.

As an aside, be sure to file your complaint for alimony before the absolute divorce is granted or you will lose the ability to make your alimony claim; it must be preserved before the divorce is granted.