What Exactly Is A Dependent Spouse?

I’ve been puttering around with the numbers, and there is pretty much no way that my spouse can claim that she’s a “dependent spouse” in that she can easily pay all expenses with a few hundred left over each month. To determine this, I used a commonly used financial affidavit form. This financial affidavit form is very comprehensive, and takes into consideration every expense and source of income I can imagine.

Her monthly income (net) after expenses is around $500. This is based, by the way, on a 4-day work week. If she worked a fifth day, then this number almost doubles!
My monthly income (net) after expenses is around $2,000.

We have no children. Marriage is currently 5.5 years (approx).

To me, she isn’t a “dependent spouse.” But, I’ve heard lawyers say that NC considers the lower earning spouse to always be dependent.

If we divorce, there will be ZERO reduction in her quality of life.

Given these factors, is my wife a “dependent spouse” in the eyes of the law here in NC?

Yes, if you make significantly more money, than she is the dependent spouse. Also – they use gross income, not net (as people can deduct their way into a much lower salary).

The ‘net’ is gross minus all expenses (taxes, SS, living expenses, mortgage, dry cleaning, cell phone bills, insurance, cost of fuel, etc.). I used a sample of a financial affidavit to find the ‘net.’

If she has anything left over, then how can she be dependent on me? Her lifestyle won’t change a bit.

Unfortunately alimony is neither logical nor black and white.

What’s going to happen, is they’re going to plug in your gross income (pre-tax, pre-everything), and then you fill out a financial affidavit. She will do the same. Then the lawyers will sit there and argue with each other as to why any certain number should be wiped off the chart or increased or lowered. Then out of that mess of inconsistencies (which will be neither fair nor equitable to either of you), they will come up with an arbitrary award for alimony.

The lawyers will tell you, it’s based off her need and your ability to pay… but the reality doesn’t quite work like that – most likely because there is not set formula for alimony like there is for child support. And the fact she doesn’t NEED money is irrelevant. Part of her ‘lifestyle’ included having access to all that extra money you brought in.

If you committed fault, you will absolutely be paying alimony.
If she committed fault, then you will NOT be paying alimony.
If neither of the above is true, and If you’re lucky maybe she will not ask for alimony.

OK - I’d like to hear an attorney chime in. Perhaps they can provide additional insights and knowledge.

Bump - Would like to hear an attorney’s view…


The statute reads that a “Dependent spouse” means a spouse, whether husband or wife, who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse. Just because the facts as you have presented them do not show a substantial need does not mean that she cannot come up with an argument for substantial need.

You have now posted a couple of times about the same issue which seems to be troubling you. Perhaps a consultation where you can discuss the specifics of the financial affidavits, income and standard of living will better help you get a grip on the situation.

P.S. By reposting, you bumped yourself to the top of the forum, and to the bottom of my list.