Alimony in North Carolina is a form of financial support paid by one spouse to another after the dissolution of marriage. Many factors may affect the complex divorce settlement process. In this guide, we’ll discuss who is eligible for alimony, how courts calculate it, and what options spouses have if they disagree. With the knowledge about how spousal support and alimony in NC works, couples can better understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to getting divorced in NC.
What is Spousal Support?
In North Carolina, spousal support includes post-separation support and alimony. Any financial assistance from your spouse after separation is post-separation support. Financial help after a divorce is called alimony.
Spousal support varies in North Carolina. In some cases, people may receive lump sum payments or periodic payments. Additionally, the support time frame may be temporary or permanent, with numerous factors influencing the amount and duration of alimony.
The function of alimony is to assist a spouse who is financially reliant on their spouse. It helps to sustain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. For instance, if your spouse earned $350,000 annually in Wake County and you chose to stay home and raise your children, the court may consider your lifestyle while married when granting alimony.
However, you may receive less alimony if you both worked and made roughly the same amount of money and had no children together.
Who Has to Pay Alimony in North Carolina?
When a court decides whether and how much spousal support to award, state guidelines look at how long you were married. The longer you were married, the more likely a spousal support award, and the higher the payments may be.
A marriage of 20 years may see a spouse receiving alimony for ten years. However, a marriage of 4 years may see an alimony award for only a couple years.
Who Is the Dependent Spouse in North Carolina?
The length of your marriage is not the only factor a court will consider when deciding to award alimony from a supporting spouse in North Carolina
Some of the factors a judge may look at include the following:
- Relative earning capacities and each spouse’s income
- Ages and physical, mental, and emotional conditions of each spouse
- Relative education levels of each spouse
- Relative assets and liabilities of each spouse, including marital property in the divorce.
- Any written agreement between the spouses, or a prior court order relating to spousal support
- Relative debts of each spouse
- Tax consequences to each spouse
- Relative contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including through homemaking or childcare
- Relative needs of each spouse
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Any other factors the court finds relevant
Can You Get Alimony Payments Even if You’re Not Dependent?
Alimony payments from a supporting spouse generally help a dependent spouse maintain living standards after divorce. You may receive more alimony if you were out of the workforce for an extended time or had significant medical expenses.
A dependent spouse seeking alimony might receive lifelong alimony payments if the marriage lasted for many years. The statute for a dependent spouse is for someone who is “actually substantially dependent for maintenance and support or from whom such spouse is substantially in need of maintenance and support.”
Alimony ends when or if a dependent spouse remarries.
What If My Spouse Committed Adultery?
Another reason you may receive alimony or post-separation support can relate to marital misconduct in the marriage. A judge may award spousal support (whether a spouse needs it or not) if the other spouse engaged in marital misconduct during the marriage before separation.
And a judge might also deny alimony to a dependent spouse for marital misconduct if the supporting spouse was faithful.
However, if you were both engaged in illicit sexual behavior, the judge will use other factors relating to spousal support to make the best decisions about future payments.
It may also be possible to prove that a spouse’s illicit sexual behavior had a dire financial impact on life as a dependent spouse. Funds spent on an affair could have otherwise gone towards essential household expenses. A spouse’s reckless use of funds for an affair can be helpful evidence for spousal support.
How to Work Out Alimony in North Carolina
Reaching an agreement with your partner outside of court may be preferable to litigation. An uncontested divorce, wherein couples resolve all separation issues, typically results in lower costs and more efficient proceedings.
Suppose you spent several years as a homemaker, living off a spouse’s earnings. Now, your marriage has broken down, and you need financial support. In such cases, if your partner will not act cooperatively, it makes sense to bring in a divorce attorney to help you negotiate a spousal support package.
Hiring an attorney doesn’t mean your case must go to court. However, an attorney can help your spouse see what a court would likely rule should your divorce go into litigation proceedings.
Consulting an experienced divorce attorney opens up alimony possibilities and can help you estimate potential spousal support amounts. With experience in comparable cases, experienced divorce attorneys can offer valuable insight into what you can expect.
Our Knowledgeable Alimony Attorneys Can Help
At Plekan Law, our knowledgeable divorce and alimony attorneys have experience managing even the most complex spousal support cases. We can help you negotiate with your spouse to agree on a fair support package based on your income, assets, liabilities, financial obligations, and other factors. Alternatively, if court proceedings become necessary, we will be there to represent you every step of the way and provide sound legal advice.
Get in touch today and find out how we can help you find solutions and move forward with your life!