In North Carolina, there is no one answer to the question, “How long do you have to be married to get alimony?” The courts take a variety of factors into account when making this determination. If you and your spouse are considering divorce, it’s essential to understand how alimony works in our state. Let’s explore the factors that go into awarding alimony and how much you might receive if you qualify.
What is Alimony in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, alimony is a type of spousal support or financial assistance from your spouse after separation or divorce. Not all spouses receive alimony after a marriage. If you receive an alimony award, your spouse may pay alimony in lump sum payments or periodic payments. You may receive alimony for a certain amount of time or indefinitely.
The purpose of alimony is to help a financially dependent spouse maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. For example, if your spouse made $350,000 per year in Wake County and you stayed home and raised your children, the court may consider the lifestyle you enjoyed when awarding alimony.
However, if you both worked and made roughly the same amount of money and had no children together, you may receive less alimony.
How Long Do You Have to be Married to Get Alimony?
There is no state-specified length of time for marriage for the spouse to receive alimony in North Carolina. However, the courts will consider how long you were married when deciding on whether to award alimony and how much to award.
Generally speaking, the longer you stayed married, the more likely you will receive an alimony award, and the higher the payments may be.
A marriage of 20 years may see a spouse receiving alimony for 10 years. However, a marriage of 4 years may see a result in an alimony award for only a couple of years.
What Factors Go Into Awarding Alimony?
In addition to the length of your marriage, the courts will also consider other factors when deciding on alimony.
Some of the factors a judge may look at include:
- Relative earnings and earning capacities of each spouse
- 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
How Much Alimony Can You Expect in North Carolina?
The amount of alimony you can expect will depend on several factors, including your earning capacity, the length of your marriage, and your standard of living during the marriage.
In general, alimony payments help a dependent spouse maintain their standard of living after divorce. If you were out of the workforce for an extended time or if you have significant medical expenses, you may receive a higher award amount of alimony.
You may receive lifelong alimony payments if you have been married for a long time and cannot support yourself.
How is Alimony Paid?
In North Carolina, you can receive alimony by wage assignment. This means the payer’s employer deducts the support payment from their paycheck and sends it to you. The courts can also order that alimony go directly to you.
Talking with an experienced divorce attorney about what to expect and how to make the best of your unique situation is crucial.
There may be advantages to working out an agreement with your spouse instead of taking the matter before a court. An uncontested divorce where spouses find agreement on all issues of separation and divorce costs less and is usually a quicker divorce.
However, let’s say you were married for many years and lived as a homemaker with a spouse who made good money. You may do better taking your case before a judge to decide your alimony, especially if your spouse is uncooperative.
Talk with an experienced divorce attorney to determine whether you should hope for alimony and how much you might receive. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will also know all of the applicable state laws in North Carolina. They have seen many cases similar to yours and know what to expect.
We Can Help
If you have questions about how long you have to be married to get alimony or what factors the court will consider, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced divorce attorneys at Plekan Law Firm. We can help you understand what to expect in your unique situation and how North Carolina law may apply.
Give us a call today to set up a consultation. We look forward to helping you through this difficult time.