North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state meaning that neither spouse has to be at fault to obtain a divorce. The grounds required for a divorce in North Carolina are that the parties must have lived separate and apart for one year and a day with the intent to remain separated permanently, in addition, one party must have resided in North Carolina for six months prior to the filing for divorce.
When parties are seeking a divorce there are other legal issues that should be considered before filing for divorce. In some instances, the issues must be addressed prior to filing for divorce or the claims are waived. Alimony or post separation support are two issues to consider prior to obtaining a divorce or they are waived.
In order to obtain alimony and postseparation support in North Carolina, you must prove that you are the dependent spouse, that your spouse is the supporting spouse, that you cannot support your living expenses without help from your supporting spouse and your supporting spouse has the ability to pay.
Postseparation support is support a dependent spouse can receive from a supporting spouse on a short-term basis. The court, after establishing the financial needs of both parties and considering the parties’ accustomed standard of living, ability of each party to earn an income at the present time, income a party may receive from other sources, as well as any debt obligations the parties may have, may award one party support. In some instances, the post separation support will be ordered, by the court, to continue until the Alimony hearing.
There are many contributions a spouse makes during the marriage that are not monetary in nature: for instance, a spouse may have quit his or her job to raise the family’s children. Alimony can help equalize the situation so that the lower-earning spouse’s contributions are acknowledged.
In North Carolina, the court has discretion in determining alimony. Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute §50-16.3A., the court will consider many factors such as the earning capacity of both parties, the length of the marriage, the standard of living that was established during the marriage and whether one or both parties committed marital misconduct, as well as other relevant factors when determining alimony payments.
Unlike child support obligations, in North Carolina there is no worksheet or formula for determining alimony or postseparation support obligations.
If the dependent spouse engaged in marital misconduct Alimony is barred. However, if both parties engaged in marital misconduct the court has discretion to determine if Alimony should be awarded and if so, in what amount and duration.
Once alimony has been ordered by the court you should know that there are certain situations that will terminate alimony. Including if the parties resume the marital relationship, if the dependent spouse remarries or co-habits with another adult or if either spouse dies.
Divorce is an intricate and detailed process. Speaking with an attorney regarding the details of your situation, can help guide you through the process. To schedule a consultation, contact Allison Plekan of Plekan Law PLLC at (919) 653-1976.