Alimony and Spousal Support in North Carolina

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A divorce inherently causes significant upheaval no matter how long you were married. Much of that upheaval can be financial, as you prepare to divide income and expenses that you’re accustomed to sharing.

A divorce inherently causes significant upheaval no matter how long you and your spouse were married. Much of this turmoil can be financial, as you are preparing the division of incomes and expenses you’re accustomed to sharing. You may be worried about how you’ll live without your spouse’s monetary contributions. Conversely, you could be concerned that continuing to support your spouse after your divorce may place a significant strain on your finances.

If you are going through a divorce, it’s possible that you have had to consider the topic of alimony. To learn more about North Carolina divorce law, talk to a skilled alimony and spousal support lawyer today. We have convenient locations providing divorce legal services in Smithfield, Angier, Raleigh, and Garner.

Contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 to schedule an initial case consultation.

Is alimony mandatory in North Carolina?

What is Alimony?

If you’ve separated from your spouse or are seeking a divorce, you will need to learn more about alimony, often referred to as spousal support. Spousal support is an amount of money paid from one spouse may to another spouse. The idea of alimony is to allow the spouse who is more financially secure to provide monetary support to the other spouse to lessen any financial hardship.

Determining whether alimony is necessary, and how much should be paid, is a crucial aspect of a North Carolina divorce. If you are seeking alimony, whether or not it’s awarded may have a significant effect on your future financial health. The same can be said if you’re the spouse who has to pay alimony for an extended period of time.

A Lawyer Can help You Get More or Pay Less

Like most issues in a divorce, North Carolina allows people to work out spousal support and alimony arrangements amongst themselves. However, if they cannot agree, they may have the court issue a decision.

Whether you negotiate an amount on your own or have the court do it, the financial impact of the decision can last a long time. Whether you will perceive payments or be required to pay,an alimony attorney can get an alimony settlement that you are comfortable with and that meets everyone’s needs.

This will mean demonstrating your need, capacity to pay, and what illustrating important factors that impact alimony payments. An experienced spousal support lawyer articulate what’s essential to your argument and will fight to ensure that your interests are protected, so you’re able to move forward and rebuild your life after the emotional and financial stress of your divorce.

When Will the Court Award Alimony?

Alimony is not automatically awarded. Instead, a spouse with a significantly lower income who is financially dependent on the other spouse will request that the court grant spousal support.
It’s common to see this type of support after long-term marriages in which one of the spouses stayed home with children or delayed their career for the family. Additionally, when one of the individuals has a disability and is unable to financially support themselves, courts often find alimony to be appropriate.

Factors Considered in Alimony Decisions

The court considers various factors when establishing an alimony award:

  • Marital misconduct
  • Earnings and earning capacity of each spouse
  • The physical, mental, and emotional condition of each spouse
  • The amount and sources of income
  • Length of the marriage
  • Contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or earning power of the other
  • The extent to which one spouse’s earning power, expenses, or financial obligations will be affected by child custody
  • The standard of living the couple established
  • The assets and liabilities of each spouse
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • The tax consequences of the alimony award
  • Any other relevant economic factors

Two Forms of Spousal Support

North Carolina may award the following forms of financial support:

  • Post-separation support – This is a form of temporary support. It is paid to one spouse during the separation period leading up to a divorce, and until the divorce is finalized.
  • Alimony – This is a form of long-term support that may be paid to one spouse after a divorce is finalized.

Courts in North Carolina usually have discretion when determining if and how much alimony should be awarded. They take many factors into consideration, including:

  • The age and health of all the individuals involved
  • The duration it will likely take the payee to become financially self-sufficient
  • Any education or training the payee would need to be independent
  • The spouse’s standard of living during their marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The ability of the payer to financially support him or herself
  • Infidelity during the marriage

It’s important to note that a court typically will not award alimony in North Carolina if the dependent spouse is determined to have been unfaithful, regardless of the dependent spouse’s financial need.

An experienced North Carolina alimony and spousal support lawyer can explain whether you might be eligible for spousal support, or whether you may have to pay spousal support. Additionally, they can educate you on how the amount of support may be calculated based on the circumstances of your case.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

Post-separation support is often paid for a year, or until alimony is granted or denied. Alimony following a divorce is paid for a specific period of time. In rare cases, it can be indefinite. If the payer wishes to lower their payments, they need to return to court to request a modification of alimony. In this situation, they would also need to provide proof that their or the dependent spouse’s financial circumstances have changed, necessitating their modification request.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is still awarded in North Carolina, though it is falling in popularity around the U.S. Indefinite financial support was created and made sense when woman traditionally stayed home with children and didn’t join the workforce. In these situations, the woman had far less earning potential and needed monetary support to maintain a healthy standard of living. Now that a majority of marriages include two working individuals, the need for permanent alimony has dwindled.

Is Permanent Alimony Really Permanent?

Permanent alimony is not really permanent. Many states, including North Carolina, are moving away from the idea of awarding permanent alimony. Generally, alimony payments will end if:

  • The payee remarries
  • The payee passes away
  • The payee co-habitates with a new romantic interest

It often ends when the payer passes away. In some situations, however, the payer’s estate may continue to make alimony payments if that is negotiated in a separation agreement.

Filing for Alimony in NC

Unlike child support, there is no formal calculation for spousal support and alimony. It is also not automatic. It must be requested and negotiated for.

To receive spousal support, you need to file a request with the court as part of your divorce proceeding. The court will then determine which spouse is dependent and who is the supporting spouse. The court will review the circumstances and determine a payment based on what it considers fair, given the financial needs and situation of each spouse.

Can Spousal Support Be Modified?

If there has been a substantial chance in one spouse’s circumstances, a modification of support can be requested. For instance if the party paying support has a sudden job loss, they may request an adjustment to pay less. In addition, the recipient of support can request an upward modification for an increase in support if there was a significant life event or emergency.

How Breeden Law Office Can Help

If you are financially dependent on your spouse, a North Carolina alimony and spousal support lawyer can help you determine if you need or should ask for post-separation support alongside the divorce or in a separate case. It’s important to note the parties must still be married when one of them seeks alimony. Alimony and/or post-separation support proceedings can’t begin after the divorce is final.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden can not only help you determine if alimony is likely, he can also help you financially plan for a future that involves paying or receiving support payments. Divorce often has significant financial consequences with or without alimony, and attorney Breeden will provide you with personal service and compassionate guidance throughout the process of your divorce.

Contact Breeden Law Office

To learn more about your rights regarding alimony and spousal support, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a case consultation today.

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Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

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