Written by Jonathan Breeden
If you are filing for divorce in North Carolina and are financially dependent on your spouse, you could be entitled to alimony. However, if you supported your spouse during your marriage, you might be ordered to pay alimony.
Whatever the situation, there are several things to keep in mind regarding alimony in North Carolina.
To receive alimony, you need to file a request with the court. The court will then determine which spouse is dependent and who is the supporting spouse. The court will base the amount of alimony on what it considers equitable, or fair, given the financial needs of each spouse.
These are post-separation support and alimony. North Carolina has a one-year mandatory separation period for couples who want to file for divorce.
A financially dependent spouse may request post-separation support to help get through this period. Post-separation support generally terminates after a time determined by the Court or when alimony gets awarded or denied.
Alimony gets awarded after the parties have settled or had a trial on the equitable distribution of their property. The court will decide how much is paid and for how long. When determining the amount and duration of alimony, the court considers the length of the marriage and other “relevant factors.”
Some of these are listed below as well as in the North Carolina General Statute §50-16.1:
The spouses standard of living established during the marriage;
The education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment;
The assets and liabilities of the spouses;
The property brought into the marriage by either spouse;
The contribution of a spouse as homemaker; and
The spouses’ overall needs.
Child support payments go to the spouse with primary custody of the children. It is monetary support for minor children so they can continue to live in the manner they’re accustomed to.
To determine child support amounts, North Carolina often relies on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. But in certain circumstances, the court will look at the children’s actual needs.
In some cases, the parent with primary custody is also the dependent spouse. However, child support does not consider the financial needs of the dependent spouse. The dependent spouse would receive alimony above and beyond the child support.
This is to relieve the dependent spouse’s financial burden. Since the issues of child support and alimony are separate, it is also possible for a dependent spouse to receive alimony and still pay child support.
Many states have gotten away from awarding alimony for an indefinite period. While North Carolina does still award permanent alimony, it is slowly moving away from this practice.
Indefinite alimony stems from a time when women mostly stayed home with the children and didn’t work outside of the home. Now that women are a vital part of the workforce, permanent alimony is not as necessary. Instead, it bridges the gag until each spouse is financially independent.
Alimony usually ends at a date determined by the Court, or when the dependent spouse:
It can end if the payor passes away; however, sometimes, an estate may continue making payments.
If the dependent spouse was unfaithful, the court will typically not award alimony, regardless of the spouse’s financial needs. In addition, if the supporting spouse is unfaithful, he or she will more likely be ordered to pay alimony if the supporting spouse can do so.
When both parties are unfaithful, the decision to award or deny alimony is up to the Court. In some cases, the spouses may request a jury trial to determine who committed marital misconduct and who therefore deserves alimony. However, only a judge can decide the amount and duration.
Getting alimony is likely an option, but there are several factors to consider. It is rarely cut and dry.
If you want to pursue alimony in your divorce or suspect your former spouse will seek it, you should speak to a North Carolina divorce attorney right away. Attorney Jonathan Breeden of Breeden Law Office will walk you through the requirements, explain your options, and use his more than 15 years of experience handling divorce cases to get the outcome you deserve.
Call (919) 205-5254 to schedule an appointment to talk about your case.