Written by Jonathan Breeden
Divorces can be complicated, especially when they are financially complex. Whether you need money during or after a divorce or have to pay alimony, you will want to understand how the court determines it. Many factors are considered when establishing alimony and similar spousal support.
There are multiple kinds of spousal support, including alimony and post-separation support. Alimony is financial support awarded by a judge after finalizing a divorce. By contrast, post-separation support may be awarded as temporary alimony during the divorce process.
If you are separated from your spouse but not yet divorced, you may qualify for financial support from them in post-separation support. This “temporary alimony” can be ordered by the court to help one spouse maintain their standard of living during the divorce process.
When determining if post-separation support is appropriate, the court evaluates if the dependent spouse has enough resources to support themselves through the divorce process. The judge verifies that the other spouse can afford to pay temporary alimony if they do not.
The factors used to decide if post-separation support is appropriate and how much should be awarded are like those used to determine alimony. They include the following:
The court considers marital misconduct when establishing post-separation support. The existence of marital misconduct may influence an award and the amount of post-separation support.
No formula exists for calculating alimony in North Carolina. The court evaluates the following factors when determining the duration and amount of alimony in North Carolina:
Additionally, North Carolina law allows the court to consider other relevant factors when deciding alimony.
One issue automatically results in an award or rejection of alimony – illicit sexual behavior. The court would deny alimony if the dependent spouse engaged in illicit sexual behavior.
However, if the supporting spouse is guilty of illicit sexual behavior, then alimony will automatically be awarded. If both spouses committed illicit sexual behavior, the court might have to weigh additional factors.
You may pay alimony in predetermined lump sums or periodic payments, often monthly or quarterly. An income withholding order may get issued to force the supporting spouse to pay the dependent spouse at regular intervals.
There are multiple ways to modify or terminate alimony. If the recipient of alimony meets specific requirements or becomes financially independent, the alimony may automatically terminate if the court so orders.
However, if there is another substantial change of circumstances, either party may return to court to seek an alimony modification.
An example of a change in circumstances may be that the dependent spouse finished their education earlier than expected and no longer needs alimony.
Alimony also automatically terminates if the dependent spouse cohabitates with a third party in a “marriage-like” relationship or remarries. If either spouse dies, alimony is automatically terminated as well.
If your divorce involves alimony, you must work with an attorney familiar with North Carolina family laws. There are many ways to influence the court’s decision regarding alimony. Whether you want to establish, modify, or terminate alimony, an experienced lawyer helps you get the best outcome possible.