How to Avoid Paying Alimony

Written by Jonathan Breeden

May 3, 2023

When going through a divorce, one of the most significant points of contention you may have to deal with is the question of alimony.

In cases where one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the higher-earning spouse may be required to pay alimony to the lesser-earning spouse. However, you may be able to avoid paying alimony entirely in some cases.

Did You & Your Spouse Make a Separation Agreement?

If you and your spouse came to a valid separation agreement, alimony might be barred depending on the circumstances of your case according to § 50-16.6(b). However, alimony is generally awarded as spousal support when one spouse earns significantly more than the other. If both spouses make roughly the same income, alimony may not be necessary or appropriate.

Factors the Court Considers When Determining Alimony

According to North Carolina G.S. § 50-16.5, North Carolina family courts must consider various factors when determining whether alimony should be awarded in your case, how much alimony should be awarded, and how long payments should be made. Some of the most relevant factors include the following:

  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • Both spouse’s income and expenses
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Whether either spouse is responsible for causing the breakdown of your marriage
  • Your child custody and support arrangements

These factors may be considered when the court determines whether alimony should be awarded and, if so, how much. The longer you were married, the more likely you would be expected to pay alimony.

Additionally, if one spouse is responsible for causing the marriage to end, that spouse may be ordered to pay alimony to the lesser-earning spouse. If you have concerns that any of the previously mentioned factors could impact the outcome of your alimony case, do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with your alimony lawyer.

What Makes a Separation Agreement Valid?

According to G.S. 52-10(a1), your separation agreement must be valid if you hope to avoid paying alimony. Your separation agreement must include the provision that alimony has been waived, or you will not be required to pay post-separation support payments.

Any separation agreement that both parties voluntarily sign may be considered valid. However, your separation agreement must be notarized before it is official. Additionally, your separation agreement cannot be signed until your separation has been considered valid.

You can work with your spouse to come to a separation agreement outside of court. If you agree that no post-separation support payments should be awarded, you can avoid a potential alimony order from the court. However, any separation agreement you reach with your spouse must be signed formally before it is considered valid.

What if You’re Currently Obligated to Pay Alimony?

According to § 50-16.9, if you are currently obligated to pay alimony, you may get your alimony payments reduced or eliminated if you can obtain an alimony modification. However, for a modification request to be granted, you must show the court that there has been a significant change in your circumstances.

This could include a change in your job status, inability to continue making payments, having a child, or other significant life changes. Additionally, if your ex-spouse agrees to have alimony payments terminated, you may be able to get your alimony modification request granted.

However, suppose you cannot show the court that there has been a change in circumstance or that your ex agrees to the alimony modifications. In that case, the court system will not likely grant your request for a post-separation support modification.

Your alimony attorney can go over your legal options for alimony modifications further after we review the specific circumstances of your case.

Contact a North Carolina Alimony Lawyer for Help Today

If you are interested in learning more about whether you can get out of paying your ex-spouse’s alimony but do not know where to turn for help, reach out to an experienced North Carolina alimony lawyer at Breeden Law Office for the legal guidance and support you need when you need it both. Fill out our confidential contact form or call our office at (919) 661-4970 to schedule your initial consultation today.


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