If you and your spouse are divorcing, it’s understandable to be concerned about your future. This is especially true if you have been a homemaker for several years or your spouse earns significantly more than you do. You may have concerns about whether you can support yourself or maintain the life to which you’ve been accustomed.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony, also called spousal support, is a payment made by one spouse to the other after they separate or divorce. While this can be settled between the two parties during negotiations, often, it’s a court-ordered payment that is awarded to balance the financial resources of the two parties, to provide “reasonable and necessary support,” and is based on one party’s financial need and the other party’s ability to pay.
Factors That Affect Receiving Alimony in NC
Typically, the court will award alimony when the couple divorcing have been married for an extended period and have unequal earning potential. For example, if you sacrificed your career to be a stay-at-home parent, your spouse benefitted from that sacrifice you made, and, in turn, was able to earn more and experience more career advancement. Thus, you would most likely receive some form of spousal support.
In order to receive alimony, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be dependent upon your spouse
- Do not currently earn an income that will properly meet your financial needs
- Do not have the earning potential to adequately meet your financial needs
In addition to these, your ex-spouse, called the “supporting spouse,” must meet the following criteria:
- Provided financial support during the marriage
- Has the financial ability to meet their own financial needs as well as yours
In addition to those criteria, a judge will look at additional factors to determine if alimony is owed:
- Property distribution
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Both spouses’ physical and mental health
- Contributions either you or our ex-spouse made to one anothers’ education or career advancement
- Other relevant factors
Does Spousal Behavior Affect Alimony in North Carolina?
A judge may look at either party’s behavior during the marriage as grounds to pay spousal support, including the following issues of marital misconduct:
- Reckless spending, such as gambling assets
- Physical, emotional, or verbal abuse
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Refusing to provide financial or material support to the spouse for food, paying bills, or necessities, even though they can pay and you need it.
Similarly, if the judge finds that you have committed these behaviors, they can deny your request regardless of whether you demonstrate financial need.
Types of Spousal Support
While most people think of alimony as a continual, monthly payment from one spouse to another for a set period of time, there are actually several types of alimony that can be awarded.
Post Separation Support
During the separation period, the judge may require support to be paid from your spouse to you but it ends when the divorce is finalized.
This is temporary alimony awarded that provides support until you get “back on your feet,” so to speak. The judge determines the amount and sets a short period of time, though the specifics are dependent on your unique situation.
The court may award permanent alimony in the event you’ll need support indefinitely, such as if you are disabled or have health issues that don’t allow you to earn an income.
Types of Alimony Payments
The court can also order different types of settlements, including:
- Continued monthly payments
- A lump-sum settlement
- Reimbursement for assisting the spouse in paying for college or building a business.
Additionally, the length of time may vary in how long your ex may have to pay alimony to you.
- A designated date
- You get remarried
- Dependent children no longer need full-time care, allowing you to work outside the home.
- Your ex-spouse demonstrates financial changes and can no longer pay.
- Your ex-spouse dies
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Alimony Today
If you are seeking a divorce attorney in Raleigh and would like to discuss your case and your eligibility for alimony, our experienced family law attorneys are here to help. Schedule a consultation today at our Raleigh office at (919) 615-2473 or our Wendell office at (919) 365-6000 or fill out the form below to get started.
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