A Guide to Understanding Alimony

If you’re contemplating separation and divorce you may be wondering what role alimony may play in protecting or reducing your wealth. You may even have questions about how alimony is awarded and if you will be eligible.

Read on to learn how alimony in North Carolina works.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is the payment of money from one spouse to another due to a divorce or separation agreement. If one spouse has a lower income than the other, the spouse with a lower income may be awarded alimony.

Depending on the state, you may also hear or see alimony referred to as spousal support or maintenance.

There are several different types of alimony, depending on the separation or the divorce.

Alimony Vs. Child Support

While a spouse may receive payments for both alimony and child support, they are not the same thing.

Child support is intended for supporting and caring for children from the marriage. Typically, child support is only paid until the child reaches the age of 18. Alimony is intended to provide support for the spouse in the divorce.

How long a spouse gets alimony and how it gets paid will depend on the divorce agreement.

It’s worth noting that neither alimony or child support can get waived due to bankruptcy.

Qualifying for Alimony in North Carolina

Every state has different laws relating to alimony. In North Carolina, the laws state the dependent spouse may be entitled to receive alimony from the supporting spouse.

Basically, this means that a spouse who depends on the other spouse for financial support will be able to receive alimony.

The laws also state:

  • If a spouse can’t meet their financial needs on their own, they can seek alimony from the other spouse’s assets
  • If one spouse is unable to maintain a standard of living they had while married, they can seek alimony from their spouse

More on the factors considered in alimony in a bit.

Types of Alimony

There are several types of alimony, mostly involving how the money or assets get paid from one spouse to another.

Let’s take a closer look at alimony in North Carolina.

Post-Separation Support

Before a court issues an official alimony decree, it might establish post-separation support. This is a type of temporary alimony while the divorce agreement is being negotiated.

It’s typically paid while the divorce is proceeding through the court system. Criteria for post-separation support might include:

  • There was a lawful marriage in the State of North Carolina
  • One spouse is dependent on the other
  • The spouse who has supported the marriage can pay the support
  • The spouse asking for support can’t meet their financial obligations or living standards without support from the other spouse.

Once a divorce is finalized, the terms used in the post-separation support might change.

Temporary Alimony

In North Carolina, alimony can be provided on a temporary basis. In some states across the US, this is called rehabilitative support.

Temporary alimony is intended to provide support so the one spouse can have time to re-establish their lifestyle once the marriage has come to an end.

It’s not intended as a long-term solution but instead as an interim type of financial support.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is often awarded when a long-term marriage dissolves and one spouse hasn’t been in the workforce or can’t enter the workforce because of age or health.

This type of alimony is a predetermined amount paid from one spouse to another for either the remainder of that spouse’s life or until other conditions get met.

Considerations When Deciding on Alimony in North Carolina

North Carolina General Statute 50-16.3A says that the court must consider several factors when making decisions regarding alimony.

Obviously, the court will consider each spouse’s income and ability to make money. They consider the length of the marriage and the standard of living established during the marriage.

There are a variety of other factors that might be considered, including:

  • Individual age and ability to make money
  • Sources of income for each spouse, including dividends and benefits like medical, retirement plans, insurance, social security
  • Contributions of one spouse to another for education or professional training that add to their earning ability
  • Impact of child custody on finances
  • Assets and liabilities of each spouse
  • Property brought to the marriage
  • Contributions to the marriage as a homemaker
  • Considerations of income when the property was divided
  • Tax consequences of an alimony award

In North Carolina, if the supporting spouse was guilty of marital misconduct, it can be considered grounds for alimony. Examples of marital misconduct might include adultery, abandonment, abuse, hiding marital assets, alcohol and drug abuse, or criminal actions. Conversely, if the dependent spouse committed acts of marital misconduct, like adultery, that could prevent them from receiving alimony.

Hiring an Attorney

There are many reasons why you should hire a lawyer in order to protect your rights and interests when you are contemplating divorce.

A family law attorney typically handles all matters related to your divorce, including child custody, property division, and alimony.

Alimony in Divorce

Divorce has more than just an emotional impact. Your finances can also be affected significantly. Alimony can ease the financial loss of divorce and help you maintain your standard of living.

If you’re considering divorce and/or need help addressing your alimony needs or obligation, we can assist you. Contact us today for help protecting your rights.

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