Alimony, or spousal support, is a subject that douses lighter fluid on the already lit flame that burns when a marriage ends. To put it mildly, obtaining an agreement or order that requires the continued payment of money can stoke great passion from both paying and receiving parties alike. As family law attorneys with extensive experience, we receive many questions from clients and potential clients who want to fight for alimony, defend against an alimony claim, modify existing orders, or end alimony entirely.
Family courts are afforded relatively broad discretion when determining the duration and amount of alimony that should be awarded. In making its decision, a family court must consider factors like marital misconduct by the party asking for alimony, the length of the marriage, each spouse’s respective income, each party’s financial needs and conditions, their marital standard of living, contributions to each other’s career, and the education or other training necessary for the receiving party to become financially independent. These broad considerations can result in unpredictable alimony outcomes; however, an experienced family law attorney can give you your best opportunity to exercise your rights.
Modifying Alimony Based on Changed Circumstances
Alimony orders are not written in stone. Either party can petition a court to modify their alimony order after it is entered. To successfully obtain a modification of an alimony order, the party seeking modification must demonstrate a substantial change in financial circumstances. This could be a significant, involuntary positive or negative change in a party’s income or a significant change in a receiving spouse’s financial needs. It is within a court’s discretion to then determine whether to change the amount and/or duration of the alimony payments.
Alimony Terminates as Court Ordered
Courts in North Carolina are empowered to order spousal support in a specific amount and for a specific duration. For alimony that is awarded via monthly payments, the alimony payments will end on the date specified by the alimony order. There are, however, circumstances in which an alimony obligation can be terminated earlier than this date, including:
- The receiving spouse cohabitates with another partner—essentially, the law presumes that the new partner provides for the dependent spouse’s financial needs.
- The receiving spouse remarries. The alimony obligation should automatically end upon the date of the receiving spouse’s remarriage.
- Either spouse dies.
Speak with your attorney immediately if any of these events occur so that the proper steps can be taken to end the alimony obligation.
New Direction Family Law
If you are interested in modifying or terminating an existing alimony order or want help protecting your rights, contact the attorneys at New Direction Family Law. Our attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate and will thoroughly review your options with you. Let us help you pursue your best outcome. We proudly serve men and women in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or contact us at our website.