For many couples who divorce, alimony is an important and potentially hard-fought issue. Designed to provide for the maintenance and support of a spouse following the dissolution of a marriage, alimony can be hard to understand because there are so many factors that a court can weigh when deciding the duration and amount of this spousal support. Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions we encounter regarding alimony.
- How Long Will I Receive Alimony?
There are no one-size fits all answers to this question, as judges are afforded broad discretion when it comes to alimony awards. However, many courts will heavily weigh the duration of the marriage in determining whether to award temporary or indefinite alimony to a spouse. The way that many courts consider the duration of the marriage is to award alimony payments for half the length of the marriage. However, other factors within the court’s discretion—such as the ages of the spouses—can lengthen or shorten this amount.
- Who Can Get Alimony?
Under North Carolina Law, only a “dependent spouse” is entitled to receive an award of alimony. A dependent spouse must be “actually substantially dependent for maintenance and support” or is “substantially in need of maintenance and support”. Either party is entitled to receive alimony, as long as they meet the criteria of a “dependent spouse.”
- How Much Alimony Will I Be Awarded?
The answer to this question truly depends on your own circumstances. This is where it is critical to consult with an attorney, because courts have great latitude to weigh evidence relating to marital misconduct, earnings and income of each spouse, assets and liabilities, contributions of each spouse to the marriage, the couple’s standard of living, and any other economic circumstance that the court finds “just and proper”. In other words, the amount of alimony can vary greatly from case to case.
- Does Cheating Factor into Alimony?
Yes. Illicit sexual conduct with a person outside of the marriage is a primary consideration that can determine whether a spouse is entitled to, or prohibited from, receiving alimony. Basically, if a supporting spouse has committed adultery, then the court must award the dependent spouse alimony. However, if the spouse seeking support commits adultery, then that spouse will generally be barred from receiving alimony. If both spouses commit adultery, then the court has discretion to award or deny alimony after considering all of the circumstances.
New Direction Family Law
New Direction Family Law is a law firm that helps clients navigate their way from the end of their marriages into their better future. We know this is a turbulent time in our clients lives and work hard to provide effective, smart representation. You deserve every chance to move forward with your life. Our team serves Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or reach us online.
Carly G. Baker
New Direction Family Law