Spousal Support 101

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Divorce can be an incredibly difficult and stressful process. For many people, money and financial stability are big parts of what makes the prospect of a divorce so uncertain. For example, some women know that their relationship is over or that they want out, however feel like they have no options because they are financially dependent on their spouse. If you are in this situation, please contact New Direction Family Law. North Carolina law provides you with options and we can help you figure out your steps forward.

Regardless of whether only one spouse is employed, the law recognizes the contributions of both spouses. This includes the sacrifices that a wife or husband makes regarding their education and career when one stays home to maintain the household and raise the children. One of these ways is an equitable division of marital property, which is property earned and obtained during the marriage. In addition, North Carolina law also allows for a court to order spousal support.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is spousal support, or payments made from one spouse to another to cover living expenses. Support can include housing expenses or rent, food expenses, car payments, and clothes. Basically, it is designed so that a spouse’s standard of living does not completely change due to the separation and divorce. The following are some characteristics of spousal support:

  • A dependent spouse has a right to alimony based on an agreement of the spouses, or based on an order of the court. An exception to this right is if a prenuptial agreement or a separation agreement explicitly waives alimony, which later bars a spouse from asking a court for it.
  • Post-separation spousal support and alimony are separate considerations. Following a separation, or at the outset of divorce proceedings, a court may order spousal support. .
  • Alimony can be made in monthly payments or in a one-time payment. Alimony is also generally of fixed duration. This means that a dependent spouse may receive alimony payments until they co-habitate, remarry, until their death, or at some other time determined by the court or by agreement.

What Does a Court Consider When Deciding Spousal Support?

Courts have wide discretion when it comes to determining a spousal support obligation. There are many factors that a court may consider, including the duration of the marriage, the income of each spouse, the ages of the spouses, their standard of living prior to the separation, the assets and debts of the spouses separately and as a married couple, and marital fault. A court may also consider the sacrifices that one spouse made to raise the children or maintain the household, and order the other spouse to pay for higher education or training so that the other spouse can re-enter the workforce. In addition, alimony is different in that it considers misconduct or infidelity of the spouses in determining the award.

New Direction Family Law

Spousal support can be an incredibly contested subject during divorce proceedings. This is because courts have such wide discretion to enter alimony orders. If you are seeking spousal support or if you are defending yourself against an unreasonable demand for spousal support, New Direction Family Law can help you. Our team of experienced professionals have knowledge of the ins and outs of the facts that courts consider when ordering alimony. Let our decades of experience work in your favor. Our office serves Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call us today at (919) 719-3470 for an initial consultation, or reach us at our website.