If you and your spouse are divorcing in North Carolina, you may wonder, “How is alimony determined in NC?” Alimony, also known as spousal support, is distinct from other types of court-ordered support. Read below to learn how alimony works in North Carolina, from the purposes and goals of spousal support to the factors determining the amounts and duration of alimony.
At Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, we help our clients in North Carolina pursue fair and appropriate alimony decisions when they divorce. We invite you to contact us at (910) 769-7339 today to schedule a consultation with our experienced North Carolina alimony attorney team.
Understanding Alimony Versus Post-Separation Support in NC
Alimony is distinct from post-separation support. Whereas alimony provides for a former spouse after a divorce, post-separation support is temporary support paid from one spouse to the other for a short period. While each case is different, post-separation support is often ordered when one spouse has been out of the workforce and would have to prepare a resume and seek employment to become self-sufficient.
Sometimes the spouse may also require additional education before they can become self-sufficient. Because one year of separation is required before filing for divorce in North Carolina, a couple pursuing divorce will likely encounter the issue of post-separation support first.
The Purposes of Alimony or Spousal Support in North Carolina
While there are situations in which alimony may be permanent, such as when one spouse must take care of a chronically sick or disabled child or parent, alimony is generally intended to be temporary help for a spouse before they achieve self-sufficiency. It is generally not intended for those capable of securing gainful employment.
Often, a stay-at-home parent will have significant gaps in their work history that can prevent them from securing employment at a sufficient rate of income. Alimony bridges the gap between the time a couple divorces and when the supported spouse can attain financial independence.
The Processes Involved in Determining Alimony in North Carolina
In North Carolina, a two-part test determines alimony, but numerous other factors can come into play to affect eligibility or payable amounts. In the first part of the test, a judge compares a spouse’s expenses to their income to determine whether they need alimony payments.
In the second part of the test, the judge looks at the other spouse's income to determine to what extent they could provide the needed support. Once determined, a court order enforces alimony.
Factors Affecting Alimony in North Carolina
The judge can consider many factors of spouses’ relationship, history, and earning ability when deciding whether to award alimony:
- Each spouse’s earnings
- Ages of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The spouses’ standard of living
- Each spouse’s financial requirements
- The spouses’ abilities to earn a sufficient income
- The spouses’ sources of income
- Assets and liabilities
- Each spouse’s physical, mental, and emotional state
- Each spouse’s education and potential retraining for employment
- Contributions to the household
- Tax implications
- Marital misconduct
How Does Being Unfaithful Affect Alimony in North Carolina?
If you have had an affair, it will generally prevent you from being eligible to collect alimony from your spouse. Likewise, if your spouse requests alimony after you have had an affair, you will typically be forced to pay it by a court order. In situations where both spouses were unfaithful, the court will decide on alimony questions.
How Long Does Alimony Last in NC?
Sometimes alimony is paid as a lump sum, and other times it consists of regular payments. Support may be limited to a specified period or continue indefinitely. Since alimony’s purpose is to provide needed assistance, certain conditions will terminate alimony payments:
- The spouses resume their marriage
- Either spouse dies
- The supported spouse remarries
- The supported spouse lives with a new partner
The terms of your divorce settlement and an alimony court order may specify any of the above. Consult an experienced North Carolina alimony lawyer if you want to stop making alimony payments because these terms have been met or if your ex-spouse has become self-sufficient.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina Alimony Attorney at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, to Assess Spousal Support in Your Divorce Case
While North Carolina courts seek fairness when awarding alimony, multiple factors can impact the supported spouse’s need or the supporting spouse’s ability to pay. It is vital to communicate relevant details with your divorce lawyer so they can ensure the judge includes them when determining alimony.
If you have questions about alimony in North Carolina, contact our experienced alimony legal team at (910) 769-7339 today to schedule a consultation. We will address your goals and concerns to help you chart a path forward for your post-divorce future.
Who speaks for you? We do.
Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division
300 N. 3rd St. Suite 310
Wilmington, NC 28401