If you have recently divorced in North Carolina, you may wonder, “How long do alimony payments last?” The answer varies in every situation and depends on several factors ranging from terms specified in the divorce agreement to the divorcees’ needs, abilities, and lifestyles.
At Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, we assist individuals and families when they are in the midst of a divorce or seeking to change terms following their divorce agreement if relevant circumstances have changed — such as a change in employment, habitation, or needs. Read below to learn about modifying or ending alimony in North Carolina, and contact us at (910) 769-7339 to schedule a case evaluation with an experienced alimony attorney in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Identify The Reason(s) Why Alimony Was Ordered
A judge determines alimony based on several factors that may be objective or subjective. Usually, the purpose of alimony is to provide needed assistance. The reasons may be few or many, and a two-step process determines the amounts by addressing the dependent spouse’s needs and the non-dependent spouse’s ability to pay.
In North Carolina, Alimony May Have Been Ordered Or Denied In Response to Adultery
Circumstances exist when a judge awards alimony due to extramarital affairs or other illicit sexual activity, which would be types of marital misconduct: In those situations, the cheating spouse must pay alimony to the other spouse unless the non-cheating spouse forgives or previously forgave the cheating spouse.
Alternatively, a dependent spouse will be denied alimony if the court finds they engaged in illicit sexual activity. If both spouses engaged in illicit sexual activity during the marriage and before or on the date of separation, then the award or denial of alimony is based on consideration of all circumstances.
Note the reason(s) for the alimony order or denial. This information would be relevant if you seek to modify an alimony award later.
What Circumstances Can Cause Alimony To End?
While in some cases, alimony is provided as a single lump sum or is limited to a specified period, in other cases, it is ordered for an indefinite period and made in regular payments. However, because the purpose of alimony is to provide needed assistance, the following circumstances will cause alimony to end:
- Both spouses resume their marriage
- Either spouse dies
- Supported spouse remarries
- Supported spouse lives with a new partner
If any of these circumstances have come to pass, then you should speak with an experienced North Carolina alimony lawyer to ensure the changes in circumstances are recorded and your alimony payment requirements end accordingly.
Pursuing Modification for a Substantial Change in Circumstances
An order for alimony in North Carolina can be modified at any time by either party or anyone interested by a motion and a showing of changed circumstances, so long as the orders were not entered by consent before October 1st, 1967. If you seek to modify an alimony order, pay close attention to the reasoning and purpose(s) for the original award so you can reference changes to support your request.
Note that lump-sum alimony payments cannot be modified. Alimony that is part of a property settlement agreement may also be denied modification.
Speak with an experienced North Carolina alimony attorney if you wish to seek a modification to an alimony order. Because the law requires alimony payments as part of a court order, you should take care only to cease payments with a successful modification; to do otherwise would likely invite legal action. If expected alimony payments have stopped arriving without explanation, consult a North Carolina alimony lawyer.
Differentiating Alimony from Post-Separation Support
In North Carolina, both spouses must live apart for one year before they can divorce. Post-separation support consists of temporary payments made during this time to cover basics such as food, housing, and clothing. It may also help a dependent spouse pursue retraining or additional education to become self-sufficient. While similar to alimony, post-separation support is distinct and temporary, lasting during the separation period before a divorce.
While post-separation support will usually continue until the date of a divorce, it can be modified or amended at any time via a motion showing changed circumstances. Discuss with your alimony attorney if you have questions about pursuing or modifying post-separation support in North Carolina.
What Should I Do If I Discover a Change In Circumstances?
If you discover a past change in circumstances, consult a North Carolina alimony attorney immediately to assess your situation. You may be able to seek a modification of the alimony order.
Work With An Experienced Alimony Attorney at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division in Wilmington, NC
Orders to pay alimony in North Carolina are customized to the unique circumstances surrounding the divorcees and their abilities to maintain their standard of living. However, both parties often lose some financial ground following a divorce.
If you want to adjust alimony payments following your divorce, don’t search for “divorce lawyers near me” in Wilmington, North Carolina. Call (910) 769-7339 today to schedule a case evaluation with a knowledgeable alimony lawyer at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, or fill out our online form. We will assess your goals and identify whether modification of alimony is an appropriate and viable option for you and your ex-spouse.
Who speaks for you? We do.
Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division
300 N. 3rd St. Suite 310
Wilmington, NC 28401