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What Are The Different Types Of Spousal Support & How Are They Determined In North Carolina?

North Carolina recognizes two types of spousal support: post-separation support and alimony. If you are considering divorce but are worried about the financial implications, contact a Wilmington family lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Post-Separation Support

This is support paid after a couple separates and lasts until a judge decides whether to award alimony. It is temporary support that lasts for a specific time, or until alimony is awarded or denied. Judges decide post-separation support by looking at a few factors, such as:

  • The standard of living the couple maintained while married
  • Each spouse’s income and earning ability

Typically, judges order post-separation support when one spouse is heavily dependent on the other financially. For example, a wife might have foregone getting an education or work experience to help her husband in his career and raise the children. Once they separate, she will suffer a dramatic loss of income, which post-separation support is meant to mitigate until a judge decides whether she is entitled to alimony.

Alimony

Alimony is a sum of money one spouse will pay to the other spouse for a specific time period or indefinitely. Alimony can take different shapes and sizes in North Carolina. For example, alimony might be paid out as a lump sum, or it could consist of monthly payments that last for a certain amount of time. Once upon a time, alimony lasted for life or until the recipient remarried, but that is no longer the case. Alimony is usually ordered for a definite amount of time.

Unlike with child support, there are no guidelines for alimony in North Carolina. Judges have discretion based on their review of the following factors:

  • The couple’s standard of living
  • How much each spouse earns or could earn
  • Whether one spouse needs work experience or education to get financially established and independent
  • Any retirement benefits or investments
  • The physical and emotional condition of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • Whether one spouse committed marital misconduct (adultery)
  • Each spouse’s debts
  • What property each spouse brought into the marriage
  • Any other relevant factor

As you can see, a judge considers more factors when deciding to award alimony than when making an award of temporary post-separation support. Some of the above factors might be in dispute, such as whether one spouse committed adultery or how much one spouse could earn on the labor market.

Because judges have discretion when awarding alimony, you need an experienced attorney to make a compelling argument in your favor. Under recent tax changes, the spouse who pays alimony must now pay taxes on the amount, and the spouse who receives alimony gets it tax-free. These tax changes might impact whether you want to fight your spouse’s request for alimony or whether you want alimony instead of certain marital property.

Spousal Support Attorneys In Wilmington

The financial effects of a divorce can be devastating, and many of our clients want to do whatever it takes to protect themselves financially. Spousal support can often help a person get back on their feet following a marriage’s end.

If you have a question about spousal support, contact Speaks Law Firm today. One of our lawyers will be happy to talk to you.