Alimony and Spousal Support in North Carolina
- What is Alimony and Spousal Support?
- Who Gets Spousal Support?
- Types of Spousal Support
- How is Spousal Support Calculate?
- Marital Misconduct and Spousal Support
- Modification of Spousal Support Payments
What is Alimony and Spousal Support?
Alimony refers to payments made by one spouse to another spouse during the divorce process and after divorce. Today, it is more often referred to as spousal support. Spousal support is awarded by a judge to insure that dependent spouses can maintain the same standard of living to which they became accustomed during their marriage.
Support payments can be made either periodically (usually monthly) or in a lump sum payment. They can be awarded for a specific period of time or in the form of permanent alimony which is paid until one of the following happens: 1) death of the supporting spouse; 2) death of the dependent spouse; 3) re-marriage of the dependent spouse; 4) cohabitation of the dependent spouse. The occurrence of any of these events will stop the payment of alimony even if ordered for as permanent alimony.
Who Gets Spousal Support?
Spousal support is only awarded to a dependent spouse, and only if the other spouse has the ability to pay. According to North Carolina law, a “dependent spouse” is a husband or wife who makes insufficient money to pay bills and maintain a standard of living equal to the one he or she had during the marriage.
Types of Spousal Support
Generally, there are two types of alimony or support. One is Post Separation Support which is monies paid temporarily to a dependent spouse on an interim basis until the court grants or denies spousal support in the case. The other type is Permanent Spousal Support. This name is misleading because after hearing evidence at the permanent hearing, the judge may in – his or her discretion – order support to be paid for a definite period of time, or order it to be paid until one of the four occurrences (discussed previously that would end alimony payments) takes place. The judge’s decision will vary based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
How is Spousal Support Calculated?
There are no actual tables or guides for determining alimony or spousal support. Instead, the court reviews a number of factors to determine the economic needs of the potential dependent spouse while also considering the ability of the other spouse to pay support.
Factors taken into consideration include 1) the amount each spouse earns or will likely earn in the future, 2) the spouses’ ages, 3) the medical and emotional status of each spouse, 4) the length of time the two were married, 5) the spouses’ standard of living during the marriage, 6) whether and how much one spouse contributed to the education of the other spouse, and 7) the economic impact custody of the children will have on the custodial parent, if there are children, 8) the assets and liabilities of the parties and the debt service requirements of each, 9) the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker, 10) the tax implications of an alimony award, 11) the fact that income received by one party was previously considered by the court in an equitable distribution proceeding.
Marital Misconduct and Spousal Support
In a permanent alimony hearing, the court may also consider the marital fault of either party. In North Carolina, if a dependent spouse has committed adultery, he or she is barred from alimony. If a supporting spouse has committed adultery, the statute mandates payment of alimony. If both spouses have committed adultery, it is within the discretion of the judge as to whether or not alimony will be ordered.
Modification of Spousal Support Payments
The court can modify spousal support payments at any time. To obtain a modification order, a spouse must show a significant change in circumstances – such as a promotion with higher income benefits or other increase in earnings, a job loss, a medical disability or a financial emergency. If the paying spouse remarries and has an additional child to support, the court may modify his or her spousal support payments to the ex-spouse
Greenville NC Alimony, Spousal Support and
Family Law Attorney Cynthia Mills
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