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Alimony in North Carolina: Times, They Are A-Changin’

Alimony Lawyers and Attorneys in Charlotte NC North Carolina.jpgEveryone knows that the world has changed a lot over the last several decades. One of those ways is the increasing earning power and presence of women in the workplace. Today, women make up almost half of the American workforce. Despite this big change in terms of financial empowerment, alimony laws across the country have remained fairly static. The fact that spousal support laws don’t appear to be keeping up with the times have prompted some to push for changes to the law to ensure that alimony laws reflect the economic realities of today’s job market.

Some groups, especially advocates for men, believe that the existing support laws are outdated and in desperate need of revision. After all, many of the laws were first passed in the 1960s and 1970s. The laws were initially meant to offer support to the spouse earning the least amount of money, almost invariably women. Today, such payments can seem anachronistic, especially given the opportunities for women to start high-earning careers.

These frustrations with alimony laws have led legislators in several states to try and place limits on existing laws or rewrite old ones. Legislatures in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Oklahoma are considering putting time limits on alimony awards and even legislating against alimony in cases where both spouses are on relatively equal financial footing. An article in the Wall Street Journal even mentioned a similar push here in North Carolina to alter some provisions of the states alimony laws.


Here in North Carolina, courts will award alimony only in cases where one spouse is found to be “dependent” on another. The alimony will be awarded to the dependent spouse for a specified time or even indefinitely. One thing not found in North Carolina law which many other states allow is the concept of “rehabilitative alimony.” This is alimony that one spouse receives to allow him or her to get back on his or her feet, such as for a spouse in need of education or job training.

It’s undeniable that times have changed. In 2010, women made up 47% of the workforce. That’s up from 41 percent in 1978. That growth is considerable especially given the corresponding increase in the average woman’s earning power. Despite these changes, more than $9.4 billion was spent on alimony payments in 2007, up from $5.6 billion only ten years before.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, out of all that money spent, a whopping 97% of those who paid alimony last year were men. Though the government agency notes that the amount paid by women is on the rise, it remains to be seen if the rise will be quick enough to catch up with a changed financial reality.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce in Charlotte, it is best to contact experienced divorce lawyers and attorneys who practice in Charlotte, North Carolina like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC who can help guide you through the sometimes-confusing process.

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