When a couple divorces, they must divide their marital property in half. Each party walks away with half of their assets. In some cases, one spouse needs money from the other for their ongoing living expenses. This money is called spousal support, maintenance, or alimony. Spousal support is not automatic. In order to obtain support, the judge must have evidence to prove that the spouse needs the money. It is helpful to understand how the courts determine spousal support in North Carolina.
Is Spousal Support Necessary?
Spousal support is money paid from one spouse to another following divorce, and some people call it alimony. Alimony is not automatic with every divorce. In fact, these days, most divorces do not include spousal support unless it is warranted. Before you can determine the amount of alimony that should be paid, you must first establish that it is necessary in the first place. Support may be needed in cases where a spouse is not able to meet their own financial needs. It may be necessary when one spouse is dependent on the other for their basic living expenses. Support may also be required in order for a spouse to maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage.
Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “When do you get alimony?”
Types of Spousal Support
In North Carolina, there are two main types of spousal support available. These are post-separation support and alimony. Post-separation support is temporary alimony that is meant to assist one spouse as they go through the divorce process. Temporary alimony gives one spouse money for living expenses while they prepare for living on their own. This could include some money to help with education or training to allow a spouse to re-enter the workforce. Post-separation support is for a specific period of time and comes to an end.
Alimony is generally permanent. It ends only when one spouse passes away or when the spouse receiving alimony remarries. This type of alimony is typically provided by one spouse to the other on a regular monthly basis, although it can be a lump sum. Alimony is part of a divorce order by a judge. Even though you may have received temporary alimony, it does not mean that you will receive permanent alimony.
Factors that Determine Spousal Support
There are many factors that a judge will review to determine spousal support. Some of these factors are:
- The income of both spouses
- The earning ability of each spouse
- The education and training of the parties
- The age and health status of each person
- The length of the marriage
- The contribution of each party to marital property
- Marital misconduct
There are some additional circumstances that could impact spousal support. When one spouse is disabled, they may be unable to work and require support from the other spouse. If one spouse has an addiction problem, they may need support. When one spouse is staying home to care for young or disabled children, the spouse might be unable to work. If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, alimony may be warranted. If one spouse contributed to the education of the other during the marriage, it might be something that impacts alimony.
Alimony is an important consideration in a divorce settlement. To discuss spousal support in your divorce, contact us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 for a consultation.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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