Many assume that spousal support is a guarantee in every divorce. As ordered by the court, one spouse will have to pay the other for the rest of their lives.
However, this is not the case in every North Carolina divorce. While alimony or spousal support can certainly factor into many divorces, courts must distinguish several factors before deciding whether to award spousal support to one spouse. After establishing this, the court determines the amount, duration and type of payments.
Criteria used in North Carolina divorces
In deciding whether to grant alimony in a divorce proceeding, courts consider many factors, including:
- Income earning capacity of each spouse
- Age and health of each spouse
- Length of the marriage
- Property and assets owned by each spouse
- The contributions of each spouse throughout the marriage
- Education level of each spouse
Based on these factors and more, depending on the situation, a judge will determine whether to grant alimony. Unlike child support, there is no calculator with pre-determined guidelines to distinguish the amount and duration of payments.
In the absence of set guidelines to determine this information, the judge will decide on a case-by-case basis. They may choose to award alimony on a temporary basis, in a lump sum, permanently or more. However, no matter the duration granted by the judge, spousal support terminates after the party receiving alimony remarries, moves in with a romantic partner or after either party dies.
Outlying factors that can affect spousal support
Certain “bad actions” can also influence the awarding of alimony. In many cases, the judge must decide whether the action warrants an impact to the case.
North Carolina law specifically states that “illicit sexual behavior” affects whether one party will receive spousal support. This can involve both the potential dependent or supporting spouse cheating on the other during the marriage. In some situations, the court may grant an exception when one spouse forgives the other for cheating. Other bad actions that can affect alimony can include financial misconduct, substance abuse, abandonment, cruel treatment and more.
Alimony can be a contentious issue and ultimately depends on the circumstances of your divorce. As the awarding of alimony can significantly affect your financial stability moving forward, work with your attorney to protect your long-term interests.