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Spousal Support

Can I get alimony from my spouse?

Yes, you may be able to receive postseparation support if you are: a) a financially dependent spouse; b) your resources are not sufficient to meet your monthly expenses; c) your spouse is a financially supporting spouse, and d) your spouse has the ability to pay support. You may be able to receive alimony if items #a through #d are true and an alimony payment is equitable after considering the factors listed in the alimony statute.

Do I have to pay alimony to my spouse?

Yes, you may have to pay postseparation support if your spouse is actually financially dependent on you to meet his/her monthly expenses or if your spouse is substantially in need of financial assistance from you to meet monthly expenses; and if the resources of your spouse are insufficient to cover monthly expenses; and if you have the ability to pay support. You may have to pay alimony if your spouse is financially in need; if you are the supporting spouse; and so long as you have the ability to pay; and so long as an award of alimony is equitable after considering the factors listed in the alimony statute.

How much alimony can I get (or, how much do I have to pay)?

It depends on your family income. It depends on your expenses. It depends on your standard of living. It depends on an analysis of each spouse’s financial needs and the ability of each spouse to pay. We may ask you to complete a spreadsheet that captures income and expenses and then we will sit with you to examine the spreadsheet so we can evaluate the alimony issue together.

How long can I receive alimony (or, how long do I have to pay it)?

It depends on how long you have been married. It depends on what assets may be distributed in property division. It depends on a spouse’s ability to work and contribute to his or her own financial needs.

My spouse cheated on me. Do I have to pay alimony?

Maybe not. If you are the financially supporting spouse and if your spouse is financially dependent on you, and if your dependent spouse has committed adultery while married to you, and if you have not forgiven the marital misconduct, and if you have not also committed adultery, you will likely not pay alimony. However, under the right set of circumstances, even if all these “ifs” are true, you may have to pay postseparation support for a temporary period of time.

My spouse cheated on me. Can I get alimony?

Maybe yes. If you are actually financially dependent on your spouse or if you are substantially in need of financial assistance from your spouse, and if you have not committed adultery while married to your spouse, and if you have not forgiven your spouse for the marital misconduct, you will likely receive alimony.

What is the difference between postseparation support and alimony?

Postseparation support is temporary spousal support intending to bridge the gap between the date of separation and the time alimony is either awarded, denied, or a settlement reached. The facts necessary to prove entitlement to postseparation support are fewer than the proof necessary for alimony. The proof necessary is focused more on the economics of the spouses and it is a temporary remedy. Alimony, on the other hand, is both economic and related to the totality of the circumstances of the marriage, including marital fault.

What is a dependent spouse and a supporting spouse?

A dependent spouse is a spouse who is actually financially dependent on the other spouse or who is substantially in need of financial assistance from the other spouse. A supporting spouse is a spouse who financially supports the other spouse, either entirely or partly.

What are the factors that are considered in determining whether I have to pay (or whether I receive) alimony?

The factors are set out in N.C.G.S. §50-16.3A(b). There are 16 enumerated factors. They include: marital fault; earnings of each spouse; earning capacity of each spouse; age; physical and mental health condition; duration of the marriage; child custody arrangements that impact earning power; educational background; occupational rehabilitation necessary for a spouse to find employment; assets and debts; separate property; tax consequences; income and expenses; the division of marital property; and homemaker contributions. This is not the full list but it includes the most common factors raised. The statute also includes a “catch-all” factor that allows consideration of “any other factor related to the economic circumstances” of the spouses.

Why do I need to spend money for a lawyer when my spouse and I agree on what I will pay? Do I need a lawyer?

YES! Those internet forms may end up costing you a lot more money than if you had invested some money in hiring an experienced family lawyer who knows what she’s doing. Real life example: Husband agrees in a contract to pay Wife $4,500.00/month until she dies or he dies. Husband believes that once he hits retirement age that he can retire and reduce (or cease) his alimony payments. Husband’s belief is wrong. If Husband had made an investment with a good family lawyer, the agreement that Husband and Wife made could have been done properly so that both parties got what they each intended.