Understanding Alimony in North Carolina: What You Need to Know
Understanding Alimony in North Carolina What You Need to Know

Alimony payments can be one of the most complicated and emotional issues to resolve during a divorce proceeding; fortunately, North Carolina law has guidelines dictating how it is awarded.

Here are the key things you need to know about alimony in North Carolina:

Types of Alimony Payments

There are several types of alimony in North Carolina. The Court (the Judge) considers the economic circumstances of the spouse seeking alimony as well as the supporting spouse’s income.

Spousal support can get pretty complicated. Whether you’re a dependent or supporting spouse, it makes sense to speak with a lawyer before signing anything – Meredith Shuford, Lincolnton Divorce Lawyer

PSS – Post-Separation Support

What's the difference between alimony and child supportPost Separation Support used to be called “Temporary Alimony.”

PSS is a type of spousal support that can be awarded during the separation period before a divorce is finalized. Post Separation Support is paid by the Supporting Spouse to the Dependent Spouse, irrespective of marital misconduct.

The purpose of PSS is to provide financial support to the dependent spouse and help them maintain their standard of living while the divorce proceedings are ongoing.

Alimony in North Carolina

Alimony may be awarded to the dependent spouse once the divorce is finalized.

It is generally intended to help the dependent spouse maintain their living standard after the marriage ends.

Alimony payments are specifically excluded under the NC Family Laws in the event the Dependent Spouse is guilty of marital misconduct involving illicit sexual behavior (adultery).

What does “Dependent Spouse” mean?

In North Carolina, the “dependent spouse” is defined as the spouse who was financially dependent on the other during their marriage.

This includes spouses who are unable to support themselves after separation and divorce due to physical or mental disabilities or a lack of employment and/or educational opportunities.

What does “Supporting Spouse” mean?

The “supporting spouse” is the spouse who was financially supporting their partner throughout the marriage.

The court will generally require the supporting spouse to pay alimony if they have a higher earning capacity or greater financial resources than the dependent spouse.

What does “Permanent Alimony” mean?

Divorce Lawyers in Lincolnton NCPermanent alimony is a type of spousal support that may be awarded indefinitely – or until either the dependent or supporting spouse dies, the dependent spouse remarries, or other unforeseen circumstances occur.

Courts in North Carolina generally award permanent alimony when there is a significant difference between the earning power of the dependent and supporting spouse.

Alimony can be a complicated issue to tackle during a divorce proceeding, especially in North Carolina. It’s important to understand the types of alimony payments, who is considered a dependent or supporting spouse, and what exactly permanent alimony means. It’s in your best interest to seek a lawyer’s advice before signing any agreements or paperwork.

What is Marital Misconduct?

In North Carolina, marital misconduct is defined as any act of infidelity, cruelty, or abuse by either spouse.

It may also include abandonment and other forms of neglect. The court will consider evidence of marital misconduct when deciding whether to award alimony payments to the dependent spouse.

Differences between Legal Custody and Physical Custody 

An act of illicit sexual behavior can affect Alimony in North Carolina. Indeed, if the Court (the District Court Judge) finds the dependent spouse participated in an adulterous act (illicit sexual behavior), it may not award Alimony.

finds that the dependent spouse voluntarily participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior either prior to the date of separation, on the date of legal separation, or during the marriage.

Illicit Sexual Behavior includes things such as:

  • Sexual Acts
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Fellatio / Cunnilingus
  • Anal Intercourse / Analingus

How Long Does Alimony Last?

The length of the alimony award depends on a number of factors, including each spouse’s financial needs and how long they were married.

How are Marital Assets divided? 

In some cases, alimony to the dependent spouse may be ordered as a lump sum payment or as periodic payments, depending on the circumstances of the case.

How is Alimony Calculated? Factors Considered for Alimony Awards

An award of alimony n North Carolina requires consideration of a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The financial resources and earning capacity of each spouse
  • Marital misconduct or infidelity
  • Contributions to the marriage, including non-financial contributions such as child-rearing
  • The needs of the dependent spouse and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay

It’s important to remember that alimony is highly dependent on the specific circumstances of a case. The Court (the Judge) will look at multiple factors to determine whether it’s appropriate, and if so, how much should be paid – Meredith Shuford, Lincolnton Alimony Lawyer

Are Alimony Payments and Child Support the same thing?

No. Alimony and child support are two distinct types of payments, with different purposes.

Alimony is a type of spousal support designed to provide financial support to the dependent spouse after a divorce.

Child support is intended to cover a child’s living expenses after the divorce has been finalized. Both types of payments may be ordered in a divorce decree.

Who gets custody? 

Child Support considers factors such as:

  • The ages and health of the children
  • The financial resources of both parents
  • The time each parent spends with their children
  • The educational or medical needs of the children.

In summary, Alimony is a court-ordered spousal support payment designed to provide financial assistance to the dependent spouse after divorce. In contrast, child support is intended to cover a child’s living costs and provide for their overall well-being.

Need a Divorce Lawyer in Shelby or Lincolnton? 

The Court will consider various factors when deciding if and how much alimony or child support should be paid in any given case.

What Happens if the Paying Spouse Fails to Make Alimony Payments?

Alimony Lawyers in Lincolnton NCIf the paying spouse (the supporting spouse) fails to make the court-ordered payments, the dependent spouse may take legal action to enforce the court order.

In certain circumstances, a Separation Agreement may be subject to enforcement by the court for financial obligations.

The paying spouse may be held in contempt of court and face penalties such as jail time or fines in certain circumstances. The Court (the family court Judge) may also garnish wages or place a lien on property and assets to ensure that the alimony payments are made.

It is important for the paying spouse to make alimony payments on time and in full, as failure to do so may result in serious consequences – Meredith Shuford, Divorce Attorney 

In any case, both parties should consult with an experienced Divorce Lawyer in Lincolnton, North Carolina, who can advise them of their rights and responsibilities.

When is the best time to hire a divorce lawyer?

We think the best time to hire a divorce lawyer is before you decide to end your marriage and tell your spouse, “I want a divorce.”

An experienced Divorce Lawyer in Lincoln County can help guide you through the entire process, from filing papers and attending hearings, to negotiating settlements and finalizing agreements.

Having a knowledgeable attorney on your side will not only help ensure that all documents, (such as a separation agreement) and proceedings are handled correctly, we will also explain your legal options and responsibilities.

If you’re considering getting a divorce in North Carolina, contact us today to discuss your legal options and find out more about how we can help.

We look forward to hearing from you!