In North Carolina, spousal support will likely factor into the final agreement of a divorce. Spousal support – or alimony, as it is also known – is meant to protect a former spouse with less income or limited earning potential from an unfair reduction in lifestyle. It is a separate legal matter from child support, child custody, and property distribution.
Spousal support can be a contentious part of any divorce. Whether you are the person who is likely to pay spousal support or the one who is likely to receive it, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney to safeguard your interests.
A Lincolnton divorce lawyer from Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., can be a valuable ally as you navigate the North Carolina legal separation and divorce process. We have received wide recognition for providing quality legal representation and were named to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms” list for 2020.
To learn more about our services, contact us today.
What Is Spousal Support and Who Gets It?
Spousal support is money paid from one spouse to another after a divorce to help the recipient spouse maintain something close to their pre-divorce standard of living.
The state court system states that “dependent spouses are entitled to receive alimony from supporting spouses.” A dependent spouse is financially reliant on the other spouse, who is known as the supporting spouse. Gender is not a factor in spousal support. A husband or a wife can be either a dependent or supporting spouse.
What Type of Alimony Can I Receive?
A few different types of payments could be available after a divorce, including:
- Modifiable alimony – This is the most common type, in which the supporting spouse pays a certain amount to the dependent spouse each month. The exact amount can be modified if the dependent spouse gets a new job, remarries, etc.
- Temporary alimony – In many divorce cases, the supporting spouse will be ordered to pay a certain amount to the dependent spouse until the divorce process is complete. This support is known as temporary alimony.
- Permanent alimony – Permanent payments used to be more common, but it has become increasingly rare. As the name suggests, permanent alimony will continue until one spouse dies or the receiving spouse remarries.
- Lump-sum alimony – In certain divorce cases, the supporting spouse will pay the entire amount to the dependent spouse in one lump-sum payment. That is quite rare, however, as most support payments are made monthly.
An experienced family law attorney in Lincolnton, NC, can help you apply for temporary post-separation support and seek the maximum amount in post-divorce spousal support.
Factors in Spousal Support Agreements
North Carolina state law outlines the different factors that determine how much alimony the supporting spouse will pay to the dependent spouse after the divorce. The factors include:
- The length of the marriage
- Any marital misconduct involved
- Age of both parties at the time of divorce
- Each spouse’s physical and mental condition
- Educational background of both spouses
- Each spouse’s income, earning potential, and history
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Current income and potential income
- Current expenses and needs
- Marital and non-marital property
- The child custody arrangement
- Any existing spousal support obligations
Frequently Asked Questions About Spousal Support
When do I need to file for spousal support?
You’ll need to file for spousal support during the divorce process. The easiest time to do this is when you submit your initial divorce paperwork to the courts, but you can ask for alimony at any point before the final divorce decree is handed down. If you wait to ask for alimony until the case is completed, you’ll be out of luck.
If I am separated from my spouse, can I file for alimony or spousal support?
If you’re separated from your spouse, but your divorce has not been finalized, you can seek post-separation financial support. If you have questions about obtaining alimony while you’re separated, talk to a spousal support lawyer in Lincolnton, NC.
What should I do if I can’t keep up with making alimony payments?
Failing to make your alimony payments could land you in deep legal trouble, as your spouse may file a complaint with the courts. If you’re having difficulty making your alimony payments, talk to an alimony lawyer, who can petition the courts to have your level of spousal support adjusted.
Can alimony payments change?
In most cases, alimony payments can be changed through a court order. Usually, you’ll need to petition the courts if you want your alimony payments changed, but if your former spouse remarries or dies, you will no longer need to pay the alimony.
Alimony Laws in Lincolnton, NC
State law rather than federal, municipal, or county law governs alimony and other divorce-related matters in Lincolnton, NC.
Unlike in some states, no formulas or guidelines determine the size of alimony payments in North Carolina. Judges have wide latitude when deciding how much alimony a dependent spouse may receive from a supporting spouse. However, they will take the former’s need and the latter’s ability to pay into account.
One important North Carolina alimony law to be aware of is the one concerning “illicit sexual behavior.” In layman’s terms, a dependent spouse who cheated on their spouse before the divorce may lose their right to alimony. In contrast, a supporting spouse who cheated on their spouse before the divorce is more likely to be required to pay alimony.
Because North Carolina family law judges have considerable discretion when making awards, the specific outcome in your case will depend on the judge who hears your case — and how compelling an argument your divorce lawyers make on your behalf.
Contact Our Lincolnton, NC, Spousal Support Attorneys Today for Help
If you’re looking for a spousal support lawyer in Lincolnton, NC, Teddy, the law firm of Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C. is here to help you with all the family law issues that affect your children and your future. Our legal team is ready to answer any questions you have about family law issues.
Our family law attorneys serve clients in Lincoln County, Gaston County, Cleveland County, and surrounding areas of North Carolina. Contact our office today for a confidential initial consultation with a divorce attorney and find out more about the legal services we can provide you.