Parties that are contemplating divorce often face major challenges when the topic of alimony is broached. Hollywood and the media have presented alimony as a luxury afforded only to the extremely wealthy and many potential divorcees do not think that it will apply in their situation. However, alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is more widely available than some may think, and it is an important aspect to be considered in any divorce.
There are two types of spousal support that can be awarded in North Carolina. The first is post-separation support, or PSS, which is awarded on an interim basis to help a dependent spouse pay bills and provide for minor children until alimony can be awarded by the court. The second type of support is alimony, which is awarded either indefinitely or for a set amount of time after the divorce is finalized, such as until the dependent spouse can receive the education or training needed to obtain a higher-paying job.
Whether or not a party is entitled to alimony in North Carolina can be determined either by the courts or mutual agreement of the parties in a separation agreement. In order to receive spousal support, one spouse must be proven to be financially dependent upon the other. However, in North Carolina a dependant spouse is not eligible for alimony if they have committed any illicit sexual behaviors without the consent of the other spouse.
There are many factors that a court will consider in determining whether or not a spouse is eligible for alimony in North Carolina, and how much alimony should be paid. Though not exhaustive, the following factors are relevant to the court’s spousal support determination:
- the actual earnings and capacity for earnings of both spouses;
- the duration of the marriage; marital misconduct of either spouse;
- whether one spouse contributed to the training, education, or increased earnings of the other;
- the contribution of one spouse as a homemaker;
- and the impact that serving as a minor child’s primary caregiver will have on the custodial spouse’s finances.
Contrary to the standard calculation methods applied to child support, there is no set standard for calculating alimony. Spousal support awards can vary drastically from case to case, which means it is especially important to have an attorney representing your interests if your divorce involves particularly contentious views on alimony.
The award of alimony is a crucial part of the divorce process, and protects the financial stability of both the spouse and minor children. If you are interested in finding out whether you are eligible for spousal support, please contact the office of Easterling Family Law to speak with qualified family law attorneys who will help guide you throughout the divorce and alimony process.