After a divorce in North Carolina, either spouse could be granted alimony, or spousal support. The court may also decide not to award either spouse alimony. Whether the court will award alimony depends on a number of factors but it does not depend on the sex of the spouse.
Historically, women received alimony after a divorce at a time when divorce was more difficult to obtain and fewer women were in the workplace. However, men and women are now both more likely to be in the workplace. There has also been an increase in both women as the primary breadwinner and stay-at-home dads. After a divorce, either or neither spouse can seek alimony.
Spousal support in North Carolina generally requires the following:
- A financially supporting spouse;
- A financially dependent spouse; and
- The dependent spouse is in need of financial support from the support spouse.
How is spousal support decided in North Carolina?
The court may consider a number of factors in calculating the amount of spousal support and the period for requiring spousal support. This includes:
- Number of years the couple was married;
- Income of each spouse;
- Assets and debts of each spouse;
- Whether one spouse gave up a career for the marriage;
- Whether a spouse supported the marriage while the other spouse attended school or training;
- Other support obligations, and
- Any other relevant factors.
The court may consider these factors, as well as use the court's own discretion, in determining the spousal support terms.
Is my spouse required to pay me alimony?
Unlike child support in North Carolina, alimony may not be mandatory after a divorce for either spouse. If one spouse seeks alimony as part of the divorce and the court grants alimony, the supporting spouse may be required to make support payments under the terms of the court order.
A financially dependent spouse is not required to take alimony. Although North Carolina provides for alimony in qualifying circumstances, a dependent spouse does not have to accept support payments from their ex.
There could be a number of reasons why the parties do not want to deal with spousal support. In an amicable and uncontested divorce, each party may negotiate their own terms of separation. Alternatively, a spouse may want as little to do with their ex as possible after a divorce, including not wanting to take their money.
Spousal support can also be negotiated between the parties as part of an agreement and consent order. The divorcing spouses can also negotiate a single lump-sum payment as an alternative to regular monthly payments.
Some couples can decline future spousal support before they even get married. With a valid prenuptial agreement, the parties could have negotiated an agreement that there would not be spousal support payments in the event of a divorce. These types of agreements can also deal with property division after a divorce.
Jerkins Family Law
If you have questions about whether you may be eligible for alimony or spousal support after a divorce, Jerkins Family Law is here to help. We will advise you of your rights and options under North Carolina law and help you negotiate a divorce for your best interests into the future. Visit our dedicated spousal support and contested divorce pages and contact us today so we can guide you to a better solution.