Divorce is never easy, but sometimes being divorced can also be tricky, particularly if your ex-partner is determined to fight their ongoing financial obligations. North Carolina law allows the judge to award alimony or palimony, otherwise known as spousal support, if a dependent spouse can show a need for financial support and the other spouse can pay. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.3A (2018).
Typically, your ex can only lower their spousal support payments in North Carolina if they can show that their financial circumstances have significantly changed or that yours have. This article will discuss the top tricks your ex may pull out for the court and how you can expose and counter them in court.
A court may end spousal support payments if you remarry or move in with a new partner in a “marriage-like” relationship. See N.C. Gen Stat. § 50-16.9 (2018). If you have a steady partner and maintain separate residences but sometimes stay over at one another's home, your ex may try to claim that you are cohabitating to end your spousal support. However, your ex must prove that you are cohabitating “continuously.” You can counter this by showing that you maintain separate residences and expenses and that you actually live separately. An experienced family law attorney can help.
Quitting a Job
One of the most common ways an ex-spouse will attempt to modify spousal support is through a change in financial circumstances. However, the change must be unanticipated to lower payments. For example, being laid off or fired from a job may qualify to lower spousal support payments. But if your spouse quits their job, this shouldn't be an “unanticipated” change. Your ex can't quit their job, lower spousal support payments, and then return to work. Pointing this out to the court is a good way to challenge any reduction in your support payments.
Temporary Reduction in Income
A reduction in your ex-spouse's income may qualify as a significant change in their financial circumstances and may justify reduced spousal support payments. However, once their income returns to normal, the payment should increase again. Whether you and your ex get a court order to temporarily reduce spousal support payments or agree to it on your own, your attorney can ensure that the payments will go back to normal as soon as your ex-spouse's income returns to normal.
You Need Skilled Legal Guidance in North Carolina Family Law
If you're facing a separation or divorce in North Carolina, or if you're facing issues with spousal or child support, you need skilled legal guidance. Give Jerkins Family Law a call at 919-719-2785 or contact us online to discuss your situation.