Raleigh Family Attorneys Assist You in Alimony Disputes
Skilled representation for financial matters related to divorce
If you have decided to dissolve your marriage, the issue of alimony is vitally important for your financial future. Whether you will receive alimony or be expected to pay, it’s important to have a capable divorce attorney to represent your interests. At Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP, we have extensive experience negotiating alimony settlements and litigating contested cases in court. You can rely on our attorneys to provide the advice and advocacy you need to secure a fair and workable alimony arrangement.
The basics of spousal support in North Carolina
In North Carolina, the terms alimony and spousal support are not interchangeable. Post-separation support is temporary assistance for a dependent spouse until divorce is final. The parties need not be living apart when the request is made or while the court holds a hearing on the matter.
The court generally will issue a support order on behalf of a dependent spouse — one who lacks adequate resources to meet his or her reasonable needs — if the supporting spouse has the ability to pay. The court considers several factors, including:
- The parties’ accustomed standard of living
- Each party’s present income
- Each party’s income-earning abilities
- The debts of each party, separately and together
- Those expenses reasonably necessary to support each of the parties
- Each party’s obligations to support any other person
An order for post-separation support usually terminates when the court makes its decision on alimony.
Factors determining an alimony award in North Carolina
Alimony is a post-divorce award of financial assistance to one spouse. The court must determine whether an award of alimony is equitable in terms of the amount, duration and manner of payment. This determination is based on multiple factors that include:
- The spouses’ earning capacities
- The ages and the health conditions of the spouses
- The income, assets and debts of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other
- The standard of living of the spouses established while married
- The time necessary for the dependent spouse to acquire education or training needed to find suitable employment
- The contribution of a spouse as homemaker
- The relative needs of the spouses
- Any tax consequences
- Any marital misconduct
The court may also consider other factors it finds relevant, just and proper. The court has the discretion to order regular payments of alimony for a specified time period or can order payment by a lump sum. Given such broad discretion, it’s important to have an experienced divorce attorney manage your alimony dispute.
How marital misconduct can affect an alimony award
A spouse’s adultery or other illicit sexual behavior can have a direct bearing on eligibility for alimony. If the supporting spouse is shown to have engaged in such behavior during the marriage and prior to the date of separation, then the court must award alimony. On the other hand, if the dependent spouse is shown to have engaged in such behavior, then the court is precluded from making an award of alimony.
Termination of spousal support and alimony
Post-separation support or alimony terminates when either spouse dies or when the dependent spouse remarries or engages in cohabitation. If you are awarded spousal support, be careful not put yourself in a living environment that a court may consider as “engaging in cohabitation.” Cohabitation is considered on a case-by-case basis and is broadly defined as the act of two adults dwelling together continuously and habitually in a private heterosexual or homosexual relationship. This issue has led to numerous post-divorce disputes that have gone to the state Court of Appeals for resolution. Before you put yourself in this situation, consult a knowledgeable family lawyer at our firm.
Contact a family law firm serving Raleigh clients for more than 50 years
Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP provides knowledgeable assistance on alimony matters to clients in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Research Triangle Park, Wake County and throughout North Carolina. Our attorneys are licensed to practice before all North Carolina state and federal courts. Call 919-899-9827 today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.