At Waple & Houk, PLLC, our Charlotte alimony lawyers understand the importance of financial security, especially during a North Carolina divorce, which can create significant turmoil for everyone involved.
This is especially true during divorces where one spouse has been financially dependent on the other throughout the marriage and needs time to establish their independence and economic stability going forward.
In many cases, that requires our Mecklenburg County alimony attorneys to review each marital factor that will allow our clients to pursue the financial support they are entitled to for the contributions they have made to the marriage.
If you are pursuing a divorce in North Carolina and are unsure what type of financial support you are eligible to pursue from your spouse, contact our skilled Charlotte alimony lawyers today for help.
Initial consultations are fully confidential and carry no obligations.
What is Alimony?
Also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, alimony is a financial arrangement whereby one spouse—the one in the more financially advantageous position—makes payments to the other spouse. In most cases, alimony cases start after a divorce is finalized. However, in North Carolina, it is sometimes possible for temporary alimony to be granted while a divorce is pending.
Note: North Carolina allows couples to legally separate as an alternative to a divorce. Alimony can be awarded in a legal separation case.
A Comprehensive Overview of North Carolina’s Alimony Laws
Is alimony paid after every divorce case in Mecklenburg County? The answer is “no”—in fact, alimony is only awarded in a minority of divorces. North Carolina state law does not mandate alimony. Each case will be reviewed and evaluated by a court.
There are many states that have specific rules and regulations in place for alimony. However, North Carolina is an exception. There is no pre-set formula for the duration or amount of alimony. Instead,
Spousal support is always granted or denied based on various case-specific factors.
How is Alimony Calculated During a North Carolina Divorce?
North Carolina divorce laws provide certain factors for the Court to use in determining whether a financially dependent spouse should receive alimony, the amount, and the duration.
Factors relating to alimony in Charlotte, North Carolina include:
- Ages of both spouses.
- Amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses.
- Contributions by either spouse as a homemaker.
- Education and the time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire job training or employment to become self-supporting.
- Financial needs of both spouses.
- Income-earning abilities, even if they are not currently in use.
- Length of the marriage.
- Marital standard of living.
- Physical, mental, and emotional health of both spouses.
- Separate and marital debt obligations of each spouse.
- Separate property each spouse brought to the marriage.
- Whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education, training, or increased earning power.
- Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be relevant for consideration.
The above factors can be difficult to understand and legal analysis of how each factor may or may not affect an award of alimony could be crucial for a financially dependent spouse. The Charlotte alimony attorneys at Waple & Houk, PLLC have the experience to help determine if our client is a dependent spouse, if they are entitled to an award of alimony, or if they could be required to pay alimony.
We work with our clients to build quiet confidence to move forward and see a financial future for themselves and their families. Contact our experienced spousal support attorneys in Charlotte today to discuss your unique financial needs, so we can get started on your case.
We Provide Comprehensive Family Law Representation in Charlotte, North Carolina
Alimony can be a very important part of a divorce case. At the same time, if you are going through a divorce or legal separation in North Carolina, alimony should never be viewed in a vacuum. The totality of your case will have an impact on how much, if any. spousal support is awarded. At Waple & Houk, PLLC, we provide comprehensive, personalized family law representation in Charlotte. Beyond alimony cases, our Charlotte, NC, family law attorneys have experience with:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Contested Divorce
- Property Division
- Uncontested Divorce
- LGBT Family Law
How Does Marital Misconduct Impact Alimony in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, marital misconduct is a relevant factor when determining whether alimony applies to the divorce proceedings.
Marital misconduct may include factors like abandonment, adultery, or the excessive use of alcohol or drugs that led to the marriage’s dissolution.
In many cases, if the higher-earning spouse is responsible for the marriage’s dissolution because of their misconduct, it often results in higher monthly alimony payments, a longer duration of payments, or both.
Conversely, if the lesser-earning spouse contributed to the divorce through marital misconduct, which could include having an affair, he or she may be barred from receiving spousal support altogether.
Ending Alimony Based on a Re-Marriage or New Supportive Relationship in North Carolina
Remarriage of the Spouse Who Receives Alimony
In North Carolina, the rules around ending alimony are clear when it comes to the remarriage of the spouse receiving it. If the spouse who is receiving alimony gets remarried, alimony payments automatically come to an end. The spouse who is receiving alimony and gets remarried has a legal responsibility to notify their former partner of the remarriage. To be clear, the termination is immediate and does not require any additional legal action from the spouse who is paying.
New Supportive Relationship (Romantic Cohabitation) of the Spouse Who Receives Alimony
The situation is a bit different when the receiving spouse enters a new supportive relationship without actually officially getting remarried. In these cases, alimony might end—but it is not automatic. A supportive relationship is one where the receiving spouse lives with another person in a marriage-like setting, sharing financial responsibilities and household duties. If the paying spouse believes alimony should end due to such a relationship, they need to file a petition with a court. Alimony cannot be automatically cut off.
Any New Relationship By the Spouse Who Pays Alimony
On the other hand, the paying spouse entering a new relationship—whether it is an actual remarriage or simply a new supportive relationship—does not directly affect their alimony obligations. Instead, their responsibility to continue alimony payments is based solely on the original divorce agreement/order. The new relationship, by itself, is not grounds to reduce or terminate alimony obligations.
Why Rely On the North Carolina Alimony Attorneys at Waple & Houk, PLLC
Alimony cases are complicated. It is normal to have a lot of questions about how exactly spousal support works during and after a divorce. At Waple & Houk, PLLC, we have experience handling the full range of alimony cases, and we are committed to protecting the rights and interests of our clients. When you contact us at our Charlotte law office, you will have a chance to connect with a North Carolina family law attorney who can:
- Listen to what you have to say and answer questions about alimony laws;
- Help you gather and organize all relevant financial documents and records;
- Advocate for you in any alimony settlement negotiations; and
- Provide comprehensive family law representation to help you secure the best outcome.
Contact Our Charlotte Family Law Attorneys at Waple & Houk, PLLC Today
Spousal support in North Carolina is not always as straightforward as it may seem. To ensure your eligibility for alimony is outlined thoroughly during your North Carolina divorce, contact our experienced family law attorney in Charlotte today for help.
Frequently Asked Questions for Our Alimony Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina
The duration of alimony payments in North Carolina is determined by the couple in private or through negotiations with their attorneys, during mediation, or is ordered by the family court judge overseeing their cases. Alimony may be awarded temporarily to help one spouse get back on their feet, in a reimbursement capacity, designed to reimburse a spouse for contributions to the other spouse’s increased earnings, in a lump sum — in one payment or over time — or permanently. Alimony eligibility, the amount, and the duration are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Yes. If spouses cannot make divorce decisions, including alimony, in private, they can negotiate the terms of their divorce during mediation. However, North Carolina law only requires divorcing spouses to attend mediation before they can litigate child custody or property division cases inside the courtroom, not to solely decide alimony.
Yes. A North Carolina prenuptial agreement, which must be entered into voluntarily, can specifically waive a spouse’s rights to alimony, or detail how spousal support will be paid, including the amount and the duration of payments.
If one spouse is ordered to pay alimony in North Carolina, and does not make payments, the debt can be collected much like child support arrears. First, the failure to pay may result in a contempt of court charge. In addition, the spouse who was awarded the payment may pursue payment arrears in court or through wage garnishment.