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North Carolina Alimony

In North Carolina, either party may seek alimony. Generally, the spouse who makes less money, or is responsible for minor children, or has a greater need is more likely to receive alimony. The courts order alimony to needy and dependent spouses who are not financially able to support themselves but whose spouses can afford to support them.

Judges may consider evidence of marital misconduct, including adultery or cruelty, as a reason to limit alimony payments. However, although courts can use fault as a reason to lower a spouse's alimony payment, the courts cannot use misconduct as a reason to deny alimony or post-separation support, unless they find evidence of adultery.

If a court finds that a spouse requesting alimony is guilty of adultery, it can deny alimony; however, if a court finds that both parties were guilty of adultery, then adultery does not bar alimony.

Courts can modify alimony by adjusting it upward or downward when one spouse demonstrates a significant change in circumstances. A significant change in circumstances can include loss or change in employment, unexpected medical needs and a change in financial needs of any minor children. Any party who desires modification must petition the court, and faces the burden of proof.

Alimony ends upon the death of either spouse or at remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient. Alimony may also terminate upon a specific date, as provided in the written divorce agreement.

Although several states award alimony to civil partners and common law spouses, North Carolina does not.

Duration of alimony is generally set out in the settlement agreement, and it varies, depending on the length of the marriage, the situation of the parties, whether either party has custody of children from the marriage and other relevant factors.

Payments may be deductible on federal taxes, and the party who receives monthly alimony payments is usually required to claim payments as income. There are alternate ways to set up alimony, so talk with a tax professional prior to setting up your agreement.

Types of Alimony

In North Carolina courts may order temporary, short- and long-term alimony. Temporary alimony is granted at the discretion of the court during the divorce proceedings and before the final decree. Short-term alimony may be granted to allow the receiving party time to gain necessary skills. Long-Term, or permanent, alimony may be granted to a spouse who has significant needs, and is usually reserved for lengthy marriages.

Factors Considered by the Court

In North Carolina alimony is discretionary. A North Carolina court may consider the following in determining whether to award alimony:

  • marital misconduct;
  • age and health of the parties;
  • duration of the marriage;
  • contribution of one spouse to the career or education of the other spouse;
  • earning potential of the parties;
  • standard of living during the marriage;
  • needs, assets and liabilities of the parties;
  • contribution of one spouse as a homemaker; and
  • other factors, as the court deems appropriate.

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