Divorce can be expensive, and we don’t just mean paying to get through the court process. Child support and property division can dictate your financial standing post-divorce, but so, too can spousal support. In fact, depending on your unique set of circumstances, spousal support issues could have the biggest and most long-lasting impact on you. That’s why it’s imperative that you know the law and how to use it to your advantage. This week on the blog, let’s take a closer look at how spousal support is addressed under North Carolina law.
When will spousal support be ordered?
Before a court will order spousal support it will consider a number of factors. Amongst those factors are:
- The spouse’s ages
- Each spouse’s physical and mental condition
- The marital conduct of each spouse, including evidence of any adultery, cruelty, or abuse
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living enjoyed during the course of the marriage
- The education of each spouse
- Contributions made by each spouse to the career or education of the other
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
These are just some of the factors that can be taken into consideration, and the court generally has pretty broad discretion to order spousal support. This leaves a lot of room for legal argument, regardless of which side of the issues you fall on.
How much alimony will be paid?
This is a big question for those who think that spousal support will be ordered. There’s really no set amount of support that will be ordered in a particular set of circumstances. Instead, the court will consider the totality of the circumstances to come to a figure that it feels is fair. The only exception here would be if the couple in question has a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that specifies how much spousal support will be paid in the event of divorce.
How long will alimony last?
Again, there’s no set formula here. Some courts try to stick to one year of alimony payments for every three years of marriage, but there’s no statute requiring that length of time. In some cases, a court may even order lifelong payment. So, as you can see, this area of spousal support can really minimize or maximize the amount of spousal support that is ultimately paid out.
There are some actions that can justify cessation of spousal support, though. The death of the receiving spouse will warrant cessation of payments, of course, but so, too, will remarriage of the supported spouse. Even a supported spouse’s cohabitation with another individual can justify termination of alimony.
When is modification warranted?
Regardless of the terms of a spousal support order issued by the court, there may be certain circumstances that justify a modification of that order. For example, an increase in the paying spouse’s income may warrant an increase in alimony payments if the amount dictated by the initial order was low because of that individual’s income. One the flip side, the paying spouse’s sudden loss of a job or onset of a costly medical condition could cause a court to grant a modification request to lower the amount of a spousal support payment. In other words, the changes must be substantial in order for a court to modify its existing alimony order.
Know how to navigate your spousal support issues
Whether you’re concerned about paying spousal support or fighting to receive it, you need to know how to navigate the law and use it to build a legal strategy that works for you. After all, there could be a lot of financial resources at stake when it comes to alimony. That’s why many people who confront this divorce legal issue choose to turn to an experienced team like ours for assistance.