What is Alimony?
Alimony is a monetary support payment from one spouse to the other. In order to be eligible to receive alimony, the seeking party must be deemed to be financially dependent on their spouse. Such a claim can be made after separation but must be made before the final entry of divorce. The payment can be a lump sum or continued payments over a period of time.
Which Spouse is Entitled To Alimony?
For purposes of deciding whether a spouse is entitled to Alimony courts look to see if one spouse is financially dependent or reliant on the other spouse. One is financially dependent on a spouse if one would not be able to pay for living expenses and/or maintain a standard of living that occurred during marriage but for the supporting spouse. If a court determines that one spouse is dependent on the other spouse the court will then ask if it is fair that the dependent spouse receives alimony. In determining whether it is fair or not courts consider things like
- Marital Misconduct
- How much each spouse earns
- Length of the marriage
- Contribution of one spouse to the earning power of other spouse
- Who will be taking care of the children
- The education of each spouses
- Whether one spouse made contributions as a homemaker
Other factors the courts take into account are laid out in North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S. 50-16).
What is the Role of Marital Misconduct?
Martial Misconduct including, among other things, sexual acts outside of the marriage, have a dramatic impact on whether or not alimony will be awarded. If the court finds the that the dependent spouse, or the seeking spouse, committed pre-separation martial misconduct, the court may not award alimony because of the marital misconduct. If the court finds the that the supporting spouse, or the paying spouse, committed pre-separation martial misconduct, the court must award alimony because of the marital misconduct. If the court finds that both spouses committed pre-separation martial misconduct, the court has discretion to determine if anything will be awarded.
Alimony is a very detailed and nuanced area of law. If you are seeking or defending yourself against a claim of alimony, it is very important that you seek counsel from an experienced attorney so that you know how to navigate through this difficult and emotional process. Please call Browning & Long, PLLC 980-224-4482 for a free consultation.