Determining whether spousal support is appropriate and, if so, in what amount, is one of the things courts must do before finalizing a North Carolina Divorce. Spousal support payments may be agreed upon and presented to the court for approval, or if the spouses cannot agree, the court will ultimately make the decision. In either case, it is imperative to have an experienced spousal support lawyer by your side to ensure your interests are protected. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our team of Charlotte divorce lawyers have decades of experience helping our clients navigate the complex and emotionally-straining divorce process. We take the time to listen to what is important to you to identify the strategy that is best suited to ensure you reach your desired outcome.What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support is the monthly payment of support and maintenance to the dependent spouse of a marriage by the supporting spouse. There are two types of spousal support in North Carolina: post-separation support and alimony. Post-separation support is paid after the couple starts to live separately but before the divorce is finalized. Alimony, on the other hand, refers to ongoing post-divorce monthly payments from one spouse to the other.What Do North Carolina Courts Consider When Awarding Alimony?
North Carolina courts have significant discretion when it comes to awarding alimony. However, the court must consider the following factors, which are outlined in North Carolina General Statute § 50-16.3A:
- The marital misconduct of either spouse;
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses;
- The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses;
- The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including, but not limited to, earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security, or others;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
- The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child;
- The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage;
- The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs;
- The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support;
- The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
- The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
- The relative needs of the spouses;
- The federal, state, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award; or
- Other factors relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper.
Given this list, judges can consider almost anything when deciding on a spouse’s alimony request. Thus, it is essential to work with a Charlotte divorce lawyer who can position your case for success from the very beginning.Will North Carolina Courts Modify an Existing Spousal Support Order?
Yes, both post-separation support and alimony may be modified by the court. To do so, the party requesting the modification must establish that there has been a change in circumstances based on one of the following events:
- The dependent spouse begins living with another person with whom they are romantically involved;
- The dependent spouse gets remarried;
- The couple gets back together; or
- The death of either spouse.
If you are in the process of divorcing or believe that a divorce is in your future, it is important to understand how the possibility of spousal support could play into your future. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we have assembled a team of experienced spousal support attorneys who are committed to our clients and their cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte divorce lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord family law attorneys at 704-918-4747. We represent clients in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, and Union Counties.