If you’re preparing for divorce, you will likely worry about maintaining your lifestyle. This fear is especially palpable if your spouse was your family’s breadwinner or if you relied on two incomes. Yet, in many North Carolina divorces, the lower-earning spouse qualifies for alimony payments. Knowing whether you do will help you start planning for your financial future.
North Carolina’s guidelines
In North Carolina, you will receive alimony based on one of two reasons. You will qualify for alimony if you are substantially dependent on your spouse, meaning you will need their help to meet your basic needs. You will also qualify for alimony if you are substantially in need of support, meaning you will need their help to keep up your marital lifestyle.
Many factors go into determining the length and amount of alimony you will receive. These include:
- The length of your marriage
- The amount of training or education you need to achieve financial independence
- You and your spouse’s ages, physical health and mental health
- You and your spouse’s earnings or earning capacities
- You and your spouse’s individual assets and sources of income
- You and your spouse’s contributions to marital property
- Marital misconduct committed by you or your spouse
Exceptional circumstances could either bar you from receiving alimony or increase your alimony. If you engaged in illicit sexual behavior – like an extramarital affair – that led to your divorce, your spouse does not have to pay you alimony. Yet, if their illicit sexual behavior caused your marriage’s downfall, your alimony payments will likely increase. Other instances of marital misconduct, like cruelty, financial infidelity or substance abuse, affect alimony as well. These will cause its length and amount to increase or decrease depending on your role in the misconduct.
Not every divorce in North Carolina involves alimony, yet many do. So long as misconduct on your part did not cause your marriage to end, you will likely receive it. An attorney with family law experience can help you work toward achieving fair support.