Spousal Support and Alimony

When a married couple separates or gets a divorce, one of the spouses may be entitled to receive spousal support payments (post-separation support or alimony) based on either an agreement between the couple or a decision by the court itself.  Consult a Hill Evans Jordan and Beatty family law and divorce attorney to determine and protect your rights.

Post-separation support, sometimes referred to as temporary alimony, is spousal support paid for a limited period of time, typically until an alimony award is made.  To qualify for post-separation support, a spouse must establish that he or she is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, that the dependent spouse cannot meet his/her needs, and that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay support to the dependent spouse.  Post-separation support terminates at the earlier of (i) the date set by the court for termination, if any; (ii) the date of death of either party; (iii) the occurrence of the remarriage or cohabitation of the dependent spouse; (iv) or the date on which alimony is allowed or denied.

Alimony refers to support payments made by a “supporting spouse” to a “dependent spouse” following a separation or divorce.  These payments can either be agreed upon by the parties in a contract or set forth in a court order. A party is a “supporting spouse” when the other spouse is actually substantially dependent for maintenance and support upon him or her or is substantially in need of maintenance or support from him or her.  The right to alimony can be waived in a premarital agreement. The right to alimony can also be lost if it a judgment of absolute divorce is entered before an alimony claim is properly raised.

If a court determines that there is a dependent spouse and a supporting spouse, it has wide discretion in deciding whether or not to award alimony, and if so, the amount and duration of the alimony award.  North Carolina law provides sixteen different factors that the court is to consider. The duration and amount of an alimony award are in the discretion of the court. An experienced Hill Evans Jordan & Beatty divorce and family law attorney can help you apply the law to your situation and fight for your rights.

In North Carolina, adultery affects the award of alimony differently depending on whether the adultery is committed by the supporting spouse or by the dependent spouse.  If the dependent spouse committed adultery during the marriage and before the date of separation, then the court is prohibited from awarding alimony to the dependent spouse unless the supporting spouse also committed adultery.  If the supporting spouse committed adultery during the marriage and before the date of separation, then the court must award alimony to the dependent spouse, unless the dependent spouse also committed adultery. If both spouses committed adultery, then the court can consider all of the circumstances and award alimony based on its own discretion.   In the event that the adultery is known by, and ultimately forgiven by, the innocent spouse, the adultery is not something that will be considered by the court.

Alimony ends at the earlier of (i) the date set by the court for termination, if any; (ii) the death of either party; or (iii) the remarriage or cohabitation of the dependent spouse.  An alimony award can be modified or vacated in the event that there has been a substantial change of circumstances.

Attorneys’ Fees in Spousal Support Cases

The supporting spouse may have to pay the reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by the dependent spouse.  This provides a strong incentive for the supporting spouse to settle any spousal support claims before going to trial.  

 

How We Can Help

As experienced divorce and family law attorneys, the attorneys at Hill Evans Jordan & Beatty can help you understand the full range of your options as they relate to spousal support claims.  We have experience representing both dependent and supporting spouses and can provide guidance no matter what circumstances you are experiencing. While the best option to resolve your claim may be to settle those issues through settlement negotiations or mediation, this is sometimes not possible and we are prepared to vigorously represent you in court to reach a resolution.  We will listen to the facts of your case and then provide you with advice and counsel so that you will be fully prepared for each step in the process. If you have a spousal support claim in Guilford County or a surrounding area, please contact the firm of Hill Evans Jordan & Beatty so that you can ensure that your legal rights are being protected.

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