Financial matters are at the heart of every divorce, and alimony is an important factor for those who have high-value assets or have been married for several years. Understanding what alimony is and how it is awarded can help ensure you are prepared for court and know what to expect.
What is alimony?
In short, alimony is money paid from one spouse to another and is considered a type of financial support. Alimony payments can be made in one lump sum or spread out over years, usually in monthly installments. In many cases, one party is ordered to pay alimony to the other until one party dies or the receiving party remarries.
What do the courts look at when awarding alimony?
The courts look at how long the couple was married and the incomes/earning potentials of both parties in any alimony consideration. However, there are many other factors that may also come into play:
- Both parties' physical, mental and emotional health
- The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage
- One spouse making contributions to the other's earning potential
- Any child custody orders involved in the divorce
- The relative financial needs of the two parties
Keep in mind that, in North Carolina, any evidence of illicit sexual behavior by the dependent spouse means the courts will not award alimony. This is true even if there is a demonstrated financial need and alimony would have been awarded had the behavior not occurred. Even engaging in illicit sexual behavior during the separation period before your divorce can cause the courts to rule against any alimony because they will assume that the same things were occurring during the marriage as well.
How is the alimony amount calculated?
Most people are familiar with the guidelines that allow the courts to calculate child support and assume that there must be a similar formula to calculate alimony. However, this isn't the case. In the state of North Carolina, there are no formal alimony guidelines, and this means that the courts have a great deal of discretion. If both parties cannot agree on an alimony amount, the judge will make a decision based on the factors specific to the case.
How can you find out what to expect?
Even though there are no set guidelines, that doesn't mean you can't do things to help your case. If you're not sure whether alimony could be a factor or you're concerned about the amount and terms, contact Hardin Law Firm PLLC to learn more about your legal rights.