The concept of alimony arose to address inequality between spouses after divorce. This inequality is especially prevalent in marriages where one spouse served as the breadwinner and the other spouse served as the homemaker. When that marriage dissolves, there is a clear difference between the earning power of the spouses. Alimony provides a mechanism to address this type of post-divorce inequality.
In Section 50-16.3A of the North Carolina General Statutes, we find the state-specific approach to alimony. This section outlines a number of important considerations for alimony in North Carolina. Today we will cover the topics of entitlement to as well as the amount and duration of alimony.
Who is Entitled to Alimony in North Carolina?
During a divorce proceeding in North Carolina, either spouse may request alimony. If one spouse was dependent on the other spouse, then the court orders the supporting spouse to pay alimony to the dependent spouse. The amount and duration of alimony changes based on a number of factors, which we will discuss below.
The court has to consider additional factors beyond dependency – illicit sexual behavior. North Carolina defines illicit sexual behavior as infidelity or other deviant sexual acts.
- If the dependent spouse participated in illicit sexual behavior, then there is no alimony.
- If the supporting spouse participated in illicit sexual behavior, then the dependent spouse is entitled to alimony.
- If both the supporting and dependent spouses participated in illicit sexual behavior, then the court decides whether to award alimony.
- If one spouse condoned the illicit sexual behavior of the other spouse, then there is no alimony.
There is an important consideration concerning marital misconduct, which includes illicit sexual behavior. During the alimony process, either spouse may ask for a jury trial on the issue of marital misconduct. The jury will determine whether marital misconduct took place and who was responsible.
How is Alimony Calculated in North Carolina?
The court has discretion to decide the sum, timeframe and payment method of alimony. When making this determination, the court considers 16 factors, including but not limited to:
- Marital misconduct,
- Earned and unearned income,
- Current and future earning power,
- Age as well as physical, mental, and emotional state,
- Property owned before marriage,
- Homemaker contributions and
- Length of the marriage.
After deciding whether or not to award alimony, the court is required to justify its determination, including reasons for the sum, timeframe and payment method.
Do You Need Legal Counsel from an Experienced Family Law Attorney?
Whether you are dealing with alimony, divorce or other aspects of family law, it is crucial to tread carefully. Your personal interests may clash with the needs of your family. Without a carefully planned and balanced approach, there is potential for disaster. Fortunately an experienced family law attorney can help you examine all aspects of your case and design a suitable approach, maximizing your chance for a positive outcome.
With offices in Charlotte, North Carolina, Powers Landreth PLLC has 20 years of combined legal experience. If you have questions about alimony, divorce or other aspects of family law, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately.