Alimony awards in Marvin, North Carolina are substantially similar to post separation support. That being said, these two categories of spousal support do differ in several critical ways. First, alimony is a permanent order by a court that mandates the supporting spouse to pay the dependent spouse a specific amount of money in periodic payments or in a single lump sum. If the alimony payments are paid periodically, the court may order these payments for a specified period of time or to continue to be made indefinitely. Alimony awards in Marvin, North Carolina are more substantial and permanent in nature than post separation support. Because of this, state courts take more factors into consideration when making an alimony determination.

Factors Considered by Courts When Determining Alimony

Under North Carolina law, there are several factors a court must consider when determining alimony payment amounts and duration. These include:

  • Whether there was any marital misconduct by either party;
  • The income and earnings of each party relative to each other;
  • The age, health, and general condition of each party;
  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • Any unearned income of the couple including dividends, retirement funds, or social security benefits;
  • Any payments – such as education or training - made by a spouse to benefit the other’s career;
  • The couple’s accustomed standard of living during the marriage;
  • The parties’ education and each one’s ability to secure employment opportunities;
  • Any legal obligations of support or debt of the parties;
  • Any tax implications of an award of alimony;
  • Any individually owned property by the spouses prior to the marriage;
  • The reasonable needs, in general, of either spouse;
  • The value and benefit contributed by a homemaker spouse.
Marital Misconduct Explained

When marital misconduct is involved in a North Carolina divorce, it is likely one of the factors most heavily litigated during the couples’ separation. If the supported spouse commits illicit sexual conduct prior to the couple’s separation – assuming no illicit sexual conduct is committed by the supporting spouse – it completely bars an award of alimony by a North Carolina court. On the other hand, illicit sexual conduct that is committed by the supporting spouse prior to the date of the separation – assuming no illicit sexual conduct is committed by the dependent spouse – will guarantee an alimony award by a North Carolina court. Finally, if there are instances of illicit sexual conduct by both parties before the date of the couple’s separation, a North Carolina court can consider the behavior of both parties when determining alimony awards. Generally, evidence of illicit sexual conduct will affect the duration, amount, and manner of payment of the alimony award.

Infidelity is not the only form of marital misconduct. Marital misconduct can also manifest as involuntary separation, drug or alcohol abuse, abandonment of the spouse, or reckless spending of marital funds. Additionally, cruel treatment of a spouse can also be found to be marital misconduct. Examples of these types of acts include refusing to support the marriage and name-calling. Of course, each case is as unique as the parties involved and North Carolina courts consider the conduct of both spouses when determining alimony awards – if any. Once the totality of the circumstances has been considered, North Carolina courts will consider alimony awards reasonable – making modification or overturning these awards more difficult for the moving party.

Other Issues

The actual numbers for each spouse’s monthly income as well as monthly reasonable expenses are critical in determining an alimony case. Finally, each spouse should be aware that he or she has a right to a jury trial on the issue of marital misconduct by either or both parties. In other words, while the rest of the issues are decided by a North Carolina judge, the issue of marital misconduct can be presented to a jury of 12 citizens if a jury trial is demanded.

If you or someone you know has concerns about your entitlement to alimony payments - or your exposure for payment of alimony - in Marvin, North Carolina, contact the skilled family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC.