My Ex’s Family is Rich: Do I Still Need to Pay Them in a Divorce?

The tradition of marrying into a rich family is nothing new. Since before the Roman times, wealthy families strategically intermarried, maintaining and growing their fortunes while forging important political alliances. While there is still a tendency for wealthy individuals to marry within their own circles, many marriages occur between spouses of drastically different economic backgrounds. In the event of a divorce, these spouses may wonder whether the wealth of the families will have any effect on the property division process.

What Happens if My Ex Moves Back in With Their Rich Parents?

One of the most common financial consequences after a divorce is spousal support, also known as alimony. After a divorce, many spouses move back in with their parents, especially if they are somewhat young. As a paying spouse, you might be wondering whether this frees you from the responsibility of paying alimony. After all, it may seem totally unjustified to continue making these payments while your spouse is living in a mansion and enjoying all of the high-class luxuries that their parents have to offer.

Unfortunately, alimony only stops if your spouse starts cohabiting with another romantic partner. Moving in with one’s parents does not count as cohabiting, and the courts will not consider this as a valid reason to modify or cease alimony.

Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony if the Spouse Can Access Family Funds?

There may be a situation where a spouse leaves a marriage and immediately falls back on considerable financial support from their family. This support may take many forms, including trusts, gifts, inheritance, and so on. First of all, any of these assets acquired after the end of the marriage are considered “separate property.” This means that if your ex receives a distribution from a family trust after divorce, this does not factor into the property division process.

Could it have an effect on alimony? Perhaps. But one has to remember that inheritance is always considered separate property, even if it is acquired during the marriage. Perhaps the most notable question is whether being listed as a beneficiary on a trust fund could affect property division, alimony, or even child support after a divorce.

Income from a trust is considered a separate asset in the context of divorce. This is because the asset is not “owned” by the beneficiary (or the grantor, for that matter). It is held under a completely separate legal entity. However, there are certain situations in which the income generated from a trust may be considered when North Carolina calculates alimony payments. This goes for trusts held by both the paying spouse and the receiving spouse. In other words, your spouse may receive less alimony if they are simultaneously receiving income from a trust, especially if this income is greater than your own income.

Another important concept to understand is the difference between vested and non-vested property. Even if a spouse is set to receive a large sum of money from their family at some point in the future, it is usually not considered during property division. Assets are only considered when the spouse actually owns them, and once they reach the spouse’s hands, they are considered “vested.” Assets that a spouse may own in the future are considered “non-vested.”

Business Dealings With the Wealthy Family

During the marriage, the family’s wealth or influence may seem like an advantage. It may allow you to experience business opportunities that were not present before the marriage. However, these business relationships can complicate the marriage considerably. Spouses who marry into wealthy families and become entwined with their businesses may face serious financial consequences.

If the family hires a capable attorney, they may argue that many of these business deals were fraudulent and that they should be repaid essentially all of the money they made through their connections. This can be especially problematic if spouses have unspoken, informal business relationships that involve the transfer of large sums of money. If no formal agreement was in place, the family can always argue that these transfers occurred without their permission or knowledge.

Where Can I Find an Experienced Divorce Attorney in North Carolina?

If you have been searching for an experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorcing spouses across the Tar Heel State. We know that when it comes to divorce, high-net-worth families can cause many complications. However, it is possible to pursue a positive financial outcome and overcome many of these hurdles with the right strategies. Book your consultation today to get started with an effective action plan.