Spousal Support

If you have ever faced divorce in Weddington, North Carolina, or known someone who has, you have likely heard of the term ‘spousal support.’ Simply put, spousal support is money that is paid by one spouse to the other. A North Carolina court must determine that the receiving spouse is dependent upon the other for spousal support to be issued. Likewise, in order for one spouse to be required to pay spousal support to the other spouse, a North Carolina court must determine that the paying spouse is a supporting spouse.

Spousal Support Explained

North Carolina divorce law distinguishes spousal support into two types - post-separation support and alimony. Post-separation support can be understood to be temporary alimony. This is because a North Carolina court can consider post-separation support shortly after the party seeking the spousal support files a verified complaint requesting the post-separation support. Alimony, on the other hand, is typically not considered by the court until much later in the divorce process. Indeed, sometimes a court does not consider alimony until a year or more after the initial divorce filing.

Whether a North Carolina court is considering post-separation support or alimony, it must consider the reasonable needs and expenses of each party. For this reason, each party generally provides these details by way of filing an Affidavit of Financial Standing (AFS). An AFS is a sworn statement, which is why it is called an affidavit, signed before a Notary Public that sets forth each party’s purported financial income and expenses on a monthly basis. In other words, an AFS is a monthly cash flow statement from each party involved in the divorce.

Affidavit of Financial Standing

If you are presently in litigation regarding a spousal support matter, you will most likely be required to complete, verify, file, and serve an AFS to the other side.

As an initial matter, the AFS addresses each party’s income. If one or more parties are W-2 employees, this can be a straightforward portion of the affidavit. If, on the other hand, one or more parties is self-employed then this portion is not so simple. In Monroe, Union County cases, individuals who are self-employed or have rental income and need to submit an AFS must complete the final page of the affidavit entitled “Rental Income Worksheet” or “Business Income Worksheet.” In such a scenario, the affidavit details the monthly gross income for the individual and then itemizes his or her deductions in order to show the monthly net income.

Next, the AFS addresses each party’s needs and expenses by detailing “shared family expenses” of the individual. These may include needs and expenses that are necessary to run a household and often benefit more than one person. Examples of shared family expenses include mortgage or rent payments, homeowners association dues, home food, utilities, supplies, and car expenses, to name a few. The AFS further analyzes each party’s needs and expenses by detailing individual monthly expenses for the specific adult and any children for whom he or she is legally responsible. As the name suggests, these expenses only benefit one person. They may include, but are not limited to clothing, child care, health insurance, entertainment, activities, meals out, car insurance, and life insurance.

The final category the AFS addresses is each individual’s monthly debt expenses.

Determining Spousal Support

Once a North Carolina court has received the AFS with purported monthly income and reasonable needs and expenses of each party, both individual affidavits may be challenged by the other spouse. Generally, one side will attempt to show that the other side’s monthly income is actually higher than what was disclosed. Likewise, one side may try to show that the alleged monthly reasonable expenses and needs are actually lower than what the other side claims they are.

A North Carolina court will then generally make specific findings of fact regarding each party’s purported monthly income and monthly reasonable needs and expenses, after it has heard the evidence and arguments from both sides. Finally, the court will consider any marital misconduct on the part of each party to determine how to proceed with making a post-separation support decision.

Spousal Support Help in Waxhaw

If you are dealing with a spousal support issue in Waxhaw, North Carolina, you should understand your rights and obligations under state law. The experienced family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC will explain your rights with respect to spousal support and help guide you every step of the way. Contact us today for more information and to schedule your initial case evaluation.