In the unfortunate event that you are going through divorce proceedings, it is important to fully understand the rules around alimony in North Carolina, as these may differ from state to state, and there are strict criteria you must adhere to. 

What is alimony and why is it awarded by the court?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is typically sought by one spouse when they are unable to financially support themselves after a divorce. This support is awarded by the courts and is supposed to help that spouse as they transition out of their current marriage and start to create their new lifestyle, so they can stress less and live with more financial freedom until they find their feet. The reason an individual seeks alimony can be for a variety of reasons, for example, they chose to put their career on hold so they could stay at home and look after the children for the benefit of the entire family, while the other spouse went to develop in their career, which they would not have been able to do without the childcare help from the spouse. This situation means that the spouse who stayed at home was not able to develop financial independence. 

Alimony will look different for everyone since every marriage and personal and financial situations are unique. While alimony is simple to describe, it can be a complex process to claim for. 

Types of alimony and spousal support in North Carolina

In North Carolina, different types of alimony can be awarded from the courts. The first is alimony, and the second is post-separation support. 

Alimony 

Alimony is a type of support that is permanent, and a certain amount and time frame is specified and agreed upon by both spouses and the courts. In some cases, the alimony payment may be agreed to continue indefinitely. Alimony payments can be received as large, single payments, or regular installments. In some cases a date is not set, if it is not deemed appropriate by the courts.

Post-separation support 

Post-separation support is a more temporary solution. In these cases, the spouse is supported financially while the case is ongoing and a more permanent decision, or solution, is agreed upon. This decision can be that the alimony claim is awarded or declined, if a spouse dies, or if the spouse enters a new marriage. 

How to qualify or become eligible for alimony and post-separation support

To be eligible for alimony or post-separation support in North Carolina, the court will examine certain factors about your personal and financial situation. Some of these criteria checks will include the following:

  • Age of each spouse
  • Mental and physical health of each spouse 
  • Number of years married 
  • Special, unique, or disability needs 
  • How much each spouse can earn
  • Lifestyle throughout the marriage 
  • Assets acquired before and during the marriage
  • Debts held by each spouse 
  • Previous income of each spouse  
  • Other financial dependents of each spouse (such as children or elderly parents)
  • Economic factors that could impact financial independence
  • Reason for divorce 
  • Misconduct during the marriage (for example, committing a crime, adultery, dangerous behavior, abusing alcohol and drugs, etc.)

It can take some time for the court to review all these factors, and in some cases, they may require evidence to be sought. Each case is unique, so the amount of alimony, and the time it takes to agree, can vary case by case. 

Alimony and Taxes

When awarding alimony or post-separation support, the courts will take into consideration the local, state, and federal tax impacts of the money. Alimony is not currently taxed under federal and state income tax law. This means that the spouse who receives the alimony, does not need to pay any tax, nor does the payor need to claim any tax deductions. 

When do alimony payments stop?

In some cases, alimony payments will stop at the date agreed upon in court. In other cases, the alimony payments will stop if:

  • The marriage resumes 
  • The spouse receiving alimony remarried or cohabits with another person 
  • Either spouse dies 

Alimony can be a complex and lengthy process to navigate, at an already sensitive time in your life. If you wish to learn more about alimony or to see if you are eligible, it is best to seek legal advice and assistance from a Family law specialist. Spagnola law is renowned for its experience as a top-ranking family law attorney in Greensboro and is equipped and ready to help you.