When a married couple gets divorced, the court may order one spouse to make payments to the other for support. This is called “spousal support” or “alimony.”
Types of Spousal Support
In North Carolina, the court may order either temporary or permanent spousal support. Temporary support or post-separation support can be granted after separation and is meant to help the spouse who earns less money (dependent spouse) adjust to being single again.
Permanent support is generally paid until the recipient’s spouse remarries or dies. However, a couple can also agree on an arrangement where the supporting spouse pays one lump sum amount to the dependant spouse in the form of cash or by transferring the title of a real estate property to the dependant spouse.
Factors Considered by Courts While Awarding Spousal Support
Courts in North Carolina consider many factors when deciding whether to award spousal support and how much to award. These factors include:
- The couple’s standard of living while they were married
- The earning power of each spouse
- The age and health of each spouse
- The couple’s financial resources
- The couple’s child-caring responsibilities
- The couple’s marital misconduct (if any)
- The court may also consider other relevant factors.
Either spouse can ask the court to order spousal support. Usually, the spouse who earns less money will ask for support. But no rule says the man has to pay support to the woman or vice versa.
If the court orders one spouse to pay spousal support, the payments are generally made monthly. The spouse who pays support will usually be required to pay the money directly to the other spouse. But in some cases, the court may order that the payments be made through a third party, such as an employer or a bank.
If you are ordered to pay spousal support, it is important to make your payments on time. If you don’t, the court could find you in contempt of court. This could result in a fine or even jail time.
If you are receiving spousal support, you should keep track of the payments you receive. This will help you prove to the court that you are getting the support you are supposed to be getting.
If the dependant spouse remarries or either of the spouses dies, the North Carolina General Statutes § 50-16.9 (2018) clearly states:
“If a dependent spouse who is receiving postseparation support or alimony from a supporting spouse under a judgment or order of a court of this State remarries or engages in cohabitation, the postseparation support or alimony shall terminate. Post-separation support or alimony shall terminate upon the death of either the supporting or the dependent spouse.”
If you have been ordered to pay or receive spousal support, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities. You should also understand that the court can change an order for support at any time. If your circumstances change, you can ask the court to modify (change) the support order. If you think you might be entitled to spousal support, you should talk to a lawyer.
We Can Help with Your Spousal-Support Case
GPS Law Group is a full-service law firm that helps both dependant spouses and supporting spouses in matters related to spousal support. We have a team of experienced family law attorneys who can help you navigate the often complex process of determining spousal support.
For dependant spouses, we can help you identify and collect all the financial resources to which you may be entitled. This may include temporary or short-term support to help you get back on your feet after a divorce. We can also help you negotiate a fair and reasonable long-term support agreement.
For supporting spouses, we can help you determine the amount of support you may owe, and develop a payment plan that works for both you and your ex-spouse. We can also help you modify a support agreement if your financial circumstances change.
No matter what your situation, GPS Law Group can help you protect your rights and interests in a spousal support matter. Call us at (704) 549-1950 or use our online contact form to send a message and set up a consultation.
We serve Charlotte, North Carolina, and the surrounding communities.