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When Will Your Divorce Include Alimony?

When Will Your Divorce Include Alimony?

Married couples going through divorce aren’t always on the same financial footing. Both partners might contribute to the household in their own way, leaving one relying on the other for income. This means that, without help, they could have trouble keeping up with the demands of living on their own.

And that financial help is not uncommon. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.8 million people in the US pay some form of spousal support. These payments often add up to thousands of dollars every year for the supporter. These large amounts make it important to understand what alimony is and whether it’s in play during your divorce.

What support is available?

Alimony is payment from the supporting spouse to the spouse in need after divorce. That help can range from a short-lived safety net to ongoing payments to keep a higher quality of life.

There are also options for temporary support while the courts consider alimony requests. Postseparation support payments are usually made over a short, specific term during your divorce. It could be available to those who really need financial help as the process moves along.

The requirements for postseparation support can take both parties into account:

  • What was your standard of living during the marriage?
  • What kind of income can you both earn?
  • What are your debts and financial obligations?

These payments can help one spouse stay afloat during the divorce, but they usually end when the divorce is complete. This is when alimony kicks in if it applies to your situation.

RELATED: 6 Things You Need to Know About Divorce in North Carolina

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Who is eligible for alimony?

You’ll have to address alimony before your divorce becomes final. You can ask for a change to the payments after they’re established, but you might lose the chance for support once you close the book on the divorce process.

Your situation will also likely have to meet three general requirements to make the grade:

  1. Help: One spouse has a serious need for help maintaining their finances.
  2. Ability: The other spouse can provide support without putting their own standard of living in danger.
  3. Behavior: There was no marital misconduct from the spouse requesting help.

One piece that won’t come into play is gender. Either spouse can ask for alimony as long as they are dependent on the supporting spouse.

Once a judge has decided alimony is in order, North Carolina spells out factors that can affect how much and how long payments will be, including but not limited to:

  • Age and overall health
  • Education, job experience, and ability to earn
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Marriage length and contributions over time
  • Financial needs of each spouse
  • Misconduct during the marriage

No one situation can trigger support, but many can impact the final ruling. Each factor could change the nature of the payments.

Instances for alimony

If one spouse decides to stay home and maintain the household while the other advances their education or career, that can translate to support. This can be even more impactful if you haven’t been married enough time to see the benefits of the arrangement. A court could decide to help the spouse in need as they regain their lost footing.

More long-term help could be in order if one spouse can no longer make up lost ground or meet needs on their own. This might be due to factors like age or ability. In this case, a judge may decide that a longer, ongoing payment is the best option.

One aspect that can quickly tip the scales is the reading on misconduct. While bad behavior can be a broad definition, cheating spouses are often at a disadvantage. If the supporting spouse was unfaithful, North Carolina law requires some amount of alimony. But if the dependent spouse was in the wrong, the law bars the judge from awarding alimony.

But infidelity isn’t the only action that could influence a potential alimony scenario. There’s a long list of behaviors that can sway spousal support, including:

  • Cruelty and unbearable treatment
  • Spousal abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Wasting or hiding money

How much alimony can you expect?

North Carolina spousal support doesn’t rely on equations to determine the amounts or length of alimony. The judge can weigh the factors before them and make a subjective decision. Providing the right evidence to show your case could mean a big difference in the outcome. This is why it is so important to have a skilled and experienced family lawyer in your corner when alimony is at stake.

Myers Law Firm has over 45 years of combined experience helping clients work through complicated legal matters, including the many pieces involved in alimony proceedings and payment. The judge’s final call could stay in place for years to come, so assistance might make the process smoother now and help you financially in the future.

Call (888) 376-2889 or complete this simple form to schedule your appointment and learn your legal options during this difficult time.

References

Grall, T. (2018, December). Support providers: 2013. U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/demo/P70BR-158.pdf

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.1A (1995).

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.2A (1995).

North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. (2019, June). North Carolina Divorce Packet. https://www.nccourts.gov/assets/inline-files/NC-Divorce-Packet-Aug-2019.pdf

North Carolina Judicial Branch. Separation and Divorce. https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/divorce/separation-and-divorce#alimony-7481

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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What’s the Difference Between Separation and Divorce in North Carolina?

The misconception that separation and divorce are the same is all too common. In fact, separation and divorce are two different things, and they serve different purposes.

In this post, we’ll go over the differences between divorce and separation in North Carolina, and we’ll provide insight about how the two events affect you, your relationship, and your family.

Separation Is Part of the North Carolina Divorce Process

Every marriage is different, and so there’s no one right way to address differences, take time away, or end a marriage. While divorce is the way to end the legal bond between two people, separation is the first step that can lead to many possible results, including divorce, indefinite separation, or reconciliation.

Defining Separation

Some states have legal separation, which is a legal filing in which a married couple formalizes a separation without dissolving their marriage. In North Carolina, there’s no official document or any other formal process for a married couple to become “legally separated”. You and your ex are only separated if you’re living apart and at least one of you intends to leave the marriage permanently. If one of you moves out of the marital home with the intent of leaving the marriage, you can mark the date of separation on your calendar, and that’s enough.

North Carolina couples must remain separated continuously for one year before they can file for divorce. If you get back together and resume the marital relationship but then realize it was a mistake, you have to start the one-year clock over again. However, isolated “hook-ups” do not automatically restart the clock, even if you and your ex engaged in sexual intercourse.

Initiating a separation is simple, but it also opens the door for couples to begin dealing with the issues of custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. This is where the real conflict comes into play.

Defining Divorce

Separation in North Carolina requires couples to live separate and apart for one year. However, separation does not affect your marital status. Unless your marriage was not legally valid and you can get an annulment (which is rare in North Carolina), divorce is the only way to permanently dissolve your marriage and go back to being a single person for legal purposes.

Technically, filing for divorce is a simple process. All you need to do is file a lawsuit with the court and go through the process, which takes about 50–60 days after the other party is served with the lawsuit. In the end, you get a judgment of divorce, and your marriage is over.

Issues Related to Separation

Although obtaining the judgment of divorce is simple, all the issues that will come up as a result of the separation can get very complicated. These are the major legal issues that go along with dissolving a marriage: property division (equitable distribution), child custody, child support, and spousal support (alimony). The legal process of resolving these divorce-related claims is where all the conflict actually happens. In contentious cases, these issues may not be finalized until after the divorce is final.

Remember this, because it’s important: You do not have to be separated for one year in order to resolve claims for child custody, child support, spousal support, or property division. You can resolve them at any time during the one-year separation period, and you can even use a separation agreement to resolve them before you actually separate (so long as you separate within 30 days of creating the agreement). We’ll talk more about separation agreements in the following section.

To learn more about the process of filing for and finalizing an absolute divorce in North Carolina, read our blog article about this subject.

RELATED: How to Obtain an Absolute Divorce in Mecklenburg County

What is a Separation Agreement in North Carolina?

A separation agreement is a legal contract between you and your spouse that resolves the legal issues we discussed earlier (child custody, child support, property division, spousal support). There’s no law in North Carolina that requires you to get a separation agreement, and a court will not issue one for you. Only you and your spouse can create the agreement, and both of you need to be on board.

If you and your spouse can agree on the terms, your separation agreement can resolve any or all of the major legal issues surrounding your divorce. Your agreement won’t be valid unless both parties sign the document in front of a notary, who will notarize the signatures.

You can also put your agreement into a document called a consent order. This is an agreement that is signed by you and your ex and then by a judge. There are different reasons for doing a separation agreement versus a consent order, and we’ll talk about these differences in a future blog article.

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Do I Need a Divorce Attorney If I’m Separated?

If you’re separated or planning to leave the marriage, it’s never too early to start getting legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. Divorce can be a complicated, confusing, and stressful process, especially if you try to go through it without a lawyer.

Not only can a divorce lawyer take all the paperwork and legal preparation off your plate and make sure your rights are protected, but they will also attend to important details you may miss. As an example, some couples forget about various insurance accounts or retirement funds, which often name beneficiaries. If these accounts don’t get included in property division, it can be a mess to figure out what to do with them after a divorce finalizes.

Certain situations also demand the help of an attorney for the health and safety of the family. If you have a partner who is abusive or unstable, a lawyer can get the authorities involved and get court orders that protect you and your children.

No matter what your situation looks like, hiring a lawyer will most likely save you money in the long run unless you have a very simple, uncontested divorce. Make sure to choose an attorney who has experience handling divorce cases, and feel free to meet with multiple lawyers and search for someone who gives you confidence and makes you feel at ease. Your divorce may be a long process, and having the right advocate by your side can make all the difference.

Contact Myers Law Firm If You Need Help with a Divorce or Family Law Matter in Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the end of a marriage is never an easy time for either spouse, so we approach every case with compassion and understanding to search for solutions. While we excel at respectful negotiation and will work to find common ground with the other side, we are ready to stand up in court and fight for your rights with an aggressive approach if that’s what it takes.

The attorneys at Myers Law Firm have experience handling all of the major family law issues that surround the end of a marriage, including alimony, child custody, child support, and property division. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Alimony from Divorce

When one spouse can’t support themselves after a divorce, that spouse can seek alimony (also called spousal support) from the other spouse to help them stay financially secure as they transition out of the marriage. The idea behind alimony is that both spouses have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle in marriage, and neither spouse should have to immediately face a drastic change in their financial means because of a divorce.

The idea of alimony might seem straightforward, but alimony is often a complicated and contentious issue during a divorce. Many people also come into a divorce case with mistaken or outdated ideas about what alimony is and how it works.

In this blog article, we’ll explain what you need to know about who gets alimony in North Carolina and why.

Why Do Courts Award Alimony?

Often, one spouse chooses to pass up income and career development opportunities for the good of the household. When the couple separates unexpectedly, the spouse who made these sacrifices suddenly has no way to support themselves and maintain the same lifestyle they’re used to.

Meanwhile, the spouse who has more income benefited from the sacrifices the other spouse made throughout the marriage. The higher-earning spouse probably wouldn’t have been able to earn as much money and advance their career if the other spouse hadn’t devoted time to taking care of children or otherwise supporting the household.

So, the idea behind alimony is to let both spouses walk away from the marriage on equal footing while they figure out a path forward. How long alimony lasts usually depends on the length of the marriage.

For example, let’s say a couple was married for 20 years and had three children. One spouse gave up their career at the start of the marriage to provide childcare and daily household duties, and that spouse never resumed their career.

In that case, the spouse who made the sacrifice gave up a huge amount of potential earnings and career advancement for the good of the family. It will take a long time to compensate that spouse for those sacrifices, so alimony payments in a case like this could go on for many years or might even last indefinitely.

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Which Spouse Is Eligible for Alimony in North Carolina?

Many people believe that alimony always involves a husband making payments to a wife, but that’s an outdated stereotype. North Carolina’s alimony laws do not favor one gender over another, and alimony is a factor in same-sex divorces. Either spouse can receive alimony if they meet one of two criteria:

  1. The spouse can’t meet their own reasonable financial needs without the other spouse’s income or assets.
  2. The spouse can’t maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage without the other spouse’s income or assets.

The judge in your case will decide which spouse, if either, meets the criteria and is eligible for alimony. In alimony cases, the spouse who receives alimony is called the dependent spouse and the spouse who pays alimony is called the supporting spouse.

North Carolina Has Two Types of Financial Support for Spouses

Spousal support comes in two different forms in North Carolina:

  • Post-separation support is a type of temporary support that’s intended to support a spouse while the court evaluates their alimony claim. Post-separation support stops if a judge grants alimony, and it can also end when any of the following things happen:
    • The date specified in the post-separation support order passes
    • The judges dismisses the alimony claim
    • The court enters a judgment of absolute divorce when no alimony claim is pending
    • The dependent spouse gets remarried or moves in with a new significant other
    • Either spouse dies
  • Alimony is more permanent than post-separation support. Usually, the supporting spouse pays alimony regularly for a specified amount of time, but sometimes alimony payments go on indefinitely.

RELATED: Who Gets the Dog in a Divorce? Understanding North Carolina Pet Custody Laws

What Factors Affect the Amount of Alimony?

When a judge in North Carolina considers how much alimony a spouse might be eligible for and how long alimony should last, they will examine:

  • Earning capabilities of both spouses
  • Length of the marriage
  • The standard of living or lifestyle during the marriage
  • Assets and property acquired during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s disabilities or other unique needs
  • Each spouse’s age and physical and mental health
  • Marital misconduct, such as:
    • Adultery
    • Abandonment (physical or emotional)
    • Committing a crime that causes separation between the spouses
    • Reckless spending or the destruction, waste, or hiding of assets
    • Dangerous behavior that puts the other spouse in harm’s way
    • Abusing alcohol or drugs in a way that makes the other spouse’s life unbearable
    • Kicking the other spouse out of the house and not allowing them to return
    • Refusing to provide material support for the other spouse (food, shelter, money) even though they need the support and it’s feasible to provide it
  • Any other economic factor that would influence a person’s ability to support themselves

Once awarded, alimony payments can take the form of installments or a single lump-sum payment. In many cases, alimony payments have a set end date, but the judge doesn’t have to set an end date if they don’t feel it’s appropriate.

Alimony ends when either spouse dies, when the date set in the alimony order passes, or if the dependent spouse remarries or moves in with a new partner. The court can also change the amount of alimony or stop it completely if either spouse experiences a change in life circumstances.

In general, since each relationship and each divorce is unique, it’s hard to generalize about how alimony looks in practice. If you’re facing a divorce and need to make a claim for alimony or defend yourself against an unreasonable alimony claim, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced lawyer who can give you personalized advice.

Have Questions About Alimony in Your North Carolina Divorce? Call Myers Law Firm Today

If you have questions about alimony, reach out to our experienced divorce lawyers at Myers Law Firm. We’ll meet with you to learn about your situation and offer straightforward advice about what to do next.

To schedule your consultation, please call 888-376-2889 or complete our brief online contact form today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Alimony and Tax Law

Negotiations over alimony (or spousal support, as lawyers tend to call it) are already tough, but they may get even tougher thanks to the new tax law that Congress passed at the end of 2017. People who pay alimony will lose a valuable incentive, while alimony recipients appear to benefit — at least at first glance.

However, a closer look at the facts reveals a murkier truth. Read on to learn how this new law may affect your divorce case.

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE ATTORNEYS AT MYERS LAW FIRM, PLLC ARE NOT TAX LAWYERS AND THIS POST SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS PROVIDING TAX ADVICE OR LEGAL ADVICE ABOUT TAXES. THIS POST IS PROVIDING A GENERAL OVERVIEW OF HOW THE TAX LAW CHANGES MAY AFFECT SPOUSAL SUPPORT. FOR GUIDANCE ON YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR CPA.

No Deductions for Alimony Payers, No Taxes for Alimony Recipients

While laws regarding alimony vary widely from state to state, the way the IRS treats alimony for tax purposes has remained the same for the past 75 years: people who pay alimony get to deduct it from their taxes while people who receive alimony pay taxes on it.

Congress turned all this upside-down when they passed President Trump’s signature tax legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in December 2017. Once the new law takes effect in 2019, alimony will no longer be tax-deductible for the payer, and those who receive alimony will no longer have to pay taxes on it.

While this may sound like a major win for alimony recipients, it’s not that simple. Without the tax deduction, spouses who pay alimony will have less available income from which to pay, and many recipients may end up getting less money overall. In the end, the new tax law might prove to be a lose-lose situation for both spouses in an alimony case.

RELATED: How Do Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Affect Divorce?

Note that the new law only applies to divorces finalized or modified after 2018. If your spousal support case is resolved during 2018, the new law won’t apply. However, the law specifically allows ex-spouses to modify an existing divorce agreement to adopt the new rule once it goes into effect. In other words, if you modify an agreement entered prior to 2019, you and your ex can choose whether you want the old law or the new law to apply to your situation, but only if you both agree.

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How Will the New Tax Law Affect My Divorce Case?

One possible consequence of the new law is that negotiations over alimony may become tougher to resolve. In the past, the tax deduction for alimony often served to “soften the blow” for the spouse who agreed to pay alimony. Now, the new law has eliminated that silver lining, which means spouses may fight harder against spousal support requests and may be more willing to go to court rather than hash things out at the negotiating table.

Alimony negotiations through the end of 2018 could prove especially heated. People who expect to pay spousal support may rush to finalize their divorces before the end of 2018 to avoid dealing with the new tax rules. In some cases, alimony payers may settle for less favorable alimony terms just so they can conclude negotiations and avoid the tax hit from the new law.

On the other hand, people who expect to receive alimony may try to make sure negotiations drag on until next year since doing so will allow them to avoid paying taxes on all future alimony payments. Meanwhile, alimony recipients who expect to receive less due to the loss of available income from the payer may agree to speed things along, which could result in hasty divorces that leave one or both parties unhappy.

If you’re concerned about how the new tax law will affect your spousal support case, you should contact an experienced divorce lawyer right away. An attorney should be able to clear up any questions and advise you about your best course of action in light of the new law.

Myers Law Firm Can Help with Alimony in North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, we understand the end of a marriage is never an easy time for either spouse, so we approach every case with compassion and understanding to search for solutions. While we excel at respectful negotiation and will work to find common ground with the other side, we’re prepared to stand up in court and fight for your rights with an aggressive approach if that’s what it takes.

The attorneys at Myers Law Firm have experience handling all the major family law issues that surround the end of a marriage, including alimony, child custody, child support, property division, and divorce. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form.

References

Bischoff, B. (2018, January 26). New tax law eliminates alimony deductions— but not for everybody. MarketWatch. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-tax-law-eliminates-alimony-deductions-but-not-for-everybody-2018-01-23

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

Schedule Your Consultation Now!

Type of Case (Select One)(Required)

Barker v Barker

Barker v Barker – Civil Contempt

Defendant/Father appealed from an order finding him in contempt for failure to comply with a consent order directing him to pay a portion of his child’s college tuition and expenses. The order was affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The parties signed a consent order on August 20, 2003, which resolved all of the issues between them regarding child custody, child support, equitable distribution and spousal support. The issue pertinent to the appeal was the parties’ agreement regarding payment of tuition costs and expenses for college. Father agreed to pay 90% and Mother agreed to pay 10% of the tuition, room and board costs of the children’s college education, as long as the “diligently applied themselves to the pursuit of education.”

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