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FAQs: How does alimony work?

When spouses decide to pursue a divorce, they often have a lot on their minds. They worry about how they will divide their property, and if they will be required to pay alimony to their soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

This is a common thing to worry about when navigating the divorce process. So, here are some of the most common questions about alimony in North Carolina.

Will I have to pay alimony?

One of the most common questions spouses have is if they will have to pay alimony at all.

There is not a straightforward answer to this question, since it depends on the situation. Usually, either spouse must first petition for an alimony order. It is not an automatic factor in every divorce proceeding. Once a spouse files a petition for alimony, then the courts will consider several factors to determine if financial support is necessary.

What factors will courts consider when determining alimony?

North Carolina family courts primarily consider the financial circumstances and needs of both spouses when determining alimony, including:

  • How much each spouse earns
  • Each spouse’s earning potential
  • The established standard of living
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • Financial contributions each spouse made during the marriage

However, other factors such as how long spouses were married and their need for financial support after the divorce can impact alimony as well. It is important to understand all of these factors since there is no specific calculation under state law to estimate the amount of alimony a spouse might pay.

Is it true that infidelity can impact alimony payments?

The short answer is yes. In North Carolina, actions considered to be “marital misconduct” can play a large role when courts determine whether or not to award alimony. Several things fall under the category of marital misconduct, including:

  • Infidelity
  • Abandonment
  • Mistreatment
  • Financial misconduct
  • Alcohol abuse

The impact these details can have is often surprising to many people.

Not all divorce cases will involve these issues – or alimony, for that matter. But it is still critical to be aware of all the elements that can impact alimony and one’s finances post-divorce.