The term alimony comes from the Scottish legal concept of aliment, which required a husband to provide for his wife her lodging, food, clothing, and necessities in the event they divorced. In North Carolina, alimony has evolved into monetary payments that may be paid from a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse. To have a valid claim for alimony, you must have a supporting / dependent relationship.
A supporting spouse is defined as a spouse upon whom the other spouse is actually substantially dependent for maintenance and support or from whom such spouse is substantially in need of maintenance and support. A dependent spouse is defined as a spouse who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse. A wife, for example, who earns $150,000.00 per year, would be a supporting spouse over a husband who stays at home to keep the children. A husband, for example, who earns $175,000.00 per year would be a supporting spouse over a wife who earns $40,000.00 per year.
It is important to note that affairs play into alimony by either barring or guaranteeing that alimony is awarded. If a dependent spouse participates in an act of illicit sexual behavior (sleeps with someone other than their spouse) during the period of marriage, the dependent spouse is barred from being awarded alimony. If the supporting spouse participates in an act of illicit sexual behavior during the period of marriage, the court shall order that alimony be paid to the dependent spouse. If both parties participated in illicit sexual behavior, alimony shall either be denied or awarded at the discretion of the court after consideration of all the circumstances. Sexual acts that occur a day after the date of separation are not acts that would bar or guarantee alimony.
How much alimony am I entitled to? How long will I receive alimony? Unlike child support, there is no calculator to determine an alimony amount or duration in North Carolina. Instead, the court considers a number of factors including the length of marriage, the reasonable needs of the spouses, the ability of one spouse to pay alimony, the dependent spouse’s standard of living, the dependent spouse’s educational background, and whether there was any marital misconduct during the marriage. Generally, longer marriages result in alimony award of longer durations; people who are high income earners will usually pay a higher amount than people with modest incomes.
If you would like to speak to an experienced family law attorney regarding alimony, please contact Adkins Law and we can arrange a consultation.