Spousal support, otherwise referred to as alimony, is financial support given to a spouse by the other during or after divorce. It is meant to enable the dependent spouse to maintain similar standards of living accustomed to during the marriage.
However, unlike child support, alimony is not compulsory. The dependent spouse must prove a need for financial help, and the other spouse must have the ability to pay.
How is the amount and duration of alimony determined?
Alimony may be permanent or temporary. A legally binding agreement entered into before the divorce, like a prenup, can provide direction regarding the amount and duration of alimony that a spouse is entitled to. In the absence of such an agreement, state laws will apply.
In North Carolina, a family law judge will consider various factors when calculating the amount and duration of spousal support. Some aspects of your marriage that could steer the conversation include:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of the spouses
- The income and earning capacity of each spouse
- The contribution of one spouse to the other’s education, training or increased earning power
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The relative needs of each spouse
- The fidelity of each spouse prior to separation
Spousal support is enforceable
Alimony may not be compulsory, but it is enforceable when ordered by a court or provided for in a prenup. You can face legal penalties for defaulting on such payments. On the other hand, spousal support orders can be modified post-judgment if there are substantial changes in the life of either spouse.
If you have any issues with alimony and are concerned about your financial interests, it is advisable to seek qualified advice on the best way of handling the matter. There is always a legal solution to such problems, and you should be ready to protect your rights.