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Determining alimony in North Carolina

If you're considering divorce, you're probably thinking about how it will affect your financial situation. Unfortunately, financial worries can often compound an already emotionally difficult situation.

Still, having an idea of what to expect can provide some peace of mind. One area of uncertainly in many divorces is alimony. Although alimony doesn't come into play in all divorces, it can be vital when one spouse has been financially dependent on the other. 

If you have been at least somewhat dependent on your spouse's income, it is helpful to know how alimony will figure into your divorce so that you can plan for your financial future.

While some states have specific formulas for calculating alimony, North Carolina law leaves it to the discretion of the court. Either spouse (or both) can request that alimony be part of the divorce settlement.

Determining whether alimony will be paid

How will a court determine whether you should receive alimony? It must first determine that you have been dependent on the support of your spouse. (Alimony can also be affected if a court determines that either you or your spouse has engaged in "illicit sexual behavior" prior to separation.)

Determining the amount and duration of alimony

If the court decides that alimony will be paid, it then must decide how much and for how long. North Carolina law sets out an extensive list of factors for courts to consider in making this determination. Some of these factors include the following:

  • Your incomes and earning potentials
  • Your ages and physical and mental conditions
  • You access to medical, retirement and other benefits
  • How long your marriage lasted
  • How much one spouse has contributed to the other's education or increased earning power (for example, perhaps you cared for the children so your husband could work extra hours to advance his career)
  • How your income and expenses will be affected if you have custody of your children
  • The standard of living you established during your marriage

In addition to these and other factors listed in law, the court may also consider other factors it determines to be relevant to its determination of alimony.

An attorney can further help you evaluate your situation and know what to expect. Financial planning is an important part of any divorce, and understanding some of the considerations that affect alimony can help you have a better idea of what your financial situation may look like after divorce. 

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