When you are facing a divorce and one spouse makes significantly more money than the other, you may have questions about alimony. Are you going to have to pay for it? Are they? How much, and for how long? In North Carolina, alimony is paid to a dependent party by a supporting party based on several factors. Learn more about it in our Q&A.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Alimony?
Alimony is only awarded to the dependent spouse. You can be considered dependent if you depended on your spouse for monetary support and maintenance while you were married. The court will look at the standard of living both parties have become accustomed to over the last few years. You don't have to deplete your individual assets to maintain that standard of living, but you must prove that you don't have the financial resources to meet your needs. A judge will award alimony based on both parties' income-earning ability, marital and separate debt obligations, expenses, and whether each party is supporting dependents.
How Does a Judge Determine the Amount of Alimony Paid?
There are many factors that guide a judge in making an alimony determination. These include age and health conditions of both spouses, the length of the marriage, whether a spouse contributed as a homemaker, the education or education needs of each individual, marital misconduct, tax ramifications, and anything else that factors into your economic circumstances. You may even be able to add in the cost of your attorney's fees.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
Alimony payments will end when any one of several events occurs. If a dependent spouse remarries, the supporting spouse no longer has to make payments. Payments will also end if the spouses resume a marital relationship with each other, if the dependent spouse cohabitates with a significant other in a homosexual or heterosexual relationship, or if either spouse passes away. Some orders for alimony have an expiration date built in. If any of the previously mentioned events occur prior to that expiration date, then the expiration date will no longer be valid.
Is Marital Fault Required to Receive Alimony Payments?
In North Carolina, post-separation support and alimony are available without a requirement that the supporting spouse be at fault. However, if a supporting spouse can prove that the dependent spouse had an affair and he or she didn't, the dependent spouse loses the entitlement to alimony. They may still have a right to post-separation support though, depending on the details of your case. Contact us to discuss your case.
What Effect Does Alimony Have on Taxes?
According to state and federal income tax law, alimony must be reported as income by the dependent spouse and is deductible by the supporting spouse under the following conditions:
- The payments are part of a divorce or separation agreement
- The parties are living in separate households
- The payments are made in cash and not in kind
- Neither party designates the payments as non-alimony
- The supporting spouse has no liability to pay after the support spouse dies.
If these five federal criteria don't apply, the payor cannot attempt to obtain a tax deduction, but the parties may privately agree that the taxable income and deduction aspects of the law won't apply to them.
After December 31, 2018, the tax treatment of alimony payments changes. The payments will no longer be deductible by the payor and will not be included in the income of the recipient.
If you're confused by spousal support laws in North Carolina, we are here to answer all of your questions and guide you through the process. You need an experienced North Carolina family lawyer to help walk you through the process. Call the family law firm NC Adoption Law Center at (704) 861-0700 and let us answer your questions.