Alimony is a court ordered allowance that the “supporting” spouse pays to the “dependent” spouse for support and maintenance following separation and divorce. In the past, alimony was awarded to the wife and paid by the husband. Modernly, husbands are awarded alimony when they are financially dependent on their wife. In general, alimony is awarded to allow the other spouse to maintain the standard of living to which both parties were accustomed during the marriage.
It is important to remember that if alimony is not properly pled PRIOR to the entry of a Judgment of Divorce, that alimony is waived. In other words, one cannot ask to receive alimony after the date of divorce. Prior to the Judgment of Divorce being entered, it is important to consult with an attorney regarding your issues of post-separation support, spousal support and alimony.
Different Types of Alimony
Alimony that is awarded after separation but prior to divorce is referred to as “postseparation support.” Alimony that is awarded at the time of divorce can take any one or a combination of the following forms:
Permanent alimony is typically paid until the remarriage of the dependent spouse, the death of the dependent spouse or supporting spouse, or until cohabitation by the dependent spouse, whichever first occurs. It can also only continue for a certain period of time. For example, alimony may terminate ten years from the date of separation.
Lump sum Alimony
This type of alimony is characterized by a single payment rather than periodic (usually monthly or weekly) payments. As with all types of alimony, lump sum alimony is taxable.
This alimony lasts for a specific period of time, with its main purpose being to help one spouse get back on his/her feet because of special circumstances. Temporary alimony is usually awarded for a short period of time.
This is the most commonly awarded type of alimony. It is used in situations where the recipient is younger, or able to eventually enter or return to the workforce and become self-supporting financially. The payments may include money for education to enable the recipient to become self-supporting.
Coming to an Agreement
As with all other matters surrounding divorce, alimony can be settled through a mutual agreement or by going to court. Many parties are able to come to an agreement defining the amount and duration of the payments. Settling out of court is preferred as it is less costly, more time efficient, and less stressful than going to court. If the parties are unable to agree on alimony, a party may file a complaint and initiate a civil action to have alimony determined by the court.
Once at trial, the court will first make a determination as to whether one spouse is a dependant spouse and whether the other spouse is a supporting spouse. If the court determines that there is in fact such a financially dependent relationship, the issue shifts to the amount and duration of the alimony and/or postseparation support award.
With postseparation support, the court usually looks at the financial needs of one party and the ability of the other party to pay. It is not until there is a hearing on the issue of permanent alimony that other factors will be considered by the court.
The judge may also consider any economic circumstances of either party that the judge deems to be just or proper.
Prior to the Judgment of Divorce being entered it is imperative to consult with an attorney regarding your issues of postseparation support, spousal support and alimony.
It is extremely important to keep a record of your financial information to use in the alimony proceedings. Perhaps the most important aspect of an alimony proceeding is that you are prepared to support your position so that you can obtain an award that is commensurate with your needs.
Read more about the 11 Factors for Permanent Alimony.
The Important Role of Your Attorney
An experienced NC divorce attorney can help you prepare any financial documents needed to help you obtain a proper alimony award.
The attorneys at Alexander & Doyle, P.A. have 25+ years of experience helping clients with NC divorce issues, including alimony. Schedule a consultation today.