Legal Guidance For Alimony And Spousal Support
Starting a new life after a divorce can present many challenges — and financial stability ranks among the most important and most stressful to each party. The courts often award spousal support to the person who was not the primary earner in the marriage — but this isn’t always the case.
During the divorce process, it’s important that you have an experienced family law attorney to fully represent your financial interests to get a fair and equitable resolution, and to ensure your financial stability following separation. At Bull & Reinhardt, PLLC, our family law attorneys provide strong representation for North Carolina clients.
Alimony And Spousal Support — Is There A Difference?
Many people wonder about the difference between alimony and spousal support. For all practical purposes, the terms are interchangeable. The more gender-neutral term “spousal support” was adopted because financial payments are no longer limited to husbands paying wives.
Post-marital support is generally paid by the higher earner. In many marriages, one spouse handles the home responsibilities and the other becomes the primary earner. A support settlement or decree seeks to maintain financial balance, rather than have one person fall into economic trouble or be in a weaker bargaining position while negotiating the other terms of separation. Key factors for determining spousal support include:
- Earnings and earning capacities
- Age, physical and mental health
- Length of marriage
- Educational contributions
- Financial impact of child care and custody
- Standard of living
While proving marital misconduct is no longer a prerequisite to receiving spousal support, in some cases, marital misconduct may be a factor into a court’s decision especially if the misconduct had financial implications to the parties.
Is There More Than One Type Of Spousal Support?
Most people think about support in terms of monthly payments. In many cases, that’s exactly how it works. However, other options and nuances may apply.
- Periodic payments: This flexible type of spousal support includes regular payments. Marriage or cohabitation usually triggers the end of payments.
- Lump sum: Some divorce settlements arrange for a one-time payment that provides the total spousal support.
- Reimbursement: This type of spousal support sets a limit. Once that figure has been paid, the payments end.
- Spousal support modification: When one of the former spouses experiences a substantial change in circumstances, a motion to modify spousal support obligations can be filed with the court.
Although spousal support may be deemed “permanent” by a family court, there are times when the initial order doesn’t reflect the changing lives of everyday people. When circumstances change, it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer to seek a modification. Developments such as job loss, a financial windfall and an ex-spouse cohabitating with someone are examples.
There may be significant tax implications for those paying or receiving spousal support and it is important to consult an experienced family law attorney so they can address this and avoid pitfalls.
If you are considering divorce or want to modify an existing spousal support order, contact our Asheville office online or call 828-348-8053. We’re here to help you get clear results in complex cases.