Understanding alimony basics

Alimony is not awarded in all circumstances in North Carolina so it is helpful for couples to understand when alimony, sometimes referred to as spousal support, will be awarded. The purpose of alimony is to assist a non-wage earning or lower-wage earning spouse with the transition following divorce. In some circumstances, a spouse may have stayed at home to care for the household and children or contributed to the other spouse's career or education so alimony may be awarded to help that spouse become financially self-sufficient following a divorce.

Factors that are considered when determining if alimony will be awarded, for how long and how much, include the length of the marriage; the age, physical, emotional and financial condition of each of the divorcing spouses; the couple's standard of living during the marriage; the length of time the recipient spouse will need to obtain the education or training to become self-sufficient; and the ability of the paying spouse to pay alimony and still support themselves.

Alimony may be awarded for different periods of time and in different amounts. It is important for the paying spouse not to ignore spousal support obligations ordered by the court or agreed to by the couple as part of the divorce agreement. Alimony can be a stressful and contentious part of any divorce so it is useful for couples to understand how it is awarded so they can better negotiate those concerns.

When alimony is involved it the divorce process, it can be one of the primary concerns divorcing couples have. Because it is likely an important topic for both of the spouses, it is helpful to be familiar with the process used to determine an alimony award.

Source: Family.findlaw.com, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," Accessed Sept. 6, 2017

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