Spousal Support and Marital Fault in North Carolina: Alimony
In Part I, we discussed how need, not fault, is the main consideration in spousal support (PSS) cases. While alimony is treated a little differently than PSS, fault on the part of the supporting spouse is still not a requirement. To receive an award of alimony, the court must find that the party requesting alimony is the dependent spouse, the opposing party is the supporting spouse and an award of alimony is equitable after considering several factors.
Factors the Court Considers in Awarding Alimony:
Some of the factors the court considers include:
- The marital misconduct of either spouse (see Part I for what constitutes marital misconduct);
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the both spouses;
- The age, physical, mental and emotional conditions of both spouses;
- The income of both spouses;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse;
- The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage;
- The education of both spouses;
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs;
- The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support;
- The property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
- The contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
- The relative needs of the spouses; and
- The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
Illicit Sexual Behavior:
In addition to the factors listed above, North Carolina statute makes special provisions for alimony when illicit sexual behavior occurs on or before the date of separation. Illicit sexual behavior includes sexual intercourse but also sexual acts with a person other than the other spouse, whether heterosexual or homosexual. As mentioned in Part I, evidence of illicit sexual behavior will not be considered except to help prove it occurred prior to the date of separation. Additionally, the court will not consider any acts of illicit sexual behavior that has been condoned by the other party.
- If the dependent spouse is the only person found to have engaged in illicit sexual behavior, alimony cannot be awarded;
- If the supporting spouse is the only person found to have engaged in illicit sexual behavior, alimony must be awarded to the dependent spouse;
- If both parties are found to have engaged in illicit sexual behavior, the court will have discretion to grant or deny alimony based on the circumstances.
Alimony cases can be very complex. If you are in need of alimony or need to defend against such a claim, contact us today.