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Marital Fault is Not a Requirement for Spousal Support: Part I

In North Carolina, a supporting spouse does not need to be proven at fault in the marriage for spousal support to be awarded.  There are two types of spousal support cases in North Carolina, post-separation support (PSS) and alimony.  For simplicity’s sake, post-separation support is temporary support while alimony is permanent for a set number of years (although it is possible for it to be modified or for it to terminate early).

Post-Separation Support Cases:

For PSS cases, need, not fault, is the main consideration.  To receive an award of PSS, the court must find that the resources of the dependent spouse are not adequate to meet his or her reasonable needs and the supporting spouse has the ability to pay.  In order to make this determination, the court will look at a number of factors including:

1.     the parties’ accustomed standard of living;

2.     the present employment income and other recurring earnings of each party from any source;

3.     the parties’ income-earning abilities;

4.     the separate and marital debt service obligations;

5.     those expenses reasonably necessary to support each of the parties; and

6.     each party’s respective legal obligations to support any other persons.

The only time marital misconduct will come into play in a PSS hearing is if there is evidence of marital misconduct on the part of the dependent spouse on or before the date of separation.  If that is the case, the court will hear any evidence against the supporting spouse for the same.  The court will then determine whether or not to award PSS and, if awarded, the amount to be awarded.  The court only looks at martial misconduct that occurred on or before the date of separation but will hear evidence of martial misconduct after the date of separation to help prove pre-separation marital misconduct.

Marital misconduct includes, but is not limited to:

1.     Illicit sexual behavior;

2.     Abandonment of the other spouse;

3.     Malicious turning out-of-doors of the other spouse;

4.     Cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other spouse;

5.     Indignities rendering the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome;

6.     Reckless spending of the income of either party, or the destruction, waste, diversion, or concealment of assets;

7.     Excessive use of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome.

If you believe you are entitled to spousal support or need to defend against such a claim, contact us today!

 

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