5 Things to Expect in Your Alimony Case

Alimony payments

5 Things to Expect in Your Alimony Case

1. Your Attorney will File Two Claims

The first is called post-separation support.  The second is called alimony.  You will have the post-separation support hearing first and then the alimony hearing later.  Think of post-separation support as “temporary” alimony.  If awarded, it typically lasts until a date specified in the order or until the alimony hearing.

Something to note: you can ask the Judge to order the other side to pay for your attorneys’ fees for both your post-separation support and alimony claims.

2. Affairs are Important

In North Carolina, if the dependent spouse engaged in “illicit sexual behavior” during the marriage and before the date of separation, a court will not award alimony.  However, if the supporting spouse did, a court must award alimony.  If both parties did, a court has discretion on whether to award alimony or not.  And, if the sexual behavior was condoned (forgiven), the court will not consider it when deciding whether to award alimony or not.  Illicit sexual behavior includes vaginal or anal intercourse, cunnilingus, and fellatio.

North Carolina still recognizes claims for alienation of affection and criminal conversation.  Meaning, a third party can still be held liable for breaking up a marriage.

Notify your attorney as soon as possible if you or your spouse has had an affair.

3. Wake County Requires Initial Disclosures

Wake County requires both parties to exchange “initial disclosures.” Initial disclosures include several types of financial documents.  You and your spouse will need to exchange several months’ worth of bank statements, credit card statements, etc.  Once you do, you will notarize a document stating you have provided the other side with all the documents required under the local rules.  There are consequences if either of you do not follow the initial disclosure requirements.  A full list of required documents can be found in the link above.

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4. Wake County Requires Financial Affidavits

Wake County requires both parties to exchange financial affidavits.  The affidavit shows all of your income and expenses.  It’s a very important piece of information for your spousal support case.  Before sending it to the other party, you will notarize it stating that everything is true and accurate.  Spousal support cases are often won or lost due to the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the financial affidavit.  If the other side can use your bank and credit card statements to poke holes in your affidavit, the Judge may decide your affidavit is not trustworthy and use the other side’s numbers instead.

Take your time when filling out the financial affidavit.  Think of it as completing a budget for your household.  We recommend using your last three months of bank and credit card statements to get an average monthly expense for each category.  For example, if you have $500 of grocery expenses in February, $600 in March and $580 in April, your average would be $560 a month.  So, $560 would be the number you use for how much you spend in groceries each month.

5. Be Prepared to Issue and Respond to Discovery Requests

Clients often find answering discovery requests to be both time consuming and an invasion of privacy.  Your attorney will make appropriate objections. But you’ll likely need to answer most of the questions.  Click here to find out more about discovery requests.

Going through a separation is never easy.  When spousal support claims are involved, it’s important to have a knowledgeable family law attorney on your side.  Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

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