2024 How to Avoid Paying Alimony in North Carolina?

When your marriage ends in divorce, many aspects of your life will change. You are likely to be moving from a home with two adults maintaining all needs. Instead, you will have a single adult home where you are responsible for everything. This will generally increase financial obligations. This increase can cause concern, especially if you believe you may be required to pay your spouse alimony. You cannot prevent the court from establishing alimony payments. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the process to fully explore your options.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is financial assistance from the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse in the event of a divorce. This situation arises when one spouse maintains the home while the other works or there is a significant income disparity. The intent of alimony is to help the dependent spouse maintain their quality of life until they can support themselves outside the marriage. Either partner, regardless of gender, can request alimony if they are the financially dependent spouse.

Considerations for Alimony Payments

Alimony is not automatically granted to either spouse in the event of a divorce. Paperwork must be filed by the requesting spouse in the North Carolina district court that is handling the divorce. Once the request has been made, there are multiple factors that the court will consider when granting or denying alimony. Some of these factors include:

  • Duration of the marriage and the established standard of living
  • The relative earnings and earning capacity of each spouse
  • The relative needs of each spouse
  • Physical, emotional, and mental condition of each spouse
  • Sources and amount of earned and unearned income
  • Property and assets that each spouse brought into the marriage
  • The impact of awarded alimony on federal, state, and local taxes
  • Liabilities, assets, and debt requirements of each spouse
  • Contribution by one spouse to the training, education, or increased earning power of the other

Avoiding Alimony Payments

Finding ways to avoid an alimony order being placed starts with determining the specific circumstances that would prevent the award. One of the major factors is an inability to make payments. If you and your spouse have similar incomes, or you make less than your spouse, a judge will deny the alimony request. It is, however, important to note that you cannot accept a job with lower pay or voluntarily quit your job to avoid alimony. Other circumstances that may cause a judge to deny an alimony request are:

  • Separation Agreement
    If you sign a separation agreement with your spouse, it could be used to eliminate alimony. The agreement must contain an explicit provision that waives post-separation support and/or alimony.
  • Marital Fault
    North Carolina family law no longer requires proof of marital fault when requesting a divorce or alimony. However, the judge is still allowed to consider the parties’ marital fault when establishing spousal support. If the requesting spouse’s poor behavior contributed to the marriage’s downfall, it may be possible to avoid paying alimony by seeking a fault-based divorce.
  • Spousal Agreement
    If you and your spouse can reach an amicable divorce settlement outside of court, you may also agree that post-separation support and alimony are not necessary for your circumstances. With this agreement, a formal agreement must be filed with the court to waive your spouse’s right to alimony.

Even if the court has already placed an alimony order, you still have options. If you are unable to make the alimony payments, you can file a request to modify the order.

Alimony Termination

Alimony agreements will generally contain a date on which the support will terminate. However, there are also certain situations that will automatically terminate the order. If the spouses choose to resume marital relations, the alimony payments will not continue. The payments will also stop if either spouse dies or the recipient spouse remarries. Marriage is not necessarily a requirement to cease payments. Simply living with another adult with whom they share a romantic relationship can similarly end the payment requirement.

FAQs About How to Avoid Paying Alimony in North Carolina

What Is a Waiver of Alimony?

Spouses may waive the obligation and right to post-separation support and alimony with a waiver of alimony. To be legal, this document must be:

  • In writing
  • Clearly stating the provision to waive alimony
  • Signed and acknowledged by the spouses in the presence of a certifying officer

Without this formal agreement, alimony is still applicable in your situation. It may still be requested by your spouse.

What Happens If You Do Not Make Your Alimony Payments on Time or in Full?

An alimony order is a legally binding order from the court. Disobeying it can result in being found in contempt of court. This can potentially result in fines and even jail time, depending on the reason for failure to pay and the amount you are behind. The judge has discretion on punishments levied for failure to pay alimony.

What Are the Guidelines for Alimony Payments?

Unlike child support payments, there are no established guidelines that place a limit on the amount or duration of alimony. This gives the judge presiding over your case significant leeway while drafting an alimony order. Therefore, alimony orders can vary wildly between cases. North Carolina statute 50-16.3A sets up factors to be considered while establishing an order but lacks specific guidance.

What Is the Difference Between Post-Separation Support and Alimony?

Post-separation support is the payment made by the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse during the one-year period of legal separation. If this payment continues past the period of separation, and is codified in an agreement or judgment, it becomes alimony. The criteria for both types of support are the same. However, it is important to use the correct terminology during legal proceedings.

Legal Assistance for Your Alimony Case

The financial burden of alimony can be significant. It should not be handled with anything except skilled experience. Lassiter & Lassiter has over five decades of knowledge in family law. Our knowledgeable team can examine your case and help you reach an ideal outcome. Schedule a consultation today to get answers about alimony and possible routes to avoid these burdensome payments.

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