Prior to October 1, 1995 alimony was based on fault. A dependent spouse had to prove the supporting spouse committed adultery, was an abuser of alcohol or drugs, was violent, abandoned the innocent spouse or in other ways made his or her condition unbearable and intolerable. Since that date a spouse is entitled to alimony if that spouse is the dependent spouse and the other is the supporting spouse. Those terms are defined in NCGS 16.1A as follows:
“Dependent spouse” means a spouse, whether husband or wife, who is substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse.
“Supporting spouse” means a spouse, whether husband or wife, upon whom the other spouse is substantially dependent for maintenance and support or from whom such spouse is substantially in need of maintenance and support.
If that isn’t bad enough, consider there are actually two forms of alimony; Post-Separation Support (PSS) akin to temporary alimony which is for a relatively short stated time or until the resolution of the alimony case, and alimony proper which will usually be for a longer period of time. The court is required to base its PSS order on the financial needs of the parties, considering the parties’ accustomed standard of living, the present employment income and other recurring earnings of each party from any source, their income-earning abilities, the separate and marital debt service obligations, those expenses reasonably necessary to support each of the parties, and each party’s respective legal obligations to support any other persons. (NCGS 50-16.2A). On the other hand, in alimony cases the court is directed to look at all relevant factors including the 16 enumerated in NCGS 50-16.3A
Confused? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. In most cases, it takes an experienced family law lawyer to review your specific family financial situation and provide advice on the issue of dependency and the likelihood of successfully obtaining or defending alimony.
Next Time: Part II, How Much, How Long and Fault Factors.
Contact the experienced family law attorneys at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. to discuss your specific legal matters.