In North Carolina, when parties separate and divorce, one party may owe spousal support to the other. In order to have a claim for alimony, the party asking for support must prove that they are the dependent spouse and the other spouse is the supporting spouse. This means that they are actually and substantially dependent on the other spouse in order to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. They also must prove that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay the spousal support for which they are asking, after meeting all reasonable monthly expenses of their own.
Filing a Financial Affidavit
When one spouse files a claim for alimony, both parties must file a Financial Affidavit, which will require them to provide detailed documentation of all monthly income and expenses. The judge will use each parties’ affidavits to determine whether one party has a deficit between their income and expenses (the dependent spouse), and the other has a surplus of income after paying all expenses (the supporting spouse).
Discrediting a Financial Affidavit
At a trial on an alimony claim, it is common for each party to go through the affidavit of the other and attempt to discredit the listed monthly expenses. For this reason, it is important when completing the Financial Affidavit to make sure that all income and expenses are verifiable through documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns, bank record, and credit card records. Even then, the judge may determine that some expenses are not reasonable. This is also why the request of information through a process called Discovery is important in the preparation of an alimony case. This way, you will receive the documents and information necessary to review the other party’s financials prior to court.
In some cases, marital misconduct may come into play in an alimony claim. When there are allegations of adultery, this can have an impact on an alimony claim. If the dependent spouse can prove adultery, the court must order alimony be paid. If the support spouse can prove adultery, this will bar the dependent spouse from collecting alimony. If this is an issue in your case, you should speak with an attorney who can explain how adultery can be proved and other factors the court will consider.
Motion for Post Separation Support & Motion for Attorney’s Fees
Most of the time when a claim for alimony is filed, it is accompanied by a Motion for Post Separation Support, and a Motion for Attorney’s Fees. Post Separation Support is a form of temporary alimony, designed to provide the dependent spouse with just enough support to meet their monthly needs. In Post Separation Support hearings, only the income and expenses of the parties is considered, not marital misconduct. Attorney’s fees may be ordered in a claim for Alimony and in a Motion for Post Separation Support.
Speak with a North Carolina Attorney
If you are considering filing, or if you are defending, one of these claims, you should speak with an attorney regarding whether or not attorney’s fees will be an issue in your case.