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How a court makes a decision regarding alimony

Some North Carolina residents who are getting a divorce might want to try to get an award of alimony. Others might be asked to pay it. Alimony might be paid for a limited time or indefinitely. In considering whether to award alimony, how much and for how long, the court takes a number of factors into consideration.

The court can deny alimony to a person on the grounds of what it calls "illicit sexual behavior" before separation. It can also order alimony from a spouse who has done so. The court will also consider general "marital misconduct" in deciding whether or not to award alimony.

Other factors weighed include ages, earnings, earning capacity, health and how long the marriage has lasted. The court will take into account whether one spouse contributed to the education or earning power of the other spouse and what contributions a spouse might have made in a homemaking capacity. It will consider the educational level of each spouse and whether one spouse will need time to get the training and education for employment along with the property brought into the marriage, each spouse's assets and needs, and the individuals' standards of living.

A person who is planning to request alimony or who expects to pay alimony might want to discuss the situation with a family law attorney. It might be possible for the couple to negotiate a support agreement that satisfies them. However, if one person plans to fight a request for alimony or a person requesting alimony expects a fight from their spouse, this might become more complex. For example, either party might need to gather evidence of marital misconduct to support the claim. If there is evidence of domestic abuse against a person requesting alimony, the request might be denied.

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