One of the many challenging aspects of a divorce is determining whether spousal support should be established. Post-separation support and alimony are utilized to help the dependent spouse maintain an accustomed standard of living.
There are a several things to consider when negotiating spousal support. Below are a few issues that the experienced Monroe, NC divorce attorneys at Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long would like you to keep in mind:
1. Understand Your Needs
First, if you are the dependent spouse, determine your monetary needs and living expenses. When you come to the table to discuss spousal support, you should have an idea about how much money you need from your spouse to maintain the standard of living to which you are accustomed. It is important to know that courts require that you submit an income and expense sheet. Filling out a financial affidavit will help you detail your living expenses, from monthly mortgage or rent payments to the less frequent expenses, such as car tag renewals, Christmas gifts and the like.
2. Remember Tax Implications
Post-Separation Support and alimony are currently tax deductible to the supporting spouse and taxable as income to the dependent spouse. The new tax law recently enacted by Congress is slated to change these tax considerations for alimony awards after January 1, 2019.
3. Keep In Mind What Factors The Court May Consider
North Carolina law sets certain guidelines for determining and awarding alimony payments. First and foremost, the court must determine which spouse is the supporting spouse, and thus the payor spouse, and which spouse is the dependent spouse, and thus the payee spouse. There are sixteen major factors the court considers, which include marital misconduct, spousal earnings and earnings capacity, financial and household contributions, and more. Pre-separation adultery is often very important in determining entitlement or bars to alimony. Because of these considerations, it is important to keep records of your financial affairs in order to help the court determine your needs. Providing clear, concise and detailed accounts of financial activity will help the court make an informed decision about awarding alimony.
4. Forecast Your Future
When it is time to grant spousal support, courts determine the length of time you will receive alimony checks. If you are the dependent spouse, you should consider your future plans and what those plans mean for you financially. Whether you are looking for a new job or going back to school, being able to nail down an appropriate duration of time you are in need of spousal support will help you prepare for the next chapter of your life. While it is possible, alimony is rarely permanent. Rather, it usually terminates after a set period of time, and definitely terminates upon death, your remarriage or cohabitation, as defined by statute.
5. Ask Questions
Make sure to ask all the questions you can during your divorce negotiations and proceedings. Will you be able to renew your alimony payments should they run out? What happens if your former spouse dies? These are necessary questions to ask because once a ruling is made or a separation agreement is signed, courts are reluctant to modify spousal support amounts.
If you need help negotiating spousal support, the Monroe, NC divorce lawyers at Perry, Bundy, Plyer and Long can help you navigate the process and advocate for you. Call us at 704-289-2519 to learn more about our family law practice and services.