Alimony—a financial payment usually made monthly from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse—is sometimes awarded in North Carolina divorces. Typically, alimony is temporary, meaning that it goes on for a specified period of time before ending. In some cases, however, alimony is permanent. Permanent alimony is awarded until either of the spouses passes away.
However, whether alimony is temporary or permanent, if the receiving spouse remarries, alimony is immediately terminated on the date of that new marriage. Although, there are exceptions to this rule. Certain types of alimony payments are not affected by remarriage. Similarly, remarriage is not the only type of relationship the receiving spouse can have that may impact alimony.
For all your questions about divorce and alimony in North Carolina, the Raleigh alimony attorneys at Triangle Divorce Lawyers can help.
When Does Alimony Get Awarded?
Alimony is occasionally awarded to the lower-earning spouse during a divorce. This court decision is based on the following:
- The length of the marriage
- The income and wealth of each spouse
- The age and health of each spouse
- The lower-earning spouse’s ability to become financially self-reliant
- The contributions each spouse made to the marriage, children, or household
- Financial contributions made to the higher-earning spouse that should be paid back
- Sacrifices the lower-earning spouse made for the other spouse’s career or education
- And more
Remarrying Ends the Paying Spouse’s Alimony Obligation
Whether alimony has been paid for a month or a decade, it is automatically terminated the day the receiving spouse remarries. In fact, the paying spouse does not even have to petition the court to end alimony. As such, alimony-receiving individuals should be aware of the financial repercussions of remarrying if they are dependent on the alimony payments they are currently receiving. Additionally, the paying party should take note of their former spouses’ remarriage as well as cohabitation, which can also have an impact on alimony.
Alimony and Cohabitation
If the receiving spouse cohabitates with another person, the paying spouse has the right to petition the court to end alimony. Cohabitation is defined in North Carolina alimony laws in § 50-16.9 as “the act of two adults dwelling together continuously and habitually in a private heterosexual relationship, even if this relationship is not solemnized by marriage or a private homosexual relationship.” Alimony-receiving spouses may attempt to keep their alimony support by hiding such a relationship.
Evidence of cohabitation may be necessary to prove that it exists and, therefore, to end the alimony obligation of the paying spouse. However, the receiving spouse can still have a relationship with another person and continue receiving alimony at the same time, even if they sometimes spend the night with one another. Cohabitation means continuously living together, not occasionally.
Lump Sum Alimony is Not Affected by Remarriage
Lump sum alimony is sometimes awarded instead of monthly alimony payments. Often, it is the receiving spouse who requests a lump sum alimony payment for the following reasons:
- There is more certainty in a lump sum payment that the paying spouse will actually make good on their end.
- Lump sum alimony is not reduced if the receiving spouse lands a new, higher-paying job after divorce.
- The receiving spouse does not have to pay back lump sum alimony if they remarry. In fact, even if the paying spouse has not paid or has only made a partial payment on lump sum alimony and the receiving spouse remarries, the paying spouse is still legally obligated to make the full payment.
Alimony by Transfer of Property is Also Not Affected by Remarriage
Just like lump sum alimony, not all alimony payments are made monthly; in North Carolina, alimony can also be paid by transfer of property, such as a house, condominium, car, investments, or other assets. Under North Carolina divorce and alimony rules § 50-16.7, “the court may order the transfer of title to real property solely owned by the obligor in payment of lump-sum payments of alimony or post-separation support.” As such, if the paying spouse has not yet made this transfer of property when the receiving spouse remarries, or they have not finished transferring all of the property ordered by the court, the receiving spouse will still receive all of those alimony assets.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina Alimony Attorney Today
If your former spouse remarried or you believe they are cohabiting with another person, or if you are the receiving spouse and have been accused as such, we strongly encourage you to seek experienced legal guidance. Our North Carolina alimony attorneys at Triangle Divorce Lawyers are here to help, regardless of your position in this dispute. Contact us today at 919-364-1802 to schedule a free consultation.