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Divorce Question: What are My Rights if My Spouse Leaves after Decades of Marriage?

Divorce is a stressful experience no matter the duration of your marriage. Usually, a more extended marriage means more time for a couple to accumulate marital assets. Your children, home(s), finances, are just a few of the factors that may be impacted throughout this legal battle. 

We’ve talked before about the effect your “grounds” for divorce has on the divorce settlement. But recently someone asked during our divorce workshop about the length of the marriage and how that affects things. Our answer: whether you were with your spouse for three years or 30 years, it is essential to be aware of your rights throughout this process.

Protect Your Property

North Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that marital property will be split based on what is fair. Typically, it is encouraged for parties to settle their shared assets and debts on their own. If this is impossible, the court uses net value of both marital property and divisible property to determine a split. There are numerous factors used to decide on this matter, so the outcome may vary depending on the couple’s circumstances. 

Support After the Split

Some divorces may result in continuing spousal support provided by one party to another, also known as alimony. As with property distribution, alimony may be decided on between the two sides or granted by the court. The court determines the extent of this support through amount, time, and method of payment. There are also some factors that are taken into consideration when determining if a party is entitled to alimony, as it is not always necessary or guaranteed.

Consider the Children

When child custody is in question, the court will conduct these proceedings in a manner that minimizes any emotional trauma for the children. Factors such as domestic violence and safety of both the parents and the children are carefully considered when determining who is granted custody. If one party is granted custody and the other must pay child support, an amount is reached based on the Income Shares Model compared to the income of both parents. This amount must cover the child’s reasonable needs, such as health and education. Child support is paid on a monthly basis.

The Cost of Cheating

If marriage comes to an end due to adultery, the scorned party may be able to sue. North Carolina is one of the seven states that has maintained the right to file “alienation of affection” lawsuits. In these cases, a spouse is allowed to sue the third party for ultimately causing the demise of their marriage. While usually, the threat of one of these lawsuits forces guilty parties to agree to an out-of-court settlement, past alienation of affection cases in North Carolina have been rewarded upwards of $1 million.

These are just a few of the factors that must be considered when going through a divorce. If you are local to the Triangle area and are enduring the divorce process, Triangle Divorce Lawyers is here to provide the support and resources to help you through. Schedule a consultation today with one of our experienced divorce professionals, or attend one of our Raleigh divorce workshops, held on the second Saturday of each month.


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