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Raleigh Divorce Law Blog

Can a man be the recipient of alimony in North Carolina?

Absolutely. In the 1979 case of Orr vs. Orr, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that both men and women must be equally eligible for alimony under state alimony laws; otherwise, the laws would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

North Carolina's family law statutes are intentionally written in non-gender-specific language, and there is no legal difference between men and women when it comes to alimony. As we've discussed before, whether you're eligible for alimony depends on a variety of factors. However, you're not eligible for alimony at all unless you're the "dependent spouse." 

As used in our divorce and alimony statutes, "dependent spouse" is defined as "a spouse, whether husband or wife, who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse." It's also interesting and important to note that being the custodial parent of children is not required for you to get alimony.

How does North Carolina's 'divorce from bed and board' law work?

As we've discussed before, North Carolina law doesn't require specific grounds for divorce, meaning we're considered a "no-fault" divorce state. That said, there's no "quickie" divorce here. Except in very unusual cases, North Carolina couples can only file divorce papers after living apart for a full year with the intention of remaining apart. This period is called legal separation.

Most couples manage the legal separation period just fine. They may simply wait it out, or they may get started on resolving their divorce-related issues right away by developing a legal separation agreement. Such an agreement is very useful for several reasons. First, you may not want to go a whole year with the issues of child custody, visitation and support, alimony, and property division unresolved. Second, separation agreements can work like trial divorce agreements that you can tweak when the time comes. Or, if the separation agreement works well, it can be made part of the final divorce decree.

Judge revokes $2.6 mln in gifts ex-Clippers owner gave mistress

Earlier this week we discussed the effect of adultery on alimony awards, so we thought you might be interested in a celebrity story along the same lines. Although the case took place in California is technically a post-divorce dispute, many of the same issues arose -- and the result in California is probably very similar to what you would get here in North Carolina.

You may already be familiar with the events surrounding the divorce of Donald and Shelly Sterling, former owners of the LA Clippers. Last year, Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racist remarks to his alleged mistress (both 80-year-old Donald and the 32-year-old woman deny having a sexual relationship). He was unable to calm to resulting furor, and the NBA ultimately forced him to sell the Clippers and banned him for life from owning any NBA team.

Could adultery affect my alimony award in North Carolina?

For many people, divorce doesn't come as a surprise. It's simply the last act in a marriage that hasn't been sustainable for a long time. Once partner or both may already, in essence, have moved on. Unfortunately for some couples, "moving on" may have included a secret extramarital affair. An illicit affair by either spouse, however, can have extremely serious repercussions under North Carolina law, at least in terms of any alimony that might be appropriate.

In North Carolina, either divorcing spouse can propose alimony, which is basically defined as a financial award for the support and maintenance of an ex-spouse who was financially dependent upon the other ex-spouse during the marriage. It can be awarded for a specific period or indefinitely, and the court can order it to be paid as a lump sum or as a series or periodic payments. 

Is arbitration a good option for your high-asset divorce? Part 2

Divorce and family law arbitration is growing in popularity, especially here, where it was first authorized in 1999 by the North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act. In our last post, we gave a simple overview of how divorce arbitration works, along with its mutual agreement requirement and the availability of later modification but not appeal.

Now let's discuss some benefits and risks of arbitration in divorce disputes, particularly for couples with substantial or complex assets to divide.

Prenuptial agreements and business protection

Divorce takes many people by surprise – including business owners. Unfortunately, divorce issues involving a couple owning a small family-owned business arise and sometimes lead to the end of that business – along with other financial consequences.

To begin with, it’s possible the spouse could be entitled to half of the business. If the business is a partnership, a business partner’s former spouse could also end up being involved in running the business. These are complications most business owners would prefer to avoid.

Is arbitration a good option for your high-asset divorce? Part 1

North Carolina is at the forefront of a movement to offer arbitration as a legal method for resolving divorce disputes. In fact, the North Carolina Family Law Arbitration Act was enacted in 1999, so it has been an option here for 15 years, although perhaps a less familiar one.

To put it very simply, arbitration is much like a courtroom trial, except that it's run privately instead of by the state, and arbitrators, as opposed to judges, rule on the case. An arbitrator is a neutral third party whom the divorcing spouses believe is qualified to resolve their dispute, and there can be a panel of arbitrators or just one, depending on your agreement.

Arbitration is particularly popular for commercial disputes because it can be much less costly than court; the proceedings aren't part of the public record; and appeals are restricted, which may prevent years spent appealing the decision.

What are the rules, risks and benefits of resolving divorce-related disputes through arbitration? In this two-part post, well discuss those and help you consider whether it might be right for you.

Pet custody a rising issue in many divorces

The process of separation or divorce can be very emotional. Many factors should be considered during this process, including what will happen to the home, your kids and even your pets. 

Disputes over family pets have increased during the last few years as more couples want to continue caring for their pets after getting separated or divorced. This has led to arguments similar to child custody disputes. 

Carefully considering the financial aspects of divorce

Anyone in the Raleigh area who has gone through a divorce will likely tell you that finances were a major factor in the process. Dividing property -- especially for couples with significant assets -- can be complicated, and certain aspects are easily overlooked. Although an experienced divorce attorney can make sure you cover your bases during property division, it is beneficial for you to know what should be addressed in your divorce agreement.

Stressful life events and the risk of divorce: Part II

Earlier this week, we began discussing life events that can strain marriages to their breaking point. Although each couple is different, there are a number of life events that put stress on relationships, sometimes increasing the risk of divorce.

We mentioned trauma in our first post, but the discussion was limited to military couples where one spouse had experienced trauma in combat. But trauma of any kind can threaten the health of a relationship.

Firm founder Jonathan Breeden has earned his nickname of "The Bulldog." He takes a direct, straight ahead approach at resolving his client's family law, criminal law, and business related problems. He knows when it's in your best interests to negotiate a resolution or litigate your case in court.
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