When you’re faced with divorce, it can be challenging to find a spousal support lawyer in the Triad area. Hundreds of attorneys practice within Greensboro alone. Yet, not all lawyers have the experience necessary to represent you in a divorce case.
Morgenstern & Associates has over 40 years of combined experience in a wide variety of family law issues. Child custody, property division, visitation, divorce, and alimony issues are complicated matters. We can help you navigate the complex laws of divorce to a favorable outcome.
Spousal Support Helps The Dependent Spouse
Alimony refers to monetary support for the dependent spouse. While years ago, only women were entitled to alimony if they were determined to be the dependent spouse, this is no longer the case. In 1979, the Unites States Supreme Court in Orr v. Orr ruled that men were also entitled to alimony on equal protection grounds if they were deemed to be dependent.
Customarily, an award of spousal support is not automatic. Moreover, this is one of the more quarrelsome aspects of divorce. Couples argue over the amount and the duration of support bringing many couples to court.
Factors The Court Considers In Spousal Support
Unfortunately for divorcing couples, the law gives the judge total discretion to determine the amount and duration of alimony. There are no guidelines, as in child support, for them to follow.
Characteristically, the court awards spousal support as a way to level the finances of the couple. However, NC law doesn’t bind the judge by any guidelines or restraints in determining the amount or duration.
Specifically, the court will look at many factors before issuing an award to the dependent spouse:
- Marital standard of living
- Both parties’ employment income
- Each party’s income earning capacity
- Debt obligations
- Necessary expenses
- Duration of the marriage
- Age and physical, mental, and emotional condition of the parties
- Illicit sexual behavior during the marriage
In many counties in North Carolina, a claim for alimony requires submission to mediation. During mediation, many couples can settle their differences and reach an agreement.
The Mediation Process Requires A Lawyer
A mediator is a neutral third party who helps divorcing couples reach an arrangement. Although a law degree isn’t necessary, many mediators are indeed attorneys. Thus, some couples may think they don’t need a lawyer if they’re submitting to mediation.
However, hiring an experienced attorney is advisable. Your mediator cannot give you any legal advice or advocate on your behalf. Moreover, you may not understand the far-reaching legal implications of certain decisions.
Furthermore, you need someone who will represent you and your interests. Hiring a lawyer during your mediation process also affords you several other advantages:
- Clarify the rules and procedures of mediation
- Help you prepare for mediation
- Explain consequences of potential settlements
- Review the proposed settlement for issues
- Prepare the formal paperwork
Comparatively, post-separation and spousal support are very similar. Both serve to help the dependent spouse meet financial needs. However, post-separation has a shorter term and is temporary, offering assistance during the separation.
Before couples can file for divorce, NC law requires that they must live physically apart for a year. During this time, couples must continue to meet their living expenses. Post-separation support gives a dependent spouse the ability to do so. Once the court awards or denies alimony, post-separation support ceases.
FAQs About Finding A Qualified Spousal Support Lawyer in Greensboro, NC
Choosing the best spousal support lawyer to protect your rights is crucial to your long-term financial independence. As each case is unique, we advise you to set up a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. To assist you in your search, we’ve answered a few commonly asked questions below.
Are There Instances When I Can Get Spousal Support Reduced?
Usually, life circumstances change. You may become injured or lose your job and be unable to meet your financial obligations of spousal support. Likewise, your spouse can request an increase in alimony following a substantial change. When this happens, either party may initiate proceedings to modify the alimony obligation if it’s in a court order. Parties are free to enter into agreements regarding alimony and determine when and if it is modifiable.
The burden of proving the change in your financial situation falls on the party initiating the proceedings. However, the law doesn’t require a judge to change or vacate a spousal support obligation in any way. Additionally, your alimony obligation ends if your spouse remarries, passes away, or enters into a marriage-like relationship.
How Much Does A Lawyer Cost?
The unique circumstances of your case make it impossible to give a generalized quote. However, we recognize your hesitation in calling a lawyer during these uncertain financial times. Hence, one of our most important objectives is to keep the cost as reasonable as possible.
What Qualifications Should I Look For In A Lawyer?
While any lawyer can represent you, not all have the necessary experience. You need an attorney that understands the system to guide you through the process. Seeking a lawyer with board certification ensures specialization in a particular area of the law.
The North Carolina State Bar created legal specialization to recognize lawyers with high proficiency in particular legal areas. Barbara R. Morgenstern and Ashley D. Bennington are board-certified specialists in family law. This means both lawyers have met certification requirements acknowledging their expertise.
Additionally, the firm has honors and awards from many North Carolina professional and legal organizations. Moreover, U.S. News & World Report gives our firm its highest ranking for the Greensboro metropolitan area.
Let Morgenstern & Associates help you navigate the challenges of your divorce. Call us at today 336-203-9110 to discuss the details of your case.