As a family law attorney with over 10 years of experience, I’ve helped hundreds of clients during their journeys through separation and divorce. Over this timeframe, I’ve seen various nationwide trends in the divorce industry that have also impacted populations in eastern North Carolina. Here are a few examples with some of these topics and resources to learn more:
- Increase in co-parenting agreements
- Rise in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
- Growth of collaborative family law
- Divorce’s impact in corporate revenue loss
- Increase in divorce filings after years of decrease
- Decline in marriage rates in America
- Decreasing population growth
I’ve detailed some of these topics through blog posts here on my website, in my book, The Cure for Divorce Culture, and on my podcast, “Divorce, Healthy!” The divorce industry is also seeing another recent trend that I’d like to discuss in more detail: More women are paying alimony than ever before to their ex-spouses.
The Washingtonian published an in-depth feature piece on this which shared the experiences of women based in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The article profiled women who earned more than their husbands and explained how some of them were considered “failure to launch.” Their words, not mine. Essentially, some of these men were supposed to be in the process of getting new jobs or finding a new career path – but instead, came up empty. In one case detailed, when the couple separated and later divorced, the woman ended up paying $1,000 a month in alimony to her ex-husband for over a year. This money was justified during their divorce settlement as a way to support the lifestyle he grew accustomed to while they were married since she was the main financial supporter of their family.
I think it’s important to give some background on alimony, specific to North Carolina law. Alimony, also known as cash flow, is payment by a supporting spouse for the care and maintenance of a dependent spouse. This can be in a lump sum payment or on a continuing basis for a determined timeframe. These types of discussions can be difficult and complex and there are many factors that play a role in defining a dependent spouse.
Historically speaking, during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, most divorces involving alimony were structured with the man making payments to his ex-wife. As you can imagine, it was more common during those times for men to work full-time while their wives stayed home to take care of the children. However, times are changing. More women are working than ever before and, in some cases, many women are out-earning their husbands. When these women and their spouses approach divorce, there is an increased chance that the wife will be considered the supporting spouse while their husband will be considered the dependent spouse.
No matter the gender of the supporting spouse, paying alimony to an ex can be a difficult and challenging reality. There are various ways to make these conversations easier for both parties involved as they work through their separation and divorce process.
Choose Collaborative Law
While an alimony or cash flow arrangement can be determined by a court through divorce litigation, it can also be done in an out-of-court process. Oftentimes, when handled through litigation, alimony becomes a point of contention and is met with bitterness, hostility, and resentment. My law firm, AN|R Law, is proud to be focused solely on alternative dispute resolutions that happen outside of a courtroom. These techniques include collaborative law, mediation, and negotiation settlement. Through these methods, I am committed to keeping my clients out of a courtroom setting, which allows their divorce to be handled in a healthier way that protects the mental health of all parties involved, including their children.
When looking at the possibility of alimony, the collaborative process allows these discussions to happen in an amicable and straightforward conversation. A cash-flow conversation, which is part of the collaborative divorce process, will help both parties create a budget for moving forward while also assessing the financial needs of each spouse. From there, it is possible to determine an alimony or cash flow agreement.
Consider a prenuptial agreement
Prior to getting married, many engaged couples consider prenuptial agreements. These agreements, also known as prenups, lay out the process of a separation or divorce, if necessary in the future. This agreement can equally protect you and your spouse in the event of a divorce later in your relationship. It can map out the business of your marriage and help with the division of assets and debts, co-parenting of children, and possible alimony. This is often important for couples who have existing assets such as cash, property, or investments. At the same time, it may be useful when one or both soon-to-be spouses have significant debt or risk. If you and your future spouse are in different roles in terms of income, a prenup may also be beneficial.
While there may be uncertainty in this agreement early on, especially if you’re young and without children, it is still a beneficial document to have prior to tying the knot. Click here to learn more about prenuptial agreements with AN|R Law.
Consider a postnuptial agreement
If it’s too late for a prenuptial agreement because you and your partner are already married, it’s not too late for a postnuptial agreement. This type of agreement is similar to a prenup, but is drafted at any point during the marriage rather than before the marriage. As we know, relationships and marriages can be turbulent at times, and this agreement can protect both spouses in the event of a looming separation and subsequent divorce.
In addition to protecting current assets and determining the division of property, postnups are beneficial when children are involved too. These agreements allow the couple to outline how they would want to raise their children in a co-parenting format if they were to ever separate or divorce. It is helpful for couples to create this agreement when they’re able to have a respectful conversation that is truly centered around their children. During these conversations, alimony can be discussed and pre-determined based on the current financial situation of the family. Click here to read a recent blog I wrote that includes the top five reasons why couples should consider a postnuptial agreement.
Understanding Alimony in North Carolina
If you need more assistance or guidance on understanding the process or determination of alimony in North Carolina, reach out to AN|R Law. We have four offices across the state in Greenville, Raleigh, Beaufort, and Wilmington to serve you during your time of need.
My team here at AN|R Law is experienced in dozens of family law topics including collaborative law, co-parenting plans, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and postnuptial agreements. In addition, we offer confidential consultations and private orientations. You can request more information by clicking here to fill out this online form or by calling our office at 252-702-4376.