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Does Social Security Income Count in Alimony Cases?

Social Security Income in Raleigh Divorce
Social Security Card --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Can you be ordered to pay Alimony based on Social Security income under North Carolina Divorce Law?

The short answer is YES! Social security will be considered "income" when a court determines Alimony.

As a Raleigh Divorce Lawyer for 15 years, I have had to deal with alimony claims based at least partially on social security income many times. Let's look a little bit deeper into North Carolina Divorce Law to determine how Alimony and Social Security affect each other.

How Does Alimony Affect Social Security Income?

Lets break down alimony in a few quick points:

  1. Is one spouse "dependent" upon the other financially?Essentially, ask yourself "Does one spouse makes significantly more money than the other spouse?" and then "Will the spouse making less would struggle to maintain a life in any way similar to the life enjoyed during the marriage?"
  2. Was the marriage long enough to establish a true "dependency"?While the duration of the marriage is only one of many factors in alimony, in truth it is the second most important, aside from the threshold question of dependency. If a marriage only lasts 2 or 3 years, it is very difficult to establish that a person became truly "dependent" on their spouse in such a short time.
  3. Was there any un-condoned adultery committed by the dependent spouse?If so, and if it was recent or recently discovered, it can act as a complete bar to alimony.

The Criteria for Alimony has been Reached, Now What?

NOW, if we have established there is one truly dependent spouse, we have a reasonably long marriage, and there is no bar to alimony, how does social security income factor in?

EXAMPLE:  Husband earns $4500 per month from a consulting job, $2000 from his pension, and social security in the amount of $2000 per month. Social security will be counted as income, so his total monthly income is $8500 per month. Wife makes only $2500 in social security. Her social security will be included in her income when determining how much money she requires to meet her needs.

The math for Husband can look something like this: Husband's income = $8500, reasonable needs = $6000, ability to pay alimony = $2500 per month.

The math for Wife can look like this: Wife's income = $2500, reasonable needs each month $3600, Wife's need = $1100 per month.

In this scenario, Husband will likely be ordered to pay $1100 per month as Wife has a shortfall and Husband has the ability to pay after meeting his reasonable needs.

This is of course a very basic example that only touches on a fraction of the analysis for alimony. If you are facing a separation or divorce and are concerned about alimony, it is essential that you seek the advice and guidance of an Experienced North Carolina Divorce Lawyer to assist you.

Speak to a Raleigh, NC Divorce Attorney about Alimony Support

North Carolina Divorce is complicated and there is no substitute for particularized legal advice from an experienced divorce lawyer.

Contact The Doyle Law Group, P.A. by calling 919-301-8843 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a legal consultation.

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