If you have lost your job or suffered a reduced income due to the current situation with the Coronavirus (or for any other reasons beyond your control) you may be able to substantially modify your alimony payments. Almost all alimony obligations are set out in either a contract or a court order. How your payments where established will help determine how or even if you can lower your alimony payments.
Court Ordered Alimony
For a Court Order, you must file a motion to modify the alimony. A court can reduce or eliminate alimony payments depending on the circumstances. Although typically court orders are final, North Carolina law allows a spouse who is making alimony payments to, at any time, request that the court modify the current alimony amount.
N. C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.9(a) states: an order of a court of this State for alimony or postseparation support, whether contested or entered by consent, may be modified or vacated at any time, upon motion in the cause and a showing of changed circumstances by either party or anyone interested.
A judge may change the alimony award if either spouse has had a change of circumstances regarding his or her living situation, earning capacity, or other economic factors. The judge will factor in the weight and credibility of the evidence presented and the arguments made by counsel. Further, once the court finds a changed circumstance, a modification case is similar to an initial award case, and the court must reconsider and rebalance the statutory alimony factors.
Alimony that is set by a Separation Agreement only, with no court order, is not within the scope of the statute and cannot be modified unless the terms of the contract allow for modification.
This is an example of why it is so important to receive legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. If you have a contract, your only defenses would be general contract defenses. There are defenses to contract enforcement, and in some cases amounts and duration can also be negotiated.
Consult Our Alimony Attorneys for Support
If the coronavirus and lockdown have caused you to suffer financial hardship making it impossible to keep up your alimony payments, contact our Raleigh Divorce Law Firm to schedule an appointment to speak with an experienced family law attorney today. We help clients seek lower alimony payments.
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