What are the circumstances that warrant spousal support modification in North Carolina?
North Carolina follows the partnership theory of marriage, which recognizes that both partners are obliged to support each other financially during the marriage. When the marriage ends (with divorce), the spousal support is a natural extension of this theory.
The Payor and Recipient of Spousal Support
This is decided by the court objectively depending on who the ‘financially better off’ partner is in the marriage. The amount of spousal support depends on factors such as the duration of the marriage, the role of each spouse (if a spouse has been solely the homemaker, he/she is entitled to higher spousal support), age of partners etc.
Modification of Spousal Support
The party bringing in the modification petition has to show substantial change in circumstances which warrant spousal support modification.
Downward Modification of Spousal Support
The payor can petition for downward modification of spousal support if the recipient now has new employment with increased income or if the recipient is co-habiting with another individual. The onus is now on the recipient to prove that this ‘changed circumstance’ has not affected the need for spousal support. Normally remarriage of the recipient terminates the spousal support obligations, unless there are compelling reasons otherwise.
Any significant change in the payor’s circumstances can also be considered for downward modification. These may include loss of employment, disability or illness, unexpected financial emergency or new support obligations like remarriage and children therefrom.
Upward Modification of Spousal Support
The recipient of spousal support can petition for upward modification by showing significant change in circumstances such as loss of employment, disability or illness and any financial emergency. A significant increase in the financial fortunes of the ex-spouse may also serve as grounds for applying for upward modification of spousal support. Either spouse may cite increase in cost of living expenses to increase spousal support received or to decrease spousal support obligations.
Seek Legal Help
Spousal support modification is a tricky area and it is best to seek professional legal guidance.
We at McIlveen Law Firm have considerable experience in spousal support modification cases and can help you with downward and upward modification issues.