For matters of post-separation support and alimony that were resolved through the entry of a North Carolina court order, it is possible to have the terms modified or vacated, even after a divorce is final. Any requests for modifications are governed by NC Gen Stat § 50-16.9, and, similar to orders for child custody and support, will only be granted if you are able to show a substantial change of circumstances has occurred since the entry of the order.
What if I have an Agreement for Alimony?
When alimony is resolved through a valid written agreement, such as a separation agreement, or other contract, the agreement will generally specify what circumstances constitute a modification or termination of alimony. Therefore, if you have an agreement, it is essential that you consult with an attorney to determine if you are entitled to a modification pursuant to the terms of your agreement.
What is a “substantial change of circumstances”?
When seeking a modification of post-separation support or alimony through the court, the first obstacle is to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This burden of proof falls on the party seeking a modification. However, determining what merits a “substantial change” is subjective and is left to the discretion of a Judge to decide based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.
Generally, a substantial change in circumstances will mean the amount of support currently in place is no longer adequate for the dependent spouse, or it is unduly burdensome for the supporting spouse. However, just because there has been a change of circumstances doesn’t necessarily mean that a Judge will grant a modification. There is no requirement that a modification be granted because there has been a substantial change. Examples can include intentionally increasing expenses due to an unreasonable or unnecessary expenditure, or voluntarily taking a lesser-paying job. These changes, while substantial, could be seen as unjustified reasons to modify the terms of a support order.
What circumstances can result in a modification of alimony?
In determining if an award of spousal support should be modified the Court will look at the financial ability of the parties, the facts, and circumstances surrounding the case, as well as the parties’ accustomed standard of living. In some cases, a few hundred dollars difference on a monthly basis may be substantial, however, for other parties with high net income or estates, it may not be substantial. Everything is all relative to each individual case and the Judge’s perception of the circumstances at hand.
In addition, there are circumstances where alimony or post-separation support will be terminated as a matter of law. These situations can include the remarriage or the cohabitation of the dependent spouse, the resumption of the marital relationship or upon the death of either party.
Do I need an Attorney to modify my alimony?
Judges are provided with broad discretion in matters of alimony and post-separation support modification. The analysis for a modification of support is similar to the process that was undertaken for an initial determination and should be handled with care from a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney. When matters affecting your financial future are at stake it is critical that you consult with an experienced attorney to help you convey your evidence in a clear, concise, and credible manner.
If you are seeking a modification, or defending against one, the family law attorneys at Hopper Cummings can help. We will provide you with honest advice about the merits of your case and discuss options that are available to you to ensure your interests and rights are protected. Call us today at 919-533-4115, or complete our online form for a confidential consultation.
CONNECT WITH US
Client and Peer Reviews
Ms. Hopper was patient and detail oriented. ... Overall, the process was efficient, well-organized and painless. If you’re looking for someone to assist with your will and advance directives, we would highly recommend Hopper Cummings.
Seeing that Robert Cummings is going to be my opposing counsel in a family law case means that case is going to be fought fairly, efficiently, and intelligently, without expensive 'lawyer games' or undue delays. I have and will continue to refer cases to him.
My family has used Hopper Cummings for estate planning and wills as well as occasional legal advice. The process was always efficient, respectful, and individualized to our specific needs. This is the benefit of a local firm -- I highly recommend them for any civil law needs!
I refer all family law matters to Robert Cummings because I have confidence in the way he interacts with clients.
My husband and I worked with Marie Cummings and her team to complete our estate planning. This is not an easy task for anyone, and we so appreciated Marie's experience, expertise, patience, and support. ... We are happy to offer a wholehearted recommendation for Marie and her colleagues.
I came to Mr. Cummings during the most difficult time of my life. He helped me navigate the divorce process in a no-nonsense way. ... His voice of reason helped me to stay calm and focused on the task at hand. I highly recommend Mr. Cummings to anyone in my position.
Robert Cummings provides a firm, steady and calming approach to custody issues.
Robert is a highly effective attorney. I have referred several people to him and have heard nothing but positive experiences. He understands the law and cares about his clients.
We have worked with Hopper Cummings on several occasions, from estate planning to starting a 501(c)(4). They are welcoming and responsive. They explain things in easy-to-understand terms and set reasonable expectations. We highly recommend Hopper Cummings!
Robert Cummings represented a family member in a moving violation. He was responsive to all of my questions and very professional in explaining how the system worked and what needed to be done to help resolve the ticket with the best possible outcome. I would recommend his office and their services.
Robert and his team were amazing ... was successfully able to move the court date forward and have the ticket resolved and diligently e-mailed us all the confirmations as well. Thank you to his team and we would highly recommend them.
Robert understands traffic law and he is a very effective advocate for his clients. I have referred several clients to Robert and he always does a great job.
They made it easy and effortless for dealing with traffic court! I appreciate you all. Great communication too.
Great experience! I received my first moving violation in about 20 yrs .... called Hopper Cummings for assistance. The process from first contact to resolution went smoothly. Highly recommend!
Excellent Family Law Attorney.
Awesome lawyer worked hard to get the best outcome for me on a very complicated case. I would recommend Robert Cummings, he cared about my case and represented me very well. Would use him again.
Robert is an experienced, thoughtful and professional attorney. He exhibits the highest standards in his practice.
Robert was quick to return my call, even on a day he was in court. He was knowledgeable and friendly as was his staff. His honesty and hard work is definitely an asset.
Robert does a great job managing a large traffic law caseload yet representing each client zealously. He understands the local procedure for a large traffic caseload and navigates that system with ease.
Robert Cummings is an excellent attorney with a high level of integrity and compassion.