Alimony North Dakota, also referred to as spousal support, is the regular financial assistance provided by one spouse to the other. Normally, it is paid during the legal separation period, divorce proceedings, and possibly after divorce.
In North Dakota, spouses can agree to alimony terms, or a court may issue an order stipulating the amount and duration of alimony to be paid. In this article, we discuss the rules for spousal support eligibility and the types of alimony available in the state.
How To Calculate Alimony North Dakota
As per North Dakota alimony laws, the calculation of alimony is based on a set of factors. Unlike in other states, there is no statutory calculator or formula for determining the amount and duration of alimony. Courts consider the factors for alimony eligibility, as well as other factors.
– Amount of Alimony
Generally, judges in North Dakota have broad discretion when awarding spousal support. That means they can order any amount of alimony as they deem necessary. The court will examine the needs of the requesting spouse by considering their income and expenses.
Before calculating how much alimony is to be paid, the court will determine whether an alimony award is appropriate. If it is, the court will evaluate the following to determine the amount and duration necessary:
- The respective ages of the spouses.
- Both spouses’ earning capacity.
- The length of the marriage.
- Spouses’ conduct during the marriage.
- The circumstances and needs of each spouse.
- The spouses’ station in life.
- The physical condition and health of each spouse.
- The financial circumstances of each spouse as indicated by the property owned.
- The value and income-producing capacity of property at the time.
- Such other factors as the court finds material.
The amount of alimony will also depend on the ability of the other spouse to pay. The to-be payor spouse also has to show the income and expenses for the court to decide the amount that can go into alimony payments.
Courts in North Dakota also consider the conduct of each spouse during marriage when deciding the amount of spousal support. For instance, the spouse requesting alimony could have committed adultery during the marriage or gambled away a substantial amount of marital assets.
In this case, they may not miss out on alimony, but the court will consider such conduct and likely reduce the amount of alimony they would have received.
– Duration of Alimony
Like the amount of alimony, courts have broad discretion in determining the duration of maintenance. In some situations, the court will put an end date to alimony, and it automatically terminates when that time comes.
If the judge orders temporary support after filing the divorce petition, support will terminate upon finalization of the divorce. North Dakota divorce laws provide that the temporary support ends when the judge enters the final divorce decree.
Rehabilitative support is awarded to help the dependent spouse acquire education or training to ultimately enable them to become self-supporting. Before awarding this type of support, a judge will order the supported spouse to present a plan of how they intend to become independent and the approximate duration it would take.
Usually, there is no standard duration for rehabilitative support. A court will let it continue for a duration it deems necessary for the dependent spouse to acquire education or skills to find a job and become financially independent.
How To Pay Spousal Support North Dakota
The most common way of paying spousal support in North Dakota is by making periodic payments. However, it is the court that will determine the most suitable payment method after a ruling on the amount and duration of alimony is made. Yet, there exist other payment methods.
– Lump-Sum Payment
A one-time support payment is an option if the payor spouse has that financial ability. Lump-sum payments save the payor spouse the hassle of ongoing payments in the future.
For the recipient spouse, a lump sum payment would eliminate the risk of having alimony reduced in the future. The recipient would also have not to worry about the possibility of missing out on alimony when the ability of the payor spouse to pay diminishes.
– Periodic Payments
Supporting spouses may choose to make payments on a monthly or quarterly basis, as it is more manageable. This is particularly applicable to individuals with a regular paycheck.
With periodic payments, the amount or duration may be modified if the court finds out that the ability of the payor spouse has diminished. In some cases, courts may issue income withholding orders for periodic payments.
Income withholding orders mandate employers to withhold a portion of the payor spouse’s paycheck and send it directly to the supported spouse. This helps prevent skipped payments, as the payor isn’t involved in remitting the alimony payments.
– Property Transfer
Paying spouses who lack a job or regular paycheck can settle an alimony requirement by transferring property. For instance, a spouse with multiple real properties but lacks a steady income can be ordered by the court to transfer the title of some property to the dependent spouse to satisfy an alimony order.
– Enforcing Alimony Payments
If the payor spouse doesn’t make alimony payments as ordered by the court, you can file a motion with the court to enforce your alimony order. The court can take several measures to ensure that the payor spouse abides by the order.
The most common is holding the payor in contempt. If the court finds you in contempt and you fail to pay overdue alimony, you may be subjected to paying fines, court fees or face jail time.
If the court didn’t initially issue an income withholding order, it could be a viable way to enforce an alimony order. The court will order the payor’s employer to automatically set aside some of their employee’s paycheck and remit it directly to the recipient spouse.
How To Avoid Paying Alimony in North Dakota
Some legal ways of avoiding paying alimony are seeking modification or termination of support. This way, the court removes the obligation to pay alimony or reduces the amount of support based on the significant changes in circumstances that can affect the situation.
– Modification of Alimony
Unless spouses agree to non-modifiable alimony, courts have the power to modify the amount. However, the spouse requesting modification has to show a significant change of circumstances that makes alimony payment unjust.
Modification of North Dakota spousal maintenance hardly involves an increase in the amount paid. However, a judge may increase the duration of alimony payments if the supported spouse has not become financially independent.
While alimony is modifiable through a court order, property transfers and lump sum payments are non-modifiable. The court will likely modify support if the requesting spouse shows that the circumstances of either spouse have changed enough to warrant adjustment of the amount or duration of alimony.
For instance, the payor spouse may request the court to reduce or terminate alimony if the supported spouse has completed job training and found a well-paying job sooner than the end date of rehabilitative alimony ordered by the court.
– Termination of Alimony
Where spouses agree to alimony terms through a settlement agreement, support terminates once the duration indicated on the agreement expires. For court-ordered support, the termination will depend on the type of support and a possible change in circumstances for either spouse.
Temporary alimony terminates upon finalization of the divorce. If a judge finds that it is reasonable to extend this support after the final divorce decree, they will likely put an end date to the spousal support.
Rehabilitative support is also temporary and normally terminates when the court believes that the recipient spouse has become self-supporting.
Permanent spousal support lasts longer than rehabilitative support. Courts may award this type of alimony if one spouse can’t become financially dependent due to circumstances such as physical and mental disability, lengthy absence from the workforce, or advanced age.
Alimony laws in North Dakota also provide that support terminates upon remarriage of the recipient spouse. Regardless of the type of alimony, the obligation to pay spousal support almost always ends upon the death of either spouse.
North Dakota is an alimony state – divorce laws allow a financially destitute spouse to seek support from their soon-to-be ex-spouse in the event of a divorce or legal separation. In the article, we have covered the various aspects of alimony in the state. Below are the takeaway points:
- Like in many states, alimony can be ordered by the court or agreed on by spouses through a settlement agreement.
- Before awarding alimony, courts will determine whether the requesting spouse needs alimony and whether the other spouse can pay.
- Courts consider various factors to calculate the amount and duration of alimony.
- A significant change in circumstances for either spouse is enough to warrant modification of alimony.
- Alimony almost always terminates when either spouse dies, or the recipient spouse remarries.
Alimony is a touchy topic for spouses who are considering divorce or separation. While litigation is always an option, you can avoid the process by seeking the help of a mediator or an attorney with a mastery of North Dakota divorce laws. That way, you can have an uncontested divorce and speed up the process of breaking your marital ties.
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