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Can Your Spouse Refuse to Pay for Your Divorce Lawyer in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Divorce |

Sometimes, one spouse controls the purse strings. It can be that way for any number of reasons. It might even be one of the reasons you’re struggling in the marriage.

Can Your Spouse Refuse to Pay?

 The trouble is, if your spouse controls the money, you probably need to ask permission to spend a significant amount. That can make it awkward to ask for divorce – but can they really say no?

In North Carolina, you do not need your spouse’s permission or agreement to get a divorce. But what if your spouse refuses to pay for your divorce lawyer?

They typically can’t get away with it. In most cases, the household money legally belongs to both spouses – even if only one controls it. That means you have the right to spend household money on a lawyer.

But what if they won’t relent? Is there a way to force them to hand over the money? Yes, in most cases there is. The family law court can order your divorcing spouse to hand over the necessary money.

The reasonable cost of a divorce lawyer can be included in what’s called “alimony pendente lite” (pen-DEN-tay LEE-tay) or temporary alimony (“spousal support”) paid during the divorce.

What Is Alimony Pendente Lite?

Alimony pendente lite or temporary alimony is temporary spousal support paid by one spouse to the other during the divorce proceedings. It is available in most cases where one spouse is financially dependent on the other. Under North Carolina’s alimony statute, the court can order alimony to the dependent spouse when it would be fair to do so, considering factors such as:

  • The spouses’ relative earnings and earning capacities
  • Each spouse’s age and physical, mental and emotional condition
  • The amount and sources of each spouse’s income and property
  • The length of the marriage
  • Whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education, training or increased earning capacity
  • Whether one spouse’s earning capacity is affected by having custody of a minor child
  • The standard of living established during the marriage

There are other factors in the statute, and the judge can consider all of them to decide whether alimony pendente lite would be fair.

The Effect of Infidelity on Alimony in North Carolina

There is one more thing to know. If there was marital infidelity by either spouse that was not condoned by the other, that makes a big difference. If you were unfaithful, you can’t get alimony at all. If your spouse was unfaithful and you were not, however, the court is required to award you at least some alimony.

Don’t let your spouse’s refusal to pay stop you from reaching out to a compassionate divorce attorney for a consultation. Once your lawyer understands your full situation, they can advise you on the best way forward with your separation and divorce.


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