In North Carolina, a court order for alimony payment can be vacated or modified if the judge sees that significant changes have occurred since the implementation of the original order. Generally, the modifications deemed acceptable for an alimony order must be related to a change in the financial needs of the spouse receiving the money or the financial status of the spouse paying the money.
The burden of proof
The ex-spouse who initiates the court proceedings to ask for alimony modifications has the burden of proving why the change should occur. For instance, the party receiving the money should provide evidence for why the alimony is necessary to pay for living expenses. The ex-spouse who is paying the alimony will have to prove that they can no longer afford to do so or should no longer be obligated to pay.
It is important to note that a judge is not required to make modifications to an alimony agreement, even if there is substantial evidence that can be used to change the agreement. For instance, if the spouse paying the alimony has willingly taken a job that offers less money, or the spouse receiving the money is spending it on extravagant clothing or vacations, a judge may deny the motion to change the alimony agreement.
Reasons for modification
When the alimony is paid based on a written contract between the two ex-spouses, the terms will usually specify when it is acceptable for the payments to be terminated or modified. According to North Carolina law, court-ordered alimony will stop if either party passes away, the dependent spouse remarries, or the dependent spouse cohabitates with a romantic partner.