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How is alimony determined in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Property Division |

Alimony, which is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to the other after divorce, is a significant consideration during many divorces filed in North Carolina. This support traditionally aims to mitigate the economic effects of divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse, although spousal support can certainly be used as part of a broader property division strategy by spouses who are negotiating their differences as well.

Understanding who may receive alimony and the limitations on such payments is crucial for individuals navigating the end of a marriage in this state.

Who may receive alimony?

In a litigated North Carolina case, either spouse can receive alimony if the court deems them a dependent spouse. This means they are substantially reliant on the other for maintenance and support. A dependency determination is based on a comprehensive assessment of the spouses’ living standards during the marriage, their earnings and earning capacities and their financial needs and resources. The court considers various factors, including each party’s income, assets, debts, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Limitations on alimony

The duration and amount of alimony in North Carolina aren’t predetermined. Instead, it’s based on the specifics of each case. The court considers factors such as:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age, physical and emotional health
  • Contributions to the marriage, including childcare and homemaking
  • Effect of the marriage on earning capacity

There are limitations to who can receive alimony. For example, a person having illicit sexual relations can’t receive alimony but can be required to pay alimony.

Other important information

Determining alimony in North Carolina is highly discretionary and varies significantly from case to case. Depending on the circumstances, the court may order temporary, short-term or permanent alimony. Additionally, the court’s decision on alimony can be influenced by existing prenuptial agreements if they address spousal support. These agreements can predetermine the terms of alimony, including waiving the right to receive it.

Alimony is only one facet of a divorce, so it’s critical for anyone who is ending a marriage to carefully consider how their property division strategy will impact their future. Having a legal representative who can help to evaluate available options is generally a wise way to get started.