2023 How to Avoid Paying Alimony in North Carolina?

If you are dealing with the difficult process of divorce, you may be worried about alimony, or spousal support, in addition to the many financial effects of divorce. In North Carolina, not every divorce will be assigned spousal support. There are many factors that are evaluated to determine if alimony is awarded. If the court orders an alimony award, there isn’t much you can do to contest this.

The Factors that Determine Alimony Awards

For each divorce, spousal support can have different monetary amounts, different durations, or may not be required at all. If your divorce and, therefore, spousal support is being determined by North Carolina courts, there are specific factors listed under the state’s statute. These are used for determining fair alimony:

  1. Marital misconduct. This can be from either spouse. While North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, marital misconduct that leads to divorce does impact spousal support. If your spouse’s misconduct caused your divorce, you might be able to avoid paying alimony to them.
  2. The relative earning and earning capacity of both spouses. If one spouse makes significantly more than another spouse, they are likely to pay alimony. If you and your spouse receive similar incomes, alimony may not be part of your divorce. If one spouse is unable to pay alimony after divorce, they won’t be required to. You can’t choose to quit or find a lower-paying job solely to avoid paying court-ordered spousal support.
  3. Ages of each spouse and the physical, mental, and emotional condition of each party.
  4. Suppose either spouse has earned and unearned income. They will look at the amount of and the source of each form of income. It includes earnings, retirement benefits, dividends, insurance benefits, and social security benefits.
  5. How long your marriage lasted. A long marriage will more likely result in alimony being awarded. This is because both spouses grew used to a certain standard of living during the marriage.
  6. If one spouse contributed to the increase of earning capacity of the other spouse. They may have also helped with or helped pay for education or job training.
  7. If one spouse’s earning ability or expenses is impacted after divorce by being the primary custodial parent of children. The spouse with more child custody is likely to receive spousal support.
  8. The marital standard of living, compared to the likely standard of living for each party after divorce.
  9. The education of each spouse. This includes how much time it will take the spouse receiving support to receive the necessary educational training that allows them to reasonably support themself with new employment.
  10. Each spouse’s relative assets and debts.
  11. What property each spouse brought to the marriage.
  12. How much each spouse contributed to the care of their home.
  13. Each spouse’s relative financial needs.
  14. The tax ramifications of spousal support. Federal and state tax law mean that spousal support may be considered income for the spouse receiving it and deductible for the spouse paying it. This depends on certain factors.
  15. Any additional relevant economic circumstances.
  16. The knowledge that income either spouse receives was considered when valuing marital or divisible assets for the division of property.

The main goal of spousal support is to determine a fair result for both parties. Working with an Asheville alimony lawyer can help protect your interests.

Spousal Separation Agreement Outside of Court

One potential way to avoid paying alimony is through a separation agreement in an uncontested divorce. You and your spouse can agree on an acceptable divorce settlement outside of court and waive spousal support. Waiving the right to alimony must still be done through a formal agreement. Creating a separation agreement outside of court allows you and your spouse more control over the outcome of your divorce.

Spousal Support Modification

Spousal support may be paid in a lump sum, or it may be periodic monthly payments for a set amount of time. Lump-sum payments can’t be modified once they’ve already been paid.

Periodic payments can be modified if there is a significant change in your or your spouse’s life. Modification may include an increase or a decrease in alimony. Significant changes include:

  • A change in one spouse’s income
  • A change in a spouse’s assets
  • A change in a spouse’s earning capacity
  • Unexpected new expenses

These changes cannot be deliberate. For example, expenses cannot be increased for the purpose of increasing alimony, and a spouse cannot purposefully lower their income in any way. If you and your spouse came to an agreement about spousal support outside of court, your agreement might not allow for modifications.


Q: How Can I Get Out of Paying Alimony in NC?

A: If the court orders alimony payments for your divorce, you must pay them. Alimony may be terminated if:

  • One spouse dies
  • The spouse receiving payments remarries
  • The spouse receiving payment lives codependently in a romantic relationship
  • The spouses resume a marital relationship

These events, as well as a predetermined end to alimony, will terminate payments.

Q: Is Alimony Mandatory in NC?

A: Alimony is not assigned for all divorces. However, if the court orders that you pay alimony based on several factors, then you are required to pay it. If one spouse can’t meet their necessary financial needs or enjoy the same standard of living without the other spouse’s income, they can receive spousal support.

Q: How Many Years Do You Have to be Married in North Carolina to Get Alimony?

A: North Carolina doesn’t outline any specific timelines for marriage length to receive alimony in a divorce. Generally speaking, long marriages, such as 20 years or more, are more likely to receive alimony. If you have a relatively shorter marriage, it’s less likely you will be ordered to pay spousal support.

Q: Is There a Way Around Alimony?

A: If you and your spouse come to an agreement, you may be able to avoid paying alimony. You and your spouse can have a separation agreement outside of court or simply create a written agreement to waive the right to alimony. Alternatively, your alimony attorney can help you prove that your spouse doesn’t need support for their needs.

Legal Support and Representation in Your Divorce

Whether or not you pay or receive spousal support can financially impact you for years. It’s essential to work with an experienced attorney with Parsons Law, PA, to protect your marital rights during divorce. Contact us to see how we can represent your interests.