Understanding alimony in North Carolina

North Carolina divorces often involve court orders for alimony, also known as spousal support. The court generally orders these support payments when it is clear that there is a history of one spouse being dependent on the other for financial support.

The goal of awarding alimony is for both spouses to maintain a similar standard of living to the marital lifestyle.

Determining alimony

Family law judges consider various factors when calculating alimony payments and determining their duration.

  • Both spouses’ income and earning capacity
  • The longevity of the marriage
  • The marital standard of living
  • Marital misconduct and illicit sexual behavior
  • Contributions by one spouse to the other’s earning power, such as through education or training
  • The ability of the dependent spouse to become self-supporting

Unlike many other states, North Carolina does not have a formula for calculating alimony. It is ultimately up to the judge. North Carolina laws are also unique in taking extra-marital affairs into account when determining spousal support. Once the court determines that alimony is necessary, a judge may order payments monthly, quarterly, in a lump sum or through a transfer of property. Alimony may be temporary or permanent.

Modifying and terminating alimony

It is possible for spousal support orders to change. But modifications require a significant change in circumstances. For example, if the dependent spouse cohabitates or the supporting spouse loses his or her job, it is likely that the order may no longer be viable.

This is general information about alimony in North Carolina and does not count as legal advice.