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Understanding spousal support in North Carolina

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2021 | Firm News

When couples go through a divorce, there is often some misunderstanding regarding spousal support, also known as alimony. This is an amount of money that one spouse pays to the other after finalization of the divorce. 

Some people think that alimony is a given, but that is not true. A judge considers numerous factors before deciding to grant alimony as well as the amount of time the spouse will continue to receive payments. 

Considerations for alimony

According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, a judge typically only grants alimony if one spouse is dependent on the other financially. Along with that, other factors the judge considers include: 

  • Amount of income of supporting spouse 
  • Earning capabilities of dependent spouse 
  • Length of marriage 
  • Education, age and health of each spouse 
  • Contributions of each spouse during marriage 

Unlike in some states, the law in North Carolina states that cheating does affect alimony. If the cheater was the supporting spouse, the judge will grant alimony, while if the dependent spouse was the cheater, the judge will deny alimony. The judge considers other misconduct, such as alcohol abuse, abandonment, involuntary separation and cruel treatment, when deciding alimony. 

Amount and length of alimony payments

There is no specified formula to determine how much alimony a spouse will pay, and the judge makes this decision based on certain factors. There is also not a formula to determine when and if alimony stops. Alimony does end, however, if one of the ex-spouses dies or if the dependent spouse moves in with a partner or remarries. 

Form of alimony

According to FindLaw, the judge may order the supporting spouse to pay alimony on a periodic basis, such as monthly, or as a lump payment. Other forms of payment include a title transfer of property or income withholding.