A Guide to Alimony in North Carolina

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “When do you get alimony?”


Not every marriage ends in a lifetime of happiness with your spouse. Unfortunately, spouses have irreconcilable differences that lead them to file for divorce and legally end their marriage. For some spouses, divorce results in each spouse continuing to work and live his or her separate life, just separate from the former spouse. For others, though, a divorce can cause them to wonder how they will continue in their previous lifestyle. In some instances, one spouse works and makes money to provide for the family, while the other spouse stays home or works at a lesser paying job. A divorce does not have to devastate one, or both, spouses financially. There is a potential for one spouse to receive alimony payments from the other spouse.


Cutting-money-in-half-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Divorce-Lawyer-Attorney-300x225What is Alimony?


In North Carolina, alimony is defined as the payment from one spouse to another, following divorce, for “support and maintenance” of that spouse. Alimony can come in the form of a one-time payment or on a scheduled basis. The spouse that has the larger income is known as the supporting spouse. The spouse with the lower, or no, income is known as the dependent spouse. The supporting spouse makes payments to the dependent spouse so that he or she is not financially ruined following a divorce.


How is Alimony Determined?


There are two main ways that alimony payments are determined. The first is through an agreement with the spouses. Instead of relying on the courts to make an alimony determination, spouses can come to an agreement outside of the court that states the amount of alimony that will be paid to the dependent spouse. This is the “simplest” way because as long as the parties can come to an agreement, there is not a deep probe into the financials of the spouses.


The second way that alimony is decided is through the court. A court order can be made awarding alimony to one spouse and requiring the other spouse to make the payment. There are many factors listed in North Carolina statutes that determine whether or not alimony will be awarded. These factors include:


  • The income of each spouse and their relative earning capacity
  • Age, physical, mental, and emotional condition that each of the spouse are in
  • The number of sources of income available to each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living that the spouses had during the marriage
  • The educational background of the spouses to determine whether or not the spouse will be able to achieve a position that would suit their economic needs
  • Tax implications of the alimony payments


The above is not an exhaustive list of factors that the court looks to, but some of the more common. If you have questions regarding alimony and whether you might be entitled to receive it, or be subject to payment of alimony, you need an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in divorce. The divorce attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to answer your questions and explain the potential possibilities that might result. Contact us today for a consultation. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.







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