Can I Get Alimony While My North Carolina Divorce is Pending?

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


Yes, you can request alimony, also known as spousal support in North Carolina, during and after the divorce proceedings. However, when seeking spousal support while your divorce is pending, you must prove your need for financial help and your spouse’s ability to make the monthly payments.

gavel-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Alimony-Attorney-300x200If you want to get post-separation alimony during your divorce case, contact a knowledgeable family law attorney in North Carolina to help you obtain spousal support.


Post-Separation Support vs. Alimony: What is the Difference?

While it may seem that post-separation support and alimony are synonymous, these two terms actually mean different things:

  • Post-separation support refers to temporary alimony that is awarded by a court to one spouse while their divorce is pending. Under C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.8, an award of post-separation alimony is based on competent evidence such as an affidavit and verified pleading. Post-separation support covers a spouse’s living and other basic expenses during the divorce process.
  • Alimony refers to financial support payments made by one spouse to the other after their divorce is final. In North Carolina, alimony can be either temporary or permanent.


Temporary vs. Permanent Alimony

  • Temporary alimony is awarded when the recipient is reasonably expected to become self-supporting once they acquire the necessary job skills and education to find employment.
  • Permanent alimony is available when the recipient is unable to become self-supporting either because of age or disability that prevents them from acquiring job skills and finding gainful employment.


How Can I Get Post-Separation Support in North Carolina?

Before awarding post-separation support, a North Carolina court will have to verify that:

  • You do not have enough income and other earnings to afford living and other basic expenses before your divorce is final; and
  • Your spouse has the ability to pay post-separation support while the divorce is pending.

If the court confirms your need for alimony and your spouse’s ability to pay post-separation support, it will consider the following factors to determine the appropriate amount of support:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The reasonable financial needs and necessary expenses of both parties
  • Each spouse’s income and other earnings (e.g., rental income, dividends, etc.)
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • Each spouse’s debts incurred during the marriage
  • Whether any spouse has a legal obligation to support a child or another dependent
  • Whether any spouse has committed adultery or any other form of marital misconduct during the marriage


Can You Modify Alimony in North Carolina?

Under North Carolina law, either spouse can request a modification of the alimony order. Whether or not you can modify alimony depends on the type of spousal support awarded by the court:

  • Temporary alimony. Unless a permanent spousal support order has an end date attached to it, it may be terminated when the recipient becomes self-supporting or meets specific requirements imposed by the order. However, either party may still be able to modify a temporary order before the end date.
  • Permanent alimony. Even though it is called “permanent,” this type of spousal support may be modified or terminated if there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances.


Keep in mind that in North Carolina, alimony is automatically terminated when any of the following occurs:

  • The recipient remarries;
  • The recipient begins cohabitating with another person; or
  • The payer or recipient dies.

It is advisable to contact a North Carolina alimony attorney to help you get post-separation support while your divorce is pending. Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss your case. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today 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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