How Do Courts Determine Alimony in North Carolina?

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


Throughout the course of human history, risk assessment has always been something ingrained within us. We look at our options before making choices, and we evaluate the potential consequences of those options. For many of us, the choice to get married is the end result of lots of thinking and planning for the future. However, even marriages that start with the best of intentions can sometimes turn toward divorce.


batch-of-dollars-Charlotte-Monroe-Statesville-alimony-attorney-300x200As any experienced divorce attorney can attest, the rate of separation among couples in America today is quite high, with the National Center for Health Statistics reporting a current divorce rate of 2.7 per 1,000 inhabitants. At the state level, North Carolina’s divorce rate is actually higher than the national average, with 3.1 divorces reported per 1,000 residents.


Sometimes, the decision to divorce is an amicable one amongst spouses. Both members of the couple are on equal terms with regards to income and needs as they prepare to reenter single life post-divorce. However, for many other couples, the prospects of post-divorce life are scarier.  Thankfully, North Carolina law has established a system of legislation that helps divorcing spouses navigate this new chapter of their lives.


Alimony is the name given to court-ordered payments from one ex-spouse to another. When spouses’ incomes or other financial characteristics are significantly different, it can lead the courts to order the higher-earning spouse to make routine payments to the dependent spouse, on either a temporary or permanent basis.


While consultation with a qualified local divorce attorney is always the advised main course of action, there are some general points that all North Carolina residents should be aware of when it comes to alimony laws in their state. The following is some some basic information on what divorce courts consider when determining alimony payments.


Alimony Considerations in North Carolina


North Carolina law recognizes that not all divorce cases are equal, and therefore alimony payments are not a “one size fits all” solution. The courts take many factors into consideration when determining alimony, such as:


  • Acts of marital misconduct such as cruelty/abuse, illicit drug use and abuse, and periods of abandonment.
  • The earning potential of each spouse, given current and forecasted prospects following divorce.
  • The health and well-being of each spouse. More than just age, this consideration includes a look at the physical and mental health of each spouse.
  • Each spouses’ investment in each other. For example, if one spouse helped the other pay for education or helped pay off student loans, this can be considered in the ultimate decision for alimony payments.
  • Child support considerations. For example, if one spouse is paying child support, courts will consider how this impacts that spouse’s overall financial situation.


The Benefit of Legal Counsel


Going in front of any court is an intimidating situation. When it comes to divorce cases and alimony pleas, North Carolina residents don’t have to embark on this journey alone. For years, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have been helping spouses in Charlotte and North Carolina work through the process of determining alimony following a divorce. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today for counsel targeted to your unique situation. 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.





Image Credit:



See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:



See Our Related Blog Posts:

Understanding Alimony in North Carolina


How is Alimony and Post-Separation Support Calculated in North Carolina?

Contact Information