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

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


Many couples cannot agree on alimony and post-separation support when getting divorced. Since spousal maintenance is such a contentious matter for many, you need to understand how alimony and post-separation support are calculated in North Carolina.

accounting-calculator-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Alimony-Attorney-300x225North Carolina courts consider dozens of factors when determining the appropriate amount and duration of alimony and post-separation support, including the dependent spouse’s needs and the higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay.

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement regarding alimony or post-separation support, contact our Charlotte alimony attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss your case.


What Are the Two Types of Spousal Support in North Carolina?

North Carolina recognizes two types of alimony, also known as spousal support:

  • Post-separation support, which is paid by the higher-earning spouse to the dependent spouse during the divorce proceedings; and
  • Alimony. This type of spousal maintenance is awarded after the divorce is finalized.

Courts do not automatically award alimony or post-separation support when spouses file for divorce. Instead, the dependent spouse must request post-separation support or alimony after filing for divorce. North Carolina courts do not grant alimony if the request is filed after the final decree of divorce.


How Do North Carolina Courts Calculate Post-Separation Support?

As mentioned earlier, the dependent spouse may be entitled to post-separation support while the divorce case is pending. Post-separation support is automatically terminated once the court decides whether or not to award alimony.

In North Carolina, courts consider factors outlined in North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 50-16.2A when awarding and calculating post-separation support. Courts evaluate the spouses’:

  • Financial needs and resources
  • Ability to work and earn a living
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • Current employment
  • Recurring earnings and necessary expenses
  • Separate and marital debt, if any

Before ordering post-separation support, the judge will determine if the higher-earning spouse has the ability to pay.


How Do North Carolina Courts Calculate Alimony?

North Carolina courts evaluate a wide range of factors to (1) determine whether to award alimony and (2) calculate the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support after the divorce is final.

North Carolina Gen. Stat. § 50-16.3A lists 16 factors that courts use when determining the amount and duration of alimony. These factors include:

  • Whether any spouse is guilty of marital misconduct
  • The length of the marriage
  • The education, employment history, and earning capacity of each spouse
  • The ages of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s physical and mental health
  • Each spouse’s financial resources and earnings
  • Whether one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s earning capacity
  • Whether one spouse’s earning capacity is affected by being the custodial parent of their shared child
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The assets and debts of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s financial needs
  • The possible tax ramifications of awarding alimony

Under North Carolina law, alimony payments are terminated once the recipient remarries or begins cohabitating with another person. However, an alimony order may also come with a specified date for ending the payments.

Contact a Charlotte alimony attorney to help you calculate a post-separation and alimony award in your particular 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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