When Will a Judge Award Alimony?

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


For many couples, getting married is the culmination of a loving relationship built on honesty and trust. It is not until the honeymoon period wears off that many couples realize the financial implications of being married. For some couples, this means the beginning or continuation of a wealth-building journey together. However, if the relationship sours and discussions start being had regarding divorce, many spouses wonder what their financial future will look like once the marriage is over.


bride-groom-rings-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Alimony-law-firm-200x300For some married couples, each spouse has a relatively equal income and earning potential, and contributes an equitable share of the overall wealth in the relationship. For many other couples, however, this is not the case. When there is an uneven balance of financial power in a marriage, divorce discussions can become contentious, and an experienced local divorce attorney can help couples navigate these tricky waters.


Like many states, North Carolina has drafted legislation that aims to ensure that spouses are supported after a divorce. Known as both “alimony” and “spousal support,” these laws apply to divorce cases where the financial power of one spouse is greater than the other, leading to an inevitable degradation in the standard of living of the lesser-earning spouse (i.e. the “dependent” spouse) post-divorce.


A quality divorce attorney can help spouses understand how their unique financial situation fits within the bounds of North Carolina’s divorce and alimony laws. When applying for alimony in North Carolina, the judge and divorce court consider a number of factors before determining how alimony will look in a specific case.


While working with a divorce attorney is always the preferred course of action when alimony is at play, there are some general points of knowledge regarding North Carolina’s alimony laws to which every resident should be made aware.


Determining Factors in Alimony Cases in North Carolina


As previously mentioned, alimony may be discussed within the realm of divorce proceedings when one spouse’s earning power is much greater than the other’s. Therefore, the income and earning potential of each spouse is a major factor considered by divorce courts. However, many other factors may be considered as well, including:


  • Any evidence of spousal misconduct (e.g. abuse, neglect, or adultery).
  • The mental and physical health of each spouse, including age.
  • How long the couple has been married.
  • Any contributions made by one spouse to the other that fostered that spouse’s education or career advancement (and thus their earning power).
  • The standard of living each spouse has come to enjoy in the marriage.
  • The tax implications that alimony payments will have on each spouse.


When to Contact an Attorney


While the above list of factors provides a good picture of the kinds of things a North Carolina divorce court may consider when determining alimony, it is non-exhaustive. By consulting and communicating regularly with an experienced divorce attorney, spouses will have the chance to review their unique financial situation and determine how to best structure alimony arrangements.


For years, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have been working with couples in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina as they navigate the alimony process. 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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