Alimony in North Carolina: Your Guide to Spousal Support

By Casey Fidler

Published on June 28, 2024


Divorce represents a complex life event, often accompanied by significant financial changes. In North Carolina, alimony (also known as spousal support) can provide crucial support for a spouse who relied financially during the marriage. Let’s explore the key aspects of alimony in our state, as outlined in North Carolina General Statute Chapter 50, and examine its application in real-life scenarios.


Alimony 101: What Every North Carolinian Needs to Know

Alimony is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other after separation or divorce. It acknowledges the contributions made during the marriage and aims to maintain the lifestyle the parties lived during that time, to the extent possible.

Several factors determine alimony eligibility in North Carolina:

  • Financial Need: The spouse seeking alimony must demonstrate a financial need for support.
  • Ability to Pay: The spouse responsible for alimony must have the financial capacity to fulfill this obligation.
  • Marital Misconduct: While not the sole factor, adultery can influence alimony decisions. Moreover, North Carolina law may deny alimony to a spouse who committed adultery and may mandate it if the supporting spouse did.
  • Age and Health: The age and health of each spouse are considered, as they can impact earning potential.

Types of Alimony: Beyond Monthly Payments

  • Post-Separation Support (PSS): Courts award this temporary alimony while the divorce is pending, addressing immediate financial needs.

Example: Maria, a stay-at-home mom, separates from her husband, David, a high-earning executive. PSS could provide Maria with funds for housing, food, and other essentials until the alimony is determined.

  • Alimony: This long-term support payment can take various forms:
    • Periodic Payments: Monthly or weekly payments over a specified duration.
    • Lump Sum: A one-time payment.
    • Rehabilitative Alimony: Support provided for a limited time to help a spouse gain skills or education for self-sufficiency.

Example: Following their 20-year marriage, David may need to pay Maria $2,500 per month for five years to support her education and re-entry into the workforce.


How is Alimony Calculated in North Carolina

North Carolina doesn’t have a strict formula. Judges consider various factors, including:

  • Income and Earning Potential: The court evaluates both current income and future earning capacity.
  • Length of Marriage: Longer marriages often result in longer alimony periods.
  • Contributions to the Marriage: Both financial and non-financial contributions, such as homemaking and child-rearing, may influence the court’s decision.
  • Standard of Living During the Marriage: The court strives to maintain a similar lifestyle for both spouses, as feasible.

How to File for Alimony in North Carolina

To seek alimony, you must initiate the process during the divorce proceedings. Here’s how:

  • Filing a Complaint: Begin by submitting a complaint to the court, including a request for alimony.
  • Providing Evidence: Gather financial documents, such as tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and expense records, to substantiate your need for support and your spouse’s ability to pay.
  • Court Hearing: A judge will evaluate the evidence and factors outlined in N.C.G.S. § 50-16.3A to determine whether to award alimony, and the amount and duration of payments.

Tharrington Smith: Your Alimony Allies

Navigating alimony in North Carolina may seem overwhelming. Tharrington Smith’s experienced family law attorneys are here to assist. We understand the complexities of alimony laws and can:

  • Assess your eligibility for alimony
  • Gather and present evidence to support your claim
  • Negotiate a fair and equitable alimony agreement
  • Advocate for your rights in court if necessary

We recognize that every divorce is unique, and we’re committed to tailoring our approach to your specific needs and goals. At Tharrington Smith, we’re more than just legal advocates – we’re your partners in building a brighter future. Contact us today for a confidential consultation and discover how we can help you navigate the complexities of alimony.



The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Alimony laws can be complex and vary based on individual circumstances. For advice specific to your situation, please contact our attorneys at Tharrington Smith.