Alimony is payment for the support and maintenance by a “supporting spouse” to a “dependent spouse.” Generally, the dependent spouse is the spouse who makes less money than the other spouse. Alimony can be paid in lump sums or continuously through periodic payments. The amount of alimony to be paid and how it will be paid can either be determined via court order or decided privately through a separation agreement. Whether alimony is being determined in court or through private agreement, its best to be knowledgeable about the statutes governing alimony in North Carolina to bring a level of ease to the process and hopefully avoid tension. North Carolina General Statute 50-16.3 explains who is entitled to alimony and how the courts make decisions regarding alimony. This statute will help you understand your rights and what the court is looking for. It would be in your best interest to maintain a clear, detailed and easily accessible history of your financial affairs and the assets you and your spouse hold in order to assist the court with your case. Below is a list of factors the courts may consider in determining alimony:

  • The marital misconduct of either of the spouses. (Includes illicit sexual behavior, abandonment, constructive abandonment, cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other spouse, such indignities as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome, reckless spending of the income of either party, substance/alcohol abuse, willful failure to provide maintenance and support, and involuntary separation of the spouses in consequence of a criminal act committed prior to the proceeding in which alimony is sought.)
  • The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses.
  • The ages and the physical/mental/emotional conditions of the spouses.
  • The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, Social Security, etc.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other.
  • The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
  • The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.
  • The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs.
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt of the spouses, including legal obligations of support.
  • The property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
  • The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
  • The relative needs of the spouses.
  • The Federal, State, and Local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
  • Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper.
  • The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties’ marital or divisible property.