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Spousal Support

Different types of spousal support in North Carolina

Spousal support is generally referred to by two different terms, depending on the period of time during and for which it is being paid: post-separation support or alimony.

Alimony is broadly defined as payment for the support and maintenance of a spouse or former spouse, periodically or in a lump sum, for a specified or for an indefinite term. Post-separation support can be looked at as temporary alimony – it is support paid until a specific date, until alimony is awarded, denied, or dismissed, until entry of a judgment of absolute divorce (if no claim of alimony is pending at the time of the judgment), or until otherwise terminated.  While alimony ordered by a court can be modified in the event of a change in circumstances, it can be thought of as more final or long term in nature.

In order to award spousal support, a court must find that there was a dependent spouse and a supporting spouse during the marriage.

Post-separation Support

The Court may award a spouse post-separation support if the spouse is unable to meet his or her needs and if the other spouse has the ability to pay. The award is based on the financial needs of the parties, considering the parties’ accustomed standard of living, the income of each party and other recurring earnings of each party from any source, their income-earning abilities, the separate and marital debt, those expenses reasonably necessary to support each of the parties, and each party’s obligation to support any other persons.


A dependent spouse is entitled to an award of alimony if doing so would be equitable after considering all relevant factors, such as:

  • The marital misconduct of either of the spouses;
  • The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses;
  • The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses;
  • The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
  • The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage;
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support;
  • The contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
  • The relative needs of the spouses;
  • Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper.

Amount and Duration

There is no formula in North Carolina for alimony. The law gives the court discretion in determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment, only requiring the court to consider the same factors listed above.

Contact our firm today if you have questions about post-separation support or alimony in Charlotte, North Carolina. We are here to assist you with a spousal support claim.

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