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How Is Alimony Or Spousal Support Addressed In North Carolina?


Alimony is paid after the marriage is dissolved, and after the equitable distribution has been distributed. PSS, or post separation support, is a partial support award that is available until the equitable distribution is closed. For ease in use of terminology, we will just call it spousal support.

Which Party Has The Obligation To Pay Spousal Support?

Generally this obligation falls on the supporting spouse rather than the dependant spouse. The supporting spouse is the spouse “whether husband or wife, upon whom the other spouse is actually substantially dependent for maintenance and support or from whom such spouse is substantially in need of maintenance and support.” A dependent spouse is a spouse, “whether husband or wife, who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse.”

Is There A Length Of Marriage Required To Get Spousal Support Or Alimony?

There is no length on marriages to receive spousal support in North Carolina. There is no minimum time, but obviously, the longer the marriage and the dependence, the more likely.

When Do Alimony And Spousal Support Each Begin?

The spousal support or PSS can begin relatively soon after a complaint for alimony and PSS is filed. In some cases this can be as soon as a few weeks to a couple of months.

How Long Does Someone Have To Pay Alimony Or Spousal Support?

There is no set minimum, or maximums, and there are no guidelines to that affect. There are about sixteen different factors in the statute the judge uses to make this determination. N.C.G.S. § 50-16.3A lays out the basics of alimony.

  • 50-16.3A. Alimony. (a) Entitlement. – In an action brought pursuant to Chapter 50 of the General Statutes, either party may move for alimony. The court shall award alimony to the dependent spouse upon a finding that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and that an award of alimony is equitable after considering all relevant factors, including those set out in subsection (b) of this section. If the court finds that the dependent spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior, as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A(3)a., during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, the court shall not award alimony. If the court finds that the supporting spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior, as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A(3)a., during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, then the court shall order that alimony be paid to a dependent spouse. If the court finds that the dependent and the supporting spouse each participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, then alimony shall be denied or awarded in the discretion of the court after consideration of all of the circumstances. Any act of illicit sexual behavior by either party that has been condoned by the other party shall not be considered by the court. The claim for alimony may be heard on the merits prior to the entry of a judgment for equitable distribution, and if awarded, the issues of amount and of whether a spouse is a dependent or supporting spouse may be reviewed by the court after the conclusion of the equitable distribution claim. (b) Amount and Duration. – The court shall exercise its discretion in determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony. The duration of the award may be for a specified or for an indefinite term. In determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including: (1) The marital misconduct of either of the spouses. Nothing herein shall prevent a court from considering incidents of post date-of-separation marital misconduct as corroborating evidence supporting other evidence that marital misconduct occurred during the marriage and prior to date of separation; (2) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses; (3) The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses; (4) The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including, but not limited to, earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security, or others; (5) The duration of the marriage; (6) The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse; (7) 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; (8) The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage; (9) 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; (10) The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support; (11) The property brought to the marriage by either spouse; (12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (13) The relative needs of the spouses; (14) The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award; G.S. 50-16.3A Page 2 (15) Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper. (16) 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. (c) Findings of Fact. – The court shall set forth the reasons for its award or denial of alimony and, if making an award, the reasons for its amount, duration, and manner of payment. Except where there is a motion before the court for summary judgment, judgment on the pleadings, or other motion for which the Rules of Civil Procedure do not require special findings of fact, the court shall make a specific finding of fact on each of the factors in subsection (b) of this section if evidence is offered on that factor. (d) In the claim for alimony, either spouse may request a jury trial on the issue of marital misconduct as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A. If a jury trial is requested, the jury will decide whether either spouse or both have established marital misconduct.

How Is The Amount Of Alimony Or Spousal Support Determined?

Anytime people go through a divorce, each party has to fill out what is called a financial affidavit. The idea of alimony is to put the dependent spouse at the same standard of living, as they were when they were married to the supporting spouse. This is not a simple task. One income must now become two. That generally does not always work, but that is the goal. An assessment can be made once the financial affidavits are completed.

How Does The Commission Of Adultery Affect Alimony Or Spousal Support In North Carolina?

If the spouse that committed adultery is the supporting spouse, and the other spouse does not forgive that behavior, the court is going to award alimony. If the dependent spouse cheats, and the supporting spouse does not forgive them, then the court is usually not going to award any alimony at all. However, if both spouses cheat on each other, it is up to the court.

For more information on Alimony & PSS In North Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 336.306.8644 today.