How do North Carolina Courts Determine Alimony?

Posted by Jonathan Jerkins | Sep 28, 2022 | 0 Comments

While many divorcing couples can easily agree that the spouse who earns more should pay child support, alimony is more hotly contested. The partner who earns more often feels that their spouse isn't entitled to any of their earnings aside from child support. Determining alimony can be complex, so it's a good idea to consult a North Carolina family law attorney for advice.

The Dependent Spouse

To be awarded alimony in a divorce in North Carolina, your spouse must show that they are a “dependent spouse.” The court is less likely to award alimony if two spouses earn similar amounts. But if one spouse earns significantly more, alimony is more likely. The court will look at:

  • Whether one spouse is dependent,
  • Whether the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and
  • Whether alimony is equitable considering all the circumstances.

Determining Alimony

Unlike child support, North Carolina law doesn't provide a specific formula to calculate how much alimony an ex-spouse should pay. Rather, the duration and amount of alimony a court awards will depend on many factors, including:

  • The length of the marriage,
  • The reasonable needs of the spouse,
  • The ability of one spouse to pay alimony,
  • The reasonable earning capacity of both spouses,
  • The dependent spouse's educational and career background,
  • The age, physical, mental, and emotional condition of both spouses,
  • The contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse,
  • The amount of earned and unearned income of each spouse,
  • How one spouse's earning capacity will be affected by serving as the primary caregiver of the couple's shared children,
  • The relative assets and liabilities of each spouse,
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage,
  • The contribution of the spouse as a homemaker,
  • The tax implications of an alimony award,
  • The dependent spouse's standard of living, and 
  • Any marital misconduct.

In general, the longer the length of the marriage, the longer the duration of alimony a court will award. You can expect to pay more in alimony if you earn a higher income. If your spouse remarries or moves in with a new partner, they will no longer be entitled to alimony payments. 

Hire a Skilled North Carolina Family Lawyer

If you're contemplating a divorce or are already in the middle of the process, you need experienced legal guidance. Our attorneys have helped many North Carolina families through divorce and separation, and they can help you too. Call Jerkins Family Law at 919-719-2785 or contact us online.

About the Author

Jonathan Jerkins

Jonathan "Jay" Jerkins, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, intentionally focuses his practice on all aspects of North Carolina family law litigation and negotiations. Jay was admitted to the practice of law in North Carolina in 2014.


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