Alimony: Post-separation Support and Permanent Alimony

There are two types of spousal support in North Carolina available to a dependent spouse.

The first, called "Post-separation Support", is temporary and is designed to provide for the dependent spouse's support until a final order of alimony is entered. The court will consider each spouse's income and expenses and decide the financial needs of each party and their accustomed standard of living. In determining whether to award post-separation support, and the amount of any post-separation support awarded, the court must also consider any acts of marital misconduct committed by the dependent spouse on or before the date of separation. If the court considers marital misconduct by the dependent spouse, then the court must also consider any acts of marital misconduct committed by the supporting spouse on or before the date of separation.

The second type of spousal support is "Permanent Alimony”, which is awarded by the court to the dependent spouse paid either in a lump sum or periodically over a specified or indefinite period. Once permanent alimony is awarded, any postseperation support is automatically terminated. In deciding the amount of alimony to award, the duration of the award, and the manner of payment of the award, the court has wide discretion, but must consider all relevant factors, specifically including:

  • 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, including but not limited to, earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security, or others;

  • the duration of the marriage;

  • the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;

  • 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 service requirements 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.

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