North Carolina Alimony Laws and Guidelines: All About Spousal Support in “NC”

The alimony laws governing spousal support in North Carolina is different from what is obtainable in other states. Read further to grasp the peculiarity of the NC alimony law.

Also referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” in Old North State, alimony is the series of payments made by one spouse (the payor spouse) to another (the supported or payee spouse) after the divorce.

Before the alimony payments commence, there has to be a written order or agreement which requires the payor to support the payee with a stipulated amount of money.

This agreement eliminates any disputes in the future about why the payment was made or when it’s not made.

All 50 states in America are alimony states, meaning states that have enacted laws permitting a spouse who cannot work full time or with a lower income to request payments from the other spouse to support themselves after a divorce.

Type of Alimony Laws Practiced in NC

types of alimony

Types of alimony in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the general statutes provide for a dependent spouse can receive two types of spousal support: post-separation assistance and alimony.

Post-separation Support in North Carolina

Post-separation support is a sort of temporary support meant to keep a spouse afloat while their alimony claim is being considered by the court. If a judge approves alimony, post-separation support comes to an end. It can also come to an end if any of the following situations happen:

  • The post-separation support order expires on the specified date.
  • The alimony claim is dismissed by the judge.
  • When there is no outstanding alimony claim, the court enters an absolute divorce ruling.
  • Remarrying or moving in with a new significant other is an option for the dependent spouse.
  • Either partner passes away.

Qualifying for Post-Separation Support

Before a court in North Carolina may award post-separation support, it must determine if the dependent spouse has the resources to sustain themselves during the divorce proceedings. If not, the judge must determine whether the other spouse can afford to pay. When determining the amount of post-separation support, the court will examine the following factors:

  • both spouses’ financial needs
  • the standard of living of the couple in marriage
  • each spouse’s current employment income and any recurrent incomes
  • income-earning abilities of each spouse
  • each spouse’s separate and marital debt obligations
  • the required expenses of each spouse
  • if one of the spouses has a legal obligation to assist a third party, and
  • whether either spouse engaged in marital misbehavior throughout the marriage or prior to the date of separation If this is the case, the misconduct may have an impact on the amount of post-separation assistance awarded, as well as whether the court awards it at all.

Alimony Support in NC

After the judge has finalized the divorce, the court may grant interim alimony to couples who are financially self-sufficient but require time to learn new skills or find work that pays well enough to sustain themselves.

Alternatively, if the recipient is unable to achieve financial independence due to advanced age or a handicap that prohibits the spouse from working, the court can order one spouse to permanently support the other.

Permanent Spousal Support in North Carolina

This is one of the popular types of alimony, unique in that the courts normally calculate the support amount by using the North Carolina child support statutes instead of the alimony factors.

Rehabilitative Spousal Support in North Carolina

The most common type of spousal support in North Carolina is rehabilitative support. It is common in cases where one spouse was the primary earner in the family or earns more than the other. Also, it could apply where the less earner cared for the home or children while the marriage lasted.

This type of alimony is intended to support the receiving spouse while they acquire the skills or training needed to get a job.

Who Pays Alimony in North Carolina?

In North Carolina alimony law, the spouse that makes most of the money will share that income with the other spouse. The idea behind who pays for alimony is to considerably level up the living standard of the dependent spouse to what it was while the marriage was on.

Regarding the sex that pays, alimony in Old North State is gender-neutral, meaning either spouse can request support from the other. As long as the alimony can be provided to the requesting spouse, then it will most likely be granted.

So a husband can receive alimony from a wife in North Carolina if the above conditions are met.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in NC?

How Long To Pay Alimony

The judge will decide how long the alimony payment should last in North Carolina

The duration to pay alimony in North Carolina can differ depending on the individual judge and circumstances. However, you should expect to pay spousal support for a duration of 80-70% of the length of the marriage lasted. So assuming you were married for 10 years, the spousal support duration will most likely be between 6 to 7 years.

As provided by the alimony laws of NC, rehabilitative and permanent support stops if either spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries.

How to Collect Spousal Support Arrears in North Carolina

When it comes to collecting spousal support in North Carolina, you have a few choices if your ex-spouse has failed to make alimony payments as ordered by the court. Debts for spousal support are frequently given priority among debtors under US law.

Average Alimony Payment in North Carolina

The average amount payable as spousal support in North Carolina after divorce is determined by various factors. But the major factor you have to understand is “the standard of living of the marriage.”

To determine the final amounts for rehabilitative and permanent support in NC, the courts in NC takes into consideration the income of the spouses, plus other factors like:

  • earning capacity of each spouse.
  • the ability of the paying spouse to pay, considering assets, the standard of living, earning capacity, as well as earned and unearned income.
  • the extent of contribution the supported spouse gave to the other’s educational pursuit or professional license during the marriage
  • how long the marriage lasted
  • the needs of each spouse
  • the assets and debts of each spouse including separate property
  • each party’s tax consequences
  • the ability of the supported spouse to gain employment without interfering with their children’s care
  • each spouse’s health and age
  • each party’s balance of hardships
  • whether there is a documented history of domestic violence against the children or either party
  • will the dependent spouse be self-supporting within a reasonable period
  • any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse
  • any other factors which the court wishes to consider

This is the main measure the court uses to determine the amount to be paid in Old North State. The principle behind the standard of living of the marriage is that after the marriage breakup, both spouses should continue living within the same standard they lived while the marriage lasted.

How Alimony is Calculated in NC

How Alimony is Calculated

How Alimony is Calculated in North Carolina

The amount to be paid as spousal support in North Carolina is calculated after considering the above-stated factors. Whichever option is adopted it is reflected in the Alimony Calculator

But to be explicit about how to calculate spousal support in NC, you may need to consult your spousal support attorney.

>>> North Carolina Spousal Support Calculator

Importance of Using a Skilled North Carolina Spousal Support Attorney

If you’re getting a divorce in North Carolina and need to negotiate or re-negotiate spousal support, you’ve definitely got a lot of questions and want to seek competent legal guidance. Though state Supreme Courts have supported lifetime spousal support, your circumstances may or may not fulfill the requirements. NC courts may judge your case differently based on the merits of you and your previous spouse. There are so many variables to consider.

If you want to get spousal support for the rest of your life or if you want to fight against it in North Carolina, an expert divorce lawyer can help. Depending on the objective and the desire of the adversary attorney to bargain in good faith, you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

For the convenience of our members, we have an up-to-date directory of NC divorce and spousal support attorneys who can help with a variety of issues. For legal advice and representation on spousal support that is powerful and well-informed.

Click Here to Get our Free North Carolina Alimony recommendation.

FAQ About North Carolina Alimony Laws

Here are Frequently Asked Questions about spousal support laws in NC:

Can a Husband get Alimony in NC?

Yes. In North Carolina, alimony payment is gender-neutral, meaning the sex that pays or receives is not the main determinant, but other factors as stated above. For details click here.

Who Qualifies for Alimony in North Carolina?

Just as either spouse can pay or receive, the party that qualifies to receive spousal support is the dependent party while the marriage lasted. This means that in NC, the spouse that had lesser or no income when the marriage was on is also the one qualified to receive alimony. Click here for details

How Long do you have to be Married to get Alimony in NC?

To understand how long alimony lasts in North Carolina, you have to take into consideration how long the marriage lasted.

However, bear in mind that there is no limit to the duration you can pay or receive alimony for marriages that lasted 10-20 years or more. Any marriage that lasted below 20 years will not pay nor receive alimony that exceeds 50% of the duration of the marriage.

Is Alimony Tax Deductible in North Carolina?

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which altered the link between alimony and taxes dramatically in North Carolina and all over the US, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the payer and are no longer recognized as
income for the recipient spouse as of January 1, 2019.

Is Alimony Mandatory in Old North State?

Alimony is mandatory in North Carolina as long as one of the spouses earns or owns assets that can be relied upon to support the other spouse after the marriage breaks down.

Can Alimony be increased in North Carolina?

Alimony amount or duration can be increased or decreased due to changes in the financial circumstances of the parties in different ways, including:

  • an increase or decrease in the income of the alimony recipient
  • if it’s determined that the original alimony awarded is inadequate
  •  loss to the alimony recipient’s financial assets
  • an increase in the justified expenses of the alimony recipient
  • when the financial condition of the receiving spouse fails to improve as originally expected

Can you go to Jail for Not Paying Spousal Support in NC?

Technically, you will not be jailed for not paying alimony in North Carolina. While there are varying consequences for not paying alimony, you can still end up in jail as a result. Here is how.

If it’s a North Carolina court-ordered spousal support that you refuse to pay, it means you are in violation of a court order meaning you can be prosecuted for being in contempt of court if contempt proceedings are brought up against you. This could attract a jail term in NC}.

How to Modify Spousal Support in NC?

How to Avoid spousal support

How to Avoid spousal support in North Carolina

When necessary, North Carolina law allows for a spousal support modification. When it comes to alimony, courts in NC usually try to do their best to create judgments that are fair and effective in the long run. Nevertheless, conditions change over time, and these changes may compel a revision or modification of the initial order.

When filing for a spousal support modification in North Carolina, keep in mind that the courts will only entertain the motion if there has been a significant and long-term change in circumstances. A brief problem is unlikely to be significant enough to warrant a revision in the initial alimony ruling. Likewise, dissatisfaction with the support order is not a valid reason for a revision in NC.

The following are some of the most common reasons for requesting an alimony modification in North Carolina:

  • Retirement
  • Remarriage
  • Relocation
  • Changes in income or employment
  • Birth of a new child
  • Health changes, including disability
  • A new dependent

How to Avoid or End Spousal Support in North Carolina?

In Old North State, the spouse paying the alimony can successfully avoid or stop the alimony payment if he/she is able to prove any or all of the following points:

  • that the dependent spouse is guilty of infidelity
  • the spouse proves that he has no source of income
  • the spouse remarries and has to take care of the new spouse however, he/she will continue paying the child support for children if any
  • if the spouse is disabled and unable to earn a living

Alimony Laws in all 50 States

A Alabama  |  AlaskaArizonaArkansas
C CaliforniaColoradoConnecticut
D-H DelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaii
I IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa
K-L KansasKentuckyLouisiana
M MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontana
NebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth Dakota
P-S  PennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth Dakota
T-U  TennesseeTexasUtah
V-W  VermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.