What is Alimony?

In N.C. only a dependent spouse can receive alimony. A dependent spouse is defined as “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.”

There are several confusing terms that are used in describing money a supporting spouse pays a dependent spouse: post-separation support, temporary alimony, alimony, permanent alimony.

Post-separation support is money that is paid to a dependent spouse in response to an agreement between the parties or an order by the judge for support until a decision on alimony can be made. This type of support is not intended to be permanent. It is a temporary type of alimony.

Alimony is support paid to a dependent spouse for a longer duration. It may be permanent in some cases. The amount of alimony paid and the duration can be determined by the court or settled by the parties.

Do I qualify for alimony?

The test for alimony is rather simple. The dependent spouse must show that his or her resources are not adequate to support his or her reasonable needs and that the supporting spouse is financially able to pay. The only complete bar to alimony is if the supporting spouse can prove the dependent spouses uncondoned illicit sexual behavior and the supporting spouse has not committed marital misconduct.

How much will I get or How much will I have to pay?

There are no set guidelines for awarding alimony. The judge will review evidence of financial records, income, bills, and debts. The judge can also consider marital misconduct. Having considered all the factors including the amount the supporting spouse is capable of paying the judge will make an equitable decision as to how much support the dependent spouse will receive.

How long does alimony last?

The court may set a specific time for alimony to expire. This decision is based on many factors including the length of the marriage and the ability of the supporting spouse to eventually be able to support him or her self.

Even without a set expiration date, alimony will still end if either the dependent spouse or the supporting spouse dies, the recipient spouse remarries or begins cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex, or the parties resumes marital relations.


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