How is Alimony Determined in North Carolina?


Alimony in North Carolina is payment for the support and maintenance of a spouse after separation and divorce. Alimony is usually paid on a continuing basis for a determined period of time.  Prior to 1995, alimony was fault based. The law, however, was amended to better reflect that marriage is an economic partnership.

Who Is Supporting

Prior to an award of alimony, there are a number of things that must be determined:

  • Identifying the supporting spouse and the dependent spouse: Before a court will award post-separation support or alimony, the court must first determine who is the supporting spouse and who is the dependent spouse. The dependent spouse is the spouse who is 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. In contrast, the supporting spouse is the party who has the ability to provide said maintenance and support.


  • Post-Separation Support: “Post-separation support” is “spousal support to be paid until the earlier of either the date specified in the order of post-separation support, or an order awarding or denying alimony.” Post-separation support is the legal obligation of the supporting spouse to provide financial support to the dependent spouse. The relevant factors and bars to post separation support are different than those applicable to alimony. Alimony is an award of support from the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse for either a permanent or a set number of years. Alimony terminates on death, remarriage, or cohabitation by the dependent spouse, as clarified by North Carolina statute.

Determining Alimony

Some of the most common questions about alimony are how it is determined and the benefits and protections it provides. Listed below are some of the factors considered when determining alimony:

  • Marital misconduct
  • Relative earnings and earning capacity
  • Age, physical, mental and emotional condition
  • Sources of earned and unearned income
  • Needs of spouses
  • Taxes on alimony
  • Financial contributions of a spouse
  • Contributions to the home
  • Economic effects of a minor
  • Duration of marriage
  • The accustomed standard of living
  • Education, training, and ability to find work
  • Assets, liabilities, and debt of each spouse
  • Property
  • Consideration of equitable distribution hearing
  • Economic circumstances


Post-Separation Support and alimony are currently tax-deductible to the supporting spouse and taxable as income to the dependent spouse. The new tax law recently enacted by Congress is slated to change these tax considerations for alimony awards after January 1, 2019. If you need a Monroe NC Alimony, Post-Separation Support & Spousal Support attorney to help you negotiate spousal support, the lawyers at Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP can help. Give us a call at 704-289-2519 to learn about our mediation services or speak to one of our divorce attorneys.