What are Alimony and Spousal Support?

ripped heart | Perry bundy lawThere are two ways a partner can benefit from spousal support; alimony and post-separation support. In post-separation support, financial assistance is paid after the separation date but before the divorce. So what is alimony? Its the payment the supporting spouse makes to the former partner either periodically or in a lump sum after the divorce.

In North Carolina, spousal support is meant to be rehabilitative and not punitive. Greater emphasis is often placed on the condition of the spouses versus the misconduct. 

What’s Required for Spousal Support?

For a spouse to receive post-separation support, they must prove the following;

  • Prove he/she is a dependent spouse
  • Prove that the other partner is the supporting partner
  • Prove that he/she doesn’t have the financial means or resources to maintain their standard of living
  • Prove that the supporting spouse can pay for financial support

Post-separation support is purely financial-based, and being guilty of illicit sexual behavior doesn’t stop one from getting a claim. The dependent partner can provide evidence of marital misconduct only if the supporting partner offers proof of marital misconduct. By working with our experienced Monroe, NC spousal support attorneys, we can assist you in proving these points in your claim.

Post Separation Support Agreements

In most cases, partners who are separating or have separated come to an agreement between themselves. A hearing isn’t necessary, but may be needed if an agreement can not be reached. It’s a best practice to have the agreement drawn up and signed by both parties, but it is not required.

In the situation where an agreement cannot be reached the spouse seeking support may file an action for alimony. If awarded the supporting spouse may be required to pay support during separation, and then alimony once the divorce is final.

In some cases, the court may order post separation support without a hearing. Verified pleadings from accountants and witnesses can be the basis a court uses to award support. In this situation verified means that these individuals are offering sworn testimony. The court will consider the testimony and if found compelling can award post separation support.

Martial Misconduct, Spousal Support & Alimony

Courts in North Carolina are not required to award support if there is marital misconduct, but they may choose to. Martial misconduct is often defined as infidelity. If infidelity is part of your divorce it may be considered in awarding or denying a spouse to pay post separation support or alimony.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

Alimony differs from child support payments in that it may last indefinitely. Post separation support ends when the divorce is final. Alimony starts when the divorce is final and goes for as long as the court dictates. This is often as long as both partners are alive, or until the spouse receiving support marries someone or cohabitates with another adult.

Alimony payment decisions by courts are not set in stone or final. They are subject to alterations in the case that circumstances change substantially for either partner. If the partner who pays has a significant decrease in their income or becomes disabled it’s common for modifications to be awarded.

How Does Alimony Work?

Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance in some regions, is money paid after divorce to a wife or husband. Traditionally it is money paid by the breadwinner to the spouse who may have given up on their career to be a homemaker or makes significantly less money.

  • Refusal to pay alimony on time, or at all, may cause criminal or civil legal repercussions to the payer.
  • Alimony is meant to provide support so the payee can maintain the lifestyle they had become accustomed to during the divorce.
  • Generally alimony is awarded in divorces where the marriage has lasted 10 years or longer. It stops if the payee gets remarried, a court order is issued, or the death of either party.
  • Alimony is either paid periodically or in a lump sum following the divorce.
  • 4 Types of Alimony in North Carolina

    There are different types of alimony in states across the country. In North Carolina, there are 4 types of alimony.

    Permanent Periodic Alimony

    A permanent period alimony order is a fixed amount that is paid. Usually, it is paid monthly or may be paid bi-weekly or quarterly. This type of alimony ends if the payee remarries or the payor dies. The amount can be modified if the payor shows significant changes in circumstances.

    Lump Sum Alimony

    While the name implies it is the entire amount of alimony paid after the divorce is final, it can be paid over time. The difference is the total amount owed is calculated and paid versus being a permanent recurring payment.

    Rehabilitative Alimony

    Rehabilitative alimony is similar to permanent alimony, only it is set for a limited amount of time. It gives the payee time to reestablish themselves financially without undue stress.

    Reimbursement Alimony

    In cases where a spouse has helped their partner establish a business or paid for education, it is money seen as owed on future income based on the payor’s investment.

    What Does the Law Consider When Calculating Alimony or Spousal Support? 


    • How long was your marriage?
    • What expenses does each partner have?
    • How much does each partner earn?
    • What is the professional and educational background of the spouses?
    • Do both partners have a history of working outside the home?
    • What type of lifestyle did the spouses enjoy while married?
    • Does one partner need vocational or educational training to enter employment?
    • Did one partner have an illicit affair?
    • What are the age and overall health of both partners?
    • What is the financial capacity of the custodial parent?
    • Did one partner squander marital assets leaving fewer assets for both spouses to share?



    The answers to these questions will have a tremendous impact on how the judge will rule on whether to order alimony or post-separation support. Partners can choose to accept voluntary alimony agreements or waive spousal support altogether. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult an experienced Monroe NC spousal support lawyer for guidance, and skillful legal counsel. At Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP, we are committed to being with you at every step of the way. Get in touch with us today at 704-289-2519.

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