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Three Key Factors Impacting Alimony Qualification in North Carolina


In North Carolina, there isn’t an alimony test per se, but there are three critical factors that will impact whether or not a party will qualify for a support award. Alimony is a court order requiring one party to pay another an amount earmarked for financial support or maintenance. The court can set the amount, or couples can agree on a payment in their settlement agreement. The request for alimony is a standard inclusion in the divorce process, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatic. Plus, an alimony award requires a dependent party and a supporting spouse. Temporary alimony is also a possibility for the time between filing for divorce and finalizing the end of the marriage. Temporary alimony requires fewer qualifiers than long-term support payments, so it’s best to consult your attorney to ensure you meet all the necessary requirements.

Filing for Alimony in North Carolina: Three Qualifying Factors

When determining eligibility for alimony, the assigned judge will review the financials involved in the case to find evidence there’s a dependent spouse and supporting spouse. If a dependent and supporting relationship exists, the grounds are typically set for an alimony award unless other issues arise.

Basically, the judge will review the case details in search of the following information:

• A history of financial dependence and current need

• A history of financial support

• Evidence an alimony award would be fair if awarded*

Fairness is based on relevant factors that can color the judge’s determination. These factors include issues of infidelity, the length of the marriage, and other factors such as:

• Salaries and earning ability of each party

• Each spouse’s age, health, and mental fitness

• Educational and training contributions made by either party

• Whether there was career opt-out by a spouse to care for a minor child

• Living standards enjoyed during the marriage

• Employability of each spouse and time it would take to become employable

• Joint and personal assets and liabilities

• Personal property of each party

• Each spouse’s monthly needs

• Tax implications of an alimony award

In North Carolina, a dependent spouse can lose access to alimony support if there’s proof of infidelity during the marriage or before the date of separation. There are caveats to this disqualification. If the supporting spouse were also engaged in a sexual partnership outside the marriage, it would put alimony back on the table, but it would be discretionary. When the supporting spouse is the only party guilty of sexual impropriety, the judge typically awards alimony to the dependent spouse at the court’s discretion. Alimony isn’t like child support; there isn’t a table with predetermined payment amounts based on income levels. The amount and duration of the award will be determined fairly and equitably.

When Do I Request Alimony in North Carolina?

The court will only review these factors and decide on issues of alimony if the party seeking maintenance applied for support. Support requests are typically made when filing for divorce. It’s important to remember: alimony is not automatic. Dependent spouses must make a request to be awarded support payments. You can file a request in the court with jurisdiction over your case. Once filed, the court will then review the details of a divorce settlement to determine if the requesting spouse qualifies for an alimony award. While a dependent spouse waits for their divorce to be finalized, they may be eligible for post-separation support. Post-separation support must also be filed with the court of jurisdiction in your case. Any post-separation award would automatically terminate once the divorce is finalized. A judge determines alimony awards, but post-judgment support requests aren’t usually as formal as they don’t require the same deep dive into the financial history and other relevant factors.

Seek Legal Assistance in Your Alimony Case from The Law Office of Kelli Y. Allen, PLLC

When everything is finalized, an alimony award must be fair and equitable. The court will do this by adhering to the law and considering all the relevant factors and financial support history before deciding. The amount and duration of an alimony award aren't predetermined, so the more information available to the court, the more likely there will be a fair outcome in the case. Alimony support will end before the duration term set by the court if the receiving party remarries or begins a cohabitation relationship with a new partner. Alimony also ends if the payor party dies before the duration term ends. How alimony decisions are determined in North Carolina can be complex and confusing if you aren’t familiar with the legal guidelines, so it’s imperative to secure legal representation in these matters. The legal team at The Law Office of Kelli Y. Allen, PLLC, can help you with your divorce, post-separation support claim, and alimony request.

Do you need help in your divorce? Call now at (704) 870-0340 to schedule a consultation with our Charlotte divorce lawyer. We can review the details of your case and get started with your support claims.