In the event of a divorce or separation, one spouse may be eligible to seek alimony (§ 50-16.3A.) or postseparation support (§ 50-16.2A.) from the other spouse. In North Carolina, courts will award spousal support to a dependent spouse. A dependent spouse is one that earns insufficient income to maintain the standard of living received during the marriage due to the loss of his or her spouse’s income.

Still, determining the amount of spousal support can be a complex process and involves numerous factors assessed by a judge. Because North Carolina does not follow a specific set of alimony guidelines based on numerical formulas, spousal support cannot be determined with an alimony calculator.

Instead, a judge will consider the following:

(1) The marital misconduct of either of the spouses. Nothing herein shall prevent a court from considering incidents of post date-of-separation marital misconduct as corroborating evidence supporting other evidence that marital misconduct occurred during the marriage and prior to date of separation; (2) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses; (3) The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses; (4) The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including, but not limited to, earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security, or others; (5) The duration of the marriage; (6) The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse; (7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child; (8) The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage; (9) The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs; (10) The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support; (11) The property brought to the marriage by either spouse; (12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (13) The relative needs of the spouses; (14) The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award; (15) Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper. (16) The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties’ marital or divisible property.

What constitutes “reasonable necessities” depends on lifestyles established during a marriage and can vary based on numerous circumstances. To avoid complex situations, divorcing and separating couples should seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable family law attorney.

Understanding the Difference Between Postseparation Support and Alimony

In North Carolina, there are two different types of spousal support – postseparation support and alimony.

Postseparation Support:

This is the monthly amount of money that a supporting spouse pays to a dependent spouse. This can include the costs of mortgage payments, medical coverage, vehicle use, and other necessities. This type of financial assistance is only temporary and concludes:

  • On the date specified in the order
  • Upon entry of an order that either awards or denies alimony
  • In the event that a claim for alimony is dismissed
  • Upon entry of judgment for absolute divorce, provided that no alimony claim is currently pending
  • If postseparation support is terminated due to a G.S. 50-16.9(b) modification


This type of spousal support is typically awarded by the court to a dependent spouse for a period of time that is lengthier than the award of postseparation support. The duration of alimony depends on a wide range of factors including the length of the marriage. If alimony is awarded for the lifetime of a dependent spouse, a supporting spouse may be able to petition the court to modify the award if circumstances change. Alimony can take the form of periodic payments or as a lump sum, for either a specified term (temporary) or indefinitely.

Facing Issues Related to Divorce? Contact Dummit Fradin Today

If you are contemplating divorce or are facing alimony- related matters, we urge you to call our family law attorneys at Dummit Fradin right away. In every case, we take an honest and straightforward approach and work diligently to establish a partnership with our clients. When you entrust your case with our legal team, we will advise you on the best strategy to help you pursue positive results as soon as possible.

Discuss your case with a family lawyer today. Dummit Fradin can help you make strategic and informed decisions!