Alimony in North Carolina
North Carolina Judges consider many factors in determining support, either on a temporary basis while the divorce is pending, called Post Separation Support, or for “permanent” support which is called Alimony. Support generally stops upon the death of either party, the remarriage of the recipient, or the recipient living in a relationship like a marriage. The factors are set out in the North Carolina General Statutes Section 50-16.3A, which provides:
§ 50-16.3A. Alimony.
(a) Entitlement. – In an action brought pursuant to Chapter 50 of the General Statutes, either party may move for alimony. The court shall award alimony to the dependent spouse upon a finding that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and that an award of alimony is equitable after considering all relevant factors, including those set out in subsection (b) of this section. If the court finds that the dependent spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior, as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A(3)a., during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, the court shall not award alimony. If the court finds that the supporting spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior, as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A(3)a., during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, then the court shall order that alimony be paid to a dependent spouse. If the court finds that the dependent and the supporting spouse each participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior during the marriage and prior to or on the date of separation, then alimony shall be denied or awarded in the discretion of the court after consideration of all of the circumstances. Any act of illicit sexual behavior by either party that has been condoned by the other party shall not be considered by the court.
The claim for alimony may be heard on the merits prior to the entry of a judgment for equitable distribution, and if awarded, the issues of amount and of whether a spouse is a dependent or supporting spouse may be reviewed by the court after the conclusion of the equitable distribution claim.
(b) Amount and Duration. – The court shall exercise its discretion in determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony. The duration of the award may be for a specified or for an indefinite term. In determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
(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.
(c) Findings of Fact. – The court shall set forth the reasons for its award or denial of alimony and, if making an award, the reasons for its amount, duration, and manner of payment. Except where there is a motion before the court for summary judgment, judgment on the pleadings, or other motion for which the Rules of Civil Procedure do not require special findings of fact, the court shall make a specific finding of fact on each of the factors in subsection (b) of this section if evidence is offered on that factor.
(d) In the claim for alimony, either spouse may request a jury trial on the issue of marital misconduct as defined in G.S. 50-16.1A. If a jury trial is requested, the jury will decide whether either spouse or both have established marital misconduct. (1995, c. 319, s. 2; c. 509, s. 135.2(b); 1998-176, s. 11.)