No one answer fits everyone when it comes to how long alimony will last. It depends on many factors, including the couple’s income and the length of their marriage. In North Carolina, a judge can order support for a specified or indefinite term. Let’s look at what goes into a judge’s decision about how long spousal support should continue.

What is Alimony in North Carolina?

If you’re going through a divorce in North Carolina, it’s essential to understand how alimony works. A judge can order alimony for a spouse in NC during an action for divorce or alimony.

According to NC Law, alimony is an order for payment for the support and maintenance of a spouse or former spouse:

  • Periodically or in a lump sum
  • For a specified or an indefinite term

In other words, it’s financial support that one spouse may have to pay to the other after they get divorced.

Proving You Deserve Support

To obtain alimony and post-separation support in North Carolina, you must prove that:

  • You are the dependent spouse
  • Your spouse is the supporting spouse
  • You cannot support your living expenses without help from your supportive spouse
  • Your supportive spouse can pay

Length of Time

The length of alimony depends on many factors. These can include the couple’s income and how long they were married. In North Carolina, a judge can order alimony for a specified or indefinite term.

So if the judge sees that you lived in a high-income bracket and depended on your spouse’s income as you raised children at home for 20 years, your alimony may be higher and last longer than someone in a different situation. Your alimony also may last longer if you were married for a significant time.

Factors a Judge May Consider

A judge will look at several factors when deciding how long alimony should last. These may include:

  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
  • How long it would take for the spouse receiving alimony to get education or training to become self-sufficient
  • The age and health of both spouses
  • Whether one spouse helped the other financially during their marriage so that they could get an education or training
  • Whether either spouse has a history of domestic violence
  • Marital misconduct

As an example of these factors, you do not receive spousal support if you are the dependent spouse and engaged in marital misconduct. However, if both you and your spouse engaged in marital misconduct, the court may award you support monies.

It’s essential to note that there is no set formula for the length of spousal support. Every situation is different, and a judge will decide based on what they believe is fair given the circumstances.

How Can You Know the Right Amount 

If you’re paying or receiving monetary support, it’s essential to ensure that the amount is fair. You can do this by keeping track of your expenses and income, as well as your spouse’s. When the court sees the financial data you compile, it will help the judge make the best decision for you and your spouse.

Ensure that you’re paying or receiving the right amount by keeping careful records to present to the judge at any hearings.

Consider Alimony Before Getting the Divorce

If you’re in the separation period of a divorce process, it’s crucial to address your legal issues before the divorce goes through. You must iron out spousal support amounts before obtaining a divorce. In other words, if you don’t get alimony awarded during or before the divorce proceedings, you waive your right to it!

Another type of support that a judge may award one spouse is post-separation support. This type of support helps you through the separation period before the judge sets the final amount and duration.

How Alimony Ends

The court sets the length of time and the amount of alimony. Alimony payments do not end unless a terminating event happens. Terminating events include these situations:

  • Dependent spouse co-habits with another adult
  • You and your ex resume your marital relationship
  • Dependent spouse remarries
  • Either spouse dies

So if you receive alimony from your spouse and want to continue the term of your alimony until the judgment ends, you can’t cohabit with another adult, remarry, or get back together with your ex.

We Can Help

If you have any questions about how alimony works in North Carolina, or if you think you’re not getting the right amount of support, reach out to our experienced family law attorneys at Plekan Law. We can help protect your rights and ensure you get the support you need.