Courts Have Wide Discretion in North Carolina Alimony Cases

The amount of discretion courts are given in alimony cases here in North Carolina is considerable. For one, there aren’t strict, detailed guidelines in the state for when a court can grant alimony when an alimony request is made in a divorce case. The main things a court needs to find to issue an alimony award are that there is a supporting spouse and a dependent spouse and that issuing such an award to the dependent spouse would be equitable given all relevant factors. The only situation in which stricter rules apply is when there are findings of illicit sexual behavior.  

Courts in the state also have a great deal of freedom when it comes to deciding what a given alimony award will look like. Specifically, courts are given discretion when it comes to setting the following for an alimony award:

  • The award’s amount.
  • The manner of the award.
  • The award’s duration (courts have freedom in setting how long an award is to go and can even decide to have the award duration be indefinite).

As with decisions on whether or not to grant alimony, courts are to consider all relevant factors when making decisions on the specifics of a given alimony award. State law lists a wide range of relevant factors. 

Given the great deal of discretion courts are given in alimony cases in the state, a very wide range of things can end up impacting what ends up happening in a given alimony matter. So, what types of arguments and evidence are presented in alimony cases can be incredibly important. Thus, whether a divorcing individual is seeking an alimony award or is facing an alimony request from their ex, they should consider having a skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney guide them through the alimony process and help them with things such as evidence collection and argument development.  

Source: North Carolina General Assembly, “North Carolina General Statutes – § 50-16.3A. Alimony.,” Accessed Feb. 5, 2016

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