Is It Possible to Obtain a Permanent Spousal Support Award?

The aftermath of divorce brings all sorts of concerns for the under-earning spouse. If you do not have a career during your marriage, or if you earn significantly less than your spouse, you may worry how you will be able to support yourself and your children after the court finalizes the divorce decree. You may wonder if it’s possible to receive an alimony award that will last you the rest of your life.

Temporary and permanent alimony

When determining alimony, courts have discretion to make an alimony award temporary or permanent. Thus, it’s technically possible for you to receive permanent spousal support. However, permanent lifetime support is very rare, and courts only award it under extreme circumstances.

Rather than permanent alimony, it’s more likely that you will receive rehabilitative alimony. This means alimony that meets your needs and helps you to maintain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle until you can get back on your feet and support yourself. In other words, it’s most likely that alimony will last long enough for you to obtain higher education and find steady employment.

Factors courts consider

North Carolina courts consider a variety of factors when deciding how long an alimony award will last.

For example, they will examine your education and earning capacity, your overall health, other needs you may have, and whether or not you will have sole or joint custody of your children. They will also look at the lifestyle that you have grown accustomed to during the marriage, and the duration of the marriage.

Though extremely rare, a court might grant you an award of permanent alimony if there was little chance of you becoming self-sufficient in the foreseeable future. For example, if you have health conditions or disabilities that make it extremely difficult for you to find employment, and if your marriage has lasted a long time, a permanent award may be more likely. However, even a permanent award will end if you remarry or cohabitate with a stable, long-term partner.

Alimony serves an important function for underearning spouses. It will help you to transition into your new, post-divorce life without the stress of being unable to support yourself, until you can become self-sufficient and independent again.

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