Factors Used in Calculating Alimony

Since many spouses depend on one another for financial support, North Carolina courts take that into consideration during divorce. The court may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other for a set time or permanently. While no set rules exist for alimony in most states, judges consider certain factors when figuring a suitable amount.

Reasons for alimony

Alimony is awarded to help spouses maintain the standard of living they had when married. If a former spouse will not be able to support themselves, the courts commonly look at the other spouse’s earnings.

A judge sets the amount and duration of the alimony. A disabled spouse could receive indefinite alimony payments. On the other hand, for some people, support payments may terminate after the receiving spouse accomplishes a goal to boost their income, such as completing a college degree.

Factors courts often consider

Courts set an amount based on the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s earning ability and current needs of both parties. Family courts commonly consider marital fault, sometimes called fault-based divorce. For example, if the court decides that emotional or physical trauma caused a divorce, they could order the guilty spouse to pay more. This doesn’t mean the court uses alimony to solely punish the guilty party, however.

Not all states have fault-based divorces that require grounds for a divorce. North Carolina has no-fault divorce, meaning couples don’t need to list a reason for the divorce. However, a spouse’s actions prior to the divorce could still have an impact on the settlement.


In North Carolina and most other states, alimony ends if a receiving spouse remarries. Temporary and indefinite alimony may also be subject to change if both parties agree. Sometimes, circumstances change that require alimony modification, such as the supporting spouse losing a job.

Sometimes, a supportive spouse could refuse to pay or fall behind on payments. When a supporting spouse neglects or refuses to pay, a divorce lawyer may be able to assist the receiving spouse.

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