Alimony Obligation Applies to Men and Women Alike in North Carolina

Women aren’t the only people who receive alimony. In earlier decades, that was a common assumption because men were generally the main breadwinners and women worked in the domestic realm, raising children and maintaining the household. But economic, social and cultural changes in the American landscape over the decades have turned that model topsy-turvy. Now, 40 percent of women earn more than their husbands, TIME magazine reports.

The result: alimony, already an unpopular aspect of a divorce settlement, is now a bothersome obligation for men and women alike. And nobody likes it, because no one likes giving away their hard-earned money. But as the TIME article points out, the economic necessity and cultural shifts that have enabled women to pursue greater career opportunities are also the exact same things that leave them financially bound to their exes.

Given the fact that many of America’s households now have dual earners, many states are pushing to eliminate alimony altogether. Although North Carolina has seen its share of alimony reforms, exes are still eligible to receive support in certain circumstances. That means either a husband or wife could be writing checks for spousal support. If you are considering separation and divorce in Wake County, it’s a good idea to contact a knowledgeable attorney so you’ll have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations.

Under North Carolina law, alimony can be provided if one spouse is proven to be dependent on the other for support and maintenance of the standard of living he or she enjoyed before the decision to divorce. Factors such as the dependent spouse’s ability to regain financial footing are also considered, such as his or her education or ability to gain employment that would allow for self-sufficiency in the future.  The duration of the marriage, mental and emotional state of the spouse and issues of marital misconduct (such as infidelity) are among other elements considered in the awarding of alimony.

There is no precise formula for determining how much alimony a spouse will be awarded in a divorce case. Although North Carolina statutes spell out the criteria a judge may use in determining the amount and duration of alimony, the ultimate outcome is still left to the court’s discretion.

Like it or not, the philosophy behind alimony in today’s world is to be fair to both spouses, not to punish either of them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t often feel that way to the parties in the divorce, but that’s – at least for now – what the law dictates in North Carolina.

To read the full North Carolina alimony statute, click here.

If you have questions about spousal support and your rights and obligations in regard to divorce in North Carolina, call Charles Ullman & Associates at 888-975-0428. Attorneys in our Raleigh office are happy to answer your questions during this difficult and overwhelming time. You may also contact us through our convenient online form.


Charles Ullman & Associates provides you respected, experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys. You can trust us to help you through the legal process efficiently and effectively so you can transition to the next phase of your life. Our community involvement reaches beyond charitable support of important causes. We launched our own movement in Fraternities4Family and provide scholarships to able students in need.