When do I need to file for spousal support?

According to North Carolina law, “a judgment of absolute divorce obtained by the dependent spouse in an action initiated by him or her eliminates that spouse’s right to alimony unless a claim for alimony has been asserted and left pending prior to the judgment, either in that action or an earlier action.”

In other words, any spousal support (alimony) filing should be made before a divorce is granted. Failure to bring an alimony claim before the entry of a divorce judgment will bar the right to bring a claim for alimony afterwards. And before you decide to end your marriage, it’s crucial to seek legal advice and representation from a competent Raleigh divorce lawyer right away, as alimony awards are determined based on many factors.

The first factor to be considered is your financial dependence on your spouse. Under NC alimony law, you are typically considered to be “actually substantially dependent” if you can demonstrate that after the divorce you will be unable to maintain the standard of living established under your marriage without spousal support payments. Exceptions, however, notably an extramarital affair, can nullify your right to spousal support.

As for the duration and amount of alimony, North Carolina law lists 16 alimony award factors. They include both spouses’ earnings and earning capacities, the marriage duration and each spouse’s assets, debts and liabilities. Alimony, furthermore, may be paid in a lump sum or regular installments and for a limited or specified term.

Finally, if you are separated but not yet divorced from your spouse, you may still qualify for what’s known as post-separation support, which can provide you with money awards until a permanent alimony agreement is reached.

The different types of North Carolina alimony and how spousal support payments are determined are complex matters that legal help from Charles R. Ullman & Associates will help you understand. While your goal may be to maximize alimony, your spouse’s might be just the opposite, and we will fight to protect your interests.


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.