What’s the Difference Between Spousal Support, Alimony, and Palimony?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

October 28, 2019

Divorce has huge financial implications for your future. One absolutely crucial aspect of divorce is alimony or spousal support. If you’re seeking alimony, it can have a tremendous positive impact on your financial life. If you are ordered to pay alimony, it can have an equally important effect on your financial future.

Alimony is a key part of divorce. Having a North Carolina divorce lawyer with firsthand knowledge and experience in alimony is of the utmost importance if it is an issue in your case. Breeden Law Office helps you navigate the complex matter of alimony and provides skilled representation to ensure you are treated fairly and receive the positive outcome you need. Schedule a consultation with us today by calling (919) 661-4970 or use our online contact form.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony, also called spousal support, is financial support paid by one spouse (or former spouse) to the other. A court can order that alimony be paid after separation and/or while a divorce case is ongoing (post-separation support) or after the marriage has ended. Alimony is intended to bridge a financial gap between spouses, providing monetary support that allows a financially dependent spouse to continue to maintain the couple’s standard of living after the divorce.

Alimony lasts until:

  • The date specified in the order
  • The parties resume marital relations
  • Either spouse dies, or
  • The recipient spouse remarries or begins cohabitating with a partner

Alimony can be ordered by the court as regular periodic payments (such as monthly) or as a lump sum amount. Alimony generally is not a debt that is dischargeable in bankruptcy.

When Is Alimony Ordered?

North Carolina law does not make alimony automatic in a divorce or separation. It’s up to the spouse who is financially dependent to ask the court for support. Alimony is commonly ordered when there has been a very long marriage, in situations where one spouse gave up or delayed their career to raise children or keep a home, or when the financially needy spouse has a disability. There is no requirement that the paying spouse have been at fault during the marriage for alimony to be ordered. Alimony is not available in North Carolina to a dependent spouse who was unfaithful during the marriage.

North Carolina General Statues § 50-16.3A lists 16 factors the court should consider when determining whether or not to order alimony, as well as when determining the length and amount of alimony that is appropriate in a case. These include:

  • The earnings, income, and earning abilities of the spouses
  • The parties’ ages and mental, physical, and emotional health
  • The length of the marriage
  • Contributions by one spouse to the other’s education, training, or increased earning power or contributions made by one spouse during the marriage as a homemaker
  • The education level of each spouse and whether the dependent spouse needs education or training to become self-sufficient, and how long that process would take
  • The assets and debts of the spouses
  • Property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • The standard of living during the marriage

What is Palimony?

Palimony is a non-legal term that refers to payments of financial support made to a cohabitating partner (not a spouse) after the relationship ends. It’s based on a landmark California case called Marvin v. Marvin. Palimony is not recognized under North Carolina law and is not available. However, North Carolina does enforce written agreements for support made between cohabitating partners.

Call an Alimony Lawyer Today

An award of alimony or spousal support is a key decision in your divorce that will have long-lasting financial implications for you both during and after your divorce. It is absolutely essential that you are represented by an accomplished North Carolina divorce lawyer who is able to present the best case possible. Breeden Law Office is ready to help you today. Call us at (919) 661-4970 for an appointment.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden