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Spousal Support in Wilmington NC: Understanding Your Rights and Obligations

When couples decide to end their marriage, there are many legal aspects that need to be addressed. One of the most important considerations is spousal support, also known as alimony. Spousal support is the financial assistance that one spouse may be ordered to provide to the other after a divorce or separation. If you are going through a divorce in Wilmington, NC, it is crucial to understand the ins and outs of spousal support to ensure a fair resolution. In this article, we will explore the key factors involved in determining spousal support and your obligations under North Carolina law.

1. What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is a legal obligation imposed on one spouse to provide financial assistance to the other spouse after separation or divorce. Its purpose is to help the lower-earning or financially dependent spouse maintain a similar standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Spousal support is not automatic and can only be awarded if one spouse is deemed entitled to it.

2. Factors for Determining Spousal Support

In Wilmington, NC, several factors are considered when determining whether spousal support should be awarded and how much it should be. These factors include:

– Length of the marriage: The duration of the marriage is a crucial factor. Generally, longer marriages are more likely to result in spousal support awards.

– Income and earning capacities: The income and earning potential of both spouses are evaluated. The court considers factors such as education, skills, work experience, and the current job market when determining earning capacities.

– Standard of living during the marriage: The court will assess the lifestyle enjoyed by both spouses during the marriage and aim to maintain it post-separation if deemed reasonable.

– Age and health of both spouses: The age and health of each spouse play a role in determining spousal support. If one spouse has health issues or is nearing retirement age, it might impact the amount and duration of support.

– Child custody and support: If there are children involved, child custody and support obligations are taken into account. The court may consider the financial impact of child support when calculating spousal support.

3. Types of Spousal Support

In North Carolina, there are several types of spousal support:

– Post-separation support: This is a temporary form of support provided until a final spousal support order is issued, usually while the divorce proceedings are ongoing.

– Alimony pendente lite: This type of support is provided during the separation phase and is designed to maintain the financial status quo until the divorce is finalized.

– Permanent alimony: In certain circumstances, a court may award permanent alimony if the recipient spouse is unable to support themselves adequately.

– Rehabilitative alimony: This type of support is awarded to a spouse to help them acquire the skills or education necessary to become self-sufficient.

4. Modification and Termination of Spousal Support

Spousal support orders can be modified or terminated under certain circumstances. For example, if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new partner, the paying spouse may be able to petition for termination or modification of the support order. Significant changes in either spouse’s financial circumstances may also warrant modification.

It is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney in Wilmington, NC, who can guide you through the process of modifying or terminating spousal support.


Navigating the complexities of spousal support in Wilmington, NC, can be overwhelming. Understanding the factors considered by the court and the different types of support available is crucial to protect your rights and obligations. By seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, you can ensure a fair resolution and move forward with confidence towards a new chapter in your life.

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