Facing a divorce often feels overwhelming, especially when it comes to figuring out how you’ll financially manage on your own. If you are a stay-at-home mom now facing divorce, or your spouse earns significantly more than you do, you may be wondering if you’ll receive spousal support as part of your divorce settlement.

Spousal support basics

The first thing to understand about spousal support is that North Carolina courts don’t automatically award it to anyone. The court will evaluate how one spouse will be impacted by the divorce and then decide if spousal support is necessary.

Secondly, you may not receive spousal support for the long-term. Sometimes, the court awards spousal support for a set amount of time – to give one spouse time to further their education for better career possibilities or time to reenter the job market.

Finally, because North Carolina requires a one-year separation period, one spouse may receive spousal support during the separation. As part of the divorce process, the court will evaluate that support again to determine if it is still necessary.

What factors help establish spousal support

When a spouse receives spousal support as part of a North Carolina divorce settlement, the following factors help establish how much that support will be and how long it will last:

  • What the couple’s standard of living has been during the marriage
  • If one spouse may need further education or training to gain employment
  • The assets and debts accrued during the marriage
  • The property brought into the marriage by either spouse
  • The contributions one spouse made by being a homemaker
  • The spouses’ overall needs

When spousal support ends

Spousal support will either end at a set time determined by the court or it will last until:

  • The dependent spouse remarries
  • The dependent spouse cohabitates with someone else in a romantic relationship
  • The dependent spouse passes away
  • The paying spouse passes away (but the estate may continue to make payments)

Child support doesn’t factor into determining spousal support. Any child support payments go toward the care and costs of taking care of a divorcing couple’s children.

If you feel you need spousal support as part of your divorce, you should consult an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can give you a better idea if you are eligible for spousal support.