The amount and duration of alimony to be awarded in any given case is determined by basic principles of fairness and justice. Specifically, North Carolina courts must consider the following sixteen factors:
- Marital misconduct by either spouse prior to the date of separation;
- Relative earnings and earning capacities of each spouse;
- Age and physical, mental, and emotional condition of each spouse;
- Amount and sources of earned and unearned income of each spouse;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
- Extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child;
- Standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage;
- Relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs;
- Relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses;
- Property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
- Contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
- Relative needs of the spouses;
- Federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award;
- Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court deems just and proper.
- The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties’ marital or divisible property.
Important Note: North Carolina expressly prohibits an alimony award if the dependent spouse has engaged in illicit sexual behavior prior to or on the date of separation. See N.C.G.S. 50-16.3A(a).