Agreeing on Spousal Support


This course follows along with a sample separation agreement which can be downloaded here.

In pargraph 14, you’ll see a reference to spousal support or alimony. The terms “spousal support”, “alimony”, and “post-separation support” generally mean the same thing. Alimony is the term that we use in North Carolina to refer to permanent long term spousal support.

There is a waiver of alimony, and if you and your spouse are agreeing that neither of you is responsible for alimony towards the other one, then you need to include a waiver of alimony in the agreement. Instead, in paragraph 15, we give you an example of the payment being made from one spouse to another for alimony. Generally speaking, alimony will be payable until the person receiving it dies, the person receiving it remarries, the person paying it dies, or the person receiving it cohabitates as if remarrying. And there is a definition of that under North Carolina law that we use.

Then there can be some other time period. We might agree that it’s 5 years, or 10 years, or 2 years, you and your spouse can agree on what that term will be, but if you’re agreeing to alimony, it’s very important that you agree to what is the amount of the alimony, how long will it last, how is it going to be paid (is it going to be a wire transfer, is it going to be electronically paid?), and what happens if someone stops paying? Is there going to be any kind of interest due or what will the enforcement capabilities be if someone stops paying? What happens if the person paying it loses their job? Do they have the right to change this alimony amount? Those are all things that can be agreed in this alimony provision.

If they’re not specifically stated, then only what is specifically stated will be binding on each of you. So you want to make sure that you understand what the alimony provisions say, that it’s an amount that is acceptable, and that it is enforceable. And if you don’t agree on alimony and you don’t want alimony in the agreement, then it is very important that there be a waiver included. It cannot just be a waiver that’s in the body of the document separate from this – it needs to specifically state that you’re waiving alimony and what’s called post-separation support.

So those are the things to think about when you are reaching an alimony agreement. Also. if you were wondering how much alimony should be paid, a good place to look is the alimony calculator on our website as well as the financial affidavits that are listed on our website. Use those to figure out how much is the budget that the person who is receiving it needs and how much is the budget of the person who is paying it in terms of their reasonable living expenses as well. Those are the things to consider when drafting this alimony provision in your separation agreement.

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