Alimony & Post-Separation Support
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Alimony is a form of spousal support, similar to post-separation support, which can be resolved in a separation agreement. However, if not possible, the parties will have to resort to court involvement, which will ultimately award alimony after the divorce is final to a dependent spouse, as long as the supporting spouse has the ability to pay the amount sought or ordered. Awarding alimony and the length of time the payments are to be made is within the sole discretion of the Judge, excluding under circumstances of infidelity.
We get a lot of phone calls where most people think that alimony is permanent and will last forever. Both are rare, if not wrong. In North Carolina, alimony can be terminated upon:
- A date specified in a court order
- Death or remarriage of the dependent spouse
- The resumption of marital relations between the parties or
- Cohabitation by the dependent spouse with a person of the opposite sex, in a manner that is continuous, voluntary and of which mutually assumes those typical marital rights, duties and obligations
Post-separation support is a means to provide financial support to a dependent spouse, primarily during the course of litigation, which typically occurs between their date of separation and divorce date (when alimony may be considered). However, like alimony, not everyone is entitled to receive post-separation support. The party seeking PSS must prove that he or she is a dependent spouse and that the other party, the “supporting spouse” has the ability to pay the spousal support amount. Further, this form of support must be shown to be necessary to continue the standard of living that the dependent spouse was accustomed to during the course of marriage. However, a judge cannot order a support amount that is above and beyond the supporting spouse’s net income after expenses.
A common question we hear is “how does fault affect post-separation support and alimony?” The answer is that it depends on the “fault”. Fault or “marital misconduct” can have an impact on whether a trial judge will award post-separation support, including alimony. There are factors that the court will consider when determining the extent and impact of the marital misconduct. We recommend that you speak with a Family Law attorney about whether you might be eligible for post separation support or alimony, how much and for how long.