Alimony and Post-Separation Support

Spousal Support and Alimony

Sometimes one spouse was financially dependent upon the other spouse for several years during the marriage and is still financially dependent upon the other spouse at the time the parties are separated.  In those instances, the law allows the financially dependent spouse to seek temporary spousal support or alimony.    In order to obtain that relief, if the parties are unable to reach agreement about financial support then they may seek relief by filing the appropriate lawsuit through in Court.  (see litigation)  If a party is seeking support or alimony, they will be required to have a hearing where they will have to prove that they are financially dependent upon the other spouse and that the other spouse has the ability to support them.    Spousal support and alimony can be awarded prior to or after the distribution of property. Parties may also enter into a binding legal contract, which also requires one party to pay spousal support or alimony to the other.

Temporary spousal support is designed to obtain financial relief to enable the dependent spouse to subsist and maintain legal action immediately after the parties have separated.

In determining whether to award temporary spousal support, the Court considers:

  1. the parties' accustomed standard of living during the last few years prior to their separation;
  2. the present employment income and any other earnings of each party from any source;
  3. the parties' income-earning abilities;
  4. the debts of each party;
  5. the expenses reasonably necessary to support each party; and
  6. each party's legal obligations to support any other persons.

After considering those factors, if the Court finds that the resources of the financially dependent spouse are inadequate to meet his or her needs and that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay, then the dependent spouse may be entitled to spousal, unless barred by certain "fault" by the dependent spouse.

Temporary spousal support hearings are usually heard by the Court more quickly than ordinary alimony actions. The support is intended to be  temporary only therefore it continues until the earlier of a date set by the Court or the Court making a final decision regarding permanent alimony. The Court will have a completely new and more thorough second legal proceeding to decide whether or not, how much and for how long to award permanent alimony. If the Court does not award alimony to the dependent spouse, the supporting spouse is not entitled to reimbursement for any spousal support already paid.

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Gabriela J. Matthews
& Associates, P.A.
100 E. Parrish St., Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701

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