Understanding Post-Separation Support

It costs more to run two households than it does to run one. It stands to reason that a dependent spouse may have problems making ends meet while going through the process of divorce. “Post-separation support” (temporary alimony) is a form of spousal support meant to bridge the gap between the time when one first separates from his or her spouse and obtaining long-term spousal support, called alimony.

What is post-separation support?

Post-separation support is temporary support awarded for a finite period of time, typically 12 months or until the time of the trial on alimony. Unlike the typical child support determination, the process through which post-separation support is determined can be quite subjective. Whereas the former is typically determined by a set formula based on incomes, the amount and duration of post-separation support is at the discretion of the court. While based primarily on financial grounds, a judge may also consider marital misconduct in determining the terms of post-separation support.

In North Carolina, spousal support is not intended to be punitive in nature but rather rehabilitative. When determining the terms of post-separation support (temporary alimony), an emphasis is placed on financial conditions as opposed to marital misconduct.

How can I get post-separation support?

Governed under the rules of statute NCGS § 50-16.2A, the following conditions must be met before an award of post-separation support will be granted:

  • The parties involved were lawfully married;
  • The party seeking support is a dependent spouse;
  • The party from whom support is sought is a supporting spouse;
  • The dependent spouse does not have the resources to meet his or her needs;
  • The supporting spouse has the ability to pay support.

If all of the above conditions are met, the court must award some amount of post-separation support; however, the amount is well within the discretion of the presiding judge. Further, the determination of what constitutes a “support spouse” and a “dependent spouse” is within the broad discretion of the judge, depending on the particular facts presented into evidence. Because post-separation support is temporary in nature, any such award is typically very difficult to appeal, as the North Carolina Court of Appeals in most cases considers such appeals “interlocutory” and not subject to being overturned.

For what period of time can I get post separation support?

While post-separation support (temporary alimony) typically runs until a predetermined period of time, the events below may trigger termination of post separation support payments:

  • The “dependent spouse” lands a job and is therefore able to meet his or her expenses;
  • The parties reconcile and resume a marital relationship;
  • The predetermined period of time elapses, typically 12 months or until the trial on alimony, whichever is sooner.

The divorce process can be confusing and needlessly stressful without the help of an experienced family law attorney. Not only is it important to have the support of friends, family, but also that of an experienced, knowledgeable divorce attorney. Charles H. Montgomery and Montgomery Family Law are there for those in need of wise counsel on matters of divorce and post-separation support, bringing a combined 45 years of family law experience for the benefit of our clients. To schedule an appointment to speak with one of our North Carolina family law attorneys, give us a call at (919) 816-9002.

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