Post-separation support, sometimes called temporary alimony, bridges the needs between two spouses during divorce. Essentially, this spousal support takes care of their needs from when they part with their spouse to when the court grants or denies them long-standing spousal support as alimony.
This isn’t your typical negotiation and can be further complicated by difficult emotions. Fortunately, working with a reputable divorce attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, can boost your chances of a favorable outcome regarding post-separation support.
What Is Post-Separation Support?
Post-separation support is essentially a finite, temporary support order that’s awarded to cover the needs of a dependent spouse for a duration before the divorce concludes.
Unlike child support, post-separation support determinations are entirely subjective. While an income-based formula determines the former, post-separation support duration and amount are at the judge’s discretion.
Whereas the decision depends on financial grounds, the court may consider other elements, including marital misconduct. The main events that may trigger the termination of post-separation support payments include the following:
- The predetermined duration lapses
- The dependent partner gets a job and can therefore meet their expenses.
- The parties change their minds and resume their marital relationship.
North Carolina considers spousal support rehabilitative rather than punitive. Thus, the court will emphasize financial conditions more when determining temporary alimony.
Differences between post-separation support and alimony
Most people use the terms interchangeably, but they differ. Essentially, post-separation support comes into effect immediately after parting, while alimony comes later in the court process to determine a long-term support obligation and considers more economic factors, including marital misconduct.
Requirements for Post-Separation Support
Statute NCGS § 50-16.2A defines the rules that come into play in post-separation support determination. Typically, the following factors will determine whether a judge grants post-separation support:
- The parties were legally married
- The spouse seeking temporary alimony is a dependent partner
- The spouse from whom maintenance is sought is a supporting partner
- The dependent partner has inadequate resources to meet their needs
- The supportive partner can pay for support
If the case satisfies the above conditions, the court will likely award post-separation support. However, the specific amount is well within the presiding judge’s discretion.
How is Post-Separation Support Determined?
The judge will depend on the facts and evidence to determine what constitutes a dependent and supporting spouse. Essentially, the dependent spouse must prove they can’t meet their needs, and the supporting spouse can afford to cover the costs.
The judge will consider the following:
- Each spouse’s earnings, financial needs, and expenses
- Each partner’s obligation to support their spouse, if any
- The living standards the dependent partner experienced when married
- Each partner’s income-earning capabilities
The question of marital misconduct
The court doesn’t consider marital misconduct an absolute limitation to receiving post-separation support. The judge may still grant post-separation support even if the supporting partner proves their dependent counterpart engaged in an illicit sexual affair before separating.
On the contrary, a marital transgression by the dependent partner can limit them from receiving alimony when the case concludes. North Carolina Statute § 50-7 defines marital misconduct as:
- When a spouse engages in illicit sexual activities with someone other than their lawful partner
- Involuntary separation of the parties to the relationships as a result of a criminal act
- When a partner maliciously turns out-of-doors of their partner through physical or emotional abandonment
- Any cruel treatment that endangers the safety and life of the other partner
- Humiliations and indignities that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and burdensome to their partner
- When either party squanders their income or the waste, destruction, concealment, or diversion of assets
- Excessive drug or alcohol use that renders the other partner’s condition inexcusable and burdens their life
- Willfully failing to provide basic subsistence, based on a spouse’s condition and means to render the other partner’s condition unbearable and their life burdensome.
When examining marital misconduct, the judge will seek to determine when the transgression occurred. Generally, they may consider marital misconduct by the dependent partner that occurred before or on the date of separation. Moreover, the misconduct of the supporting partner will also come into play.
Modification of Post-Separation Support
A divorce is more profound than the judge’s decree canceling a legal marriage. Property division, child support, custody, and alimony all shape what each spouse’s life will look like.
Often dissatisfied parties consider petitioning the court to amend orders. However, courts in North Carolina show substantial deference to these rulings.
Before the trial court orders for post-separation support, it means the judge or jury found that one spouse qualified as a “dependent” and was financially reliant on their partner. The initial post-separation support determination and the duo’s property division are fact-specific and depend on their circumstances.
Since both parties could presumably present accurate facts before the judge during the motion’s original hearing, the courts place a high burden on parties seeking to modify a post-separation support order.
How Can a Divorce Lawyer Help?
Divorce is among the most challenging processes you’ll encounter in life. However, reputable North Carolina attorneys focused on post-separation support can relieve you or your loved one of the legal burden.
Whether you’re on the “dependent” or “supporting” edge, involving an attorney can ensure the most appropriate outcome. Your family lawyer can protect your rights, guide you, negotiate a favorable agreement, or prepare you for a case hearing.
A reputable lawyer at Remington & Dixon, PLLC, is ready to listen to you and fight for your interests. Don’t hesitate to get in touch via our online form.
Post-Separation Support FAQ
Can I request additional post-separation support?
Yes, you can request to amend a PSS order. But a party seeking modification must show that there has been a significant change circumstances since entry of the order.