alimony and post-separation support

Post Separation Support vs. Alimony

Going through marital separation or divorce is often an extremely difficult process that brings with it emotional and financial stress. In many cases, separation and/or divorce leaves one half of a couple without the monetary support they need to rebuild their lives on their own, and that’s where post-separation support and alimony come in.

Both post-separation support and alimony are designed to outline a fair way in which the dependant spouse can seek financial assistance from the supporting spouse. Likewise, both forms of support are designed to help the dependent spouse, as opposed to being used as a form of punishment for the supporting spouse. This is seen in the fact that North Carolina laws award support based more on the financial status of each individual, as opposed to focusing solely on whether either spouse engaged in marital misconduct.

In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between alimony and post-separation support, as well as how couples can get help from a North Carolina family law attorney.

What is Post-Separation Support?

Often shortened to PPS, post-separation support in North Carolina is designed to be a temporary payment that the supporting spouse is court-ordered to pay the dependent spouse. PPS orders either have a date they must be paid in full by or are scheduled to end when alimony is either awarded or denied.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is a longer-term form of support. In North Carolina, courts typically order that alimony should follow a regular monthly payment schedule. The length of time that alimony must be paid depends on the situation and length of the marriage. While PSS is based more on immediate ability and need, an alimony determination is based on many different factors, such as the ability to earn income, length of marriage, and lifestyle during the marriage.

Marital Support Parameters

Assuming that both spouses are legally able to file for PPS or alimony in North Carolina, certain qualifications must be met before either type of support is awarded.

Post-separation support requires that all of the following must be true:

  • Both parties were legally married,
  • The individual seeking PSS is the “dependent spouse”,
  • The individual PPS is sought from is the “supporting spouse”,
  • The “dependent spouse” cannot meet their own financial needs, and
  • The “supporting spouse” is financially able to pay PPS.

Alimony requires that all of the following must be true:

  • Both parties were legally married,
  • The individual seeking alimony is the “dependent spouse”,
  • The individual alimony is sought from is the “supporting spouse”, and
  • An alimony order is fair based on the circumstances of the marriage as they relate to North Carolina alimony law.

Alimony and Post-Separation Support Factors

Whether a court awards PPS or alimony is a highly individualized decision based on the unique circumstances surrounding each case. In general, couples can expect the court to look at the following when determining whether to award post-marital support:

  • Each individual’s established standard of living
  • Each individual’s finances
  • Employment and other income each individual currently receives
  • Each individual’s earning potential
  • Debts attributable to each individual or the couple as a whole
  • Each individual’s current responsibilities in supporting another person (former spouse, children, etc.)
  • Which expenses are reasonably required to support each individual

Couple being awarded post-separation support and alimony

Alimony and Post-Separation Support Payments

When awarded, the court order will outline details like the total amount of the award, payment schedule, termination date, etc. Most payments are made using checks or money orders, but medical insurance can also be considered an award. In the case of alimony, a transfer of title of property can qualify as an award, although this is rare. Additionally, the dependent spouse may also be awarded money to cover lawyers’ fees and court costs.

Alimony Termination

When alimony is first ordered, the court will typically establish when payments will end. That said, circumstances may arise that result in alimony ending before the established termination date. Some situations where alimony may end prematurely include:

  • The death of either spouse
  • Remarriage of the dependant spouse
  • The cohabitation of the dependent spouse with another adult in a marriage-like relationship
  • The spouses resuming a marital relationship with each other
  • A change in the dependent spouse’s income

If you are interested in learning more about a potential claim or defenses to an action for post-separation support or alimony following your separation, schedule a consultation with the divorce lawyers at Mulligan Attorneys.

Our family law attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas of post-separation support and alimony, and work hard to effectively advocate for each of our clients and act in their best interest. Speak to a divorce attorney today at 910-763-1100.