Most everyone is familiar with the concept of alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance. But when we think of it, it’s usually in the context of money paid from one spouse to the other after the divorce is final. You’re probably less familiar with support payments which can be ordered long before then.
Sometimes support is needed immediately
The idea behind any form of alimony is fairly straightforward – during the course of the marriage, one spouse has become at least somewhat financially dependent upon the other. Upon divorce, that dependency doesn’t always go away automatically. Alimony is paid, either temporarily or permanently, to ensure the dependent spouse is able to pay their bills.
Now imagine the following scenario – one spouse has been the breadwinner throughout the marriage, while the other spouse remains home to raise and care for their children. When they decide to divorce, the breadwinner moves out of the family home. It may take a year or more before the divorce is finished – how will the dependent spouse pay the mortgage or care for the children?
This is when post-separation support becomes relevant. It’s intended to cover the time period between filing for divorce and finalizing the divorce. It is not granted automatically; instead, the dependent spouse must petition the court for it to be ordered. The court then looks at the financial situation and circumstances of both parties and, if it finds that support is warranted, will order it while the divorce proceedings are ongoing.
Post-separation support is not only about paying the bills. It can include things like maintaining medical insurance or covering the dependent spouse’s legal costs for the divorce. If you think post-separation support is warranted during your divorce, speak to an attorney who is experienced in North Carolina family law.