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Different Kinds of Spousal Support

No one relishes the thought of making payments to a spouse, especially in the context of a heated divorce. After all, it’s your money that you have worked hard for and to have to turn around and hand it over to someone you are currently in the midst of a court battle with is clearly not an appealing idea to anyone. Though it isn’t fun, in some cases, it may be required. To learn more about the two different kinds of spousal support that exist in North Carolina family law cases and how they operate, keep reading.

First, what is spousal support? Spousal support is pretty straightforward, it is money paid by one party to support the other. Spousal support exists without regard to gender, men and women can both receive and be ordered to pay support if a court deems it necessary. The deciding factor is whether a court determines that one party is a dependent spouse and the other is a supporting spouse. If such a determination is made, that party will receive an amount of money (it varies based on a variety of factors) for a period of time defined by the court.

So what kinds of spousal support exist in Mooresville, North Carolina? Under state family law, there are two main varieties, the first is known as post-separation support or “PSS”. PSS is sometimes referred to as temporary alimony, both here in North Carolina and in other states. The goal of PSS is to provide a dependent spouse support during the period of time that the divorce is ongoing. This ensures the spouse has money to cover living expenses before a formal order of ongoing support is entered. This all happens fairly quickly, given the desire by the courts to ensure that dependent spouses continue to have the financial resources they need to survive on their own.

The second type of spousal support is known as alimony, also called spousal maintenance. While PSS is a short-term fix, alimony is intended to be much longer term. Alimony is also not addressed by most courts until much later in the process, potentially months after the divorce petition was filed. While alimony can sometimes last only months, until a spouse is able to get back on his or her feet, it can also last decades, a requirement for the life of the dependent spouse.

Regardless of the type of spousal support at issue, the family court handling the case is responsible for deciding whether the reasonable financial needs and expenses of each party are being met. To do this, both sides to the dispute will be required to submit an Affidavit of Financial Standing to the court. The financial affidavit is a document that lays out a person’s expenses and income on a monthly basis. This is a sworn document that must be signed before a notary public. The document functions as a kind of personal profit and loss statement, laying out what money comes in and what goes out. It’s important that this document be as accurate as possible, as you will need to attest to its accuracy.

It is important when filling out the form to dive into as much detail as possible. You will need to not just list W-2 income, but any other sources of money you receive throughout the year. This can include bonuses, investment income, income from rental properties and self-employment income. In terms of expenses, you will need to list all the expenses you anticipate for maintaining a household as well as expenses for the kids and those that are just yours. If you have particularly expensive habits, it may be that courts ignore these when trying to determine a fair monthly budget, just be prepared to not get everything you want.

After submitting the documents to the court, the judge will review the case. The other party is also able to contest the affidavit if they have cause to do so. If there are no challenges, the court will issue findings regarding the parties’ incomes and expenses and use that as a basis for determining ongoing support.

Though the numbers are clearly important, they aren’t the only thing taken into consideration by the court. Marital misconduct by either party can be factored into the alimony decision-making process. If the party seeking support had an affair, this could invalidate any attempt to secure support going forward. Similarly, if the other spouse had an affair and wasted family money on the new romantic partner, this could serve as a reason to award the depending spouse more money.

Spousal support is a clearly complicated subject. To ensure that you understand all your options, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced Mooresville family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today.