Post Separation Support

Post Separation Support can be conceptualized as “Temporary Alimony.” This is to say that it is a claim that a dependent spouse can raise in an effort to secure an expedited hearing for temporary support for themselves (as opposed to temporary support for a child). It stands to reason that a dependent spouse, meaning one who is in need of financial support from the opposing spouse in order to maintain the standard of living to which they have become accustomed during the marriage, may not be able to support themselves for the year or more that it may take for an Alimony trial to occur. So, North Carolina law provides for an expedited process for a hearing wherein the Court can order a supporting spouse to pay monthly support for the dependent spouse. In most counties in North Carolina, a hearing for Post Separation Support can be held within four (4) to six (6) weeks of the filing of the verified pleading seeking Post Separation Support.

There are several differences between Post Separation Support and Alimony. Perhaps the biggest difference is the impact that illicit sexual behavior does or does not have on the case. In an Alimony trial, illicit sexual behavior can be an absolute trump card. This is to say that a dependent spouse who commits illicit sexual behavior prior to the date of separation, assuming no illicit sexual behavior by the supporting spouse, is statutorily barred from recovering Alimony from the supporting spouse. This is not the case in the context of a Post Separation Support matter. Rather, the Court can consider the marital misconduct by either party in determining the amount and duration of Post Separation Support but illicit sexual behavior is only a factor, not a complete bar. In many cases, the Court simply does not consider marital misconduct at the Post Separation Support phase of the case.

The Court has discretion over not only the amount of Post Separation Support, but also over the duration of the payments. In some cases, the Court will simply order the Post Separation Support payments to continue on a monthly basis until the trial on the Alimony claim. In other cases, the Court will set a finite duration for the payments, such as twelve (12) or eighteen (18) months. There are serious implications of each type of award that should be discussed with an experienced divorce lawyer.

A natural question that may arise in the context of analyzing an Alimony or Post Separation Support case is “what is marital misconduct?” As with most things in North Carolina law, we are provided with a formal definition. North Carolina General Statutes § 50-16.1A defines marital misconduct as: Illicit sexual behavior; involuntary separation of the spouses in consequence of a criminal act committed prior to the proceeding in which alimony is sought; abandonment of the other spouse; malicious turning out-of-doors of the other spouse; cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other spouse; indignities rendering the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome; reckless spending of the income of either party, or the destruction, waste, diversion, or concealment of assets; excessive use of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome; willful failure to provide necessary subsistence according to one's means and condition so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and life burdensome. While some of these definitions are pretty self-explanatory, some are not. It is wise to consult with a Charlotte Post Separation Support lawyer if you have questions in this regard.

The lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are experienced in handling Post Separation Support cases in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Our experienced Divorce attorneys and North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Family Law are here to help with these and other Divorce related matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Charlotte divorce attorney.