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If you and your spouse have made the difficult decision to pursue a divorce, it is likely a highly emotional time for you and probably a very difficult one in many ways. On top of the stress you are already feeling, the last thing you need is added financial stress too. Unfortunately, when couples decide to divorce, this can all too often be the case. In many marriages, one spouse is often the higher earner – and this leaves the spouse who does not earn as much worrying and wondering how they will make ends meet as the divorce process proceeds. 

If you find yourself in this situation, there is some good news. In North Carolina, you may be entitled to what is called “post-separation support”. When most people think of spousal support, they think of what is traditionally called “alimony” – which is money paid from one spouse to another following the conclusion of the divorce process. While that is certainly one definition of alimony, it is also important to understand that in certain circumstances, as you are going through the divorce process you may be entitled to post-separation support as well. 

What is post-separation support? Post-separation support is often also called “temporary alimony,” and it is support paid from one spouse to the other during the period of legal separation that proceeds a divorce. As is the case with alimony that is awarded following a divorce, post-separation support is support that is paid from a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse. In a legal sense, the dependent spouse is the spouse who earns significantly less than the other spouse who is often the higher earner and is thus the “supporting spouse.”

While legal terms and distinctions can often be confusing, in a nutshell, it is important to understand that the goal of post-separation support is to level the playing field financially and to ensure that both spouses have the means to provide for themselves and those they love as the divorce process moves along.  A dependent spouse will likely need support to maintain the standard of living that they have become accustomed to during the marriage, and the supporting spouse is typically in the best position to meet those needs. 

Understandably, during the immediate post-separation period, the dependent spouse may not be able to earn the income they need to continue paying bills and maintaining their accustomed standard of living entirely on their own. One example may be the case of a spouse who was a stay-at-home parent and has not been part of the workforce for several years. Understandably, that spouse will need financial support to provide for themselves immediately following the separation, and will likely be entitled to alimony following the divorce, as he or she seeks to obtain the skills, education, and training needed to re-enter the workforce.

If you think you may be entitled to post-separation support, the next logical question of course is – how do you obtain it? It is important to understand that any matter pertaining to divorce can be complicated. In every situation, the first and most important step of the process will be consulting with an attorney who understands the law and how it might apply to your particular circumstances. Generally speaking, however, those who are seeking post-separation support can take comfort in knowing that the process of obtaining the support will not take as long as the process of obtaining a permanent alimony award. In fact, North Carolina law allows for an expedited process when applying for post-separation support. In most of the counties in North Carolina, a hearing on post-separation support will be held within four to six weeks of the legal filing making the request. 

Ultimately the decision to award post-separation support lies within the discretion of the court. In North Carolina, the courts have the authority to choose not only the amount of post-separation support but also the duration of the payments which are made. Unlike the case with alimony, marital misconduct has no bearing on post-separation support. In North Carolina, if one party has committed marital misconduct, such as having an affair for example-that may have a significant impact on whether or not alimony is awarded and in what amount. When it comes to post-separation support, however, marital misconduct is only one of many factors that are considered.

If you believe that you might be entitled to post-separation support and you are wondering how to begin pursuing that option, we are here to help. At the Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we understand the intricacies of the divorce process from beginning to end.  If you need help seeking post-separation support, or if any other aspect of the divorce process, we are here for you. Call us anytime. 

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102 W Broad St
Statesville, NC  28677

(704) 380-0456

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Mooresville, NC. 28117
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Hickory, NC 28601
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Lenoir, NC
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Lenoir, NC, 28645
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