Alimony & Post Separation Support (Spousal Support)

Alimony and Post Separation Support are forms of spousal support, money that is paid in either a lump sum or on a continuing basis from one spouse to another to assist with their support and maintenance following separation. Spousal support is paid by a “Supporting Spouse” to a “Dependent Spouse.” Dependency is generally considered to exist when one spouse makes less than the other and is incapable, on his or her own, of meeting his or her reasonable needs and expenses following separation. Needs and expenses are considered in light of the parties’ standard of living prior to separation, so the mere fact that a dependent spouse can get by temporarily or on a substandard existence does not mean that he or she is not entitled to assistance in the form of spousal support.

Immediately following separation, the Court’s primary focus is on leveling the playing field between spouses engaged in litigation, and in ensuring that one spouse is not made destitute or dependent upon the State by virtue of his or her meager income or lack of access to the liquid assets of the marital estate. Therefore, post separation support is largely concerned with the financial status of the parties and incidents of fault or “marital misconduct” are not generally considered.

Alimony considers the financial portfolios of both the dependent and supporting spouse, but also considers such factors as: 1) the marital misconduct of either of the spouses; 2) the relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses; 3) the ages, physical, mental and emotional conditions of the spouses; 4) the amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, and social security benefits; 5) the duration of the marriage; 6) the contribution by one spouse to the training, education or increased earning power of the other spouse; 7) the extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child; 8) the standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage; 9) the relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable a dependent spouse to find suitable employment to meet his or her reasonable needs; 10) the relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and relative debt of the spouses, including legal obligations of support; 12) the contributions of a spouse as a homemaker; 13) the relative needs of the spouses; 14) the tax ramifications of an alimony award to the spouses; 15) any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the spouses that the Court determines to be just and proper; and 16) the fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties’ marital estate.

Determination of a spouse’s right to receive post-separation support or alimony can be complex. Whether you proceed with litigation or are resolving your marital issues by way of a Separation or other consent Agreement, it is important to know your rights and to speak with experienced legal counsel. At Hodges Coxe Potter & Phillips, LLP, we have the experience and knowledge to counsel you on how to maintain a detailed, clear history of your income and expenses, as well as the ability to identify and to outline your access to various forms of liquid marital assets. We also know the questions to ask and the avenues to pursue in determining an accurate picture of your spouse’s financial portfolio. Contact us today for a free consultation and to discuss your rights at (910) 772-1678.


Practicing in this Field

Colleen H. Moran

Attorney at Law

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Alimony & Post Separation Support (Spousal Support)