Post-separation support, which is sometimes referred to as temporary alimony, is spousal support paid for a limited period of time, typically until an alimony award is made. The elements needed to prove a post-separation support claim are similar to the alimony elements discussed below, including the need to establish that one of the spouses is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, that the dependent spouse cannot meet his/her needs, and that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay support to the dependent spouse. Post-separation support is designed to temporarily help dependent spouses maintain his/her marital standard of living until his/her alimony claim can either be settled or decided in court.
If the above requirements are met, a court may order a post-separation support award based on “the financial needs of the parties, considering the parties’ accustomed standard of living, the present employment income and other recurring earnings of each party from any source, their income-earning abilities, the separate and marital debt service obligations, those expenses reasonably necessary to support each of the parties, and each party’s respective legal obligations to support any other persons.” North Carolina General Statute § 50-16.2A. While a typical post-separation support award will dictate that payments are to be made periodically (usually monthly), a judge also has the authority to order the award to be paid as a lump-sum payment.