Post separation support and alimony are recognized remedies that enable a dependent spouse to meet reasonable needs during and after a divorce. In awarding spousal support, the court must take into account a number of economic factors. The court may entertain an application for post-separation support at any time after spouses have separated. A judge may require a hearing on the issue of post separation support. Post Separation Support claims are often decided by written affidavits rather than a trial or hearing. Alimony claims on the other hand, if not settled by agreement, are decided by the court after a trial. The alimony trial generally does not take place until after the Equitable Distribution claim has been decided.
The court will consider several factors in an award of post-separation support and alimony. They include:
- the misconduct of either spouse
- the earnings (from whatever source) and earning capacity of each spouse
- extent to which a spouse’s earning potential and financial obligations are affected by custody of minor children
- assets of the marriage other than earnings (medical benefits, retirement, social security and dividends)
- the length of the marriage
- the family’s standard of living
- significant contributions of one spouse to the earning potential of the other (education, training, etc.)
- the ages of the spouses
- the physical, mental or emotional conditions of each of the spouses
- the relative education of each spouse and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable a dependent spouse to meet reasonable economic needs
- Assets and liabilities of the spouses, including those separate from marital property
- the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker
- tax ramifications of an award of alimony
- previous considerations made by the court during equitable distribution of marital property
- any other factor the court deems appropriate
Post separation-support and alimony, when ordered by a court, terminate automatically upon the occurrence of the first of the following events:
- when all payments specified in order have been made;
- the dependent spouse remarries;
- the dependent spouse engages in cohabitation;
- the dependent spouse dies; or
- the supporting spouse dies.
In order to receive post-separation support or alimony, a finding of dependency by a court is not required. If the parties can agree to the issues surrounding spousal support, the terms of alimony can be incorporated into your Separation Agreement.