What Is the Difference Between Temporary Spousal Support (Or Alimony) and “Permanent” Spousal Support?

One of the most common concerns a person has when contemplating divorce is whether they will be entitled to financial support from their spouse. This concern is especially understandable where one spouse may have been out of the workforce for some time or is at home with young children. Our North Carolina family law attorney can help you understand whether you may be entitled to temporary or permanent spousal support.    

What Is Temporary Spousal Support?

Temporary spousal support is financial or other support awarded to the “dependent” spouse, from separation until a court decides whether it is warranted long-term, when it should end or that a party no longer needs the support. Under NC law, either party may file a motion with the Court requesting support.  

A judge would then consider if it should be awarded by looking at the parties’ financial needs, their accustomed standard of living, whether they are employed or could be employed, any other sources of income, debts, and other factors. The Court may also consider pre and post-separation marital misconduct by either spouse.

To receive support, the person requesting it must show the following:

  • The parties were married under North Carolina law
  • They are dependent on the other spouse
  • The other spouse has the ability to pay it
  • The requesting party doesn’t have other resources they can utilize to meet their financial and other needs

Sometimes the support is not in the form of a direct or monthly payment but in other forms, such as continued medical insurance coverage or paying for the person’s legal and other expenses. There are also situations where a person may have financial needs but not be entitled to receive support, such as where they have agreed to waive support.

If spouses entered into a prenuptial, postnuptial, or separation agreement, they might have agreed to waive their right to any alimony. These agreements must be in writing, the waiver must be clearly stated, and both spouses must have signed the agreement before a notary or other permissible party.

What Is Permanent Spousal Support? 

Permanent spousal support is granted when a court believes it is necessary to provide one of the spouses with financial help for a specific period after considering the above-mentioned factors. 

However, the “permanence” of the support usually ends when there is a significant change of circumstances for the receiving party. For example, the Court may modify or terminate the spousal support when a receiving spouse remarries or enters into cohabitation with another person providing financial assistance. Another example may be when the receiving party makes a significant income to be financially independent. 

Some circumstances may be pre-provided for in a court’s order. In contrast, others may require the supporting spouse to request a modification of the alimony order from the Court.

Consult With an Attorney

We have answers if you have questions about temporary or permanent spousal support. North Carolina alimony law is complex and can be confusing. We offer a free initial consultation and compassionate, personalized legal advice. Contact us today.