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FAQ: What You Need to Know About Alimony

Question: What is alimony?

A: Alimony is a type of financial support that one spouse has to pay to the other after their divorce is finalized. Alimony is also commonly called spousal support.

Temporary alimony, also known as pendent lite alimony, can be granted while a divorce is still in progress. This is to help the spouse until the divorce is final. Depending on the settlement you reach with your ex, there may or may not be an order for spousal support after the divorce. If alimony is awarded as part of the divorce settlement, the amount could potentially be higher or lower than the temporary amount.

Question: What is separate maintenance?

A: Separate maintenance is the financial support that is paid from one spouse to the other while they are still married to each other.

Courts will only order separate maintenance if the higher earning spouse fails or refuses to support the other spouse. The spouse requiring support must prove they have "genuine need.” To prove "genuine need," the spouse asking for alimony must show the court that they are in need of financial support, and that the other spouse has the financial means to support them

Separate maintenance is used when the married couple does not want to get a divorce, but wishes to live apart or to get a legal separation.

Question: How do I get alimony?

A: You can request spousal support during your divorce proceeding.

If you are able to reach an alimony agreement with your spouse, you can ask the judge to include the agreement as part of the court order.

If you cannot reach an agreement, the judge will make a decision as to whether you are entitled to spousal support.

Question: If I don't ask for alimony during my divorce, but later I decide I need it, can I request it?

A: You can only request alimony during your divorce proceeding and cannot make any spousal support requests after your case is over.

Question: What should I do if my spouse requests alimony but I don't think I can pay, or I don't think they need my financial support?

A: When one of the spouses in a divorce or separation seeks alimony but the other does not agree, the judge will review the case and decide if a spousal support award should be granted and for how much.

Question: Can men ask for alimony?

A: Yes. Both men and women can request alimony in their divorce.

Question: How long can I receive alimony?

A: You and your spouse can decide on the length of time you will receive alimony payments and it will be included in the court order.

If you cannot reach an agreement, the judge will decide on a time-frame that is appropriate for your situation.

Indefinite alimony or permanent alimony will remain in effect until either spouse dies or until the court determines that alimony is no longer appropriate.

Time-limited alimony, sometimes called rehabilitative alimony, lasts for a limited time. This limited time period is determined by the judge. This type of alimony can be awarded to help the receiving spouse obtain work experience or training that is necessary for them to become self-supporting.

Question: Can I receive alimony if I remarry?

A: Remarriage can be grounds for ending an alimony award, but spousal support does not automatically end if you get remarried. Your ex-spouse will have to make a request with the court to terminate your alimony agreement.

Get Help With Your Divorce Today

If you are going through divorce, you should call our experienced legal team to get help protecting your rights and interests. We are dedicated to assisting families in Charlotte with their family law disputes, and we can put our resources to work for you today.

Call (704) 343-8811 to set up an appointment with our law firm in Charlotte.