If I am separated from my spouse, can I file for alimony, or spousal support?

To begin with, you need to understand the two types of separation that apply to North Carolina marriages.

Absolute divorce—the termination of a marriage—must be preceded in North Carolina by a separation of one year of living “separate and apart” (in two different households).

During this time, either spouse can request what’s known as “post-separation support.” Couples may work out privately the terms of this support (in what’s known as a “separation agreement”) if they can come to terms on it, or it can be left up to the courts to decide the amount and duration of alimony. The conditions of the post-separation support may continue when the divorce is finalized, or permanent alimony may be established for the post-divorce period.

Another type of separation, “divorce from bed and board,” is a legal separation, or “limited” divorce. While it does not allow the spouses to remarry, it does entitle the parties to certain “incidents,” such as alimony. You might consider a divorce from bed and board if the other spouse refuses to enter into a separation agreement. This type of divorce, though, is fault-based, so you must prove injury on one of six fault grounds.

In any type of separation, calculating the proper amount of alimony can be complex. Often, the other spouse will challenge the amount and/or offer legal objections. A Raleigh separation attorney can advise you of your rights and options and aggressively advocate for your interests throughout the separation and divorce processes.