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Couple Living Separate and Apart, Not yet Divorcing
The law says that spouses who are married must support each other for as long as they are married and both sides are alive. If the spouses are currently married, the financial support one spouse gets from the other is called spousal support. Spousal support is money paid to one spouse from the other as long as they are married and there is no time limit to how long spousal support is paid.
Spousal support cases are started with a spousal support petition in
Family Court. Child support and spousal support can be filed in the same petition.
After a support petition is filed, the other side must be "served" a summons, the petition, and the financial disclosure form. The summons tells the Petitioner and the Respondent when and where to come to Family Court for a hearing.
The Judge or Support Magistrate will want to know the financial situation of both spouses. The court will ask for copies of the most recent tax returns, pay stubs, and a completed Financial Disclosure Affidavit. The court will listen to both side and then decide how much support one spouse should pay to the other.
Both the Petitioner and the Respondent have the right to hire their own lawyers. If a party can't afford to hire a lawyer, the court may assign one at no cost.
Couple Is Divorced or Divorcing
If the spouses are divorced, the financial support one ex-spouse gets from the other ex-spouse is called maintenance. Maintenance is decided in Supreme Court during a divorce case. If there is an order for spousal support from Family Court before a divorce case is started in Supreme Court, the order for spousal support will end once a final judgment of divorce is signed unless the judgment of divorce specifically states that the spousal support continues as maintenance.
There are many nuances that come in to play when addressing spousal maintenance cases. Each case is different and unique to the specific set of facts in that case. Therefore, it is imperative that you seek advice from a lawyer before entering into an agreement or having the court determine the spousal maintenance amount.