A spouse may have claims for postseparation support (temporary spousal support also called PSS) and alimony (long-term spousal support).
If one spouse is the bread-winner and the other spouse, such as a stay-at-home parent or homemaker, makes substantially less income, then a spouse who truly needs support to pay his/her reasonable expenses may be eligible to receive spousal support from the spouse who earns enough money to have excess income after paying his/her reasonable monthly expenses. PSS claims are typically heard early in the litigation process at a short hearing with the focus on the Financial Standing Affidavits presented by both spouses.
Generally, alimony is not resolved for many months after a separation. The amount and duration of the alimony award depend on many factors. Alimony can be resolved by agreement, or if the spouses cannot agree, then the judge will exercise discretion to set alimony that is fair to both spouses. If the dependent spouse engaged in adultery prior to the date of separation, that behavior could bar the alimony claim outright. It is impossible to predict with accuracy the amount and duration of spousal support awards. Alimony could last a few years or for a lifetime. Typically, alimony ends upon the death of either party, or the remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient. Determination of whether a person is engaging in cohabitation depends on the totality of the circumstances, which may make proving cohabitation an expensive and time-consuming process. For all the alimony factors, see https://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_50/GS_50-16.3A.html.