Before filing a divorce complaint, you must be aware of several potentially veryserious issues. First, the failure to assert an alimony claim prior to entry of a divorce judgment, and failure to have such an action pending at the time the divorce is granted, will bar the right to assert a claim for alimony. Second, the failure to assert a claim for equitable distribution prior to the entry of a divorce judgment will bar the right to assert an equitable distribution claim except in certain narrow circumstances. Be sure you understand both of these rules before you file for and obtain your divorce. A judgment of absolute divorce obtained by the dependent spouse in an action initiated by him or her eliminates that spouse’s right to alimony unless a claim for alimony has been asserted and left pending prior to the judgment, either in that action or an earlier action. A dependent spouse who is sued for divorce and who wishes to obtain alimony must assert a claim for alimony in the divorce, or have asserted it in some other pending action prior to the divorce, in order to preserve the dependent spouse’s rights. “Pending” means that the alimony claim or counterclaim has been filed and has not been dismissed as of the date of entry of the divorce judgment. Similarly, an equitable distribution must be prayed for, and left pending, prior to entry of the divorce judgment in order to preserve the claim after the actual absolute divorce. The exception to this rule applies to someone who was served by publication and did not appear in the divorce action. Such a defendant may bring an action or file a motion in the cause for equitable distribution within six months from the date of the divorce judgment. A divorce judgment cannot be modified to relieve its effect of barring either a claim for alimony or a claim for equitable distribution that was not previously asserted.