Although going through a divorce is emotionally exhausting for both parties, the dissolution of marriage also comes with its fair share of legal processes that need to be addressed. In fact, terminating a marital union requires a comprehensive divorce agreement that tackles equitable distribution of marital property and child support, to name a few.
One such aspect of the divorce agreement that is often subject to misunderstanding and misinterpretation by many is alimony. And today, we will be learning how it works, the frequently asked questions surrounding it, and why it happens.
What Is Alimony?
More commonly known as spousal support/spousal maintenance, it refers to support payments from one spouse to another after a divorce. Its purpose is to help the less well-off spouse maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marital union. For example, if a couple was splitting up, and one spouse cannot afford the same quality of home or comforts due to their sacrifices during the marriage, they will need support payments to help them with their life and transition.
Apart from that, many factors are also considered during a trial before spousal support is guaranteed to one party. And on the matter of how much, these are some factors often accounted for:
- Current Income: As such, the primary factor that dictates alimony is the current income of each separate spouse. And, in theory, the spouse who earns more will be required to make support payments. Of course, expenses will also be considered from insurance payments, taxes, and net take-home pay.
- Potential Future Income: Courts will also account for the potential future income that each spouse can make. For example, if the wife had to sacrifice her career to manage the household and take care of the children for over ten years, she will have trouble getting back into the workforce due to her lack of experience.
- Property and Assets: Marital and Non-Marital property will also affect the support payments the spouse should pay. In some instances, if the less well-off party receives substantial marital property that allows them to maintain the same standard of living, no alimony would be required.
- Dependents: Last but not least, if the spouse needs to provide child support for dependents rate for spousal support goes down to make financial support for dependents much more manageable.
Divorce Laws Differ By State
Consider that divorce laws differ by state, so just as you would consult a professional process service, double-check with a divorce attorney in your locality. How alimony is calculated for each state can vary, and spousal support calculation in New York is different from Texas, so legal assistance matters.
On that note, let’s answers some of the most frequently asked questions regarding spousal support and how the agreement might change over time.
#1 Does It Last Indefinitely?
The answer is it depends. In some states, the length of the marriage can often dictate how long a spouse must pay support payments, so the longer the marriage, the more support payments. In cases where the marriage lasted upwards of 15 years and more, you can expect to make support payments indefinitely, depending on how the judge sees fit.
#2 Is It Guaranteed?
Not in all cases, if the court deems it unnecessary for spousal support, then a divorce can follow through without having any alimony signed on the divorce agreement. As mentioned above, many factors go into the decision-making process, and if the situation meets certain criteria, then alimony is to be expected. Likewise, the same concept applies vice versa when there is a disparity between the financial capabilities of each spouse.
#3 Are They Non-Modifiable?
No, they are not non-modifiable, and there are certain situations where you can appeal for the spousal support to be lessened or end prematurely. For example, if the spouse receiving alimony gets a promotion and can support herself or starts living and cohabiting with a romantic partner. In these situations, the receiving spouse is more than capable of maintaining her standard of living and does not need support.
However, in cases where the alimony was decided through agreement rather than in court, the circumstances change, and the decision depends on the parameters set by the agreement.
Alternative: Spousal Maintenance Buyout
If you don’t want to pay monthly alimony, a divorce agreement can also decide on a spousal maintenance buyout. As the name suggests, instead of recurring support payments, the paying party will give a large lump sum of alimony to maintain the receiving party’s standard of living for the foreseeable future. Of course, this method is more financially burdensome but can be more beneficial for the long-term paying spouse.
Always Consult With A Professional
As always, before you make any final and concrete decisions regarding your divorce agreement and alimony, ensure that you consult with a professional attorney who can guide you through the legal process. The last thing you want is paying more than you have to and drain yourself of economic opportunities, so to stay on the safe side, trust a legal expert’s advice.