Types of Spousal Support

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In many divorce cases, the court may award spousal support, which is also called alimony, to spouses. Marital misconduct is not a factor in determining whether someone is entitled to alimony or in calculating the actual payment amount. Courts instead focus on each spouse’s financial needs and future earning capacity, among other factors, to determine whether maintenance is appropriate in a particular situation. Then, they apply a specific formula to set the amount and duration of payments.

State law explains the three different types of alimony that are available in most states:

Temporary maintenance: A spouse might be entitled to temporary support while the divorce is pending. You can petition for support when the divorce petition is filed and provide a financial affidavit that explains why this support is necessary. Any award of temporary maintenance ends when the divorce is finalized.

Fixed-term maintenance: As part of a divorce judgment, the court may award alimony for a specific period of time. After that time period ends, the court may consider whether to extend support for another fixed term or to extend it indefinitely. The court could also decide to terminate the alimony award at the end of the fixed term. In fact, if the marriage lasted less than 10 years, the court may designate the conclusion of the fixed term as a permanent termination of maintenance.

Permanent maintenance: The court may also decide that the spouse’s situation warrants permanent maintenance.

In both fixed-term and permanent, there are usually stipulations outlined that would cause the spousal support to end. Examples of these types of circumstances include if the receiving spouse should remarry or if the paying spouse retires. Events like these are considered events that will change the financial situation of at least one of the parties and warrant the end of the support.

Factors that Courts Consider in Determining Whether Alimony Is Appropriate

Aside from each spouse’s financial needs and earning capacity (both present and future), other factors that courts consider in determining whether alimony is appropriate include:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • Each spouse’s income and property, including marital property distributed during the divorce, nonmarital property, and retirement income
  • Whether the party seeking maintenance needs to go back to school or receive additional training to become self-supporting, the time it will take for the spouse to do that, and the support the spouse needs to make that happen
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age, health, and occupation
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage and to the other spouse’s career, including education and training
  • The tax consequences that marital property division has on both spouses;
  • Any prenuptial, postnuptial, or other valid agreement between the spouses
  • Other equitable factors

An experienced divorce attorney can help collect the evidence you need to establish your alimony needs.

Let a Lawyer Help You with Your Case

If you are considering filing for divorce, contact a dedicated divorce attorney. A lawyer can help secure spousal support to cover your financial needs, as well handle other areas of divorce negotiations.