Spousal Support or Alimony Lawyers
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What Is Spousal Support or Alimony?
Spousal support (also know as alimony) represents regular payments made from one spouse to the other during a separation or after a divorce. The purpose is to recognize the recipient spouse's contribution to the marriage and to assist that spouse to achieve financial independence where possible.
What Are the Requirements for Spousal Support?
Spousal support or alimony is only granted to individuals who were actually and legally married. The rules regarding vary from state to state, and are often classified based on the length of marriage.
- The court assumes that you have kept the same ability to support yourself that you had before marriage.
- Each spouse is expected to be substantially independent and self-supporting within a short period of time.
Long marriages (generally over 5 years)
For long marriages, extended or even lifetime support may be ordered. The court takes into consideration a variety of factors such as:
- Each spouses assumed earning capacity
- The property and debts received by each spouse
- The physical and mental health of the receiving spouse
- Any disparity in earning capacity between the spouses
- Duration of marriage
- Other income
- Contribution to career or education
- Contribution as a homemaker
What Are the Different Types of Alimony or Spousal Support?
There are several arrangements of support. Each arrangement is based on the varying circumstances and needs of the individual.
- Rehabilitative alimony - Fixed spousal support paid for a specific period of time. This award is usually modifiable for upgrades in education or new work skills.
- Lump sum support - Some states allow a spouse to pay the total alimony obligation at the time of divorce. This amount is usually equal to the total amount of future monthly payments. A possible drawback of such an arrangement is that there may be significant tax consequences, so make sure you research all of your options with a professional.
- Permanent alimony - Support Payments for an indefinite period of time. Although there is no fixed date when support ends, it should not be expected that payment will be for life. In order to alter such an arrangement, you must petition the court for a change.
Can Support be Modified or Terminated?
Yes. There are different ways in which alimony can be modified or terminated (more information in the article Terminating Alimony).
Events that end payment obligations are:
- The death of either spouse
- The spouse receiving alimony gets remarried
Events that may end or modify payment obligations are:
- Paying spouse is either retired or terminated from work
- Substantial increase in the income of the spouse receiving alimony
- Spouse receiving spouse lives with another person romantically (cohabitation) - each court treats this situation differently. Some courts immediately terminate support, while others look at whether there is a financial advantage and if the co-habitation looks like a marriage
Always keep accurate and detailed records if you receive or make any payments and make sure you keep these records for at least 3 years. Doing so will allow you to protect your interests should there ever be a dispute.
Calculating Child Support
In many states there are defined guidelines or equations that determine the amount of child support that should be paid based on the incomes of the parents or custodial adults and the number of children supported - each of these factors is used to determine the amount of child support payments that should be paid. The guidelines differ from state to state, but the determination methodology is generally the same is cover in this article Child Support Amount Calculations. LegalMatch also has many state-specific articles, including:
- Calculating Child Support in California
- Calculating Child Support in Florida
- Calculating Child Support in Illinois
- Calculating Child Support in New York
- Calculating Child Support in Texas
Do I Need an Attorney?
Whenever support arrangements are at issue, you should consult a family law attorney. The proper attorney will not only inform you of your rights, but also preserve any possible legal remedies that you may have.
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Last Modified: 10-27-2015 03:48 PM PDT
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