Alimony is also referred to as spousal support. These are monetary payments made to one spouse by another during and/or after divorce or legal separation proceedings. Generally speaking, the family court will consider awarding spousal support in situations where the spouses have unequal earning power, and have been married for an objectively long amount of time.
A judge will also assess one spouse’s financial needs, and whether the other spouse is able to make monthly spousal support payments. Alimony is intended to equalize the financial resources of the divorcing couple.
However, it is important to note that spousal support is not automatic; it is not ordered by default in every divorce. It is not uncommon for a judge to award temporary spousal support while the divorce is pending. Just as each state has its own laws governing the process of divorce, each state maintains its own statutes regarding spousal support, or alimony.
It is possible for a divorcing person to receive spousal support in Arkansas. They will need to prove circumstances that justify the awarding of alimony.
What Are the Types Of Alimony In Arkansas?
There are three different types of alimony under alimony laws in Arkansas. The first type is known as “pendente lite” support. This is a temporary form of alimony in which the judge orders one spouse to pay a certain amount to the other during the divorce proceedings.
The other two types of Arkansas spousal support are awarded after the divorce is final, and generally can be categorized as either temporary or permanent. Temporary spousal support is intended to cease after a certain amount of time, so that the spouse in a weaker financial position has the time to get back on their feet and become financially independent. Such payments generally involve money for job training or education, such as going back to school to finish a degree program or attending a trade school.
Temporary alimony can also be viewed as a way to reimburse one spouse for supporting the other in their career throughout their marriage. An example of this would be if one spouse stopped working to manage things at home, while the other attended law school and worked as an attorney.
Recently, permanent alimony is rarely awarded, and only in specific circumstances. If the receiving spouse will not be able to support themselves for the foreseeable future due to advanced illness or age, the judge may award them with permanent alimony. It is important to note that the two spouses are allowed to negotiate a spousal support schedule, and can agree to a lump sum payout if that serves both parties’ interests.
How Do I Ask for Alimony in Arkansas? How Is Spousal Support Calculated in Arkansas?
The procedures involved in requesting spousal support vary from state to state. Generally speaking, you can start a petition with the proper legal paperwork in family court. You and your spouse could come to an agreement regarding spousal support; however, if you are unable to, the judge will make a decision based on your eligibility factors.
The ideal time to ask for alimony in Arkansas is at the very beginning of the process, when filing your initial petition for divorce. You should also include the reasons why you believe the court should grant your request. If you do not request alimony immediately, you will need to file an amendment to the petition requesting support and why. However, the sooner you request and file, the better.
Once you have formally requested spousal support, the court will require both parties to complete an Affidavit of Financial Means. This is a document that should include information such as:
- Bank statements;
- Credit card and other debt information;
- Pay stubs;
- Proof of monthly expenses; and
- Any other relevant financial information as requested by the state.
It is important that you are sure to include everything you have. If you withhold certain assets in an attempt to receive more spousal support, you could be held in contempt of court or face other legal consequences for doing so.
In terms of how spousal support is calculated, there is no Arkansas alimony calculator. Rather, the courts consider many different factors as well as the overall circumstances of each case, in order to determine what is a fair amount of money. Some examples of what the judge will consider include, but may not be limited to:
- The ability of each spouse to support themselves;
- The necessary amount of time to acquire a job or obtain training in order to become employed;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- Length of the marriage;
- Cause of the separation;
- Each party’s age, and physical and mental condition;
- The ability of the spouse paying alimony to support themselves while making payments; and
- All other financial responsibilities and resources available to each party such as previous awards of child support, rights to receive retirement benefits, and taxability or non-taxability of income.
It is important to note that longer marriages are generally more likely to create considerable economic inequalities between spouses. As such, the longer the marriage, the more likely it is that spousal support will be necessary after the divorce.
Additionally, the judge may consider other relevant factors when determining the amount and/or length of alimony payments. Family judges have much discretion when determining what spousal support is appropriate for each specific case.
How Does Modification and Termination of Alimony Work in Arkansas?
Either spouse may file for modification or termination of payments, generally for unexpected events in one or both of their lives. An example of this would be if the paying spouse loses their job, or is diagnosed with a debilitating illness. They may formally request that the judge reduce or entirely eliminate support payments because their financial circumstances have drastically changed.
Alternatively, the receiving spouse can request an increase if there is a change in living expenses. An example of change in living expenses would be due to inflation, or if the paying spouse sees a significant rise in their income.
Both spouses can modify or terminate support, if they come to a mutual agreement that is filed with the court. It is imperative to note that remarriage automatically terminates alimony payments, unless the spouses agree in writing to the contrary. Additionally, a request for modification can be made on the basis of cohabitation. Cohabitation occurs when one party moves in with a new partner, or has a child with a new partner.
All modifications must be court approved. If you find yourself in need of a modification, it is best to request it as soon as possible while still adhering to the existing order. Failure to do so could result in serious legal consequences, such as being held in contempt of court. Modification and termination for paying alimony in Arkansas is much the same as in other states.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Alimony in Arkansas?
If you are in Arkansas and would like to receive alimony, you should consult with a family lawyer in Arkansas. To reiterate, the laws governing divorce and spousal support vary from state to state. As such, it is imperative that you consult with a local attorney in order to understand and adhere to all necessary laws set forth by your state.
An experienced and local family lawyer can help you file your request, provide proof of necessity, and represent you in court as needed. Additionally, they can help you through the modification process should that become necessary.