When the judge orders a divorce, it is possible that he will order one of the spouses to make temporary alimony or alimony payments. Alimony is financial assistance provided from one spouse to the other after the end of the marriage, and it is separate from any payments made for child support due to the nature of the child custody agreement. Alimony is designed to preserve the economic situation of both parties as it existed during the marriage.
Whether alimony is awarded to either spouse at the end of a divorce proceeding is decided by the judge according to what is fair under the circumstances. In Maine there are 3 types of alimony:
- General Support: General support can be received by a spouse with substantially less income potential than the other spouse. However, general support is usually only awarded in marriages of at least 10 years.
- Transitional Support: A spouse can qualify for transitional support if they can show the court that they have a short-term financial need after the marriage. This kind of support is usually awarded to pay for education or training so the spouse can get a new or better job.
- Reimbursement Support: Reimbursement support is only awarded if there are exceptional circumstances that lead the judge to believe that the current division of assets is unfair. Often reimbursement support may be given if one spouse misused money during the marriage or if one spouse paid for the other spouse’s education or job training.
Alimony in Maine can come in 3 forms: one lump sum payment, temporary periodic alimony payments, and permanent periodic alimony payments. In calculating the total support award, there is no set formula or limit. Unless agreed to by the parties, the judge will decide how much alimony should be paid according to several factors including, but not limited to:
- Spouse’s age;
- Employment history;
- Ability to pay alimony;
- Retirement; and
- Health insurance benefits
They will also take into consideration if a spouse worked at home or contributed to the other spouse’s earning potential (ex: working while other spouse was in school) and the possible tax consequences from selling shared property. The court will also take into consideration if either spouse committed “economic misconduct” which includes wasting of marital assets through gambling or excessive spending/borrowing.
Generally, alimony payments are temporary and are determined by the judge. However, alimony payments will end if either spouse dies, or if the spouse receiving payments remarries or enters a relationship that is the equivalent of marriage.
In Maine, you must ask for alimony at the very beginning of the divorce proceeding in the Petition for Divorce or the Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce if the other spouse initially filed the divorce packet. If you fail to request alimony at first, you may be able to ask for it later by asking the court to allow you to amend the Petition or Answer. In the request, you should also list why you qualify for alimony.
After a spouse asks the court for alimony, both spouses will be required to submit to the court a Financial Statement. This document must include a complete report of your financial situation including real estate, income statements, life insurance information, bank statements, household expenses, etc. It is important that the Financial Statement be complete and accurate and should be reviewed by an attorney.
Divorce actions tend to be some of the most contentious legal cases and alimony awards can be quite significant. It is important to have a skilled attorney to advocate for you in this process. If you are looking for an attorney to help you with your alimony related issues, then contact a local Maine family lawyer today.