Alimony is financial assistance provided by one spouse to another following the end of a marriage, usually in the form of monthly payments. When a court finalizes a divorce, it may order one of the spouses to make temporary alimony payments or alimony payments.
Alimony payments are designed to preserve the economic situation of both spouses as it was while the parties were married. These payments are also intended to provide financial support for spouses that are not able to support themselves because of the divorce.
In most cases, as noted above, alimony payments are made regularly, often monthly. The duration of payments is typically set for a period of time that is determined by the court.
The amount of alimony a court will award is determined by a number of factors. One of these may be the ability of the paying spouse to pay the ordered amount of alimony to the receiving spouse.
Alimony payments are provided in order to cover the basic needs of the receiving spouse, which includes:
- Shelter; and
In certain cases, alimony can also be ordered to permit the receiving spouse to maintain the lifestyle they were used to prior to the divorce. Payments may also be ordered so that the receiving spouse has time to become financially stable.
In most cases, when a receiving spouse is able to support themselves financially, the alimony payments are terminated. However, if the payments were ordered for the receiving spouse to be able to maintain their standard of living, those payments may continue until the receiving spouse remarries.
How Do You Qualify for Alimony?
Whether or not a court orders alimony for a spouse following the finalization of a divorce depends on what the court determines is fair under the circumstances. There are three types of alimony that a court may order in Maine. These include:
- General support;
- Transitional support; and reimbursement support.
General support may be ordered when one spouse has substantially less income potential than the other spouse. However, general support is typically only awarded in marriages that lasted 10 years or more.
A spouse may qualify for transitional support if they are able to show the court that they have a short-term financial need following the end of the marriage. This type of support is typically awarded to pay for the receiving spouse’s education or training so that they can obtain new employment or better employment.
Reimbursement support is usually only awarded if exceptional circumstances exist which lead the court to determine that the division of assets is unfair to one spouse. This type of support may be provided when a spouse misuses money during the marriage or if one of the spouses paid for the other spouse’s education or job training.
How Much Alimony Can You Receive?
In Maine, alimony can be provided in three forms, including:
- A lump sum payment;
- Temporary periodic alimony payments; and
- Permanent periodic alimony payments.
There is no set formula in Maine for the court to use when calculating the total alimony support award. Unless the parties make an agreement regarding alimony, the court will decide how much alimony should be paid.
The court will use several factors to determine the amount, including, but not limited to each spouse’s:
- Employment history;
- Ability to pay alimony;
- Retirement; and
- Health insurance benefits.
The court will also consider whether one spouse worked in the home or contributed to the earning potential of the other spouse, for example, working while the other spouse was in school. The court will also consider the tax consequences of selling any shared property.
The court may also consider whether or not either spouse committed economic misconduct during the marriage, which includes wasting marital assets by gambling or excessive spending or borrowing.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
In general, alimony payments are ordered on a temporary basis, and, as noted above, are determined by the court. In most cases, however, alimony payments will be terminated when either spouse passes away or if the receiving spouse remarries or enters into a relationship that is the equivalent of a marriage.
Furthermore, the duration of alimony payments depends primarily upon the type of alimony that the court orders. For example, if the receiving spouse is to receive alimony to support them for the rest of their life, the payments will most likely continue until they pass away.
In contrast, if alimony is ordered in order to keep the receiving spouse on their financial feet after a divorce, the duration will typically be short. Additionally, if the alimony that is awarded is a lump sum or part of the paying spouse’s property, the receiving spouse will likely receive only one payment.
There are some types of alimony which may terminate prior to the date set by the court in the original order. For example, if the court awards transitional alimony to the receiving spouse and that spouse passes away prior to the termination date, then the alimony will terminate on that date and not on the date the court ordered.
The court may also terminate alimony payments prior to the date ordered if the circumstances that surround the alimony changes. For example, if the receiving spouse gets a new job with higher income than their previous job. This will apply unless, in the original order, the early termination of alimony is prohibited for that specific change in circumstances.
How Do You Petition for Alimony?
In Maine, a spouse must request alimony at the beginning of the divorce proceedings. This is done in the Petition for Divorce or the Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce if the other spouse initially files the divorce packet.
If a spouse fails to request alimony at the outset, they may be able to request it later by asking the court to permit them to amend the Petition or Answer. In their request, the spouse should outline the reasons why they qualify for alimony.
After the spouse petitions the court for alimony, both spouses will be required to submit a Financial Statement to the court. This document is required to include a complete report of the spouse’s financial situations, including:
- Real estate;
- Income statements;
- Life insurance information;
- Bank statements;
- Household expenses; and
- Any other relevant financial information.
It is essential for the Financial Statement to be complete and accurate, as inaccuracies can cause denial of alimony. The best way to complete this form correctly is with the help of an attorney.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
It is essential to find an experienced Maine family lawyer to assist you with any alimony issues you may have in Maine. Divorce cases can be one of the most contentious types of legal cases. The same applies to alimony awards, as some can be very significant.
A lawyer can review your case, determine if you may be eligible for alimony in Maine, and assist you with the process of requesting alimony. Having an attorney on your case is your best chance at obtaining alimony so you can recover and become financially independent.
On the other hand, if you are the spouse that will be required to pay alimony, an attorney can also be of great assistance. Your attorney will represent you in court and ensure that the payments you are required to make are fair.