Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the regular financial support given by one spouse to the other spouse during a period of legal separation, divorce proceedings and possibly after divorce. In North Dakota, a court can issue an order regarding the amount and length of time for which spousal support payments are to be made, if the spouses cannot come to their own agreement.

A court in North Dakota is authorized to award a spouse one of three possible types of support depending on the circumstances:

  • Temporary spousal support: this begins once a divorce petition is filed and ends when the final divorce decree is issued;
  • Rehabilitative spousal support: this type of spousal support is given while a spouse is acquiring the education, training, and experience they need to become self-sustaining;
  • Permanent spousal support: this type of support lasts indefinitely, as it is intended to support a spouse who does not have the means to be self-supporting; it may be awarded as part of a divorce or for a period of legal separation.

It’s important to keep in mind that alimony payments are separate from any payments a spouse makes towards child support. Any required child support payments are calculated separately and based upon the nature of the child custody arrangements between separated, divorcing or divorced couples. However, in North Dakota a spouse who has custody of the children of the marriage may be awarded a higher amount of spousal support because they have custody.

How Do You Qualify for Alimony?

Some states have fixed alimony calculator formulas, but North Dakota is not one of them. There is no formula fixed in North Dakota law for determining whether alimony should be paid and if so, in what amount, and the court can award it to either spouse. Of course, one spouse must have the need and the other must have the ability to pay an award.

The court will look at several factors when deciding whether to award spousal support and how much to award. The factors include the financial needs and circumstances of the spouse requesting support, and the amount the paying spouse can afford. But in the final analysis, in North Dakota, whether one spouse will pay alimony, how much and for how long is within the discretion of the judge in the case.

Other factors considered are the length of the marriage, fault in the divorce, financial circumstances based on property owned (and whether any property owned by either spouse is producing income for the spouse), the relative income and earning capacity of the spouses, the standard of living that was enjoyed by the spouses when they were married, as well as their respective physical condition, health, and age.

This means that in “at-fault” divorces, the spouse at-fault may pay a larger amount of partially punitive alimony. Fault would be, for example, drug addiction, infidelity or abuse.

How Much Alimony Can You Receive?

Under North Dakota law, there is no set limit or formula used in determining the amount of alimony that can be awarded to a current spouse from whom one is legally separated or a former spouse. In deciding on an amount for spousal support payments, the court will take into account the factors discussed above.

Alimony awards can vary in amount depending on the circumstances of the spouses. Any particular award might be deemed insufficient or excessive depending on the financial situation of the people involved. Spouses ordered to pay spousal support who are appealing alimony awards often argue that the court erred by essentially “equalizing” the ex-spouses’ disparity in incomes.

On the other hand, an ostensibly large amount has been deemed to have been fairly awarded to a spouse who sacrificed earning potential by making non-monetary contributions to preserve the home and family and did not develop their own earning capacity and career in order to support the other spouse in that endeavor. In certain circumstances it is possible for one spouse to be required to pay alimony for the lifetime of the other.

If the income of either spouse changes or the needs of either of the spouses change, then the court might modify or terminate alimony after it has been established.

The requirement to pay alimony and the need to depend on it can be of great importance to one’s quality of life. So whether a person is seeking alimony or likely to be paying it, a person would want to consult with an experienced North Dakota family lawyer.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

The duration of an alimony award depends on whether it is temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent. As discussed above, temporary spousal support lasts only as long as the divorce proceeding and ends when the divorce decree is issued. The length of rehabilitative spousal support is the time it takes for the spouse to acquire the education, training, and experience they need to become self-supporting.

The duration of permanent spousal support, which could be long-term, hinges on what the court deems reasonable in light of the parties’ circumstances. The length of the marriage is a factor. So, a longer period of alimony might be considered appropriate in the divorce of a couple who were married for a long time.

How Do You Petition for Alimony?

Given the fact that the issues related to the awarding of alimony are completely within the discretion of the judge in the divorce case, it would be wise for anyone involved in a divorce action to have the assistance of an experienced North Dakota family lawyer. A party to a divorce must request alimony in their court filings, and then make the case either for an award of alimony or against it.

The court will not know that a party to a divorce needs spousal support unless it is requested, and to avoid any consequences (subsequent paperwork and more legal fees being only the tip of the iceberg), it is best to include a request for alimony in the beginning. In addition, a lawyer can make sure a spouse in need gets the funds they need right away by requesting temporary spousal support while going through the divorce. If a person neglects this and asks for it later, it may not be granted retroactively.

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

The issue of alimony is a highly contentious area of divorce. It is crucial to protect yourself, as well as your current and future financial situation. If you are considering filing for divorce, or have been served with divorce papers, get expert help and contact an experienced local North Dakota family lawyer today.