In Oklahoma, alimony is regular payments made from one spouse to another to provide financial support (also known as “spousal support”) after divorce. It’s important to keep in mind that alimony is separate from any child support payments that you might need to make due to the nature of child custody. It can be made in monthly installments or in one lump sum payment. The court can also order that the payments come from real or personal property. During divorce proceedings, a spouse can also request temporary spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance, to ensure financial security while the divorce is pending. Temporary spousal support ends when the divorce decree is issued. 

How Do You Qualify for Alimony?

Either spouse can qualify for alimony. The court does not use a set formula to determine amount or duration of payments, which is why it is important to have a lawyer if alimony is an issue in your case. Your reasons for requesting alimony must be proven to the court, and a lawyer can help you present the necessary evidence.  In determining alimony, the court will consider the overall circumstances and financial needs of the spouses, and whether they are self-sustaining. It also considers how long the couple was married, whether the paying spouse can in fact afford the alimony payments, age and health of the parties, education and earning capacities, lifestyle at the time of separation, and income producing property, if any.   

How Much Alimony Can You Receive?

Under, there is no limitation on the amount of alimony that can be awarded to a spouse. Instead, the court will weigh the factors discussed above. Alimony awards can vary in amounts, and, depending on where you stand in this area of contention, can be deemed insufficient or excessive (it is estimated that spousal support awards can run upwards of $1.3 million a year in the U.S.). Again, because there is no set formula for determining alimony, it is important to protect yourself by hiring a lawyer.  In Oklahoma, when granting an award of alimony, a court must order a specific total amount.  However, if you are not represented by a lawyer you can inadvertently agree to alimony without a specific total amount, and such an agreement is legally binding.     

How Long Does Alimony Last?

Temporary spousal support lasts only for the duration of divorce proceedings. It ends when a divorce decree is issued. The length of alimony following divorce will be based on the overall circumstances of the spouses, key factors being the length of the marriage and time it will take for the supported spouse to become self-supporting. Alimony automatically ends if the supported spouse dies or remarries. In the latter case, automatic termination of alimony can be bypassed with a motion filed within 90 days of the date of remarriage. However, the supported spouse must prove that continued alimony payments are still warranted. 

How Do You Petition for Alimony?

A lawyer can help you during the difficult time of divorce by making sure you do not inadvertently waive your right to alimony. The court will not know you need spousal support unless you ask, 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—with your divorce petition. In addition, a lawyer can make sure you get the funds you need right away by requesting temporary spousal support while you go through your divorce. If you neglect this and ask for it later, it may not be granted retroactively. 

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

The issue of alimony is a highly contentious, variable 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 your local Oklahoma family lawyer today.