Spousal maintenance refers to regular payments that are paid from one party to another in a divorce or a legal separation case. These usually take the form of regular monthly payments that begin after the divorce or separation is finalized. The payment amounts are often finalized through a divorce decree, or they can also be issued apart from a legal proceeding.

Spousal maintenance is also called spousal support or alimony. It should cover basic needs such as:

  • Food
  • Clothing items
  • Rent and other living expenses

Thus, luxury items and other unnecessary expenditures are usually not considered when courts set the maintenance amount.

How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?

This depends on each individual case, as well as the needs and capabilities of each spouse. Spousal maintenance can be either temporary or indefinite (ongoing until the court terminates the order). Most jurisdictions have preferred to issue temporary awards, as many persons experience major changes which can alter the maintenance needs.

A party can also modify a spousal support order in the long run if needed. The parties will need to submit a petition with the court to have the payments modified. They can also have an order terminated, provided that they supply good reasons for doing so.

When Can Spousal Maintenance Be Terminated?

Terminating alimony can occur in situations where:

  • The recipient spouse has become financially independent and no longer needs support
  • The recipient has moved in with a new partner
  • The paying spouse is experience financial hardships (they will need to document these)
  • The court has deemed it unfair or unreasonable for payments to continue

Thus, termination of spousal support may occur according to the situation at hand. Evidence and support can take the form of financial statements, bank account receipts, work stubs, and other documentation. Spousal support laws may vary in different states.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Spousal Maintenance Issues?

Spousal maintenance may be requested with the court, and should be approved by a judge so that it is legally enforceable. You may need to hire a family lawyer if you need help with any types of spousal maintenance issues. Your attorney can help you if you need to file a claim, or if you need to contest any support issued. Legal representation is often indispensible in divorce and separation cases.