Did you know that in 2018, there were over 782,000 divorces in the United States? If you recently became part of this statistic and are now trying to understand more about family law and alimony laws, we are here to help. It is super important to become familiar with the legalities of going through a divorce in order to avoid even more stress.
Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of when you have to pay alimony according to the law.
How Is Alimony Decided?
Depending on the communication between you and your ex-spouse you might be able to come to an agreement on your own about the amount of alimony that should be paid and for how long. If the divorcing couple is not able to agree on this then a judge will make the final decision of how much and for how long the alimony will be paid.
Keep in mind that every state has different laws in regards to alimony. We always recommend hiring a professional with knowledge in this area such as this company, to ensure that you receive what you deserve or that you are not forced to pay a lot more than you have to.
What Does a Judge Take Into Consideration?
If your divorce case ends up going to trial then the judge that is assigned to your case will look at a few different things to come up with an alimony amount. The judge will look at how long you have been married, whether the ex-spouse had the ability to pay or not, and the financial needs of the spouse that is requesting the alimony support.
The judge will also take a look at what each spouse is currently earning and what their earning capacity is. They will take their education level and employability into consideration. If the spouse that is requesting alimony has not been working because they have been caring for the children, the judge will also factor in how long they have been out of the workforce.
Purpose of Alimony
Sometimes child support and alimony are used interchangeably but they are two completely different worlds. Alimony is to help maintain the standard of living that both spouses had while they were married. The primary breadwinner is usually the spouse that will have to pay alimony.
Whether you are the male or female either one can qualify for alimony because the courts are gender-neutral when it comes to this support.
When Can Alimony be Modified or Stopped?
There are some cases where there can be a temporary stop to alimony like when one of the ex-spouses passes away or when the spouse paying the alimony retires. If the payor retires then the judge might choose to modify how much alimony is paid based on the change in income.
Alimony can also be adjusted or terminated if the spouse receiving it cohabitates with someone else or gets married again. If the person paying ends up in a financial emergency or they become ill then the judge can order for a permanent stop or temporary pause of payments.
What If the Ex-Spouse Starts Working?
If the party receiving the alimony begins working, they are still entitled to alimony if they are not able to meet their standard of living needs in a manner similar to their lives before the divorce. This is the case when the spouse is working but not making enough money.
When there is a large disparity in income between both spouses even with the receiving party working, they are more than likely still entitled to request alimony.
How Long Does Alimony Have to be Paid?
The short answer is – it depends. There are different alimony types and the length of time varies. In some cases, the court will order a permanent alimony order. This is where the receiver will continue to have alimony paid to them indefinitely unless there are major circumstance changes for one of the spouses.
Permanent alimony is typically awarded in long-term marriages of a decade or longer. This is a common alimony type when a spouse has been a full-time homemaker and parent for the entire marriage.
In some cases, the judge will order temporary alimony. This is most common when a couple separates but is not divorced legally. The lower-earning spouse might qualify to receive a form of temporary alimony while the divorce is in progress.
Keep in mind that for the most part, if you are entitled to alimony, it starts as soon as you separate and you do not have to wait for the lengthy divorce process to be finalized.
Term alimony is when a specified amount of time is given for the receiving party to get paid alimony support. Normally, this is in shorter marriages because the chances of the spouse seeking support are a lot higher of becoming self-sufficient in a more reasonable amount of time after the separation.
If the spouse seeking support has a plan to go back to school and get a degree to help them be more self-sufficient financially, they can seek rehabilitative alimony. This will be a specific amount and for a certain amount of time while they are seeking their training or degree.
Feeling Like an Alimony Laws Pro?
We hope that now that you know more about alimony laws you can feel a bit more confident moving forward with your divorce. Do not forget that alimony is not automatic and it is not something that is ordered in every single divorce case.
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