The Basics of Alimony

Whether you refer to it as alimony or spousal support, this payment is something one divorcing spouse will be ordered by the court to pay to the other. Sometimes the couple comes to an agreement about spousal support on their own, and other times the court has to make the decision. Spousal support isn’t child support and it isn’t part of marital asset division. The following are some other things you should know.

The Point of Spousal Support

In many divorce situations, there is an unfair economic advantage that one spouse could have over the other. This often happens in a household where one spouse works and the other stays home to care for the children. The working spouse would already have an income when the couple goes their separate ways. The stay-at-home spouse would be starting from scratch.

Spousal support could also be ordered to help a spouse continue the life he or she had during the marriage. There’s a certain standard of living that every individual has, and if that standard is going to plummet because of a loss of the other spouse’s income, spousal support may be ordered.

How the Amount Is Decided On

When a spouse is ordered to pay child support, that amount typically has a very specific guideline it is decided by. Spousal support is not the same. While there are some recommendations, the court uses great discretion to determine the amount of the award. Some factors that might play a role include:

  • The health, age and financial condition of each spouse
  • The marriage length
  • The length one spouse would have to be in school to obtain gainful employment
  • The ability of one spouse to support both households
  • The living standard of both spouses

What Happens When Payments Don’t Happen

Unlike child support, the government can’t enforce spousal support payments by garnishing wages or putting a lien on anything. That doesn’t mean you don’t have any options when your spouse fails to make a payment. Spousal support comes in the form of a court order, and there are laws regarding the enforcement of court orders. That is how you could obtain payment.

How Long a Spouse Will Be Paying

In most cases, there is a time when the spousal support order is terminated. This might be when the receiving spouse gets remarried or the paying spouse is diagnosed with a serious health condition. If the paying spouse dies, support would obviously end, and if the receiving spouse is able to obtain gainful employment, support might be terminated.

Contacting a Divorce Attorney

If you’re in the middle of a divorce and are having a hard time financially, you might be entitled to spousal support. Contact divorce lawyers today to find out what you deserve.