Alimony Established During Divorce
Facing divorce means that you may also have to face another reality: fighting with your soon-to-be ex spouse over alimony payments. You can try to negotiate alimony amongst yourselves, including who should pay and for how much. However, if you are unable to come to an agreement, then a family court judge will decide for you both. Alimony may also be referred to as “maintenance” or “spousal support,” and is usually reserved for spouses where one earned significantly more than the other during the marriage.
For instance, one spouse may have gone to work to pay the bills while the other stayed home to raise children. Now that they are parting ways, the spouse who was a homemaker may need financial support until they can get on their own two feet financially.
What Happens When Alimony Is Awarded
If alimony is ordered by the court, there are going to be terms that both spouses must abide by. For example, the paying spouse may have to submit payments to the other spouse on a scheduled basis for a designated amount. The other spouse may be required to actively look for employment or enroll in career development courses so they can prepare to enter the workforce. The alimony amount may have to be paid until:
- The judge establishes an expiration date
- The former spouse remarries
- A life event occurs in which the alimony must be modified or cancelled
- The children don’t need a full-time parent to be at home with them
- One of the spouses passes away
- The judge observes that after a reasonable amount of time, the receiving spouse hasn’t made enough effort to support themselves
How Spouses Can Negotiate Terms of Alimony
Spouses who want to save time and money may want to negotiate the terms of alimony themselves. They can do so through attending mediation with a neutral third party who helps them arrive at a resolution together. Most couples are motivated to avoid the added expenses of court by at least trying mediation first. It is recommended that each spouse obtains their own lawyer, to assist with an alimony dispute.
What to Expect as the Receiving Spouse
If you are the spouse who needs financial support, there are some things you must know. Whether you qualify to receive alimony or not is typically based on your capacity to earn, and not necessarily what you currently earn. Other influencing factors include the earnings of your spouse, and what the standard of living looked like while you were married.
The family court judge may also expect you to make significant changes to your life and employment. A vocational evaluator may be hired by the court to consider what types of jobs you could be eligible for based on education and other training. If the judge deems you are able to get a better paying job, then the court may require you to seek other employment in exchange for continuing to receive alimony payments.