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Alimony Basics

Published on October 27th, 2020

An attorney understands that those who are facing divorce, may also have to come to terms with the reality of alimony. Alimony is when one spouse helps financially support the other after separation, and may be referred to as “maintenance” or “spousal support”. A spouse that earns significantly more than the other may be required to pay alimony. When soon-to-be divorced spouses walk into our office, they usually have plenty of questions about how much they may have to pay or whether they are entitled to receive alimony at all. 

When Alimony Is Court-Ordered Ordered

If you attended family court regarding alimony, then chances are the judge determined which spouse is to pay and in what amount for a certain duration of time. Alimony may halt if the former spouse remarries, retirement occurs, one of the spouses passes away, or children have become old enough to not require parental care. If you feel that the judge’s terms weren’t fair, then you can meet with an attorney to see if you have options in filing an appeal.

Once the receiving spouse becomes financially independent, then alimony is likely to halt. However, this doesn’t mean the spouse getting the support can be lazy in getting a job. If the court deems that enough time has gone by and the receiving spouse should have gotten onto his or her footing by then, then alimony may be cancelled entirely. 

Whether You Qualify for Alimony

If you are unsure whether you qualify for alimony, an attorney would be happy to meet with you and evaluate your financial situation post divorce or separation. In most cases, the court is going to examine each spouse’s capacity to earn and the standard of living while married, to decide who pays alimony and for how much. The judge may also require that one or both spouses make changes to their life or work.

For instance, if you have a job that is only part-time and doesn’t have a high wage, then the court may encourage you to seek employment that is full-time in a more advanced field. If a spouse hasn’t been employed for many years due to being a stay at home parent or another reason, the court may hire a vocational evaluator to report what level of job prospects the unemployed spouse is likely qualified for. 

What Records to Keep

Whether you are paying or the recipient spouse, it is important to keep financial documents in order as alimony proceeds. For example, if you are the alimony payer it is a good idea to keep a list of each payment date along with the check number and what address it was sent. Additionally, keep the originals of these checks in a safe and secure place. If you paid in case, then the recipient should sign something that says the payment was received. 

If you need guidance for an alimony dispute, please contact our office to book a free consultation with an attorney.

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