Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, and one of the key aspects that often needs to be addressed is alimony. Alimony, also known as spousal support, or spousal maintenance, is a legal obligation for one spouse to provide financial support to the other after a divorce. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of how alimony works, providing you with valuable insights and practical tips to navigate this complex area.
The Purpose of Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance aims to address the financial disparities that may arise post-divorce. It acknowledges the contributions of one spouse to the marriage—such as homemaking, child-rearing, or career sacrifices—and seeks to alleviate any financial hardships faced by the dependent spouse.
Types of Spousal Maintenance
The main types of spousal maintenance everyone should know about include:
Durational: Awarded for a specific duration to assist the recipient in becoming self-supporting. It may be granted to allow the recipient to acquire education, training, or work experience, or to simply take care of the other's spouse's reasonable needs as they rebuild their life post-divorce.
Permanent: Provides ongoing financial support until a significant change in circumstances occurs, such as remarriage, the death of either party, or the recipient becoming self-supporting.
Pendente Lite: This is spousal maintenance awarded while a divorce is still ongoing.
Factors Considered in Spousal Support Determination
Courts consider various factors when determining alimony, including:
- Duration of the Marriage: Longer marriages may typically result in longer or permanent alimony awards.
- Earning Capacities: Disparities in the income and future earning potentials of both spouses.
- Contributions to the Marriage: Non-financial contributions, like homemaking, raising children, or support in the other spouse’s career.
- Age and Health: The health and age of both parties, which can impact the ability to work and earn.
- Standard of Living: The standard of living during the marriage and the goal of maintaining a similar standard post-divorce.
- Childcare Responsibilities: The need for one spouse to stay at home for the care of children may influence the alimony decision.
Modification & Termination
Alimony orders may be modified or terminated in certain circumstances, such as:
- Change in Financial Circumstances: A significant change in income or financial situation for either spouse.
- Remarriage or Cohabitation: Alimony may end if the recipient remarries or enters into a supportive relationship akin to marriage.
- Death: Alimony obligations typically end upon the death of either party.
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, alimony payments were tax-deductible for the paying spouse and taxable income for the recipient. However, after this Act, for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, alimony is no longer tax-deductible for the payer nor taxable for the recipient.
Negotiation & Settlement
Alimony can be agreed upon outside of court through negotiation or mediation, resulting in a mutually agreed-upon settlement. This approach often allows for more flexibility and control over the terms of the alimony agreement, avoiding lengthy court battles.
Seeking legal advice and representation is crucial in navigating the complexities of alimony. An experienced attorney can provide guidance, assess the situation, and help negotiate a fair and reasonable alimony arrangement, considering the specific circumstances of the case.
Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein Is Here to Advocate for You
Alimony is a crucial aspect of divorce settlements, aimed at providing financial support to a dependent spouse post-divorce. Understanding the factors, types, implications, and legal aspects of alimony is pivotal in ensuring fair and just resolutions in divorce proceedings.
At Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein, we specialize in family law and have extensive experience in handling spousal maintenance. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to provide you with personalized advice and support throughout the divorce process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us help you navigate the intricacies of this process.