The Basics of Spousal Support

The Basics of Spousal Support

The Basics of Spousal Support

During divorce proceedings, a court may award spousal support or alimony to one of the former spouses based on a decision by the court itself or an agreement between the couple. Alimony is separate from the division of marital property and is decided on a case-by-case basis. It is important to note that spousal maintenance is different than child support payments because child support can only be used for minor children while in the parent’s custodial care. Contact an alimony attorney in Orlando if you need representation to get spousal support in your divorce.

What is alimony?

The purpose of spousal support is to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to a lower wage or no wage-earning spouse. An essential part of the justification is that the ex-spouse has chosen to forgo a career to support the family and needs time to develop the skills to get a job and support themselves. Another purpose may be to help the ex-spouse continue to have the standard of living they had during the marriage despite income tax refunds, bonuses, taxable income, changes to income tax returns, etc.

How is alimony determined?

Courts often have the freedom to determine how much spousal support to grant and for how long. Many state’s spousal support statutes are based upon the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which recommends that courts consider the following factors in making alimony award decisions:

  • The length of the marriage.
  • The age, emotional state, physical, consistency, condition, and financial condition of the former spouses.
  • The length of time a recipient would require for training or education to become self-sufficient.
  • The ability of the payer to support the recipient and still support themselves.

Alimony and support orders

Alimony Awards can be complicated to estimate, but if the payer spouse is going to comply with the support order is even harder to determine. The enforcement of alimony is much different than the enforcement of Child Support. Spousal maintenance is not protected by liens, wage garnishments, and other enforcement mechanisms. In a case where a spouse refuses to pay alimony, the intended recipient can return to court for a contempt proceeding to force payment.

How long will alimony be paid?

Alimony is only ordered for as long as necessary for the recipient to receive education and training to become self-supporting. If a divorce decree doesn't specify a specific termination date for spousal support payments, they must continue until a court orders otherwise. Alimony generally ends if the recipient remarries, but termination of payments upon the payer’s death is not necessarily automatic. Because there are cases where the recipient spouse is unlikely to obtain gainful employment due to health, age, or other considerations, a court may order that further support continue to be provided from the payer’s estate or life insurance proceeds.

Alimony trends

Because marriage has changed over the years, and now many marriages include two wage earners, women are often viewed as less dependent, and men are more likely to become the primary parent. Spousal support and court rulings have kept pace with these changes. The tradition of men paying and women receiving spousal support is being reduced, and now the order of alimony payments from the wife to the husband is rising. With the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, alimony orders in same-sex divorce cases where one partner earns higher earnings than another, spouses are often required to pay alimony to the same-sex spouse.

Alimony can play an essential role in helping to adjust to living life after marriage, as it's often difficult to establish yourself financially after the divorce is finalized. Therefore, it is crucial to seek the advice of an alimony attorney in Orlando to understand your options and whether you could receive alimony in your divorce.

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