When you’re on the brink of an ugly divorce, the last thing you want to discuss is the possibility of giving money to each other. Unfortunately, this is the reality of divorce.
The obligation of spouses to financially support each other does not always end the minute you both decide to end the marriage. In cases where the separation will leave one spouse with little income and the other with enough to contribute to the disadvantaged party, the court may award alimony.
What is alimony?
Also called spousal support, alimony is the legal obligation of paying your ex-spouse a certain sum of money, typically monthly. Courts may award alimony only when one party is unable to meet their needs without financial support from the spouse who is more financially stable.
Temporary alimony is given when a former spouse needs time to find a job, complete an educational program, and be self-supporting. On the other hand, permanent alimony may be issued when the financially dependent spouse is unable to work due to age or disability.
Who qualifies for spousal support?
Traditionally, the burden of alimony usually falls on spouses who are the breadwinners of the family, usually the husband. Today, either spouse may be given alimony.
Spousal support is often awarded to ex-spouses who had to put their education or career on hold to raise children, while the other grew their career and achieved a higher income. In such cases, the court may decide on temporary alimony.
Eligibility for alimony is decided on a case-to-case basis. Typically, only individuals who have been in a marriage that lasted longer than five years are qualified for spousal support. The court will also take into account the following factors:
- The earning potential of each spouse
- The assets and property owned by each party
- Whether one party is significantly involved in debt
- Any joint businesses or investments
- Existing mental and physical health conditions
- Any spousal support provisions indicated in the prenuptial agreement
History of abuse or certain criminal records can automatically disqualify a person from receiving child support. Additionally, if your spouse engages in risky business ventures, ensure an alimony trust is created. This way, you still get to receive support even when your ex-spouse has to file for bankruptcy. Speaking to a trust attorney will help protect your best interests.
What are the requirements for spousal support?
For alimony to be considered valid, payments must be made in cash or checks. Assets and paying off debts will not be counted.
The payments must be provided for in a divorce or a written agreement. Any payment settled before the divorce will not be considered. It is also prohibited to claim spousal support in the same year joint tax returns were filed.
Although divorce is not the easiest process to go through, spousal support can help you get back on your feet and start a new life. In cases when you’ve started to move out and have worries about your financial needs while the divorce is finalized, you can request for temporary alimony as soon as possible.
If the court grants you alimony, but your ex-spouse refuses to cooperate, take legal action immediately. Orders to settle monthly alimony have the same weight as any other court order. This means an uncooperative spouse may face jail time if necessary.
Divorce doesn’t have to be ugly. There are ways you could still ask the help of your ex-partner, but you need to make sure that your claim is justified.