How to Determine and Collect Spousal Support in a Divorce

How to Determine and Collect Spousal Support in a Divorce

Basics of spousal support

When married couples file for a divorce, the court may grant spousal support to either of the former spouses, based on either on an agreement reached between the pair or a court ruling. This is different from the sharing of property, and it is ascertained on a case-by-case basis. 

The Purpose of Spousal Support

The significance of spousal support is the reduction of any adverse economic outcome of a divorce by providing a continuing income to the spouse who earns no wage or earns a low salary. Another reason is that one of the spouses may have decided to let go of a career to provide support for the family and requires time to build job skills to support themselves.

Another reason may be to assist the spouse in maintaining the standard of living they had during the marriage.

How the Spousal Support amount is Determined

Different from child support which in many states is made compulsory according to some specific monetary rules, the court has broad discretion to determine to either award spousal support or not, and awarded, how much and for what length.  The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which various spousal support statues of many sets are, based recommends that courts consider the following factor before a decision is reached:

a. The length of time required for the recipient to become educated and become self-sufficient

b. The age, emotional state, financial condition, the physical condition of the spouses.

c. The standard of living of the couple during the marriage.

d. The duration of the wedding.

e. The ability of the payer spouse to assist the recipient and still support himself or herself.

Alimony and Support Orders

Although awards may be difficult to calculate, whether the payer spouse will work with a support order is even a more complicated issue. Alimony enforcement is not such as child support enforcement, which has the "teeth" of a wage garnishment, and other implementation means. The recipient could, however, get back to court in a contempt proceeding to force payment. Because alimony can be awarded by order from the court, the means available for mandating any court ruling is open to a spouse owing alimony

How long must Alimony last?

Alimony of often considered "rehabilitative" this implies that it is ordered for only as long as it is required for the recipient spouse to get training and become self-supporting if there is no spousal support termination date stated by the divorce decree, the payment must proceed until the court orders otherwise.

Most awards stop if the recipient remarries. Termination upon the death of the payer does not necessarily mean an automatic stop to the spousal support; in situations where the recipient spouse is probably not going to obtain a gainful employment, because of age or health reasons, the court may order that further support be made available from the payer's life insurance or estate proceeds.

Trends of Alimony

Most alimony was in the past made available for payment to former wives by breadwinning former husbands. As changes have occurred in a culture so that most as well include marriage. Now most weddings involve two wage earners, women are considered as less dependent, and men are more ready to be primary parents, the court and spousal support awards have maintained the pace. The trading of men being the ones to pay and the women receiving is gradually eroded, and orders of payments of alimony from ex-wife to ex-husband are on the increase.

The trends of alimony are also changing due to the U.S Supreme court’s Oberg fell Vs. Hodges decision on same-sex marriage nationwide. This has resulted in a rise to alimony orders in same-sex divorce cases where the party with higher earnings will be expected to pay alimony to the dependent sam sex spouse.

Involve a Family Law Attorney for your Spousal Support Questions

The issue of alimony will arise in many divorces, whether it is through out-of-court settlements or a divorce trial.  It is because it is often hard to settle yourself financially after a divorce; alimony can go a long way in assisting in adjusting to life after marriage. To understand your options and if you could owe or get alimony, it is essential to discuss with a qualified and experienced divorce law attorney in your location. 

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