Typically, divorce can be a painful and stressful experience for the involved spouses. This is especially true if you have to make substantial life changes after the separation. For instance, if you’re financially dependent on your spouse, finances can be a serious matter that you should discuss during the divorce process. This is where the concept of spousal support comes into play.
By definition, spousal support refers to a specific amount of money paid to another spouse as financial assistance to begin a new life after the divorce. It’s also known as alimony, which is usually granted to a less financially stable spouse.
If you’re planning to get a divorce from your spouse, below are the nine things you need to know about spousal support:
1. Different Types Of Spousal Support
Depending on your situation, there are various types of spousal support to be considered. These can include:
- Permanent Alimony
It’s spousal support given to one spouse until the death of the one providing support. It also stops when the spouse getting the support decides to remarry. Hence, if you’re the one making the payments, you’ll continue doing so until your death or until the other spouse remarries.
- Temporary Alimony
One spouse pays it to another for a certain period. Temporary support payment is usually given to the one who’ll have financial difficulties during the divorce. It’ll also stop once the spouse receiving the support can recover financially. If you’re more financially stable, you may be required to give temporary alimony until your spouse can get back to their feet financially.
- Rehabilitative Alimony
It’s spousal support given to one spouse who doesn’t have significant job experience and financial resources to attain them, unlike the ones making the payments. So, if you’re the more financially able spouse, you need to provide support while the other spouse goes back to school or does job training.
2. Defenses To Spousal Support Payments
If you’re the giving spouse and you believe that the other one doesn’t need spousal support, then you can raise some defenses in your favor. However, to successfully assert these defenses, you probably need clear and convincing evidence to establish the grounds for denial of spousal support.
Depending on your personal circumstances, the following are some defenses you can use against giving alimony to the other spouse:
- Abandonment without valid causes for at least a year
- Domestic violence against the innocent spouse
- Conviction of a crime punishable by imprisonment for two years
- Humiliation against the innocent spouse results in a strained marriage
There can be several grounds to consider when defending yourself against spousal support. But if you want to ensure you use the proper defense, talk to an experienced lawyer to fully understand how to avoid paying alimony against your spouse.
3. Factors To Be Considered In Awarding Spousal Support
Generally, spousal support isn’t automatically awarded to one spouse during the divorce proceedings. Certain factors need to be considered before one can qualify for spousal support. These can include:
- Length of the marriage
- Earning the capacity of each spouse
- Causes of divorce or separation
- Needs of each party involved
- Contribution of each spouse to the marriage
- Presence of prenuptial agreement with a provision on spousal support
- Other essential factors such as age and health conditions
4. Coverage Of Spousal Support
The primary objective of spousal support is to give the ex-spouse the necessary financial resources to recover and start a new life after the termination of the marriage. The payments usually cover certain expenses such as food, clothing, lodging, and other necessities. Any costs that aren’t necessary for their daily needs such as jewelry shouldn’t be included in the coverage.
ALSO, READ 6 Services To Expect From A Divorce Lawyer
5. Awarding Of Spousal Support
The awarding of alimony to the receiving spouse takes place after both parties agree on the payment terms and conditions after the divorce proceedings. Since alimony is considered a court matter, the judge will review all the information before deciding whether support is necessary for the other spouse.
Once the judge grants the spousal support, they’ll order the payment in either lump sum amount or on a monthly basis. They’ll consider the ability to make payments by the giving spouse before issuing a final order.
6. Common Terms And Conditions Of A Spousal Support Agreement
To ensure a successful awarding of spousal support by one spouse to another, it’s crucial to familiarize the common terms and conditions involved in the agreement. These can include:
- Any agreement made before the divorce or separation proceedings are invalid and has no force and effect.
- The alimony payments should either be made in cash or check, depending on your preferred choice.
- The amount of support should be indicated in a divorce or separation agreement.
- Alimony can’t be claimed when spouses file joint tax returns in a given year.
- No alimony can be awarded if both spouses involved still live in the same house.
7. Modification On Spousal Support Amount
Generally, the awarding of spousal support is final and executory. But it’s essential to note that modifications can be made under exceptional circumstances. This usually happens when one spouse deals with extreme financial difficulty such as the one giving the support loses their job and can no longer pay. Also, the amount of alimony may be modified if there’s a substantial increase in the income of either spouse involved.
8. Consequences Of Spousal Support Violations
Like in child support, violating the agreement about spousal support can also result in serious legal consequences. These can include:
- Contempt of court punishment which may involve jail time and payment of damages
- Poor credit score on the part of the giving spouse
- Adverse impact on the rights and privileges of the spouse making alimony payments, including withholding of income and writ of execution
9. Things To Do When Spousal Support Ends
Depending on the type of alimony you and your spouse agreed, the time will come that it has to end at some point. When this happens, it’s essential to be prepared financially to avoid setbacks if you’re the receiving spouse. First, you need to check if the spousal support has ended at the right time. If it’s not, you may have the option to report the non-payment to the court for the proper consequences. If the alimony payment has ended properly, then it’s time for you to look for a better job that can sustain your financial needs.
However, if you have kids and they’re still dependent on you for their basic needs, the best thing to do is ask for an increase in the child support amount from the other spouse. You can hire a divorce lawyer to help you with the process and protect your rights and your child against the consequences of divorce.
There are many things to consider when dealing with divorce and spousal support. Therefore, if you’re getting a divorce from your spouse, keep the information mentioned above in mind to help you understand the legal matter thoroughly. The more you know all the details about the spousal support’s entitlement, determination, defenses, and consequences of violation, the more you can prepare yourself for the possible things that may happen after the divorce.
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