As you go through the divorce process, you may start to wonder about alimony or spousal maintenance. Having to give money to an ex-spouse is often the cause of arguments and actual fights over the divorce proceedings. Many people are surprised at the fact that they have to pay spousal support even though they do not make a lot of money. Spousal maintenance is not just for the rich.
If you are the party who initiated the divorce, you may want to reconsider if you find out you must pay spousal maintenance. When you were the one who received divorce papers out of the blue, you may feel that since the other person wants out, they should have to support themselves completely. However, a lot goes into determining if spousal maintenance is warranted and who must pay it.
What Is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is also called alimony. When a married couple splits up, one may not be able to support themselves financially at the same standard they are accustomed to living. Pay attention to, “at the same standard they are accustomed to living.” This is where things often get sticky.
Even if your spouse has income enough to pay for basic living expenses, you may still have to pay spousal maintenance. If your income is much higher than your spouse’s income, and your income determined your lifestyle, you must pay them an amount that allows them to live the same way.
However, if both spouses’ incomes are roughly the same, you won’t have to pay even if it means everyone must change their lifestyle.
Why Must You Pay?
You may wonder why you must pay for your soon to be ex-spouse to live the same lifestyle they had with you. If you had a large enough income to support the family on your own, your partner may have stayed home to take care of the children. It is also possible that your partner worked at menial or low-paying jobs to support the family while you went to school for a better future income.
Your lawyer, and your partner’s lawyer, will try to work with both of you to come to an agreement regarding spousal maintenance before it ever gets to the judge. If you both agree, the judge merely signs off on the issue. If you don’t agree, the judge looks at the current financial status and the financial history of the marriage, as well as other factors such as the duration of the marriage, and the ages and health of both parties, before deciding anything about spousal support.
How Long Must Spousal Maintenance Be Paid?
Once the judge determines alimony must be paid, by whom, and how much, they must decide for how long. The length of the marriage influcenes how long it must be paid. If you were only married for a few years, spousal support may be paid for a few months to allow the person a chance to get back on their feet.
A marriage that lasted from 5 to 25 or more years will require longer spousal maintenance payments. If you stayed together for longer than 25 years, spousal maintenance may be for life. If, however, the person receiving spousal maintenance remarries, no more payments are required.
The end of a marriage is always stressful. It is seldom that one of you isn’t angry and hurt about the situation. Making things about money never helps, but it isn’t right that one of you should suffer financially. Contact Madison Law Firm, PLLC, to help you navigate through the divorce and having to pay spousal support. We will help take away the stress while ensuring that everything financial is done fairly.