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When a couple divorces, one spouse may be awarded spousal support by the court or through an agreement already in place between both spouses. Also known as alimony, this can be crucial to helping one spouse maintain a standard of living to which they have become accustomed. However, since spousal support is separate from the dividing up of marital property and is decided based on individual circumstances, financial support in these instances can vary widely. Because of this, it is vital a spouse who is seeking financial support hire the services of divorce attorneys who have experience handling these cases and getting maximum amounts of support for their clients.
Alimony vs. Child Support
When divorcing, it is important to remember that spousal support and child support are two very different entities. While spousal support is solely for the purpose of helping one spouse maintain their standard of living, child support is a separate matter handled by the court or through a mutually-agreed-to arrangement between both spouses. If child support payments are awarded, they are only used for minor children when they are in a custodial parent’s care.
Why Alimony is Awarded
As stated previously, alimony is awarded to a spouse so that they can continue to maintain their current standard of living once divorced. Since alimony amounts can vary, spouses should always maintain legal representation that knows how to get them the most money possible. For example, during court hearings or when in negotiations with the other spouse and their attorney, it may be important to show one spouse gave up a lucrative career or chose to stay home and raise children. If this is the case, the spouse will need time to get job training so they may return to the work force, which is why they will need a reasonable amount of alimony. To make sure you get the alimony you need to help you get back on your feet following your divorce, always turn to divorce attorneys you trust and who have track records of success with divorce cases.
Determining the Amount of Alimony
While most states have strict monetary guidelines for child support, spousal support can vary in terms of how much is awarded to a spouse, if it will be awarded at all, and for how long it will continue. While courts do have much discretion in this area, most generally rely on recommendations from the Uniform Marriage and divorce Act. By doing so, such factors as the age of the spouse, how long it will take them to gain training to become self-sufficient, their previous standard of living, length of the marriage, and one spouse’s ability to pay the other weigh heavily into the court’s decision. Since your financial future may depend on this ruling, always work with knowledgeable divorce attorneys who can gather together documents and other evidence to build a strong case for you to receive as much money as possible.
Failure to Receive Alimony Payments
Unlike child support payments that have wage garnishments and liens as methods of enforcement to ensure payments are made, no such enforcement procedures exist for alimony payments that are not made. While a spouse could be cited for contempt of court if alimony payments are not made, it may be harder to get the money you need and deserve. Thus, always hire a divorce attorney who has experience making spouses who owe alimony live up to the original agreement.
How Long Alimony is Paid
In most situations, alimony payments end when a spouse remarries. However, if a divorce decree does not specify a support termination date, it is conceivable the payments could be made to continue indefinitely. Also, while you would think alimony payments would end upon the recipient’s passing, this may not be the case. In situations where the spouse was elderly, sick, or unable to gain satisfactory employment, the court may order alimony payments continue to be paid to the person’s estate.
Since there are many variables involved in agreements concerning spousal support, never leave anything to chance or make assumptions along the way. Instead, put your trust in experienced family law attorneys who will fight hard for you each step of the way.
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