Alimony is financial support provided by one spouse to the other if there is a significant financial disparity between them upon separation and after divorce. However, a request for Alimony must be made before a final judgment of divorce is issued. Therefore, it is very important to understand your rights regarding alimony and your exposure to paying alimony immediately upon contemplating separation of divorce.
Factors That Determine Alimony
Alimony is not an absolute right in all divorce cases. A party seeking alimony must present evidence that they are entitled to an award of alimony based upon 12 factors. Consequently, parties who do not want to pay alimony can present evidence that their spouse does not qualify for alimony on the basis of those same 12 factors. Furthermore, there are two types of alimony that the court may award.
- Rehabilitative Alimony– Support that is limited to a specific time frame, and is meant to enable the other spouse to get back on their feet. This short-term support allows the other spouse to go back to school, re-enter the work force, and acquire skills that would give them an opportunity to increase their earning potential.
- Permanent or Indefinite Alimony– Support that is set for an extended period of time, sometimes until death. Indefinite alimony is awarded in cases when the spouse is unable to return back to work due to age, physical or mental illness. This alimony can also be awarded if the disparity in income between spouses is unconscionable, which means that the standard of living varies drastically from that of the other.
It is important to understand that if the parties agree, by way of a marital settlement agreement or if the court awards alimony in a divorce action, this may be non-modifiable and a change in circumstances of either party may have no bearing on the alimony award in the future. Therefore, advice of counsel on this issue is imperative.
Factors for alimony determination: Type and amount of alimony is determined based upon the following 12 factors.
- The ability of the parties seeking alimony to fully support themselves;
- The time it would take the party seeking alimony to gain the education or training required to secure suitable employment;
- The disparity between the parties as to their standard of living compared to the standard of living established while they were married;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The monetary and non-monetary contributions made by each party to the well-being of the family
- The circumstances that contributed to their separation and Divorce;
- The age of each party;
- The physical and mental condition of each party;
- The ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to support themselves while also supporting the spouse;
- If there have been any agreements made between the spouses with regard to alimony (such as in a prenuptial agreement);
- The financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:
- Income and assets of both parties;
- Any monetary award such as a lump sum amount paid or an award of use and possession of the family home or other property.
- The amount of other financial obligations of each party
- The right of each party to receive retirement benefits
What Happens If I Don’t or Can’t Make Alimony Payments?
In the event that you do not make your alimony payments, the courts may enter a judgment against you. This may result in wage garnishments, liens placed on your property and seizure and sale of property. The results can be very serious. However, if your circumstances change significantly, such as you become disabled or ill or you have lost your job and cannot get another job that pays nearly as much as you made at time of divorce, you may be able to have the award of alimony adjusted or revised.
The court order and your marital settlement agreement will have important information that provides additional guidance on this issue. It’s imperative that you seek legal counsel. Contact ZM Law Group for assistance immediately, we will review your situation and provide you with the guidance and representation you need to minimize or eliminate consequences with regard to this matter. If you are seeking payment of alimony that is unpaid and is due and owing, we will offer you the representation you need to ensure that you are paid in full.