Divorce Spousal Support

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US divorce laws follow certain procedures and guidelines to complete a divorce process. Divorce spousal support or alimony is one of the key components of divorce, where one spouse is legally liable to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent period, as agreed by the parties or at the court's discretion. Statistics revealed that fifty percent of marriages in US ends in a divorce, while only fifteen percent of cases is awarded alimony based on certain terms and conditions.

The money paid by a divorced partner to his / her ex-spouse after divorce is termed as Spousal Support. Some other terms with identical meaning are Alimony, Family Support or Spousal Maintenance. The intention of awarding spousal maintenance is to curb the unfair financial impact of a divorce by offering a consistent income to the lower-wage-earning or non-wage-earning spouse.

Reasons for granting Divorce Spousal Support

The person who desires to be a recipient of spousal support must prove one of the following:

  • This person is the custodian of a child. The circumstances and conditions of the child make it impossible for the custodian to search employment outside the residence
  • If the standard of life during marital status and the relevant circumstances are taken into account, this person fails to offer sufficient self-support by means of suitable employment
  • Even if the marital property allocated to this person is considered, this person is in dearth of enough property to satisfy the reasonable requirements of this person, particularly and not confined to a period of training and education

Factors considered while granting Divorce Spousal Support

  • The economic resources of the person from whom spousal support is demanded
  • The financial sacrifices and contribution of a homemaker inclusive of retirement benefits, seniority as well as missing some employment chances due to work at home
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The standard of life experienced in marital status
  • The emotional health, the physical health and the age of the spouse requesting for support
  • The duration in months that is essential for the person requesting spousal support to attain the essential education or skills to seek proper employment
  • The financial status or resources of the spouse seeking maintenance (property, assets and liabilities)
  • Education and employment skills of both the partners
  • Potential of earning ability of both the spouses
  • The chances of being retrained or educated to move on in life

Duration for which spousal support must be paid

Spousal maintenance may be divided in three categories based on duration like:

  • Temporary spousal support - paid for a specified time period
  • Permanent Spousal support - paid in the long-run until death or remarriage
  • Rehabilitative spousal support - paid for improvising the employment skills and financial status through job-training or such initiatives
  • Lump-sum spousal support - Paid as a one-time or lump-sum amount without any periodic commitments. This amount is considered as a taxable income.

It is often indicated that the spousal support is rehabilitative. It is implied that till the recipient attains training and becomes self supporting, the payer must disburse the support amount. Another issue is that the court might specify a spousal support termination date. If this is not the case, the payments must continue till the court issues orders of termination.

Generally, when the recipient remarries, the alimony is stopped. When the payer dies, the alimony is not automatically ceased. In the case of death of the payer, the recipient may display less possibility of gainful employment, due to some reason like age or poor health. In such a scenario, the court might issue orders that the life insurance proceeds or the estate of the payer must be used to disburse alimony.

Reversal in the trend of spouse support

In the past, husbands were breadwinners for the family. Consequently, the husbands had to pay spouse support to their wives. Along with the passage of time, a family has two breadwinners in the form of husband and wife. In recent times, the court views that the wives are less dependent. Moreover, the possibility that a man would become a primary parent is more. Presently, it is recorded that the number of ex-wives who pay alimony to their ex-husbands is on the rise. Thus, a total reversal has taken place.

Divorce spousal support laws varies from State to State in US. Each state has set rules and regulations that gets changed or amended from time to time. The parties should be fully aware of such laws to avoid complexities. An experienced lawyer can help the couple seeking alimony by allotting the compensation that they are entitled to. Nevertheless, it is always advisable for a couple to sit and mutually agree on the amount of alimony to be paid before filing a divorce. This will help in getting a quick and hassle-free divorce.

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