Do I have to pay alimony in a divorce?
One of the most common questions that comes up during a divorce proceeding is about whether one spouse needs to pay alimony to the other. Alimony has more recently become known as spousal support in the court. If one spouse primarily received an income and the other did not, there’s a good chance that the divorce will include alimony payments. With that said, there are a number of factors that affect the amount of alimony that must be paid and the length of time the alimony is paid. It’s also essential to understand the purpose of alimony.
What Is the Purpose of Alimony?
If one spouse was the primary breadwinner or the only spouse who worked throughout the marriage, they will likely need to give their ex-spouse alimony payments. Spousal support payments are designed to ensure that the non-working spouse has financial support following the marriage’s termination. If the marriage only lasted for a short period of time, alimony payments aren’t necessary. You also won’t need to pay any alimony if you and your spouse both had a similar income.
The Length of Alimony Payments
The amount of time that alimony payment continues will vary widely depending on the circumstances. The judge will take several factors into account. As a general rule, alimony payment must continue to be paid until the ex-spouse dies or becomes remarried. However, the judge may reconsider the payment plan if there is a change in one or more of the parties’ circumstances.
If the former spouse’s income becomes higher, the judge may rule that alimony no longer needs to be paid. Similarly, the former spouse getting a new job may be cause for alimony payments to be stopped or reduced. When the former spouse’s children leave the house, there may be adjustments to the spousal support payments. Any other financial circumstance may require that the judge ends or modifies the alimony payment.
What if a Spouse Is Unable to or Refuses to Pay Alimony?
A frequent complication of divorce is a spouse who isn’t able to make alimony payments. Each state has specific laws about marriage, divorce, and alimony. What happens in this case will vary depending on your specific state’s laws.
A working spouse may be ordered to make alimony payments to their former spouse, who does not work. The working spouse decides they are unwilling to pay the agreed-upon alimony amount. In this case, the judge will consider both the non-working spouse’s situation and the working spouse’s financial standing.
The judge has the option to either modify the existing order or to reinforce the original order. No matter what the circumstances, it’s up to the judge to decide the matter. Should a spouse continue refusing alimony payments after their contest fails, they’ll be considered to be in contempt of court. It’s possible that they will spend some time in jail.
Alimony on a Temporary Basis
There are certain situations in which alimony is awarded on a temporary basis. This happens when one spouse is financially dependent on the other throughout the divorce proceeding.
Temporary alimony will typically be ordered before the divorce has been finalized. The payments will continue until the finalization of the divorce. This helps the financially dependent spouse to live independently of their spouse without being harmed financially.
When the divorce is finalized, this represents the end of the temporary alimony agreement. The temporary alimony agreement will typically be replaced by a permanent arrangement as part of the final divorce decision. Full alimony payments won’t necessarily be the same as the temporary payments; a spouse may receive higher or lower payments than they did on a temporary basis.
When Alimony Is Important
In many cases, alimony payments are vital to the health and well-being of the financially dependent spouse. This is the case especially if they’re a stay-at-home parent.
Stay-at-home parents typically do not have an income, or they have very little income. However, they take on a full-time job taking care of the marriage’s children. It’s common for stay-at-home parents to be the primary custodial parents following a divorce, since they took on most of the physical child-rearing responsibilities in the marriage.
If a stay-at-home parent doesn’t receive adequate financial support from their ex-spouse, they won’t be able to continue this role. Child support payments are enough to fulfill financial obligation to a child, but not to support a spouse. A parent shouldn’t have to choose between financial stability or their children.