This article is from the Raiser & Kenniff law firm, a premier NYC divorce law firm.
If you’re facing divorce – there’s a reality you need to consider: alimony payments. Also known as spousal support, or maintenance – it’s a widely accepted element of any divorce. If you earn more money than your spouse, then there’s a good chance you’re going to be ordered to pay some amount of alimony. Alimony is not typically awarded for short marriage, or marriage in which you and your spouse earn the same amount of money.
Typically, alimony is ordered to be paid until a certain condition is met, such as:
- date set by judge, in the future
- your spouse remarries
- your children no longer need a full time parent at home
- judge makes a determination that enough period of time has passed, and your spouse has made no effort to become self supporting
- some other event: retirement, etc which allows you to request the judge to modify the amount
- one of you dies
Like most issues, you and your spouse can pre-agree to the amount and length of time the alimony payments will be for. If you are unable to agree, then the court can intervene and determine this information for you. Unfortunately, if you go to court – that means you have to go through a trial – which means huge bills for you, and your spouse.
Paying alimony doesn’t mean the divorce is your fault. Alimony is a rule of law, which has been in place for over 100 years. It simply makes it so that one spouse doesn’t become homeless, as a result of the divorce. It’s a safety net. No court, in no state, will prevent you from making alimony payments.
If you expect to receive alimony – it’s important you look at whether you qualify or not. Your earning capacity, is a huge element in that calculation. What matters is your standard of living during the marriage, and how much you and your spouse earn. When receiving alimony, you may be required to make changes in your life, and how you live. For example, if you have a part time job, you may be required to get a full time job – so you can make more money.
If your spouse refuses to pay alimony, you can take legal action to enforce the order for alimony – through a contempt proceeding. Orders to compel alimony payments have the same force as any other court order, and can be enforced just like any other legal order. If necessary, a court may jail the reluctant party – who is refusing to pay.
If you need more information, we encourage you to talk to a divorce lawyer today. Often, many issues surrounding alimony require expert legal help.