26 Feb Spousal Support – What Is It and Do You Qualify?
Divorce is becoming a fact of life for many married couples. With divorce comes lawyers, fees and most of all, stress! If you happen to find yourself going through a divorce, you’ve probably heard the term ‘spousal support’ or ‘alimony.’ If not, we’re here to break down the nitty-gritty of what it means to receive spousal support, and if you qualify for it.
What is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, commonly known as alimony, is paid by a spouse to their former spouse. The spouse who receives the support has a lower-income than the other. The purpose of spousal support is so that the recipient can maintain a similar quality of living that they had during the marriage. A judge will grant alimony when there are unfair financial burdens placed on the former spouse due to the divorce. For example; if one spouse did not work and stayed home with children, they would be in need of financial support to make ends meet both during and after the divorce proceedings. Once the court issues spousal support, the appropriate party must make payments towards the other for a certain amount of time. The length of the support can depend on how long it takes the ex-spouse to get back on their feet, or until the court orders otherwise.
How Do You Qualify for Spousal Support?
A judge grants spousal support on a case-by-case basis, which is why it’s so important to hire the right attorney. You can qualify for alimony if you can no longer meet your financial needs due to the divorce. A judge will review all relevant factors before deciding if a spouse is in need. These factors include:
- The length of the marriage
- The earning capacity of each spouse
- Assets and property owned by each person
- Debt accumulated by each spouse
- If the parties have a shared business
- Each party’s contribution to the relationship (for instance, homemaker)
- Mental and physical health conditions
To put this into perspective, if both spouses had somewhat equal incomes and pension plans during their marriage, then chances are there would be no spousal support awarded. However, if one party made little to no income and did not have any marketable skills to become self-sufficient, then they would be granted one of four types of spousal support.
What Are the Four Types of Spousal Support?
There are several types of spousal support that the court recognizes. A judge must carefully consider your specific martial circumstances before deciding which kind of support is best for you. These are the four that are the most common:
1. Temporary – this is given to a separated couple whose divorce has not yet finalized. Temporary spousal support is given to a spouse so that they may maintain their lifestyle between the period of separating and divorcing.
2. Short-term – this is paid to a spouse so that they can ‘rehabilitate’ themselves by obtaining job training, completing education or getting appropriate job experience to become self-sufficient. It can also be given to a mother to stay home with small children until they are of school age. The parties set the duration of rehabilitative spousal support in court.
3. Permanent – this type of spousal support is when a spouse pays the ex-spouse until death or remarriage (although in some cases it can continue even after remarriage). The payment can be adjusted as circumstances change. For example, if the recipient loses their job or has a severe medical issue, they can petition the court to have the support increased or decreased.
4. Reimbursement – in some states, a spouse can “reimburse” the other for a particular expense. Let’s say you helped your ex-spouse pay to get through college. You may be eligible to obtain reimbursement for the tuition costs, which helped your spouse to build their career. The payments can be made in full or in increments.
What Are Some Factors the Judge May Look At?
When deciding which type of spousal support to grant, a judge has to consider the following:
1. Your income
2. Your Spouses Income
3. Job-related skills
4. Childcare responsibilities
5. Marital conduct
Once a judge has decided on the type of spousal support, he or she will set the terms of the agreement, in which both parties must agree. It is now the designated spouse’s responsibility to make sure the payments are on time. If not, they face punishments such as wage garnishment, asset seizure or in extreme cases, arrest.
How Can an Attorney Help?
If you are going through a divorce, you will want to make sure you have the right advice. A divorce is an incredibly stressful time, and can often seem overwhelming. The right Rhode Island Spousal Support Attorney will get you the payment you need to reestablish your life. Call Elisha Morris at (401) 421-4038 to receive a free consultation.