There are a lot of different issues that arise during the average divorce. One such issue is alimony. Also known as spousal support, alimony is a type of economic support awarded to one the parties in a divorce. Many people confuse alimony with child support, but they are two separate issues. If you are currently divorcing, or facing the possibility, it is important to understand exactly what alimony entails.
As mentioned, alimony is a form of economic support paid in monthly payments. The whole intent behind the concept is to compensate for the differences in earnings during a marriage. Typically, one spouse will make more money than the other. Upon a divorce, this leaves the lesser earning spouse at a disadvantage. In most jurisdictions, the law recognizes that any money earned during a marriage is owned by the couple as a whole. For example, Utah is an equitable distribution state which divides marital property in half during a divorce. Thus, it is only fair to allow the lesser earning spouse to continue having a suitable standard of living. These are the main concepts behind alimony in the modern legal system.
Determining Payment Amounts
Each state has its own method for determining the amount of payments. Specific guidelines assist the court in setting the rate and duration of spousal support. Many states rely on the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act. However, most jurisdictions also use a number of different factors to determine when and how to order support. In general, a judge will consider these factors:
- The length of the marriage.
- The standard of living during the marriage.
- The physical, mental and financial status of each person.
- The ability for both parties to support themselves during a support order.
The factors used by a specific court will depend on the applicable laws of the jurisdiction.
Is Alimony Forever?
The quick answer to this is no. Usually a court will order alimony to give a person time to become self-supportive. Therefore, alimony is tied to a reasonable time limit in which the party is expected to achieve financial independence. Nevertheless, some court orders get issued without a definite end date.
Issues With Alimony
As with any court order, there mere existence of the order doesn't mean it will be adhered to. A former spouse can decide to withhold payments or to make untimely payments. The problem is that spousal support laws usually do not carry the same weight as child support statutes. This means it can be harder to enforce an alimony award. If you are a divorced person seeking compliance with an order, your best bet is to work with an experienced attorney.
It Pays to Get Help
Most situations involving alimony can quickly become complicated. Thus, it is in your best interests to have an experienced lawyer representing you. Whether you are being required to pay, or not receiving an adequate amount, a family law attorney can help.
For assistance in Utah, contact Spencer and Jensen PLLC.