Although some states use the word “maintenance” rather than alimony or spousal support, it’s basically all the same thing. There is a wide array of issues and facts which will be taken into consideration when the courts are determining your right to support payments from your ex. Each state will have different and specific rules regarding your ultimate entitlement to spousal support, so it’s extremely important that you have a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can protect your rights and look out for your best interests. No matter the duration of your marriage, you are not automatically entitled to alimony, and will receive it only if the judge decides you need it and your spouse is able to pay it. Even if you are awarded spousal support it is likely it won’t last forever, but will have a set amount of time to continue.
How is Alimony Determined?
The length of your marriage is a factor in whether or not you will receive spousal support, and the longer the marriage the better your chances of receiving maintenance payments. People who have only been married three or four years may automatically be knocked out of the running for spousal support unless there are other compelling factors involved. While some attorneys feel like the marriage must have lasted a minimum of ten years in order for a spouse to qualify for alimony, this is an arbitrary number and not a hard and fast rule.
Some states only award alimony as “rehabilitative” maintenance, meaning the money is meant to improve or restore a spouse’s ability to support themselves, and once that happens, the maintenance payments will be discontinued. If the courts award you rehabilitative maintenance then you will be required to look for work, or attend school with an eye toward a better job.
Lost Educational or Employment Opportunities
If one spouse gave up educational or employment opportunities to stay home and raise children, then this could be a factor in the award of spousal support. By the same token if one spouse worked to put the other through medical or law school or other high-paying professions, they may be more likely to receive spousal support through the theory that they gave up opportunities of their own in order to further their spouse’s career and salary. The income, both present and future of both spouses will be considered in the determination of alimony payments, and the assets of both spouses will also be taken into consideration.
Fault or No Fault?
While some states factor in bad behavior of one spouse when coming to a decision regarding alimony, others do not. The judge will be more likely to consider bad behavior if you have filed under a fault divorce rather than a no-fault divorce. In other words, if you are getting divorced because your husband cheated on you, and this is clearly spelled out and proven in your initial divorce papers, you might stand a better chance of receiving alimony payments.
Income and Ability to Pay
Overall, alimony is generally determined by looking at the financial assets and income of both parties. If one spouse makes a very healthy salary, while the other will be out looking for a job as soon as the divorce if final, then the courts may award temporary alimony in order to help the one spouse get back on their feet financially. Even if one spouse obviously needs alimony payments, if the other does not have the financial means to pay spousal support then, as the old saying goes, “you can’t get blood out of a turnip.” Other factors involved in whether or not you will be entitled to alimony includes where the children will live and whether or not one of the spouses was responsible for wasting marital assets prior to the divorce.
If the judge decides your spouse gambled irresponsibly for months or years before your divorce, then he may award alimony payments as restitution for the assets you lost. A final factor in receiving alimony centers around the health of the spouse requesting it. If one spouse is deemed to be disabled and unable to work, while the other is financially able to pay, then the disabled spouse will likely receive alimony payments. If you have any questions regarding alimony payments, a call the McLeod Law Firm, P.C. to speak with a Gainesville GA divorce attorney about the support and divorce settlement you deserve, including spousal support.
The McLeod Law Firm, P.C. provides quality legal representation for divorce, criminal law, business litigation and civil litigation across North Georgia including Hall County: Clermont, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Lula, Murrayville, and Oakwood; Banks County: Gillsville, Homer, Maysville, and Commerce; Barrow County: Winder; Dawson County: Dawsonville; Forsyth County: Cumming; Gwinnett County: Buford; White County: Cleveland and Helen; Lumpkin County: Dahlonega; Habersham County: Baldwin, Clarkesville, Cornelia and Demorest; Jackson County: Jefferson, Braselton, Hoschton, Pendergrass and Talmo, GA.