Often one of the greatest anxieties people experience in a divorce is how day-to-day living will change after the proceedings are finalized. Spousal maintenance is a stipulation of a divorce that can help clarify the standard of living for the parties involved after the divorce.
What is spousal maintenance?
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to another after a divorce. When one spouse’s income has been the primary source of the family’s standard of living, the court may grant spousal maintenance to the other spouse to protect the family for a temporary or indefinite amount of time.
Factors that influence maintenance award
Spousal maintenance can be awarded through mediation or as part of a court order. The factors that may be considered include:
The income of both parties
If the two persons in the marriage earn different amounts of money, the difference in income may factor into the awarding of spousal maintenance.
The length of the marriage
The duration of the marriage can be a factor in determining if a maintenance award is appropriate as part of the divorce.
The needs of each person and their ability to fulfill them
If a spouse has needs that they are not currently in a position to fulfill, spousal maintenance may be assigned. The duration of benefits may last long enough for the spouse receiving the award to establish their earning capacity through further education, training or experience.
The standard of living while married
If, while married, the spouses’ incomes combined allowed for a standard of living that either party would not be able to maintain after legal separation, spousal maintenance may be appropriate.
The distribution of parental responsibilities
The responsibilities assigned in a child custody agreement may also impact spousal maintenance. If a spouse cannot return to work or earn money in a way that will reasonably accommodate the family’s needs because of the age or health of the children, spousal maintenance can support the child’s needs.
Spousal maintenance can be assigned as part of divorce proceedings to allow both parties to maintain their lifestyle. An attorney experienced in family law can help you determine whether spousal maintenance negotiations can or should be part of your divorce proceedings.