The entire divorce process is mentally and emotionally taxing, but one incredibly challenging piece of it is spousal maintenance, or spousal support (formerly called “alimony.”) The purpose of spousal maintenance is to aid the spouse who would face greater economic hardship or be unable to maintain the same standard of living after the divorce, as in the case of a stay-at-home parent with limited work experience, for example.
Even if all the other details of a divorce have been sorted out, spousal maintenance often remains an unresolved area that is difficult to talk about. How does spousal maintenance get sorted out, and how does it work?
What if we can’t agree on spousal maintenance?
You’re not alone. In fact, even if every other aspect of the divorce was discussed and decided outside of court, very few people ever mutually agree to spousal maintenance terms. In almost every case, a judge ends up deciding the terms of the spousal maintenance. There aren’t strict rules for how spousal maintenance must be determined, but similar factors will always be considered from both sides, like financial state, current skills/education, and standard of living during the marriage.
What if I must provide spousal maintenance to my ex-spouse?
If you are ordered to provide spousal maintenance, there are probably two big questions you are wondering.
1. How long does spousal maintenance last?
2. How much money do I provide?
The answer to both of these questions: It will highly depend on your individual divorce case.
As stated before, many factors are considered when the judge is determining spousal maintenance, so the amount you provide will vary based on your own finances/ability to provide support and your ex-spouse’s financial state/ability to support themselves.
In terms of time, there are two “types” of spousal maintenance. Sometimes spousal maintenance is considered “rehabilitative,” meaning support is provided until the recipient no longer requires the support and is self-sufficient. Other times, spousal maintenance is required long-term, until the court orders that it is no longer required, which will also depend on circumstance.
What if my ex-spouse doesn’t provide spousal maintenance when they are supposed to do so?
If you are decreed to be a recipient of spousal maintenance and your ex-spouse does not provide you with that support, they can be held in contempt of court. Legally, your ex-spouse must provide the amount decreed by court in the spousal maintenance agreement. If they do not, seek legal assistance from an attorney.
If you and your ex-spouse are looking for alternatives to spousal maintenance, ask a divorce lawyer what other options you have.