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Dads and Spousal Support

Alimony and spousal maintenance for divorcing fathers

Will You Be Required to Pay Alimony After Your Divorce?

During the divorce process, concerns that you may be required to pay alimony are likely to weigh on your mind, especially if you earn more money than your ex. You're probably already looking at cutting back on your expenses so you can live on one income, and having to make ongoing monthly payments to your ex could have a serious impact on your finances, especially when combined with child support obligations. You'll want to make sure you understand your rights while working to reach a divorce settlement that will allow you to meet your financial needs.

Laws Regarding Alimony and Spousal Support

Many people have misconceptions about the purpose of alimony and when it is awarded. It's not something that ex-husbands always pay to their ex-wives, and it's not meant to be a punishment for anything that happened during a marriage. Instead, it's meant to allow both spouses to maintain a comfortable standard of living, and it can be awarded to help a spouse who earns a lower income meet their ongoing needs.

As with most aspects of divorce, the laws about when and how alimony should be awarded are different in each state. Alimony may be referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, and a judge may look at many different factors to determine whether it would be appropriate. These may include:

  • The income each spouse earns, as well as their earning capacity and their physical and mental health.
  • Whether a spouse made sacrifices to their career in order to support their partner and family members. For example, a stay-at-home parent may have been out of the workforce for several years to care for children and maintain the household, and this may have affected their ability to return to work and support themselves.
  • Whether a spouse made contributions to the other spouse's career. For example, both spouses may have helped pay for one party's college education, or one spouse may have taken care of household responsibilities so that the other could focus on obtaining the necessary training or otherwise furthering their career.

There are multiple different types of alimony that may be awarded, and the amount that will be paid, and the length of time payments will last will depend on the laws in your state. Some states allow for "rehabilitative" maintenance that will help the recipient meet their needs while they are pursuing a college degree or other forms of training that will allow them to become self-supporting. In others, spousal support may be "fixed-term," meaning that it will end after a certain number of years, or it may be reviewed periodically to determine whether it is still necessary. For couples who get divorced after a long marriage (usually 20 years or more), alimony may be paid for a period equal to the length of the marriage, or even for the rest of a person's life.

State laws also vary in determining the amount of alimony payments. In some states, spousal support is calculated using a specific formula that takes both parties' incomes into account, while in others, it will be left up to the judge in a divorce case to decide an appropriate amount. It's also important to note that either the payor or the recipient may ask to have spousal support modified if either party's income, earning capacity, or needs have changed significantly. Alimony will usually end when the recipient gets remarried or upon the death of either party.

Since alimony can play a major role in your ability to support yourself and your family after your divorce, you'll want to work with an experienced divorce lawyer to address these issues. If you earn more than your ex, your lawyer can help make sure all aspects of your case are considered by the judge when determining whether to award maintenance. If you earn less, you may be able to ask for spousal support so you can provide for yourself and your children in the years to come.

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