Spousal support and alimony are synonymous terms. While each term is similar, spousal support is more gender neutral and envisions a more equal approach to evaluating earning capacity. In addition, the terms “spousal support” and “alimony” presuppose a non-permanent payment situation. Both are applicable to the same circumstances. Read on to learn more about how spousal supports work and how they can benefit you and your family.
In order to determine how much maintenance each party is required to pay, the court will consider many factors, including the ability to pay, the amount of savings each party has, the standard of living in each party’s area, and the ages and health of each party. Other factors include whether there are minor children, the number of children, the parent’s education level, and other aspects of the parties’ lives. In addition, spousal support is not tied to the ability of the payor to work or remarry.
The spouse who is paying maintenance should act in good faith. The court will look at how the income producing capacity of each spouse has changed. A high-income husband in Colorado who quit his job to grow mushrooms, for example, can petition the court to award him or her lower or higher alimony payments. As long as the parties can demonstrate a financial hardship, a judge will grant spousal support. The award may be reduced or even eliminated entirely.
A divorce decree may not specify a specific termination date for spousal support, so the award will continue until a court order it to terminate. However, the recipient must show that they can support themselves without help. This is especially important when the payer’s income is significantly less than the recipient’s income. This means that the payments must be continued even if the payer dies. If the payer dies, the court may order additional support from the payer’s estate or life insurance proceeds.
In addition to alimony, there are other types of spousal support. Temporary alimony is awarded during the divorce process and may only be temporary. Rehabilitational spousal support is another form of temporary alimony that is granted for a limited time. It is awarded in cases where the recipient’s income is significantly lower than the other spouse’s. The purpose of rehabilitation spousal support is to help the lower-earning spouse remain in school and become financially independent.
In cases where a spouse’s income is lower than the other’s, the court may limit the amount of spousal support a partner receives. North Carolina and Georgia have strict limits on alimony. Both states limit spousal support if the recipient was the cause of the breakup. Some states, such as New York, consider marital misconduct as grounds for reducing alimony. While most states do not consider fault when awarding spousal support, these are examples of situations where a party may deviate from the guidelines.