In legal parlance, spousal support means alimony. After a divorce, the court awards alimony or spousal support to one of the former spouses. How the award will work out depends on either an agreement between the couples or as per the directives of the court. However, an important thing to remember here is that the awarding of spousal support is different from the division of marital property. Alimony or spousal support is also separate from child support. Now, to ascertain whether you would require a spousal support lawyer, you need to know more about what alimony or spousal support entails and how it is decided by the law.
This article covers the following topics:
Defining Spousal Support Legally
Spousal support is monetary support that one spouse pays another after divorce, according to an agreement valid for a specific period. Some states have statutory guidelines specifying the duration of support. For instance, in Texas and Indiana, payment duration is three years. Unless the court decides it to be a special circumstance. In Utah, spousal support can not last any longer than the marriage did.
Types of Spousal Support
The entire spectrum of spousal support can be broadly segmented into two. One is short-term support, and the other is long-term. How long the term of the spousal support would be is dependent on the judge’s discretion. There are two types of short-term support. The first one is temporary support, while the divorce is pending. The second one is short-term or rehabilitative support.
In temporary support, the contending spouses do not need to wait for all the other issues arising out of the dissolution of the marriage to settle. Immediately after separation, temporary support may come into effect to support the lower-earning spouse. Short-term or rehabilitative support comes into effect when the marriage did not last that long. It lasts for a definite period of a few years. The judge precisely mentions the date in the court order.
It is known as rehabilitative support because it intends to help the dependent spouse for the period they need to get retrained and go back into the workforce.
Reimbursement support is unique in the sense that it does not wholly depend on one’s financial need. It is a way to compensate a spouse who might’ve sacrificed his/her career or education by taking an old job to support the family, while the other spouse got trained for a lucrative professional career.
The only other type of spousal support that remains to be discussed is long-term or permanent support. Long-term support is granted only in those cases where the marriage lasted at least more than ten years. In such cases, the support is referred to as permanent. It is because the judge concludes that the dependent spouse is not likely to get back to the workforce again. Therefore, they will need support for an indefinite time.
How Does the Judge Decide the Alimony Amount?
While deciding on a spousal support amount, the court looks at three major factors. First, the court ascertains how much money each person could earn each month. Next, it looks at what the reasonable expenses for each of the spouses could be. Finally, the court looks at whether an alimony award from one spouse to the other would make it possible for each to continue with a lifestyle that closely resembles the lifestyle they had before they split.
It is quite evident by now that awarding alimony is not a simple procedure. It requires an in-depth assessment. The court takes its decisions based on a plethora of factors and whether a judge would decide the alimony to be long or short depends on multiple considerations.
Since the pronouncement of judgment stands upon a lot of nuances and intricacies, it is always advisable to hire the services of a trained legal mind – someone who is well-versed with marital and divorce law proceedings.
How does a Divorce Lawyer help?
One of the most important roles that a divorce lawyer plays is that they objectively explain the ground of divorce to the parties involved. For example, some states require the spouses to live separately for some time before they can legally dissolve their marriage. But, there are no-fault grounds for divorce that recognize the presence of severe reasons for asking for a divorce, such as adultery, cruel treatment, abuse, or incarceration.
A divorce lawyer is the best person to advise what type of ground would be the best one while seeking a divorce. The ground for divorce often becomes a deciding factor in deciding the type and amount of spousal support.
List of Assets & Liabilities
The lawyer also helps to account for marital assets and prepare a proper presentation of how many properties have one handled during the marriage. The lawyer also helps to collect records and prepare a detailed list of assets and liabilities. What assets and liabilities each spouse has, plays a crucial role in determining whether they would be able to pay a certain amount of spousal support. It also determines how much they would need from the higher-earning spouse to live a decent life.
A spousal support lawyer also protects his/her client from the brunts of debt repayment. It may so happen that one spouse is responsible for repaying a loan that was a joint loan in the beginning. A lawyer who knows the ins and outs of divorce law well can protect his/her client from debt that should have been attributed to the other spouse.
Apart from looking at spousal support in conjunction with other important aspects of a divorce, such as a child custody or property division, a lawyer plays an utmost crucial role in preparing the papers. Any person willing to make his/her case for a specific type of spousal support needs to prove the validity of his/her needs through legally verifiable documents. A lawyer is the best person to suggest and help prepare these documents. They know what documents will be effective and how to present them.
If a case does not go to trial, the spousal support lawyer helps to negotiate it between the two parties. It helps them reach an optimal out-of-court solution amicably. If the case goes for a trial and there is a lawyer by your side, it makes the process stress-free, effective, and efficient for the party. The case gets resolved faster, saving a lot of money for both spouses.
A divorce is an emotional matter for both spouses. The attempts to tackle the entire process alone, without taking the help of an attorney, soon result in exhaustion and stress. Therefore, it is always recommended to have an attorney to deal with the proceedings.
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