One of the most important aspects of a divorce case is the matter of alimony. The fundamental legal premise, in cases of divorce, dictates that alimonies should not be automatic. Not every case of divorce involves an alimony order. In cases where one of the spouses ask for alimony, it is incumbent upon the judge to decide whether it would be appropriate to grant one depending on the merits of the arguments. Therefore, whether the judge will direct a party to pay alimony is conditional to the quality and judiciousness of legal arguments put forth in the court of law.
Before we delve deeper into the merits of deploying an alimony lawyer, let’s understand the nuances of alimony as a legal concept.
This article covers the following topics:
#1. What is Alimony?
#3. Why do I need an Alimony Lawyer
#4. The Process
What is Alimony?
Many states define alimony as spousal support. Some see it as maintenance. Irrespective of these differences in terminology, alimony implies payments to be made by one spouse to another. There can be two types of alimonies. The court can award spousal support for the period the divorce case is pending. These are temporary provisions. The court may terminate such provisions once the final divorce decree is out. Otherwise, alimonies can be permanent and come as part of the judgment. The legal principle driving the concept of alimony aims at equalizing the resources of a couple who are to get divorced. The judge needs to evaluate whether one spouse has a genuine need for financial support and whether the other can pay for that need.
The duration of the marriage before it comes for a divorce settlement is also a key factor. A marriage that did not last long, usually, does not qualify for alimony. Many states have a fixed tenure mentioned in the statutes for which the marriage has to last before it becomes eligible for an alimony settlement.
The Alimony Mechanism
There are several ways a court may devise the alimony settlement. It may come in the form of a lump-sum payment or a fixed amount of monthly payments. Alimony can also be settled in the form of a property transfer. The lump-sum alimony or alimonies paid as property transfers can not be modified once carried out. The periodic payments come to an end once the spouse, who is at the receiving end, marries again. There are several other conceivable scenarios when such periodic arrangements may come to an end. For instance, the divorced couple may start cohabitating, one of them may die, or the supported spouse may experience a significant improvement in his or her financial condition.
From all this information, it is quite clear that paying or receiving alimony is preceded by a nuanced process. Therefore, it requires focused guidance to cut the best deal possible. But, how does an alimony lawyer becomes of help in this regard? We will discuss that in the next segment.
Why Do I Need an Alimony Lawyer?
Your divorce attorney may not specialize in spousal support or alimony cases. While opting for a divorce attorney, one should be clear about how much of the proceedings his or her lawyer is ready to handle. If the divorce lawyer does not include alimony assistance in his or her services, you should hire an alimony lawyer. The alimony lawyer can help you to file the petition demanding alimony, negotiate the amount on your behalf and even help you to file a lawsuit if the paying partner refuses to pay the prearranged amount or to pay at all.
One should also be aware of the fact that the law does not necessarily require a lawyer for alimony cases. Many divorcing couples choose to go for alimony settlement without a lawyer. But, going without a lawyer often ends up in a mess. Since the matter of divorce is an emotional one, the contending parties often lack objectivity. A professional lawyer plays a crucial role in such cases and helps to settle as objectively as possible.
The lawyers are also well versed with the law of the land. They know what provisions and what statutes could lead to the most effective solution to resolve a dispute. Moreover, the alimony attorneys possess the experiential knowledge of how to approach the judge. They know about the past rulings of the judge. That knowledge helps to adopt the most efficient route possible.
If we look at the entire life-cycle of the process of claiming alimony or spousal support, we will therefore find the scope of involvement of an alimony lawyer at every stage and step.
To begin with, one needs to file a petition for alimony. Most states in the US require this petition to come as a part of the divorce filing. If the divorce lawyer is not well aware of spousal support clauses and regulations, he or she should collaborate with the alimony lawyer from the very beginning. Once a petition for alimony is filed, the court serves a notice to the other spouse. The other spouse may choose to express his consent to the alimony notice or choose to ignore it. If the other spouse decides to ignore it, the case will move to court.
Now, once the case moves to the courtroom, a lot of other aspects get involved. The judge considers several related factors before deciding on whether to grant alimony or not. These factors also play a role in determining what the amount will be, how it will be disbursed, and for what duration.
Role of the Court
The court first ascertains whether the marriage was legal. Then it looks into how long it lasted before the couple appealed for a divorce. The court also factors in the current age and health condition of both the parties involved. If the court finds these aspects are in the correct order, it moves into the next level of inquiry. It looks into each spouse’s current income, current assets, and future income potential. Next, the court tries to understand how much each spouse contributes financially towards running the family. It may include information on each spouse’s share in family expenses and the repayment of liabilities. Finally, the court looks into child custody considerations.
The court makes most of these decisions based on credible evidence submitted by both parties. Pieces of evidence may include proof of income and savings, proof of mortgage or loan repayments, etc.
Effective arrangement and presentation of these documents make it easier to get the alimony one needs. It saves a lot of time and reduces stress and worry. Self-representation in such scenarios often go against the spouse who needs the support. One may fail to present the most crucial document only due to the lack of experience and prior knowledge of how things work at the court.
Therefore, it is always an intelligent choice to go for an alimony lawyer. More so in cases where the divorce lawyer is not entirely confident of how to deal with the aspect of spousal support.
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