Understanding the Role of Alimony in a Divorce
What to Know About Alimony When Seeking a Divorce
Filing for a divorce comes with a wide range of factors that you will need to consider, and these include whether or not you will need to pay alimony. It’s believed that more than 450,000 people across the United States receive some form of alimony. If you are about to file for a divorce but would like some additional information about this topic and how it will affect your situation, a Bergen County divorce lawyer can help.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony is a type of financial support that one spouse may have to provide to the other following a divorce. In some circumstances, separate maintenance payments may be ordered even before the marriage is dissolved if legal separation is in place and one spouse requires monetary assistance. The primary reason that alimony is administered is for the spouse with a lower income to be able to maintain a similar standard of living to the one he or she was accustomed to during the marriage. Alimony payments are usually meant to last until the spouse with the lower income is able to support himself or herself monetarily without it.
These payments are typically awarded by the courts after long marriages. Child support differs from alimony in that the latter is solely focused on providing support to the spouse with less income while child support is designed to help the custodial parent care for offspring of the marriage. Alimony is generally not awarded in situations where each spouse makes a similar amount of money or the marriage was a short one.
There are four basic types of alimony that can be awarded by a judge. These include:Limited duration alimony
- Reimbursement alimony
- Rehabilitative alimony
- Alimony of open duration
Limited duration alimony refers to payments that must be made only for a specific period. This type is often ordered for couples who have been married for less than 20 years. Reimbursement alimony is sometimes awarded when one spouse has provided significant support to the other in order for that person to obtain higher education. Rehabilitative alimony can be awarded to a spouse who wishes to undergo education or training in a manner that increases his or her chances of eventually obtaining employment that will provide income. Open duration alimony is the most common type, and it mainly applies to marriages that have lasted longer than 20 years.
Court Considerations When Determining Alimony
While the final decision regarding alimony will be handled by a judge, it is possible for divorcing couples to reach an agreement on their own. The terms of this accord will be taken quite seriously by the judge who makes the decree. If an agreement cannot be reached between the two parties, the judge will take a large number of factors into consideration in order to determine the terms of the payments. These factors can include:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The physical and emotional health of each spouse
- The financial requirements of the spouse requesting alimony
- The ability of the spouse who makes the payments to afford them
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed throughout the marriage
Once the alimony amount is determined, it will typically be paid on a monthly basis. While some alimony payments do go on indefinitely, it’s possible for them to be stopped for a number of reasons. These include:
- Remarriage of the alimony recipient
- Retirement of the individual paying the alimony
- A belief by the court that enough time has passed for the recipient to become self-sufficient
- The death of either party to the alimony payments
Consequences of Refusing to Pay Alimony
Alimony payments are ordered by the court, which means that there are penalties when an individual decides not to make them. These can include a fine or a jail sentence, although the latter is typically used as a last resort. It’s also possible to appeal an alimony ruling in some situations. When you have questions about the alimony order that you’ve been given and you’d like to have a Bergen County divorce lawyer answer them, get in touch with our firm today.
If you are thinking about filing for a divorce and would like some help with the proceedings, contact a Bergen County divorce lawyer at our office in Hackensack by calling (201) 343-0078 to schedule a consultation.