If one spouse is earning significantly more than the other and the financial security of the family is dependent upon them, a divorce can present a serious threat to the wellbeing of their partner. In cases where divorce is not amicable and there is a conflict between partners, the earning spouse might not feel inclined to offer any financial assistance to their partner after the divorce.
However, there are several ways in which a spouse can support their partner after a divorce and the family court has the power to compel a spouse to provide support in a variety of ways. If you want to know how does spousal maintenance work and what forms it can take, this is what you need to know.
This is a type of payment that the court can order one spouse to pay to the other on a recurring basis, albeit temporarily. The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to enable the recipient to fund their own education or training so they can become financially independent. It is also sometimes awarded to parents who have to stay at home to look after a child.
In practice, because of traditional family dynamics in the USA, this kind of alimony is usually awarded to mothers who have been out of the workplace because of childcare commitments.
Lump-Sum Spousal Support
This type of spousal support is usually awarded to recipients in lieu of a share in any property the couple owns. The court will specify a fixed sum that will be set irrespective of any other circumstances such as living arrangements or general financial health. This is a single payment either made to the recipient or their estate.
Temporary vs Permanent Spousal Support
Whether spousal support is paid as a lump sum or over a period of time is at the discretion of the judge. The judge can also decide whether these payments should be temporary or permanent. Temporary payments might not have a specified end date and the judge might instead choose to periodically review the arrangement.
Separation vs Divorce
Some couples, usually those who are still on good terms with one another, might decide that the divorce process presents too many risks and challenges for them, and their children if they have any. Opting for separation while still remaining legally married is an arrangement that suits some couples better.
Spousal support orders are always subject to change and the judge who issues the order can alter it later if they see fit. It is in the interests of both parties to come to mutually-acceptable arrangements and to both make sure to follow the court’s instructions. An amicable divorce is always preferable, especially when kids are involved.
Site last updated: 16. May 2021