Understanding Spousal Support (Alimony)
Spousal support, also known as alimony, involves monthly payments made by one spouse to the other during divorce or legal separation. While laws vary by state, the purpose is generally to assist the recipient spouse in achieving financial independence.
These payments aim to ensure that the recipient spouse maintains the lifestyle they had during the marriage or before the legal separation from the supporting spouse. Typically, the spouse with the higher income is ordered to make alimony payments to the other, with the goal of helping the financially disadvantaged spouse.
Court-Ordered Alimony in Various Situations
A court may order alimony under the following circumstances:
- Health Impairment:
- When a spouse has a medical condition preventing self-support.
- Income Imbalance:
- In cases of significant earning imbalances between spouses.
- Career Sacrifices:
- If one spouse sacrificed their career to be a stay-at-home parent.
- Support During Pursuits:
- When one spouse supported the other during educational or career pursuits.
Duration and Conditions of Alimony
It’s crucial to note that alimony payments may not last a lifetime. Various conditions can impact the amount and duration, and payments may cease if no longer necessary.
Seeking Legal Guidance for Alimony Matters
For assistance with alimony-related issues, whether it’s to cease or receive payments, it is advisable to consult a local family attorney or divorce lawyer promptly for personalized legal advice.
Can Spousal Support End Early?
There are some cases in which a spouse might be able to end spousal support payments early. Once more, these term and stipulations are going to be subject on the laws of the state in which a request to cease spousal support gets filed. This can include the below:
- If the recipient spouse has passed away;
- If the income of the recipient spouse has considerably increased to the point they have either turned out to be self-sufficient or make more than the spouse paying spousal support;
- When the paying spouse would endure economic hardship because to continually having to make payments at that amount;
- If the recipient spouse get remarried or moves-in with another individual (this depends on exceptions based on the laws of different states);
- When the recipient spouse has deliberately avoided landing a job or to become self-sufficient;
- If the recipient spouse concealed assets, property, or other income to guarantee they would get alimony payments from the other spouse; and/or
- When the spouse making spousal support payments has retired because of one of the following:
- They are far beyond their age of retirement;
- Their employer made them retire (for instance involuntary retirement);
- The length and amount they have paid to the recipient spouse prior to them retiring;
- Their overall state of health; and
- if they deliberately retired to cease alimony payments earlier than expected.
What Can a Spouse Do to Cease Payments Early?
Overview of Ending Alimony Payments
The process of ending alimony payments early depends on the specific circumstances of a case and the laws of the state. Generally, a paying spouse must seek court approval by filing a “petition for termination of spousal support” in the family law court.
Required Documentation for Ending Alimony Early
To support the petition, the paying spouse needs to submit:
- Reasons for Early Termination:
- Explanation for filing the request earlier than agreed upon.
- Earnings Statement:
- Recent income statement detailing earnings from various sources.
- Expense List:
- Detailed list of regular expenses and their costs over a specific period.
- Additional Documentation:
- Any relevant documents indicating a change in circumstances.
Court Process for Ending Alimony
Filing and Serving Documents
After filing the necessary paperwork and paying court fees, both parties receive copies. The court clerk schedules a hearing date.
During the hearing, both parties present arguments and evidence. The judge considers the case and decides whether to terminate, reduce, or maintain alimony.
If the judge approves the petition, the paying spouse is no longer obligated to make alimony payments. If denied, payments continue as usual, and the court may modify the amount.
Alternatives to Spousal Support Payments
Besides seeking early termination, spouses may avoid spousal support through:
- Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements:
- Agreements that limit or exclude spousal support.
- Financial Hardship:
- Demonstrating a worse financial circumstance beyond control.
- Remarriage of Receiving Spouse:
- Showing that the receiving spouse has remarried.
- Short Marriage Duration:
- In some states, shorter marriages may impact spousal support eligibility.
Do I Need an Attorney for Assistance With Termination of Spousal Support Payments?
Matters or disputes concerning termination of spousal support payments can become very complex; particularly, if the spouses are reluctant to work together with one another. Therefore, you may want to think about hiring a local family attorney if you need help with terminating or impeding the termination of spousal support payments.
An experienced family lawyer is going to be able to help you adjust and prepare the necessary legal documentation that is required to request the court for a termination of spousal support payments. The lawyer can also counsel you on the best plan of action on the basis of your personal situation and can clarify your legal rights.
Furthermore, your lawyer can provide guidance on the probability of succeeding on a petition form terminating spousal support payments and can create a new plan beforehand should the court reject your petition.
On the other hand, when you are the recipient of spousal support, the lawyer can help you in creating a compelling case not to terminate alimony payments in addition to representing you on the matter in court.
Wishnia, J. (2019, December 17). When does spousal support end? LegalMatch Law Library. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/when-does-spousal-support-end.html.
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