The issue of spousal support often comes up in divorce cases. Once called alimony and now often called maintenance, the notion of spousal support has changed over the years. Either spouse might have to pay support to the other, and courts do not award it automatically.

Unlike child support, there are no formulas to calculate the amount of maintenance or guidelines about how long it should last. Judges have discretion to order alimony as they see fit, so having a skilled family attorney to make a persuasive case supporting your position is critical.

When ongoing financial support is or may be an issue in your divorce, contact a Fairfield spousal support lawyer. Our knowledgeable legal professionals can explain your rights and obligations to help you make realistic plans for your future.

Spousal Support Fundamentals

Spousal support is not a punishment inflicted on the wealthier spouse. Married people have an obligation to support each other financially. When one spouse is economically dependent on the other for any reason, a divorce could leave them impoverished or disadvantaged.

Spousal support is a way for the less wealthy spouse to avoid substantial financial hardship while working to become self-supporting. It is uncommon today for judges to award permanent or lifelong alimony; when they do, they must state their reasons for doing so. Most spousal support is for a set time that the judge determines.

A judge might require a paying spouse to purchase a life insurance policy to ensure the receiving spouse has a source of financial support if the paying spouse dies before the alimony obligation terminates. Regardless of the term the judge sets, the obligation to pay alimony ends when a receiving spouse remarries and could end if the receiving spouse cohabitates. In the event of cohabitation, a court will first examine the impact, if any, the cohabitation has on the receiving spouse’s financial position before modifying or terminating support for that reason. Parties should work with a qualified Fairfield alimony attorney if a receiving spouse is cohabitating and the paying spouse wants to terminate support.

Courts Often Award Support While the Divorce Is Pending

Many couples find it challenging to establish two households with the income and assets that used to support just one. When one spouse earns considerably less than the other, a court might award temporary alimony to help them establish an independent household and keep them financially solvent until the divorce is final and they receive their share of the marital property.

The spouse seeking temporary support must ask for it in their initial divorce pleadings or bring a motion seeking it. Temporary support—sometimes called alimony pendente lite—is only payable while the divorce is pending. Just because a judge awards temporary alimony during divorce proceedings does not necessarily mean the spouse will receive continuing alimony after the divorce is final.

A proactive Fairfield lawyer can help a spouse demand or respond to a demand for temporary alimony. The proof necessary to obtain temporary alimony cannot take into consideration the cause of the breakdown of the marriage and is not as extensive as that needed to prove longer-term alimony is appropriate. Still, a requesting spouse must make a case showing that temporary support is necessary.

Factors Courts Consider When Awarding Alimony

Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-82 governs the award of spousal support. Unless a spouse specifically asks for ongoing support, a court will not award it. The requesting spouse must prove that they have a need for maintenance and that their spouse has the means to pay it without compromising their ability to support themselves.

Judges have discretion about whether to award alimony, in what amount, and its duration. The law suggests a judge consider the following factors when making spousal support determinations:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age and health of the parties
  • Each spouse’s educational attainments and work history
  • The value of the property each spouse takes from the marriage
  • Whether a spouse’s role caring for children prevents them from seeking full-time employment
  • For alimony post-divorce, the cause of the breakdown of the marriage

Rehabilitative Alimony

Most spouses who receive support get rehabilitative alimony. This form of spousal support allows the spouse to gain further education, training, or credentials to become self-supporting. This form of support might last for several years. If the receiving spouse has young children, support might last until the parent no longer needs to be home for the children.

Permanent Alimony

Judges can award permanent or lifelong alimony if the circumstances merit it, but it is increasingly unusual. When a judge decides to award permanent support, they must describe in the order the reasons they believe it is appropriate. A diligent Fairfield spousal support attorney can present persuasive arguments for or against an award of lifelong alimony in a specific case.

Factors that could sway a judge to award permanent alimony include:

  • A spouse whose age hinders them from rejoining the workforce at a living wage
  • A spouse whose mental or physical health prevents them from working full-time
  • A long marriage where one spouse worked, and the other cared for the home and had little opportunity to develop professional skills

Engage a Fairfield Attorney to Advise on Spousal Support Issues

Spousal support decisions can have a huge impact on each party’s financial life after divorce. Whether you would be the paying spouse or recipient spouse, working with an attorney well-versed in Connecticut law on alimony is critical.

A Fairfield spousal support lawyer at our firm can present persuasive arguments supporting your position. Call today to set up a consultation.

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