Below, we answer some of the most common questions our clients ask us about spousal support.
Question: What is spousal support?
A: Spousal support, also known as alimony, is financial support that one spouse has to pay to the other spouse after their marriage has legally ended. Temporary alimony, also known as pendente lite alimony, can be granted while a divorce is still being negotiated. When the couple’s divorce becomes final, there may or may not be an order for alimony, depending on the circumstances of the case. If alimony is awarded after the divorce, the payment amount could be higher or lower than the temporary spousal support.
Question: What is separate maintenance?
A: Separate maintenance is financial support that one spouse pays to the other while they are still married to each other. Courts will order separate maintenance if the spouse with the better financial situation fails or refuses to support the other spouse who is in "genuine need." Spouses who do not want to get a divorce, but want to live apart or get a legal separation, usually use separate maintenance.
Question: How do I get alimony?
A: The purpose of alimony is to give the spouse in need "reasonable and necessary" support. The person requesting alimony must establish why they need financial support and prove that the other spouse has the funds to provide financial support.
You can request alimony as part of your divorce proceeding. If you and your spouse reach a fair agreement, you can ask a judge to make the terms of your agreement part of the court order.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach a fair agreement, the judge will decide the terms of your alimony agreement.
Question: If I didn’t request alimony during my divorce, can I ask for it at another time?
A: You can only request alimony during your divorce proceeding. After your divorce has been finalized, you will not be allowed to request spousal support.
Question: What if I don’t think I can afford alimony?
A: When one person in a divorce requests alimony but the other party does not agree to their terms, the judge will decide if alimony should be awarded and if so, for how much.
Question: Can men request spousal support?
A: Men are also entitled to make a request for spousal support.
Question: How long can I receive spousal support?
A: The length of your alimony arrangement can be negotiated between you and your spouse. If a judge has to determine your agreement, they will also set the amount of time you are responsible for making payments. If a judge decides on indefinite or permanent alimony, the paying spouse will have to support the other spouse until they die or alimony is no longer appropriate for their situation. Time-limited alimony, also known as rehabilitative alimony, is set for a limited amount of time, as determined by the judge. This type of spousal support is usually used to allow the receiving spouse an opportunity to obtain the work experience or training they need to become self-supporting.
Question: Can I still receive alimony if I remarry?
A: Getting married again can be a basis for ending your alimony award. However, just because you remarry does not mean alimony automatically ends. The paying spouse will have to make a request with the court to terminate your alimony agreement.
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