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We are a full-service family law firm focusing mainly on divorce.
If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse, the financial aspect of it may weigh heavily on your mind. No matter your income level, your financial situation can take a hit when you divorce. Spouses who didn't work or worked less while married are in a harder position because they are financially dependent on the other spouse. Rather than allow the spouse to succumb to a lower standard of living or become a public charge, spousal support might be established.
That said, spousal support is not as common today because both spouses tend to work and make their own income. It is, however, an important component of any divorce where the financial disparity requires it. If you have questions about spousal support, whether you are the one who wants alimony or the one who must provide it, contact us today. We will provide honest answers and advocate for your rights.
Spousal support, spousal maintenance, and alimony are all terms used to describe a situation where one spouse pays another spouse a court-ordered payment for a certain amount of time during or after a divorce. In Texas or New Mexico, these payments are referred to as a spousal support amount or alimony.
Spouses can agree on a spousal support amount, but the end result must be fair. If you fail to agree, the spouse seeking support must file a formal notice with the court to request alimony.
Alimony can be temporary or permanent, the former of which is the norm. It can also be a lump-sum versus periodic monthly payments, the latter of which is the norm. Further, a spousal support amount is not always in the form of money but can include a property transfer. Both lump-sum payments and property transfers are non-modifiable once the order is issued. That means if circumstances change, the alimony will not change. However, when it is in the form of periodic payments, a spousal support amount is modifiable.
The circumstances of the spouses going through a divorce will determine both the amount and the duration of alimony payments. Some of the most important factors that might influence alimony include but are not limited to:
As mentioned above, you and your spouse can determine the amount by an agreement without interference of the court, keeping in mind it must be fair.
An end date can also be determined by agreement between the spouses, but if not, the court will determine it. Other times or in lieu of an end date, spousal support may terminate if one of the following occurs:
A significant event may occur, too, which prompts an end to a spousal support amount. In that case, it's determined on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of the reason to terminate a spousal support amount, evidence may need to be provided to support the reason for termination.
Alimony can be a highly contested aspect of any divorce. The spouse who may be ordered to pay alimony may want to challenge it. Reasons to deny a spousal support claim include but are not limited to:
In the end, if a spousal support amount is contested, the final say on the matter will be the judge. It's important to try at all costs to come to an agreement because the expense of hearings or a trial can take its toll on a divorcing couple.
Once a spousal support amount order is signed by a judge, it is enforceable. Most times, payment is set up through the employer and automatically sent to the supported spouse. Other times, the paying spouse pays the supported spouse directly. The arrangement of spousal support payments will be included in the order.
If the paying spouse fails to pay, they can be held in contempt of court and could face fines and penalties. The supported spouse can file a show-cause action with the court and a hearing will be set.
Getting the legal help you need is right at your fingertips. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We will discuss your case, explain your options, and help you determine your next best steps.