Understanding the Alimony Process
Going through a divorce is an ugly event for many different reasons. The best-case scenario is that it is a relatively young couple with little possessions and no children who agree to amicably split. However, the situation can quickly become harder when children are introduced because this involves the soon-to-be ex-spouses each getting a child custody lawyer in Erie.
Regardless of whether there are children involved or not, a divorce is going to involve several common components, one of which is needing a lawyer in Bloomfield for each of the individuals involved. Another component of divorces that is common in almost every situation is the payment of alimony.
Even if someone does not know exactly what alimony is or how it works, chances are that they have at least heard of it. However, if they are going to hire a divorce lawyer in Westminster and proceed with getting their divorce, then each person involved needs to be fully aware of exactly what alimony is. That is why this article is here to help explain the process behind alimony payments.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony is a set amount of money that one person in a divorce is legally responsible for paying the other person every month. This is a practice that has been around for over 100 years and is still widely used throughout the country.
These monthly payments regularly continue until certain criteria have been met. The specific criteria is different in each case and could be for a variety of common reasons. A popular method that marks the end of alimony payments is when the spouse that was receiving the alimony payments marries a new partner. At this point, the ex-spouse who is paying the alimony can legally cease payments.
If this does not happen, then a judge might set a date that is multiple years in the future, at which point the alimony payments will stop. This date is usually made at a time where the judge can reasonably assume that the spouse receiving the payments will have enough time to become financially self-sufficient.
If the alimony is partially to help pay for a parent’s needs while they stay at home and raise a young child, then it may stop once that child reaches an age where they do not need a parent to stay at home with them full-time. On the other hand, if a couple is older by the time that they get divorced, then the alimony payments might state that they are able to stop once the spouse who receives them decides to retire.
A judge can even determine that enough time has passed where the spouse receiving alimony payments has not made sufficient attempts to become financially stable, at which point they could order that the alimony payments stop.
If none of these roads is chosen, then it is almost guaranteed that the alimony payments will stop when one of the ex-spouses, it usually does not matter which one, ends up dying.
How Do the Details of Alimony Get Decided?
The specifics of alimony payments widely vary from case to case. In some cases, even though a couple goes through a divorce, alimony might not even be necessary at all. This usually happens in cases where the marriage only lasted a very short period of time or where both members of the marriage make relatively close to the same amount of money. In either of these cases, it is incredibly likely that alimony will not be ordered to be paid. This is due to the fact that alimony orders are becoming slightly less common over time.
However, if it is a situation where one of the partners in a marriage makes significantly more than their ex-spouse, then it is likely that the divorce lawyer in Erie will petition the court to set alimony payments. It is important to note though that just because one of the ex-spouses makes significantly more, that does not necessarily mean that the other partner will be entitled to big alimony payments.
For example, if the partner who makes much less money is only working part-time for some reason and has been working part-time for quite a while, then this can often affect their alimony eligibility. It is not uncommon for one of the sides to bring in an expert which is known as a vocational evaluator. These are individuals who are tasked with evaluating the capabilities of the spouse who is making less money and determine how much they could reasonably earn if they looked at other lines of full-time work.
The amount that they come back with will have a big influence on the resulting alimony payments. Once this process is officially done or has been foregone, there are a couple different ways of setting the terms of agreement regarding alimony.
Some couples are able to work out the details of alimony in arbitration, meaning that they do not need to involve a judge in the decision making process. However, some couples are not able to do this for one reason or another, meaning that the decision is transferred to the court to make. At that point, a judge will hear the details of the divorce filings and make their ruling based on this. Since this process involves an entire trial, it is going to be much more lengthy and costly then deciding the details in private arbitration.
Regardless of which route was taken to determine the alimony details, the result is a legally binding agreement that is enforceable by the court.
What to Do When Alimony Payments Are Not Made
While no one wants to go through any additional legal proceedings, sometimes this is a person’s only course of action when their ex-spouse refuses to pay the required alimony. When this happens, they should immediately contact their divorce lawyer in Westminster and begin to take the proper legal action against their former partner. In some cases, the court will make an official order for the partner to make the alimony payments and can even jail them for short periods of time if they refuse.