It used to be that women stayed home to care for the house and children while men went out and earned the paycheck. Clearly, times have changed, and two-income households are more the norm for married couples.
It’s one area where the law has kept pace with society’s changing demographics, and in more and more cases, maintenance (formerly known as alimony) today looks very different than it did even 30 years ago.
That probably leaves a lot of questions in the minds of people who are considering divorce or who are actually going through one. Here are the five most common spousal support questions, along with the answers.
#1 How is maintenance calculated?
While there is no mathematical formula, we do know that courts will consider the following factors:
- Length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the more likely maintenance will be granted.
- Age of the recipient, along with his or her physical and financial condition.
- Length of time the recipient would need for job training or education to become financially self-sufficient.
- Standard of living during the marriage.
- Paying spouse’s income and ability to support both parties.
The amount is generally determined by how much money is needed for food, shelter, transportation and household expenses.
#2 Are there different types or spousal support?
The four most common types of support include:
- Permanent spousal support—which typically lasts until one of the parties remarries, cohabitates or dies.
- Temporary spousal support—this is generally used with temporary orders set in place at the beginning of the divorce process and ending with the divorce decree.
- Rehabilitative spousal support—this is for maintenance only during the time it takes the recipient to get training or education needed to support themselves.
- Spousal support “in Gross”—a lump sum payment made at one time or in installments in a specific time frame.
#3 Are maintenance payments taxable?
Maintenance payments are taxable income for the recipient.
#4 Can I change my spousal support arrangement?
It’s important to understand that if you do not request maintenance as part of the divorce decree, you cannot return to the court later to request it.
If maintenance was granted in the divorce decree, it can be changed only if (1) either party has a significant “change in circumstances” that was not expected when the original support was given and (2) the party requesting the adjustment can prove the change in circumstances and show how it justifies the requested change.
Even when both parties are working, maintenance can be an issue, and it makes sense to look at it in cases of divorce. If you want to assess the possibility of your paying or receiving alimony, an experienced divorce attorney can help.
By Brian Weber, La Crosse Divorce Lawyer. For a divorce lawyer in La Crosse, call Brian at 608-784-5678.