The process of divorce and separation can be very challenging, not only emotionally but also financially for the couple involved. Spousal support is the payment a court mandates a higher-earning spouse to pay the ex-partner. It is also known as alimony and can be paid in cash or property. This payment can be claimed by either couple not later than 12 months after the divorce is closed or two years after the termination of the relationship.
Divorce or separation becomes complicated when children are involved and the couple has been married for a considerable period. This article is prepared by Jimeno & Gray divorce lawyers serving Anne Arundel County, who are passionate about ensuring you receive fair representation. Herein, we explain the most important aspects you need to understand about spousal support.
Important Facts About Spousal Support
Both Men And Women Can Pay Spousal Support
When a couple separates, the court may mandate either the man or the woman to support the other spouse. The law clearly outlines that the spouse earning higher than the other is responsible for paying the spousal support set by the court of law. The court also mandates the paying spouse to cover child support if the dependent spouse will be taking care of the children.
In the past, women were exempted from paying spousal support but recently, the law mandates them to pay alimony in case they earn more than their spouses. This allows for equality between men and women and prevents one party from taking advantage of the other.
The Payor Is Not Taxed
Although spousal support is taxable, the payor does not have to worry about paying that tax. This is because the law requires the recipient of the money to pay income tax of the amount received. This allows the paying spouse to enjoy a tax-deductible for every dollar paid to the payee. In cases where the court mandates a division of marital property, the paying spouse is not entitled to a tax benefit.
The Payor Can Object To Paying Spousal Support
Once a court order mandates a spouse to make the alimony payments, the law gives the paying spouse the right to object to this ruling by presenting relevant evidence against it. The paying spouse may present a defense against paying the ex-partner because they are at fault for the divorce or separation.
The paying spouse can present evidence of; adultery, domestic violence, or even abandonment without a cause, which the court can use to deny alimony. The court will investigate these claims and if found to be true, the dependent spouse may be stripped of the right to receive spousal support.
How Is The Amount Determined?
The court will always be responsible for deciding how much spousal support the paying spouse is supposed to pay. This figure is calculated after a few things have been taken into consideration depending on the case. The factors that influence how much a spouse is mandated to pay include;
- Income and wealth – this includes the total amount of money the spouse receives from their job and all the assets they possess as well. Those with considerably higher incomes and wealth will typically pay the most support money.
- Ability to earn income – the court looks at the condition of both partners and how well they can earn an income individually. If one of the spouses is unable to make a decent income, the other partner will likely have to pay for their expenses.
- Who will live with kids – If kids are involved in a separation, the court will always grant the parent that will be taking care of them the right to be paid alimony.
How Long Does The Payment Last?
The length of the payment can vary depending on several factors in both the lives of the spouses. There are three ways one may pay for spousal support and each would dictate how long the payment lasts. When spousal support is in property form, the payee will only receive the payment once, similar to a lump sum payment where the amount is paid in full but only once.
The court may also mandate the payor to cover the alimony periodically which can be weekly, biweekly or monthly and this can be done for a prolonged time frame. In case the couples have been together for a long period, spousal support may have to be paid for years after a divorce or sometimes for the rest of their lives. The court may decide to release the payor from the responsibility in case they retire or the payee can easily take care of themselves.
Why Should You Pay?
The court demands that the paying spouse takes care of all the expenses for their ex-partner for several reasons. The main one is to make sure that the other partner maintains the lifestyle they have been living until they can stand on their own financially. This alimony is supposed to ensure equality in the quality of life of both the spouses and since your partner cannot provide, you become responsible for them.
When you fail to pay what the court ordered, the supported spouse can file a show cause whereby the court will order you to explain the reason for not paying. If your reasons are not found substantial, you could be liable to fines and penalties that might require you to pay even for the periods you skipped a payment. Unless ordered by the court to stop paying alimony, spousal support should be made as usual.
Spousal Support And Child Support Might Go Hand In Hand
Alimony is paid to the ex-partner either once in a lump sum amount or in installments depending on the court’s decision. Child support on the other hand is paid to cater to the needs of the children during and after divorce. In most cases, the judge may require the payor to cover both the alimony and child support at the same time.
Divorce can lead to bitterness between couples, especially when it comes to property division, custody battles, and alimony payments. We advise you to find the best attorney in family law and separation agreements to increase your chances of a fair representation.