What You Should Know Before Asking For Spousal Support Payments

You and your partner are planning to file for divorce, and you have conflicting feelings about asking for spousal support. Your spouse has made it clear he or she doesn't think you should be getting these payments. You have to admit feeling a bit guilty about the idea of support payments when you don't want to be married anymore. Why do you deserve spousal support after the marriage ends?

About Spousal Support

These days, spousal support -- known as alimony in some jurisdictions -- is often not viewed as a permanent situation. The payments are generally intended to help a person manage financial aspects of life until he or she can begin generating a sufficient amount of income. If this person is reaching the senior citizen years, he or she might continue receiving support until becoming eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.

Permanent alimony may be ordered if the marriage lasted for decades, if one of the parties is disabled and cannot work, or if the marriage ended because one spouse behaved badly, such as having an affair. Whether temporary or permanent, however, payments are intended to pay for the basics, such as food, rent and utility bills. A judge is unlikely to award money that you say you want for a much-needed vacation or a new luxury vehicle. 

Support will probably end if you remarry, and perhaps if you begin cohabitating with a romantic partner. The law may not mandate that alimony ends because of cohabitation, but your ex can petition the court for support termination. The judge is likely to grant the request if your new partner brings enough income to the household. However, state laws vary a great deal on this matter. Some terminate support even if the new partner doesn't contribute financially.

How Support Is Paid

Your ex will likely make monthly support payments. The other option is to pay one specified amount. Monthly payments are significantly more common, since it's often not easy for a person to make a lump sum payment. In addition, the government counts that money as income on your tax returns, which may make one large payment less desirable for you. 

Reasons You May Deserve Support Payments

Sometimes the individual who is directed to pay alimony feels it's unfair if the ex-spouse did not contribute much financially to the marriage. However, you probably made other important contributions, even if they didn't involve a great deal of monetary income. For instance, you may have: 

  • dropped out of college and taken a low-paying job so your spouse could continue his or her education
  • agreed to put your own career aspirations on hold to raise children
  • been in charge of all the daily household responsibilities, such as cleaning, cooking and managing the budget
  • played an important role in your spouse's career in politics or business

Why A Judge Decides To Award Support Payments

You and your soon-to-be-ex may be able to come to an agreement about support through a collaborative process or mediation. If your ex is adamant about not wanting to provide support, a judge will make the decision in court. Essentially, your lawyer must show that you need the money to pay the bills.

A judge must consider certain guidelines set forth in state law. These might include your ex-partner's ability to make alimony payments, and your ability to get a job, considering your education, age and physical condition. There are varying ways that these factors can be utilized. For example, depending on your age, a judge might award you temporary support payments while you return to school and acquire skills to become more employable. 

Concluding Thoughts

Judges are unpredictable and going to court is expensive. If there's any way to do so, work out support arrangements with your ex-spouse in collaborative negotiations or in mediation sessions. A family law firm like The Law Office Of James R. Kennedy Jr. can help you with either of these processes. This lawyer can also represent you in court if your spouse refuses to cooperate.