Alimony or spousal support payments may be agreed to or ordered by a court following a divorce or legal dissolution of a marriage. A judgment regarding spousal support, or alimony, will take into consideration two factors: what the amount of alimony will be, and for how long this support should last.
The Amount of Alimony
When seeking a divorce or legal separation it is recommended that both parties retain legal counsel. An experienced divorce attorney can advise you of your legal rights and responsibilities, while representing your interests in discussions with other lawyers and in courts.
Generally, the legal representatives of both parties will work to construct a divorce settlement that is mutually accepted. If an agreement is reached, courts will usually uphold the agreement in their order for divorce. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, a judge in the court system, will review the information submitted by both parties and make a determination as to the terms of the divorce.
It is usually in the best interest of both parties to reach an agreement prior to going to court, as courts and judges have broad discretion when determining the amount of alimony. They do have some general guidelines that they are asked to follow and certain factors that they should consider. These factors include not only the current income of both parties, but the future earnings capacity of the individuals. A judge may also take into consideration the standard of living present throughout the marriage, and the ability to maintain this standard of living for both parties following divorce.
Other factors include: any resources one party may need to get back to work, the impact of working at home during the marriage, any contribution that may have been made to the career or education of the other, the ability to pay support, the assets and debts of the parties, how long the marriage lasted, the age and health of the parties, as well as a number of individual circumstances and situations that the judge may wish to consider.
Once spousal support has been ordered, the court maintains several options to ensure compliance with it’s directives. Officers of the court may issue contempt of court charges that could result in fines, a jail sentence, or both. The court also has the power to order the garnishment of wages.
In addition the person owed alimony or support payments can ask the court to seize the other person’s assets and sell them off to pay off the debt. This type of action can also be utilized against bank and deposit accounts in an attempt recover support payments that are in arrears.
The Duration of Alimony
One of the most significant considerations in determining the duration of support is the length of the marriage. However, courts may also take into consideration how long the individuals have been separated, and what the terms have been of this transition between marriage and divorce. In many cases, a rule of thumb frequently used is to order spousal support for one-half the length of the marriage.
Divorce can be a nasty affair, but it doesn’t always have to be. An experienced and caring divorce attorney will help you to reach a settlement in your best interest. Divorce can be a painful and confusing time, you don’t need to feel alone – let our San Diego Family Law Attorneys be of assistance.