Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Can You Claim Spousal Maintenance After a Separation?

Sometimes known as alimony, spousal maintenance is paid by one spouse to another after a divorce. However, you don’t have to formerly dissolve your marriage in order to be able to claim spousal maintenance. If you are legally separated, as opposed to divorced, you could be entitled to maintenance.

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If the separation is amicable, both parties may be able to come to an agreement regarding the division of property and the amount of spousal maintenance to be paid. However, it’s important to seek legal advice before you agree to any arrangements.

In most instances, separating couples ask the court to decide how much should be paid to whom and for how long. When calculating spousal maintenance, divorce laws state that various things should be considered, such as:

1. The Length of the Marriage

How long you’ve been married will affect the divorce settlement. If one party came to the marriage with significant assets and the other didn’t, for example, a short marriage will not necessarily equate to both parties receiving similar settlements. In general, the longer you’ve been married, the more likely you are to be awarded spousal maintenance. Additionally, the amount of maintenance you’re awarded is typically higher if you have been married for a long period of time.

2. Earning Capacity

Each party’s earning capacity will be taken into account when spousal maintenance is addressed by the court. It’s important to note that your current income is not the same as your earning capacity. Voluntarily giving up your job to lower your income prior to divorce won’t be viewed positively by the court and your earning capacity will remain relevant.

There are various factors that can impact your earning capacity, including your education, prior job roles, your health and wellbeing, as well as whether you’ve given up work in order to support your spouse and/or your children.

As this area of law is complex, you’ll want to seek advice prior to submitting your earning capacity to the court. By consulting a law firm which specializes in divorce law, such as M. Sue Wilson Law Offices, you can access the advice and representation you need. What’s more – getting legal representation will ensure your rights are protected throughout the separation or divorce process.

3. Contribution to Marital Estate

The contribution each spouse has made to the marital estate will also affect a spousal maintenance award. However, it is not only financial contributions which are taken into account. If one person gave up their career to be a stay at home parent, for example, their contribution would not be ignored simply because they were not generating financial income.

Understanding Your Rights

Divorce laws in the U.S. are notoriously complicated, which is why it’s essential to understand your rights before agreeing to a settlement. Furthermore, an acrimonious separation can mean that one or both parties are unwilling to divulge critical information. By obtaining legal advice and representation, you can ensure that your claim for spousal maintenance is dealt with appropriately and efficiently.

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