Alimony is when one spouse is ordered to pay for the support of the other during the marriage and/or once the divorce is finalized for a specified period of time.  Alimony is usually ordered with the goal of limiting any unfair or inequitable economic effects of the divorce so that the economically-disadvantaged spouse is able to maintain a similar standard of living that existed during the marriage.  Alimony is not awarded in every case and it can be a very complex issue to unravel.

A spouse could be entitled to alimony based on factors including:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Age and health conditions of each spouse
  • Each spouses’ respective annual income
  • Amount & value of marital assets
  • Marriage Lifestyle

There are multiple forms of alimony, including:

  • Temporary: Providing financial support during the divorce.
  • Rehabilitative: Financial support for a spouse to aid him or her become self-sufficient.
  • Lump Sum: alimony in the form of one singular payment.
  • Bridge-the-gap: financial support for spouse’s transition from being married to being  single.
  • Durational: Providing financial help for a set period of time.
  • Permanent: Providing for the life necessities established during marriage if the spouse is unable to meet his or her financial needs after its dissolution.

Post-Divorce Alimony Issues

The conflict between former spouses does not always end when the divorce decree is issued. If your spouse refuses to comply with his or her alimony obligations or either you or your former spouse’s circumstances change substantially after the divorce, you or your former spouse may need to commence a post-divorce action to enforce or modify the parties alimony obligations. 

Enforcement of Alimony Obligations

Former spouses who ignore court ordered alimony obligations can face serious consequences. If your spouse has failed to comply with his or her alimony obligations, you may need to commence a post divorce enforcement action in order to enforce your alimony obligations.

Modification of Alimony Obligations

On the other hand, sometimes people experience major changes in circumstances post-divorce: such as a loss of their job, disability, or bankruptcy. Some circumstantial changes warrant the modification of existing divorce decrees, like when your life changes dramatically through no fault of your own. For instance, if you have been ordered to pay alimony but are involved in a serious accident resulting in disability, you may be able to modify the alimony provisions of your marital settlement agreement. Likewise, changes in the life of your spouse can create grounds for modification-such as your spouse re-marrying or moving in with someone who pays most of their bills.  The standard for modifying your alimony obligation either up or down is the occurrence of a substantial change in circumstances in one or both of the parties which is permanent and involuntary in nature.

Whether you are enforcing your alimony obligation or seeking to modify it, this area of family law is highly complex and difficult to navigate.  The attorneys at the Campbell Law Group can help you get through the process and protect your rights.

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