Typically, there are several major issues which must be determined and settled upon in any divorce. Assets must be divided. If the couple has children, custody and parenting plans must be established. And in many cases, spousal support must be agreed upon or ordered by a judge.
Better known as “alimony,” spousal support tends to be one of the most divisive aspects of a divorce. It involves the more financially advantaged spouse making regular payments to help support the other spouse either during the divorce process, after the divorce is finalized, or both. Either spouse—no matter their gender—can be required to pay spousal support, and determinations regarding whether or not support will be required and how much support will be required depend on a number of factors.
Cases where a spouse is required to pay spousal support while the divorce proceedings play out is known as temporary spousal support—known in Oklahoma as “spousal maintenance.” This is actually a distinctly different form of spousal support than alimony, which in Oklahoma is the term for spousal support paid after the divorce is finalized.
Spousal maintenance can only last from the time the divorce is officially filed to the time the divorce decree is finalized. At that point, alimony can be awarded as part of the divorce settlement.
Courts will consider many factors when deciding whether or not to award spousal support to one of the divorcing parties, but the two most important factors are:
- The length of the marriage
- The ability of the each party to financially support themselves
The courts will analyze each divorce on a case-by-case basis, looking closely at the financial circumstances of each spouse and deciding whether alimony should be awarded, how much alimony should be awarded, and how long the alimony payments should last.
The court can also decide how the alimony must be paid, dictating whether the support will be paid as a lump-sum or over a period of time, and potentially requiring the paying spouse to provide alimony through the sale of real property.
If the alimony is to be paid over a period of time, the courts will establish whether the payments should be made indefinitely, or potentially for a temporary time period to allow the spouse receiving the payments time to become financially established and independent.
Generally, not matter the alimony schedule, payments will cease upon the death of the spouse receiving the support, or if that spouse gets remarried under most circumstances.
As with most factors that are settled in a divorce, significant changes in either spouses circumstances—such as a major increase or decrease in income—could be grounds for a modification of the original alimony order.
Please keep in mind that every case is unique, and it is vital that you consult with a skilled divorce attorney to help you better understand your options and how alimony determinations in your divorce could potentially play out. Contact Hensley Legal Services today to discuss your case.