Hafemeyer Law

Spousal Maintenance Today

When a couple gets a divorce it is possible for one spouse to be awarded spousal maintenance (alimony).  With more and more couples being dual earners, spousal maintenance is awarded less often, but an award of spousal maintenance is based on more than just whether or not both spouses are employed.

Alimony is used by the courts to ensure that one spouse is not destitute following the divorce. It is used as an equalizer so that one spouse does not continue to maintain a high standard of living while the other spouse can barely make ends meet. In most cases, divorce has a financial impact on both parties because the same income that supported one household cannot support two households at the same standard.

Spousal maintenance is not guaranteed. One spouse has to request an award by the court and the award can be temporary or permanent.  In an award for spousal maintenance, the court does not simply take the couple’s income and divide it in half so that both are equal. There are several factors that are taken into consideration in the award and it is not used to punish the other spouse for “bad” behavior during the marriage.

One of the factors weighed by the court is the ability of the requesting spouse to be able to adequately provide for him- or herself. An individual with a college education and the ability to obtain sufficient assets to support themselves may be awarded temporary alimony to allow them time to get back on their feet.

Another factor is the number and value of assets awarded to the requesting spouse. If there are sufficient assets to allow them to maintain a similar standard of living as the couple enjoyed during the marriage, the court is less likely to award spousal maintenance.

Couples have the ability to discuss and agree on the amount of spousal maintenance and the duration, or even waive the request of maintenance altogether. This is termed a Karon waiver.  In most jurisdictions, once spousal maintenance has been waived it is almost impossible to revisit.

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