When a marriage comes to an end, there are many things to decide, whether between the spouses or before a judge. For example, most every couple has property to divide, and many have the custody and support of children to consider. However, one of the most controversial and misunderstood issues of divorce is spousal support, also called spousal maintenance or alimony.
Spousal support is not an automatic part of a divorce order or settlement. Receiving an alimony award is a rare event because many spouses have relatively equitable incomes when they divorce. Because there may be advantages and disadvantages to receiving alimony, including understanding how it may affect your taxes, it is wise to discuss the matter thoroughly with your attorney to fully understand how it applies to you.
Are you eligible for spousal support?
Since the purpose of alimony is to provide a lower earning spouse with financial assistance to avoid struggle until he or she is self-sufficient, alimony typically has a deadline. However, in some circumstances, such as in the growing number of gray divorces, alimony may have no expiration. This allows a lower earning spouse a steady source of income, which may be especially important for spouses who are no longer able to work. Typically, a judge will weigh this and other factors including:
- How long you were married
- Your age and general health
- Whether you are employed or have marketable skills
- Whether your income is significantly lower than your spouse’s
- The lifestyle to which you were accustomed during your marriage
- Other financial responsibilities you may have, such as primary custody of the children
- Your spouse’s age, health and income
The court may also evaluate other circumstances, such as whether your spouse was abusive to you or if he or she used joint assets to fund an extramarital affair. The outcome of your asset division will also play an important role in whether you receive alimony and, if so, how much. Of course, if you should remarry, your ex’s obligation to pay spousal support ends.
You may consider requesting a life insurance or disability policy that would continue with payments in the event that your ex becomes injured or passes away and can no longer make spousal support payments. These are only a few of the many factors you should consider if you plan to request alimony as part of your divorce order or settlement. With the guidance of an experienced Texas attorney, you may have a better chance of meeting your goals.