Alimony Attorneys in Dothan, AL
Support obligations are often one of the most important issues involved in the divorce process. If there are children involved, then child support is awarded based on Alabama guidelines. Spousal support, on the other hand, is not awarded in every marriage dissolution case. There are certain criteria that must be met, and the determination as to whether or not to alimony should be paid is often based largely on the discretion of the court, and the strength of the arguments presented by the respective spouses’ attorneys.
If you are considering divorce and want to make certain that your rights are protected during the process, you can turn to the team at Smith Law Firm for guidance. Throughout Dothan and the surrounding Alabama areas, our lawyers offer a broad range of services in the area of family law. From efficiently resolving uncontested divorces to litigating complex and highly contested divorce cases, we stand ready to protect our clients’ interests. We take time to explain the legal issues involved in a case and will listen to your concerns and fight for what is most important to you.
How Do I Know if Alimony is Appropriate in My Divorce?
Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is calculated based on the individual circumstances of a situation. Alimony is often given to the spouse who earns less for a specific time period so he or she can adjust to the reality of the new living situation. However, in some cases, lifetime alimony can be awarded.
Our Dothan alimony lawyers will thoroughly examine your specific circumstances to help determine if one spouse is obligated to pay support, and to help explain how the judge is likely to rule in ordering support payments. The factors commonly used may include:
- Each party’s age and health.
- Income prospects for each party.
- Need and ability to pay support.
- The ability of each spouse to support themselves.
- Length of the marriage.
- The established standard of living during the marriage.
- The contributions and sacrifices made by the receiving spouse as a parent and homemaker.
- Infidelity on the part of either spouse that may have contributed to the divorce.
- Any other factors that the court may deem relevant.
We will also explain how other situations such as child custody can affect spousal support as well as child support. In addition, we will examine any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to see if they contain any specific terms and conditions regarding spousal support, and to determine if the agreement is legally enforceable.
Types of Alimony in Alabama
There are several different kinds of spousal support that could be awarded in Alabama:
- Pendente Lite: This is a temporary form of alimony that is awarded while the divorce is in process in order to help the receiving spouse get by financially until a final decree is issued. When the divorce is finalized, a more permanent award is given (or not given depending on the circumstances). Courts often use the temporary pendente lite award as a basis for the level of spousal support that is awarded after the couple is divorced.
- Periodic Alimony: This is the most common type of spousal support. The support is paid on a periodic basis – often monthly but sometimes weekly or biweekly – over a specified period of time.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: This is a type of periodic alimony that is paid temporarily over a certain period of time in order to give the receiving spouse a chance to get re-established and earn enough income to support themselves. For example, rehabilitative alimony might be paid until the spouse can find a job in his/her previous field and/or obtain the education and training needed to get back into the workforce.
- Permanent Alimony: This is a type of periodic alimony that is considered permanent and long-term barring any extreme unforeseen event. Permanent alimony is generally awarded in divorces in which the couple was married for at least a decade (or usually longer) and the age, physical health, or other factors prevent the receiving spouse from being able to reenter the workforce.
- Lump Sum Alimony: As the name implies, lump sum alimony is spousal support that is received in the form of one large payment (or a small handful of larger payments) rather than monthly (or more frequently) over an extended period of time. A lump sum spousal support payment is often viewed more like a property settlement than an alimony award.
When can Spousal Support be Modified or Terminated?
When alimony is awarded at the time of the divorce or prior to its finalization, it is done based on the circumstances at that time. But we all know that circumstances change, and sometimes these changes are significant enough to warrant a change in the spousal support arrangement.
For example, one instance in which alimony is automatically terminated is if either of the spouses die. Another time when the termination of support is likely is when the receiving spouse gets remarried or begins cohabitating with another unmarried adult. Generally, spousal support would be terminated in a case like this unless otherwise specified in the divorce settlement.
Spousal support can be modified in other situations that would constitute a “material change in circumstances.” Some examples include:
- The paying spouse loses his/her job.
- The receiving spouse gets a new job.
- The paying spouse develops a serious health condition that will incur significant medical costs.
- The paying spouse incurs additional support obligations.
- The paying spouse has a financial emergency (e.g., the need to care for a parent).
- Any other significant financial change for either spouse.
It is important to realize that the only instance in which spousal support automatically terminates is in the event of the death of either spouse. In all other cases, the court must approve the new arrangement for it to be legally valid. Even if the spouses agree to an alimony modification or termination on their own, they must still formalize that agreement with the state.
If you do not formalize a change in the spousal support arrangement, the receiving spouse could change his/her mind later on and petition the court to enforce payment of support. If that were to happen, the paying spouse might wind up with contempt of court charges, which could result in criminal penalties as well.
Serving Areas Such as Columbia And Enterprise — Spousal Support Lawyers
Alimony/spousal support can be one of the most contentious and emotionally charged issues that must be resolved during a divorce. If you are facing a divorce in Alabama, the attorneys at Smith Law Firm are here to help. Please contact our team at 334-702-1744 or by sending us an email online to schedule an initial consultation with a member of our legal team.