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Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
Spousal maintenance is a
term that means the same as the more commonly used term, alimony. Spousal maintenance
refers to the money that is paid by one spouse to the other as part of the divorce
decree. The payment is designed to be a safety net for a spouse who cannot provide
for his or her needs or who meets other requirements under law. The idea behind
Spousal maintenance is that the accomplishments of the spouses during the marriage,
including increases in earning potential and living standards, are shared and earned
spouses, not just the spouse who gets a paycheck or has a job.
Spousal maintenance is paid separately from child support and is not a substitute
for or a supplement to child support payments.
When and How Spousal Maintenance is Ordered
spousal maintenance is ordered, the judge will consider the length of the marriage,
the age and earning ability of the spouse who is asking for maintenance, the standard
of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage, the ability of the other spouse
to pay, and what the person who is asking for the maintenance contributed to the
Community property can be a very technical subject. If you own a home or property
that is worth a significant amount of money, or if you or your spouse or your employers
contributed to a pension or retirement plan while you were married, you might want
to ask a lawyer for help before you file for or respond to a divorce petition.
The amount of a spousal maintenance payments is determined by what the judge considers
to be a reasonable deduction from the monthly income of the paying spouse and a
reasonable monthly payment to the receiving spouse. Not every divorce case involves
spousal maintenance. You might want to talk to a lawyer about whether you have good
legal reasons to request Spousal maintenance before you file a petition for divorce.
Paying Spousal Maintenance
payments may be ordered to be made through an Income Withholding Order from the
paying spouse's paycheck. This means that the court's order directs the employer
of the spouse to deduct the amount of spousal maintenance directly from the paycheck,
and then the employer sends this money to the Clerk of the Superior Court. The Clerk
records the payment and sends the money to the spouse who is entitled to receive
the spousal maintenance payment. Self-employed or unemployed spouses must make spousal
maintenance payments directly to the Clerk of the Court too.