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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 by BOTH
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
When and How Spousal Maintenance is Ordered
When 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 marriage.
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
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.