Types of Spousal Support
Oftentimes, divorce does not signify a complete end for your relationship with your spouse. Your romantic relationship might be over. But, if you have children together, you will probably continue to be in each others’ lives for a long time. This happens as you continue to make decisions concerning your children. In addition, many spouses receive spousal support, also known as alimony, in divorce.
This does not necessarily mean that you have to see your ex-spouse all of the time. But, you will still be financially connected to your ex. Spousal support isn’t black and white. It depends on many factors that contributed to your marriage and the breakdown of the marriage. Because of this, there are several different types of alimony. Understanding these types can help you know what you are entitled to or what you will have to pay.
First off, you need to understand when alimony will or will not be paid. In situations where you have been in a long-term marriage where both spouses work and have similar incomes, alimony probably won’t be a factor in the divorce. However, if you have been in a long-term marriage in which one spouse worked while the other stayed at home, the stay-at-home spouse probably has no job skills, no pension of their own, and limited ways to get a job. This spouse will probably receive alimony in a divorce.
One type of spousal support is temporary spousal support. This is also referred to as pendent elite. If your divorce isn’t finalized yet, one spouse has to pay support to the other. This happens so that they can maintain their lifestyle. Temporary spousal support is exactly what it sounds like – temporary. It is only meant to last during the divorce process.
Another type of alimony is rehabilitative alimony. This spousal support is paid to the spouse that didn’t work during the marriage. Because of divorce, this spouse will have to get a job in order to support themselves. While this spouse gets job training, job experience, or furthers their education, they will receive spousal support.
This type of alimony is meant to help a spouse that has no job experience or skills. It helps them until they become self-sufficient. Also, this type of spousal support is usually set for a fixed period of time. This happens because it is only meant as a temporary fix to help one spouse become self-sufficient.
Permanent alimony will continue until the death of one of the parties involved. Or it happens until the recipient of the spousal support remarries. This type of alimony can be adjusted based on the financial situation of both the payer and the recipient. For example, if the payer gets a promotion, the recipient can petition for more spousal support. On the other hand, if the payer is demoted or loses their job they can petition to have the amount of spousal support decreased.
The last type of alimony is called reimbursement support. This is meant to reimburse one spouse for expenses paid for the other spouse. This includes payment for a college degree or medical school. If you spent money to help build your spouse’s career and are no longer receiving the benefits of their career because of your divorce, you could get reimbursement support.
Contempt of Paying Alimony
In some cases, after divorce is finalized, one person will stop making spousal support payments to their ex. This may come about as the result of the person who has to pay alimony falling on hard times and having a difficult time making payments. The loss of a job, medical problems, etc. might be the reason that alimony payments have stopped. In other cases, the person who is supposed to make alimony payments might simply grow tired of making payment to their ex. This person may have moved on and is trying to support another family. If this happens, they might not want to keep paying their ex. No matter what the reason is for one ex to stop paying alimony to the other, the court will respond in the same way.
Failure to Pay
Failure to make court ordered alimony payments will not be tolerated by the court. If you are not receiving alimony from your ex, there are some steps you should follow. In the case that your ex spouse stops making alimony payments, you should contact them and discuss the issue.
Try to find out why the alimony payments have stopped. Make sure that your ex is aware that you are prepared to go to court if the support payments do not start back up. Also make it clear that you intend to be reimbursed for the payments that your ex missed.
If your ex continues to refuse to make spousal support payments to you, you will have to file a motion with the court. In this motion, you will have to ask a judge to force your ex to resume payment of alimony. This is oftentimes referred to as a motion for enforcement or a contempt motion.
Once a contempt motion is filed, you can ask the judge to hold your ex in contempt. By asking the court to do this, you are stating that the court order for alimony is being ignored. If a judge finds your ex spouse in contempt, the first step will be having your ex pay the overdue alimony. There might be an additional fine that your ex will have to pay if he or she is found in contempt.
If your ex still refuses to pay support, a judge can put your ex in jail. If you are found to be in contempt of the court because you don’t pay alimony, you will face serious consequences. You can go to jail if you do not follow a court ordered alimony request. If you have spousal support payments that are overdue, try to talk to your ex and have them hold off on filing a contempt motion until you can pay.
In most cases, it will be better to simply pay the spousal support than to face jail time. On the other hand, if your ex does has stopped paying his or her alimony, and refuses to do so in the future, you should file an order and have the court take care of the situation.
Remember, regardless if you are the payor or payee, you should documents payments made and received. In the event you are ever brought into court, having documentation and proof of payments or lack thereof is always important and helpful to the court.
Waiver of Alimony
If the parties waive their right to alimony, or if the court’s judgment contains no provision for alimony, neither party will be able to go back into court at any time in the future to request that alimony be ordered, even if there is a drastic change in circumstances that was not foreseeable at the time of the divorce. Unless there is some kind of alimony provision, the door will be closed forever.
What Happens if My Ex Starts Living with Someone Else?
In DeMaria v. DeMaria, 247 Conn. 715 (Feb. 16, 1999), the Supreme Court (Katz, J.) ruled that a provision to terminate alimony in the event of a recipient’s cohabitation must be interpreted in conjunction with the requirements of Conn. Gen. Stats. Section 46b-86(b). The statute allows the court to modify an alimony order on grounds that the recipient is “living with another person” only if the new living arrangement causes a change of circumstances so as to alter the financial needs of that party.
The Supreme Court ruled that a trial court must evaluate the financial impact of the living arrangement regardless of the terms of the separation agreement and decree. A party seeking modification upon the ground of cohabitation must therefore plead and prove “altered financial needs.” Basically, if your ex is now living with someone and you suspect they are getting financial support from them, your alimony can be reduced.