Anchorage Alimony Lawyer
What Qualifies Someone for Spousal Support in Alaska?
Alimony refers to the money that one spouse must pay the other to level the financial picture after a divorce. For instance, in situations where one spouse earns more than the other, the court may order the higher-earner to provide financial payments to the lower-earning spouse during the divorce, and sometimes after the divorce is final. Note that many divorcing spouses either decide to waive alimony or agree that one spouse should pay the other a certain amount for a specific period of time. When spouses can't agree on their own, a family court judge will make the final decision.
Either spouse can request spousal support, though the court will only award support if the requesting spouse can demonstrate a need for financial assistance, and the other spouse is able to pay. It is common for both spouses to experience a drop in economic stability after a divorce, primarily due to the need to maintain two households on the same amount of income that formerly supported one. However, if one spouse will experience financial hardship without help from the other, the court will likely award support.
3 Types of Alimony
Alaska courts offer 3 types of spousal support: temporary, rehabilitative, or reorientation. Temporary relief is ordered in cases where one spouse needs financial help during the divorce process, which can take up to 1 year to complete in certain circumstances. Temporary support ensures that the lower-earning spouse can cover living expenses while waiting for the judge to issue a final judgment of divorce.
Rehabilitation support provides the lower-earning spouse with the financial backing to gain the skills, education, or job training to support themselves after the divorce. Note that a spouse who receives rehabilitation support must have a specific employment goal and must describe to the court how the support will facilitate reaching that goal. Rehabilitation support usually only lasts for as long as it takes the spouse to complete their schooling or a training program to begin a new job.
Lastly, the court reserves reorientation support for situations when one spouse needs help adjusting to a one-income household. Reorientation support is short-term (typically lasting 1 year or less) and most common in scenarios where the couple’s marital property isn’t enough to meet both spouse’s financial needs after the divorce.
How Does the Court Determine Alimony?
When calculating spousal support, the judge will consider the following factors:
- the length of the marriage (short-term marriages are less likely to see spousal support awards);
- each spouses’ age and health;
- both spouses’ ability to earn, including their educational backgrounds, training, employment skills, work experiences, length of absence from the job market, and custodial responsibilities for children during the marriage;
- the financial situation of each spouse, including availability and cost of health insurance;
- the conduct of the parties, such as whether either spouse unreasonably depleted marital assets;
- marital property division awards in the divorce; and
- any other factor the court determines to be relevant.
Be aware that there is no predictable formula for the court to determine spousal support, and the judge has broad discretion when creating a final award. That being said, couples have the right to create their own agreement for spousal support (the amount, duration, and payment method) without the court’s help, but they must put the agreement in writing. However, unless the couple agreed otherwise in writing, the court may modify spousal support awards in the future. Note that if a recipient spouse remarries, the paying spouse can file a motion with the court requesting termination of support.
Paying Spousal Support
There are a few ways to pay spousal support in Alaska – lump-sum, property, or periodic payments. The most common payment method for spousal support is a regular monthly payment that the court deducts directly from the paying spouse’s paycheck. In most cases, a support order typically includes an income withholding order, which instructs the paying spouse’s employer to redirect the spousal support award to the recipient spouse.
Note that failure to pay spousal support or not comply with the income withholding orders may result in the court charging the paying spouse with contempt, which warrants fines, penalties, and possible jail time. If the paying spouse elects to pay a lump sum instead of period payments, the court may allow a one-time, lump-sum payment that will eliminate the need for an income withholding order and ongoing payments.
Questions? Let Denali Law Group Help!
Following a divorce, alimony is one of the most important items of discussion to ensure both spouses can fairly move forward after a drastic change to their life. At Denali Law Group, we aim to provide clients with compassionate and understanding representation as they build their post-divorce life, starting with spousal support.
If you have questions or concerns about alimony or spousal support following a divorce, speak with an experience attorney immediately for legal guidance. A lawyer can help you and your partner negotiate the payment amount and duration. The legal team at Denali Law Group can examine your financial situation to craft a fair alimony agreement that will support you following a divorce in Anchorage, Alaska.
Schedule a consultation today with Denali Law Group!