If you were dependent on your spouse or gave up your career to raise your kids, you may be concerned about supporting yourself after divorce. In these situations, you may be hoping to collect alimony.
This post-marital support can make it easier for spouses to transition out of the divorce on a similar economic footing. If you plan to pursue alimony, however, you would be wise to avoid the following missteps.
Alimony mistake #1: Assuming it is an option
Alimony is not granted in every divorce. The courts can reject petitions for support, and various factors make a person ineligible for maintenance.
For instance, parties convicted of crimes like manslaughter and aggravated assault may not collect alimony.
Further, the courts must determine that there is a need for support and an ability to pay it. If your case does not meet either of these factors, alimony may not be an option.
Alimony mistake #2: Seeing it as a punishment
People often see alimony as a punishment – particularly the person ordered to pay it. However, these payments are not a penalty for financial success. They reflect marital contributions by both parties, affording them both the opportunity to maintain the same standard of living.
Further, note that marital misconduct, including adultery, is generally not going to affect alimony determinations. That said, there are exceptions, including when the misconduct is egregious or results in economic losses.
Alimony mistake #3: Expecting it to last forever
Whether you pay or receive alimony, do not expect that the obligation will last forever. State laws dictate numerous limitations on alimony.
For instance, if you were married for fewer than 20 years, your payments typically will not exceed the length of your marriage. And there are different types of alimony, including rehabilitative, reimbursement and limited duration alimony. Depending on the type awarded, payments can stop after paying a certain amount or when the recipient should reasonably be able to support themselves.
Alimony mistake #4: Making decisions without legal guidance
Alimony can be a contentious issue, and parties do not always know what options they have regarding spousal support.
Failing to pursue it because you think you do not need it or agreeing to pay more than is required can both be expensive missteps that haunt you long after a divorce. Seeking legal guidance can allow you to avoid this – and many other – mistakes.