When a married couple separates, it is very rare that the two spouses will have separate and equal incomes. In order to ensure that divorce does not place undue economic hardship on one party, some spouses can be eligible for alimony payments from the other spouse. Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is a payment one spouse makes to the other until the disadvantaged spouse can be self-supporting.
Factors a Rhode Island Divorce Court May Consider in Awarding Alimony
Since alimony is intended to be a rehabilitative form of support, Rhode Island courts generally only award these payments for a pre-determined period of time. The court will award alimony based on the specifics of each case, including:
- Need. The higher-earning spouse may be ordered to provide temporary alimony to a partner who has children to support or would otherwise be eligible for public benefits without the higher-earning spouse’s income.
- Physical factors. Alimony may be awarded indefinitely if a former spouse is disabled, is over retirement age, or is similarly unable to work.
- Potential for employment. A spouse who cannot earn a self-supporting income because of a current occupation or vocational skills may qualify for alimony while she attends school or training for a different career.
- Marital circumstances. A court may consider the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during marriage, and any degree of marital misconduct when deciding whether alimony is necessary.
- Shared employment history. In some cases, one spouse will work while the other raises children, performs homemaking responsibilities, or attends school in order to benefit the financial security of the marriage. These factors may be considered during alimony determination.
- Ability to pay. Alimony may not be awarded (even in cases where it otherwise should be) if a spouse does not have the ability to pay. Common reasons for an inability to pay include child support obligations or outstanding debts.
The Rhode Island divorce attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help determine whether you are owed alimony payments as part of your divorce settlement. Simply fill out our online contact form to set up your initial consultation.