Getting a divorce will affect the finances of both parties in multiple ways. Spouses will usually need to make significant changes to their living arrangements, lifestyles, and other aspects of their lives as they determine how they will be able to cover their ongoing expenses on a single income rather than sharing two incomes. While these adjustments may be difficult but necessary when both spouses earn similar incomes, there are some cases where one party may struggle to address their ongoing needs. If one spouse was a family’s primary income earner, the other spouse may need assistance as they establish a new life for themselves and determine how to cover their living expenses. In these cases, spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) may be appropriate, and spouses will need to understand how the amount of support will be determined and how long payments may last.
Determining the Amount and Duration of Spousal Maintenance
There are multiple factors that may be considered when determining whether spousal support will be needed during and/or after a couple’s divorce. These factors may also help determine the amount that should be paid, and the length of time that payments will last. Relevant issues that may be considered during the divorce process include:
The length of the couple’s marriage. Maintenance is more likely to be awarded if a couple was married for a long period of time, the spouses became used to a certain standard of living during their marriage, and one spouse relied on the income earned by the other to meet the family’s ongoing needs.
Each party’s educational level and earning capacity. By understanding the issues that may affect each spouse’s ability to earn income, a court may determine whether the spouse seeking maintenance will be able to support themselves while also considering the amount of time that they may need to become self-supporting. In addition to looking at each spouse’s current occupation, a court may consider the amount of time that a person has been out of the workforce, whether their parental responsibilities as determined in matters related to child custody will affect their ability to work, and whether they will need time and financial assistance to pursue education or job training.
Other financial resources – The decisions made during a divorce about property division, as well as the tax consequences of these decisions, may affect the assets and resources available to each spouse, and this may play a role in determining the amount of spousal support that will be appropriate.
Since Wisconsin law does not provide specific formulas used to determine the amount of spousal support payments or the length of time that these payments will be made, these matters are decided on a case-by-case basis. A judge may determine an appropriate amount based on each party’s needs and the ability of the payor to make ongoing payments. The duration of maintenance may be determined based on the length of a couple’s marriage and the amount of time the recipient may need before they will be able to support themselves and maintain their standard of living.
If necessary, maintenance may be modified after a divorce based on changes in the circumstances of either party. If the payor experiences financial difficulties due to the loss of their job, a serious illness, or a disability, they may request that the amount of their support payments be lowered, or they may ask for maintenance to be terminated altogether. Maintenance obligations will also be terminated if the recipient remarries.
Contact Our Milwaukee Spousal Maintenance Attorneys
If you have questions about how spousal support will be handled during your divorce, the attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP can explain how Wisconsin’s divorce laws may apply in your situation. We will advocate on your behalf during your divorce to ensure that spousal support issues are addressed correctly. We can also help you pursue a modification of maintenance if your circumstances change in the years after your divorce. Contact our Milwaukee, WI spousal support lawyers at 414-271-1440 to discuss issues related to your divorce in a free consultation.