Connecticut Divorce and Spousal Support
This week, I’m covering how spousal support is determined in divorce. For information pertaining to your specific situation, please feel free to contact me here.
First off, it is important to understand under what circumstances alimony will be paid. If, over the course of your marriage, you and your spouse both worked, had similar incomes, and had some independent finances, alimony may not be awarded to your case. Alimony is rehabilitative in nature. The purpose of alimony is to keep both parties at a comparable level financially to where they were before. For example, spousal support can be awarded in a divorce case if you had a lengthy marriage in which one spouse worked while the other stayed at home. The stay-at-home spouse probably has outdated job skills or no job skills at all, no individual pension, and limited ways of finding a job. The stay-at-home spouse in the relationship might receive alimony in a divorce to help him or her pay bills while he or she finds a job. It is also important to understand that spousal support is rehabilitative in nature, which means that it’s sole purpose is to get someone back on their feet. Here is the definition of alimony as provided by the Connecticut General Assembly:
46b-82.(Formerly Sec. 46-52). Alimony.(a) At the time of entering the decree, the Superior Court may order either of the parties to pay alimony to the other, in addition to or in lieu of an award pursuant to section 46b-81. The order may direct that security be given therefor on such terms as the court may deem desirable, including an order pursuant to subsection (b) of this section or an order to either party to contract with a third party for periodic payments or payments contingent on a life to the other party. The court may order that a party obtain life insurance as such security unless such party proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that such insurance is not available to such party, such party is unable to pay the cost of such insurance or such party is uninsurable. In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall consider the evidence presented by each party and shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability and feasibility of such parent’s securing employment.
(b)If the court, following a trial or hearing on the merits, enters an order pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, or section 46b-86, and such order by its terms will terminate only upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the alimony recipient, the court shall articulate with specificity the basis for such order.
(c)Any postjudgment procedure afforded by chapter 906 shall be available to secure the present and future financial interests of a party in connection with a final order for the periodic payment of alimony.
There are different types of spousal support that will be awarded depending on your personal situation. Some types of alimony only last for a few months or years. Others can last for much longer. One type of spousal support is temporary spousal support, also referred to as pendente lite. In order to receive this type of spousal support, you will have to file temporary orders during the process of your divorce. This type of alimony allows both spouses to maintain their lifestyles while they are going through this difficult process. This is achieved by having the spouse that makes more money pay support to the spouse that doesn’t. Temporary spousal support will occur in a situation like the one I listed above, where one spouse makes much more money than the other. Temporary spousal support is especially common in situations where only one spouse in the relationship has a job. Temporary spousal support is exactly what it sounds like – temporary. When your divorce is finalized, these payments will no longer be made. This is because the spouse that is not currently working or who has a low income is expected to begin working or get a job that can support him or herself when the divorce is over.
Another form of alimony is called periodic alimony. If you had temporary spousal support during your divorce, you will probably be awarded periodic alimony when the divorce is finalized. This type of spousal support is paid to the spouse with the lower earnings during the marriage. The divorce will clearly change this spouse’s income and lifestyle. This spouse will receive spousal support for a certain period of time and in a certain amount. Periodic alimony typically ends after a certain amount of years. Alimony also can terminate upon the receiving spouses’ remarriage, and in some circumstances, cohabitation. Cohabitation in Connecticut is defined under specific statute.
One other type of spousal support is called permanent alimony. While the previous types of spousal support mentioned are meant to be temporary, this type of support, as the name suggests, is permanent. Permanent alimony can only be terminated by one of two events. The first is if one of the parties involved in the agreement dies. The other is if the party that receives the spousal support remarries. Sometimes cohabitation could end such alimony award. Despite the fact that permanent alimony is rarely terminated, it 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 larger payments. The logic here would be that the person paying the alimony would be in a position to pay more without having it affect his or her financial standings. On the other hand, if the person paying the alimony loses his or her job, or if he or she takes a pay cut, a petition can be made to have the alimony amount decreased. In this situation, the person paying the alimony would argue that he or she is no longer in a position to pay the same amount as in the past without having it dramatically impact his or her finances. Permanent alimony, also known as lifetime alimony, is unlikely to be awarded in many cases. The length of the marriage and the disproportionate amount of income and assets are some of the main considerations when the court decides upon an award of lifetime alimony. Many times, even if lifetime alimony is awarded, the court allows for re-evaluation upon the paying party’s retirement.
Alimony is typically modifiable. This means that upon a substantial change of circumstances, the award of alimony, amount and/or term could be modified with good cause. You should consult with your attorney to make sure specific provisions are in your divorce agreement to specify if alimony is modifiable.