Since your spouse announced his or her intention to divorce, you may be worrying about how you are going to survive financially on your own. This may be especially true if your spouse was the main breadwinner of the family.
Wisconsin is like most other states in that spousal maintenance is not necessarily a given. In many circumstances, both spouses have the resources to sustain themselves independently in a lifestyle that is close to what they experienced when they were married. Still, the court may order your spouse to pay alimony if you do not have the means to support yourself.
Figuring out spousal maintenance
The general alimony formula in most states calculates the net income of each spouse and subtracts the total amount of assets each of you receives in property division. From that amount, the court will decide if you will require alimony.
Other circumstances the court uses to determine the amount and duration of any potential support include:
- The length of time you were married
- Whether you have preschool age or special needs children to care for
- Your education, training and marketable skills
- Any time you spent working to support your spouse’s efforts to get a degree or further his or her career
- The terms of a prenuptial agreement
You and your spouse may also wish to discuss spousal maintenance and try to reach an agreement before you go to court. Whatever arrangement the two of you make will factor into the judge’s ruling.
Isn’t alimony forever?
It is rare that courts award spousal maintenance indefinitely. In fact, support is often ordered for a period of a few months immediately after the divorce, but it may last a number of years if you have difficulty finding work to support yourself.
It is important to know that the court does not look kindly on former spouses who intentionally remain unemployed or underemployed just to receive maintenance. Therefore, it is wise to use as many resources as possible to arrive quickly at a state where you are self-sustained.
Your primary resource
One of the most valuable resources you can rely on is your attorney. Having legal counsel will ensure that you receive your fair share of marital property, which will affect any alimony decisions.
If your spouse disputes your claim for alimony, it will be essential for you to have an advocate who will defend your rights and interests. Your lawyer will help you understand every aspect of the legal proceedings and fight to make sure you are well-provided for as you move forward after your divorce.