Alimony is a common concern among divorcing couples in the Topeka, KS area. Whether you expect to pay alimony to your ex or receive alimony or spousal support after a divorce, it is natural to wonder what role alimony will play in your divorce proceedings, including how long it will last. Most alimony or spousal support agreements function on a short-term or temporary basis. Still, some judges will award permanent alimony if they believe the situation calls for long-term support.
Kansas is an equitable distribution state, meaning that most Kansas family court judges tend to avoid ongoing support or maintenance agreements whenever possible. Instead, they encourage divorcing spouses to “trade” assets and property for an equitable divorce outcome. The result may not be a perfectly even 50/50 split, but it generally offers greater flexibility than what they could have expected under community property laws. While many Kansas judges will avoid awarding alimony whenever possible, it is the most appropriate solution in a divorce in some situations.
How Does Alimony Work?
Alimony or spousal support is paid on a predetermined basis, typically monthly, with the intention of supporting the recipient enough to be self-sufficient and enjoy the same quality of life they enjoyed while married. Depending on the income difference between the spouses, the length of the marriage, and other factors, alimony could potentially be a substantial amount of money over time.
The payer in an alimony agreement obviously has an interest in keeping their payments as low as possible. At the same time, the recipient will understandably strive to increase the amount of alimony they receive as much as possible. Unless the divorcing couple can manage to negotiate their alimony arrangement through mediation, the decision will ultimately fall to a Topeka, KS family court judge.
How Is Alimony Determined?
When a judge must decide an appropriate alimony arrangement for a divorcing couple, the judge will consider many different factors in their decision, including:
- The length of the marriage. The longer the marriage lasted, the greater the change for long-term or permanent alimony to come into play.
- The income difference between the spouses.
- Financial, professional, and domestic support the spouse provided to one another during their marriage.
- The nature of the couple’s lifestyle while married, including who earned the household’s income and managed everyday household responsibilities.
- The age, health, and medical condition of the spouses.
- Children the spouses have together and the custody rights of the spouses, if applicable.
There are many different factors a family court judge will evaluate when making an alimony determination. A spouse who sacrificed their professional career opportunities to raise a family and care for a marital home over years of marriage is far more likely to secure long-term or permanent alimony in divorce than a spouse who has earned their own living for many years and has no infirmity preventing them from continuing to support themselves. Alimony seeks to support a divorcing spouse to the point they are able to live a fulfilling life on their own. If a judge determines this support must continue indefinitely, it’s vital for all parties involved to abide by the terms of the alimony arrangement.
An alimony arrangement will likely include a list of “terminating actions,” or actions that any signed party might take that would invalidate the alimony arrangement. For example, a judge may award alimony temporarily not to exceed five years under the condition that the recipient does not cohabitate with a new partner or remarry. Three years into this agreement, the recipient decides to move in with a new partner. As soon as they do so, the payer no longer needs to continue making alimony payments as the recipient has completed a terminating action.
While long-term and permanent alimony arrangements are far less common than short-term temporary arrangements, all alimony arrangements will include terminating actions. If you are paying alimony and believe your ex has committed a terminating action, consult with an attorney immediately. If you believe your alimony arrangement requires further review or modification in light of recent events, an attorney can help with this as well.
Qualifying Factors for Permanent Alimony
When an alimony determination rests in the hands of a Topeka, KS judge, the decision will ultimately hinge on the judge’s interpretation of the case’s facts. Alimony comes into play when one spouse in a marriage is the primary breadwinner or earns far more income than the other. A judge may decide that temporary alimony is necessary so that the supported spouse can complete a professional certification or finish a job search to enjoy gainful employment on their own. However, if there is any reason to believe the supported spouse will not be able to live independently without financial support from their ex, permanent alimony is more likely.
Age, medical status, and disability are three factors that typically lend to permanent alimony determinations. An older divorcing spouse who is too old to rejoin the workforce, unable to earn a living due to disability, or reliant on constant in-home medical care is likely to receive spousal support on a long-term or permanent basis – if the judge deems it fair and appropriate.
The Value of Working With the Right Attorney
Whether you expect to pay or receive alimony in your divorce in Topeka, choosing the right attorney to represent your interests in divorce proceedings is one of the most important factors in securing a positive outcome in your divorce case. An experienced Topeka, KS divorce attorney can help you build a solid case for permanent alimony if you truly have a need for long-term financial support. If you believe your ex is trying to extort you for more alimony than they truly need, your attorney can help ensure your ultimate alimony determination is fair and reasonable.
Your attorney can provide you with detailed professional insights into your divorce, helping you approach the situation with greater confidence and peace of mind. If you need permanent alimony to live a reasonably comfortable life after divorce, your attorney can help you secure it. If you believe your ex has committed a terminating action that would nullify your obligation to pay alimony, notify your attorney to determine your best options for legal recourse.