Alimony, or spousal support, is an important part of most divorces. However, it can also be a complex and contentious issue which can lead to conflict and disagreements. If you live in Salt Lake City and you’re going through or planning on a divorce, you’ll need experienced legal help on your side. Whether you need assistance creating a support plan, modifying the terms of a preexisting plan, or enforcing an order because your former spouse stopped paying, Salt Lake City alimony attorney Darwin Overson can help.
Who Can Get Alimony in Utah?
It’s a stubborn and outdated myth that alimony automatically flows from the ex-husband to the ex-wife. In contemporary society, women account for approximately half of the U.S. workforce, and as a result, alimony payments can flow in either direction. Spousal support is based not on gender, but on economic considerations, such as how much income each partner earns and whether either partner is providing care for a dependent minor child. Anyone can become recipient or payor, depending upon their financial circumstances.
How Long Does Alimony Last in Utah?
Unless there are special extenuating circumstances which would justify a longer arrangement, in most cases the duration of spousal support is capped at the length of the marriage itself. In other words, a six-year marriage would be unlikely to result in a spousal support plan any longer than six years at maximum. Additionally, under Section 30-3-5(9) of the Utah Code, alimony automatically terminates when:
- Either spouse passes away.
- The recipient remarries.
- The recipient is found to be living with another person.
Can I Modify My Alimony Plan?
While modification to spousal support plans is not impossible, it can be highly difficult without assistance from an experienced attorney. This is because modification is only permitted in special and exceptional cases which are deemed by the courts to warrant making an alteration. As the law very plainly states, “The court may not modify alimony… unless the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify that action.” Some typical examples of extenuating circumstances which may provide sufficient justification could include the unexpected loss of a job, or the development of a serious illness which requires costly medical care.
What Should I Do if My Ex Stops Paying?
When a former spouse stops paying alimony despite being ordered to do so by the courts, it can be an immensely frustrating and stressful experience for the recipient. You may even feel tempted to respond by withholding parenting time and keeping your children away from your spouse so long as he or she fails to pay. However, this is a counterproductive measure because it is a violation of court orders. Likewise, depriving a former spouse of alimony because he or she is preventing you from seeing your children also represents a violation of the court’s orders. These two issues are regarded as distinctly separate, and are not intended to have any bearing on compliance with the other.
If your spouse stops paying his or her alimony as directed, the appropriate response is not to interfere with child custody, but to file a motion requesting the court to enforce the order. Your attorney will help you prepare and file this motion. In addition to issuing a judgment for unpaid alimony, the courts may also deem the noncompliant spouse in contempt of court. Contempt of court is a crime, punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. However, these penalties may be suspended if the payor comes into compliance as ordered.
From a financial standpoint, under Section 78A-6-1101 of the Utah Code the courts may utilize “garnishments, wage withholdings, supplementary proceedings, or executions” to secure the ordered payments.
What if Alimony is Ordered From Out-of-State?
If a support order was entered anywhere outside of the state, it is considered “foreign,” and you will need to go through the process of registering and later confirming the order before it can be considered valid and enforceable in Salt Lake City, or anywhere in Utah. First, your attorney will help you prepare and file a Request to Register, along with any other relevant supporting documents. Once the order has been registered, the person being served has 20 days to ask for a hearing. If he or she fails to request a hearing within the allotted 20 days, confirmation is automatic. If there is a hearing, the matter falls to the discretion of the judge.
Our Salt Lake City Alimony Attorneys Can Help
If any of these issues are affecting your life, you don’t have to face the legal challenges alone. To start discussing some of your options in a private case evaluation completely free of charge, call Salt Lake City alimony attorney Darwin Overson right away at (801) 758-2287, any time of day or evening. You can also contact our law offices online.