Ending a marriage can be a painful and difficult time, full of questions, changes, and major legal considerations. For many people who are going through a divorce, one of the most significant aspects of the process is the determination of an alimony plan. However, there are many different factors which can influence the final outcome of a spousal support dispute, which means it is critically important that your interests are represented by an experienced family law attorney.
Utah alimony lawyer Rex Bray is dedicated to helping his clients successfully navigate the determination process, and will advocate tirelessly for the most favorable arrangement possible. Whether you are the recipient or payor, he will guide you through each and every step of all legal proceedings, and will fight aggressively to make sure your rights are always protected.
To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation, call our law offices at (801) 708-0913 today.
What is Alimony?
Also called spousal support, the term alimony refers to a series of payments from one ex-spouse to the other. Contrary to popular belief, these payments are not intended as a punishment or expression of spite, but are simply there to help divorced spouses maintain the standard of living they were accustomed to during their marriage. It is also untrue that the ex-husband automatically pays the ex-wife, as financial support may be awarded to either gender.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
In Utah, the length of a payment plan is determined primarily by the duration of the preceding marriage. Pursuant to Section 30-3-5 of the State Legislature, “Alimony may not be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years that the marriage existed unless, at any time prior to termination of alimony, the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify the payment of alimony for a longer period of time.”
In other words, spousal support cannot outlast the actual marriage, unless there are unusual circumstances which would make an extended arrangement appropriate. These “extenuating circumstances” must be dramatically life-altering, and typically entail either the loss of a job or an unexpected serious illness.
How is Alimony Determined in Utah?
In accordance with 30-3-5(8)(a), the courts must weigh all of the following factors when making a determination:
- What are the recipient’s financial needs? What is his or her financial status?
- How much income is the recipient capable of earning independently?
- What is the financial status of the payor? What can he or she realistically afford?
- How long did the marriage last?
- Does the recipient care for any children?
- Did the recipient ever work for the payor?
- Did the recipient ever pay for or otherwise enable the payor to complete any schooling or training that eventually increased the payor’s earning power? (For example, did the recipient put the payor through medical school in the past?)
The factors listed above will be evaluated in every case. However, if a divorce happens to involve an element of “fault,” the courts will also consider the details of that fault when making a support determination.
Under the definitions supplied by Utah law, “fault” essentially means wrongful conduct. All of the following are examples of fault in a divorce:
- Committing adultery.
- “Knowingly and intentionally” harming or trying to harm the spouse, or minor children.
- “Knowingly and intentionally” causing the spouse or minor children to fear for their lives.
- “Substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor children.”
If either party was at fault in any of those ways, that fault will have a direct effect on the ultimate determination.
Can My Alimony Plan Be Modified?
State law plainly states, “The court may not modify alimony… unless the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify that action.” On a related note, spousal support cannot be retroactively altered to address new needs which did not exist at the time, unless there are special circumstances. If you wish to alter your current support plan, your lawyer can help you petition the courts for a modification order.
Experienced Salt Lake Alimony Attorneys
Negotiating and enforcing spousal support can be a complex task, but you don’t have to go through the process alone. To arrange for a free and private legal consultation with an experienced attorney, call Rex Bray at (801) 708-0913, or contact our law offices online.