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Spousal Maintenance -What is it?

Spousal support or, “spousal maintenance,” as the court refers to it, or “alimony,” as the general public refers to it, is the obligation of one spouse to pay the other spouse after the divorce has been finalized. Its purpose is to ensure that both parties have a fair and equal division of finances based upon each of their earning capabilities, and for the receiving party to maintain a similar standard of living than they had during the course of the marriage. However, a prenuptial agreement may also affect how spousal support is granted. Outside of an agreement, the court has a lot of discretion in regards to spousal support.

Spousal maintenance is just one of many things to consider when determining the cost of your divorce. To look at all the factors influencing your final divorce cost, see also: How much does a divorce cost in Wisconsin?

How is Alimony Determined?

In Wisconsin, alimony may be ordered by the court for a fixed period of time after the finalization of the divorce. The court looks at various factors to decide how much alimony is to be granted to one spouse. Common standard factors the courts examine when determining alimony are as follows:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The health and age of each party
  • The education level at the time of divorce
  • The earning capacity of the party seeking alimony
  • The tax consequences
  • The previous agreements by the parties

What is an Example of When Spousal Support is Needed?

A common example of when spousal support is appropriate can be when one party worked while the other stayed home to care for the children, the courts consider this a “homemaker.” Upon divorce, the homemaker would likely need support because it is unlikely they have an income or work experience. The courts may consider the homemaker's contributions as, “non-economic,” which means that even though they did not contribute any income, they took care of the home and children while the other party worked, constituting as a substantial contribution to the marriage.

How to Avoid Paying Spousal Support?

Alimony is not a given for every divorce. There are circumstances where spousal support is not appropriate and can be avoided altogether. Our experienced attorneys at Divergent Family Law can work with you to help ensure you are in the best position possible to avoid a spousal support obligation. However, if it is ordered, spousal support can be modified and terminated by court order upon a substantial change in circumstances in most instances. We are happy to counsel you on your specific case and help figure out what is in your best interests in regards to spousal maintenance.

The all-inclusive Wisconsin family law firm

Our awarded legal team will be with you every step of the way to ensure you retain what’s yours and get you what you are entitled to. Contact Divergent Family Law today to discuss your spousal support arrangement.

Divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, the legal action can take multiple routes. If they are able to come to an agreement about all of the required details, including division of assets, child custody, placement, and alimony, then they can apply for an uncontested divorce.

In many cases, property division and child custody are emotional decisions to make. Divorce mediation or a court proceeding may be the only way to reach a mutual agreement. A collaborative divorce occurs when the two parties are able to finalize a divorce through negotiation or mediation. A contested divorce occurs when the parties cannot reach an agreement, in which case the divorce case must go to trial and a judge will rule a final, indisputable hearing.

 

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Child Custody

It is important to remember that no matter what a parent wants for the outcome of a custody case, any final decision will be made with regards to the child’s best interests before any other factors are taken into consideration.

The term “custody” is often used as a general term regarding the amount of time that a child will spend with each parent or guardian, as well as the degree of legal power each parent or guardian has over decisions relating to the child’s life, such as medical treatments, religious and educational preferences, and more. However, Wisconsin separates these decisions into two areas, “custody” and “placement.” Custody refers specifically to the legal right that a parent has in decisions regarding the care and upbringing of the child. Custody can be either shared or sole, depending on the court's decision.

 

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Placement

Placement refers to the arrangement between parents or guardians regarding how the child’s time is shared between the two parties. The child’s welfare is the primary consideration when the judge makes the final decision. Placement can be designated as primary, shared, or split. Primary placement is granted to the parent or guardian that the child spends the most time with. Shared placement refers to each parent dividing the amount of time the child spends with them. Split placement is a third option when multiple children are involved. Each child receives his or her own specific schedule.

 

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Child Support

In order to ensure that the child support payments are fair, the judge will explore all of the relevant details, such as the income and financial stability of each parent, as well as which parent will have the majority of the financial responsibility for the children.

Child support payments may be required until the child turns 18, or there may be other circumstances that extend the payments beyond their 18th birthday depending on the child's needs. Parents can also request for their child support agreement to be reevaluated in court. To see an estimate of your monthly child support payments, use our Wisconsin child support calculator.

 

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Alimony

Alimony is often confused for child support, and while each involves a payment going from one spouse to the other, the similarities end there. Alimony is a payment that is made from the most-financially stable spouse to the dependent spouse for a set period of time. These payments are intended to give the dependent spouse an opportunity to adjust to their life without the ability to rely on their spouse’s income.

Alimony payments are determined by the current financial circumstances of each spouse. The agreement can always be renegotiated if one of the parents goes through a major income change. In particular, if the recipient of the alimony remarries, they may lose the spousal support payments. The terms of the agreement are clearly outlined by the lawyers or judge.

 

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Father's Rights

In situations involving unwed parents, the father may find that they have very few legal rights over their child. In these cases, it is especially important for the unwed father to partner with a family lawyer who can help him navigate his situation.

In addition to issues strictly pertaining to legal rights over a child, father’s rights also include issues like paternity tests, contesting adoptions or custody-related decisions, visitation, or instances where the father would like to terminate their rights. No matter the problem, if you need legal help as a father, we're here to help.

 

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