Spousal support (also known as spousal maintenance or alimony) was received by 243,000 people in 2016. 98% of the recipients were women. Spousal support is awarded when one spouse makes significantly more than the other and the recipient spouse’s income is insufficient to support him or her at the level which the spouse was accustomed to during the marriage. Wisconsin alimony laws are deliberately ambiguous because there are a variety of factors that play a role in the amount of money spouses should receive after a divorce.
There is no set formula for calculating spousal support in Wisconsin. Instead, there are several factors to take into consideration including:
Length of the marriage
Age and physical/emotional health of both parties
The division of property during the divorce
The educational level of each party at the time of marriage and at the time during the divorce proceedings
The earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance
The tax consequences to each party
Contribution by one party to increased earning power of the other
The court can also consider other factors if they are deemed relevant to a particular case.
How to avoid spousal support
Common ways to minimize the amount of spousal support one parties pays to the other include:
Get a lower-paying job
End the marriage sooner
Have a judge evaluate your spouse’s fitness to work
The alimony payments come down to how much you make vs. how much your spouse makes. If you make the same amount of money, then
How long does someone have to pay for spousal support in Wisconsin?
Maintenance is usually awarded depending on the duration of the marriage:
Medium marriage (10-20 years)
Long marriage (20+ years)
Typically spousal support lasts for half the duration of the marriage but longer marriages may require permanent spousal maintenance.
Spousal Support FAQs
Can alimony be changed after divorce?
Spousal support modifications occur when one party can prove there has been a substantial change in circumstances from the time the original order was made. For the spouse providing maintenance, this could mean the loss of a job while for the receiving spouse it could mean the loss of a job or medical issues with custodial children.
Can you receive alimony even if you were never married?
Wisconsin does not recognize common law marriage no matter how long the couple has been together. This means that alimony is not granted when the couples aren't legally married. Unfortunately, the state of Wisconsin does not award spousal support/alimony for common law marriage.
Can a military spouse get in trouble for cheating?
Yes, an individual in the military could be charged with adultery according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 134. This charge typically goes after the damage that the military officer has done to the integrity of the army. An investigation could result in the spouse being fired, which would mean the spouse won’t receive alimony payments or benefits from their job.
What is the difference between spousal support and alimony?
Spousal support and alimony have the same meaning. The court uses the term spousal support (sometimes spousal maintenance) and the general public uses the term alimony.
Can I just use the alimony calculator to determine the monthly spousal maintenance payment?
Using the alimony calculator can give you a calculated estimate of what alimony payments could look like. Though the calculator uses several factors to determine payment, Wisconsin has no set way to determine alimony. The courts can make adjustments to the payment amount based on other factors.
Do I have to pay alimony if my spouse was unfaithful?
While it can be frustrating to deal with an unfaithful spouse, marital misconduct is not considered in the calculation of alimony in the state of Wisconsin. Spousal maintenance solely exists to ensure both spouses remain financially stable.
When can I stop paying alimony to my former spouse?
Alimony payments dissolve when the recipient remarries, passes away, or further order of the court occurs.
What happens if I can’t pay the monthly alimony payment?
If your income changes due to a salary reduction or job loss, you can request a modification of the support order. You must be able to prove your change in circumstances makes the existing order unfair. You must continue paying alimony under the current support order until the judge says otherwise.
How will retiring affect my alimony obligations?
If the spouse paying alimony retires, the judge has multiple options to approach the situation. Decisions include reducing the amount of alimony to be paid, requesting a payout to the recipient, using an asset of the payer to the benefit of the recipient, or no action with the expectation the payer makes adjustments to continue payment of the original amount.
Are alimony payments tax deductible?
Due to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on January 1st, 2019, alimony payments are no longer tax-deductible. The recipient can no longer claim the payments as income either.