Alimony – technically called spousal maintenance – is often a contested issue in divorce cases. There are many misunderstandings about spousal maintenance. For example, many people assume it’s automatically awarded in every divorce case, which isn’t true in Vermont.
Whether you can obtain spousal maintenance depends on many factors. There is no simple formula that can answer that question. For that reason, it’s important to speak with an attorney about your case.
When is spousal maintenance appropriate?
Spousal maintenance is ordered on a case-by-case basis. The judge must weigh many factors when making a spousal maintenance determination, including:
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- Each person’s income, assets and other sources of financial support
- Each person’s career prospects, including their job experience and level of education or training
- Each person’s health and any medical or special needs they may have
- The duration of the marriage
- The order determining parental rights and responsibilities (custody arrangement)
- The cost of living and inflation
Spousal maintenance is more likely to be granted in long-term marriages where there is a significant financial disparity between the spouses, often because one parent stayed home to raise children.
Three types of spousal maintenance
Vermont law establishes several types of spousal maintenance:
- Temporary: This type of support is granted while the divorce proceedings are pending.
- Rehabilitative: One party may qualify for rehabilitative support when they need time to complete education or job training to re-enter the workforce. The amount and duration depends on the situation.
- Permanent: This type of long-term support is not as common as the other two types. Permanent support isn’t necessarily permanent. It typically ends when the recipient remarries or gains other means of financial support.
The same case-specific factors mentioned above apply to all types of spousal maintenance awards.