If you are a stay-at-home parent considering divorce, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns about alimony. The best way to gain answers for your specific situation is to seek a free consultation with an experienced divorce attorney, but here are a few general things you should know.
Child support and alimony are separate things.
Child support is the funds you will receive to care for your child. The parent who is the primary caretaker typically receives support payments from the other parent in order to pay for expenses related to the child, such as food, school supplies, and extracurricular activities.
Alimony is a payment for support and maintenance of a spouse. It is paid by the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse, but it is not granted in all divorces.
Alimony can be hard to predict.
Child support is determined by a specific mathematical formula, so it is usually easy to figure out what you can expect after your divorce. Alimony, however, is up to the judge’s discretion. There are no legal guidelines or formulas that can be applied.
Alimony usually isn’t forever.
The length of your alimony will depend on a number of factors, such as the length of your marriage and your earning capacity. In Florida, permanent alimony is usually only granted in marriages over 17 years to women who didn’t earn any income for most of the marriage.
Instead, you could be awarded alimony for a specific period of time, or you may be awarded alimony to help you achieve a specific educational or vocational training goal.
Alimony can be a lump sum or ongoing.
You do not have to receive your alimony over a period of time. Instead, you may be able to receive it as a lump sum all at once. This can be beneficial if you want to gain educational or vocational training in order to pursue a higher paying career over the long-term.
Even permanent alimony can end.
If you get married again, your permanent alimony will end. The thought behind this is that your new spouse will support you instead.
Also, if your ex-spouse dies, so does your alimony. You may also have no claim to his estate, since you are no longer married.
You can protect yourself from this situation by requiring that your ex-spouse maintains a life insurance policy on his life with you listed as the beneficiary. This should be included as part of your divorce proceedings.
Your spouse is legally obligated to pay.
If you are awarded alimony in your divorce, then your spouse must pay up as specified in the divorce decree. There are legal steps you can take to enforce the order if your spouse does not pay.
In some cases, judges have been known to send reluctant payors to jail to make sure they understand the importance of paying as expected.