If you’ve sacrificed your career to care for your husband and children then it’s natural to worry about what a divorce will do to your ability to support yourself.
Spousal support isn’t the unreasonable demand that many media outlets portray it to be. Rather, it is a real need that will help you meet your living expenses until you reach a point where you can support yourself.
As Airdrie, AB divorce lawyers we help hundreds of SAHMs every year. We can ensure that you get a fair spousal support arrangement, or an agreement that will protect you financially in the long run.
How to Qualify for Spousal Support
Spousal support has two primary aims:
- To recognize the economic advantages or disadvantages to spouses as a result of the termination of the marriage.
- To lessen financial hardships brought about by the end of the marriage.
- To encourage spouses to support themselves within a reasonable period of time.
Anyone who is in a marriage or adult interdependent partnership can apply for spousal support, payable by the wealthier party. As a SAHM, you held a role in your marriage that makes you an ideal candidate for some form of support. If your case goes to trial, most judges will award it, especially if you have been married for a reasonable length of time.
How much spousal support should you ask for?
There are no hard and fast rules or guidelines governing the amount of spousal support that should be paid. It is negotiable until you or your spouse decides to push the matter to trial.
Federal Spousal Support Guidelines do exist, but they serve as suggestions or starting points for negotiations. They do not represent a guaranteed amount that you will receive every month. The formulas are also quite complex; we usually use software to come up with those starting figures. The software provides us with both a high-end amount and a low-end amount.
Getting your spouse to pay that amount might take additional steps. For example, if your spouse owns their own business we might need to make use of forensic accountants to track down the amount your spouse actually makes every month. Many spouses are angry when divorce occurs, and are perfectly willing to leave you penniless if they can.
There are situations where negotiating a monthly payment might not be in your best interests. For example, if you are in an international marriage wherein you think there will be issues enforcing monthly maintenance payments, then accepting a lump sum payment or an income bearing asset might be in your best interests, instead.
Note that your spouse’s behavior during the marriage does not impact spousal support. The purpose of spousal support is not to punish your spouse for having an affair, for example. It’s important to decouple the business proposition of negotiating support from the emotional fallout of the marriage, as this will smooth the process of negotiating a workable arrangement.
You can count on us to evaluate your unique situation, and to help you negotiate the best possible deal for your situation.
How does child support impact spousal support?
The spousal support has two formulas: the without children formula and the “with children’ formula. This formula takes child support into account.
In addition, child support takes priority over spousal support. If the payor doesn’t have enough money to pay both child support and spousal support then the courts must reduce the spousal support. However, spousal support may be increased after child support has ended.
Length of Spousal Support
The length of time that spousal support must be paid is dependent on the link of the marriage. Most spousal support orders will require support to be paid for ½ to 1 year for each year that the parties lived together. In shorter marriages, the court may opt to end support when the youngest child starts or finishes school, instead.
However, if you lived together for more than 20 years, or can take the number of years you lived together and add it to your age to get 65 or more, then you will be eligible for indefinite child support.
Note that at any time your husband may be able to seek a modification or an end to spousal support if his circumstances changes, or if yours do. In addition, there are cases where judges have deemed that SAHMs are more than capable of getting a job within a certain period of time, and have authorized progressive decreases of child support, with definitive termination dates. We often suggest that our clients have a plan in place for obtaining additional education, employment, or income-bearing assets so that they are not fully dependent on spousal support.
Does spousal support impact the division of property?
No. Spousal support is handled separately from the division of property, save for the pension exception.
The pension exception says that if you are receiving a regular income from your spouse’s pension plan then you will either receive less spousal support, or no spousal support at all.
Of course, during the negotiation process you can use the division of property to offer compromises that get you what you actually want: an income to live on. For example, if you and your spouse own rental properties then you might accept a number of rental properties to pay that income instead of asking for spousal support, or in exchange for accepting a smaller spousal support check. Until your case goes to trial, every part of the spousal support payment and the division of property remain negotiable.
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Why trust us with your divorce case?
Most of our lawyers have over 20 years of experience with family law. We have an extensive background in real estate law and business law, which makes it possible for us to craft sophisticated solutions for high net worth clients.
We are responsive and empathetic, and we care deeply about bringing your divorce case to its best possible outcome.
Call (403) 225-7777 to schedule your appointment today.