Unequal earning power is common in many marriages. When the couple separates or divorces, the lower-earning spouse might lack the resources to maintain a separate household.
Spousal support is money the higher-earning spouse pays to the lower-earning spouse so that each can maintain their own residence. Spousal support used to be called alimony and is sometimes called maintenance—the terms are interchangeable.
When your marriage ends, and you believe you will need or be asked to pay spousal support, contact a skilled family attorney immediately. A Lincoln County spousal support lawyer could work to ensure any alimony agreement is fair and workable for both parties.
The Law Regarding Spousal Support
Kansas Revised Statutes Annotated § 23-2902 allows a court to award spousal support in a divorce decree. The decree can establish whether the support obligation is modifiable and when it will terminate. Spousal support always terminates when the receiving spouse remarries.
Spousal support recognizes the non-economic contributions of the lower-earning spouse to the household. The law regards alimony as a temporary payment until a spouse can become self-supporting.
Kansas limits spousal support orders to 121 months (ten years and one month). When one spouse petitions the court to continue spousal support payments, a court may issue an extension, but a single extension cannot exceed 121 months. Awards usually extend this long only if the receiving spouse’s age, health, or other condition makes it unlikely that they could be self-supporting. A dedicated Lincoln County attorney could help a spouse craft a reasonable solution when long-term alimony is necessary.
How Courts Calculate Spousal Support
The court will not award spousal support unless one party demonstrates a need, and the other party has the resources to pay. Courts often award temporary alimony during the divorce, but a temporary support award does not guarantee that the court will award ongoing support after the marriage is dissolved. A diligent spousal support lawyer in Lincoln County could ensure the judge has accurate information about a spouse’s financial situation to ensure a fair appraisal of need and ability to pay.
When determining the amount of support, the court will consider various factors, such as:
- The length of the marriage
- Whether the receiving spouse gave up career opportunities for homemaking
- Each spouse’s education, age, health, and ability to earn a living
Sometimes the judge will ask the requesting spouse for a plan to gain the skills they need to be self-supporting and will consider that plan when determining the duration and amount of spousal support.
When the judge concludes one spouse needs support, the amount is often a percentage of the difference in incomes of the two spouses or a portion of the paying spouse’s income. The paying spouse could provide the receiving spouse with a lump sum or pay periodically. When the paying spouse also pays child support, courts often order both payments to go through the local social service agency responsible for collecting, tracking, and disbursing support payments.
Negotiating a Spousal Support Agreement
Most couples are better off negotiating spousal support and other aspects of the separation agreement between themselves or through their attorneys. The couple better understands their financial situation and capabilities than the judge does.
Couples negotiating their separation agreement should address spousal support by either explicitly declaring to waive it or including an arrangement for one spouse to pay it. When the couple makes a spousal support arrangement, they determine the duration. In an appropriate case, a party could agree to pay support for longer than the 121-month period the law establishes.
A knowledgeable Lincoln County alimony attorney could handle negotiations for one spouse or review the couple’s agreement to ensure it meets legal requirements. The local judge must review an agreement but typically approves it when both parties agree.
Work With a Lincoln County Spousal Support Attorney
When you and your spouse decide to move forward separately, one of you might need financial support. If so, contact a Lincoln County spousal support lawyer for assistance.
A seasoned legal professional could help you negotiate a satisfactory arrangement with your spouse. If negotiations are unsuccessful, they could ensure the judge understands your position. Schedule an appointment today.