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Spousal support is frequently an emotional and hotly contested issue. Whether you are expecting to pay or receive alimony, it is important to understand the role that it might play in your future. If you are involved in divorce proceedings, a spousal support lawyer in Connecticut can help you understand the nuances of this complex area. Walter Shalvoy can bring experience and compassion to advising you in the sensitive matters that arise from marriage dissolution.
Standards for Awarding Spousal Support in Connecticut
The purpose of awarding alimony is not to reward or punish the respective parties. Instead, alimony accounts for situations when one spouse has become less financially self-sufficient during a marriage. For example, a spouse may have chosen to stay home with children or work part-time rather than pursuing higher education or a professional career.
Divorcing couples may draft their own agreement to provide for payment of spousal support. However, in the absence of an agreement, a court may also impose a spousal support award. These awards can vary widely because they are not determined by a set formula. Factors affecting the amount and duration of spousal support awards include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The earning history and earning capacity of each spouse
- The age and health of each spouse, including any disabilities
- Assets owned by either spouse
- Whether and how much child support is involved
- The desirability of having one spouse work outside the house, such as when minor children or children with special needs are involved
- The conduct of the spouses during the marriage
- Ideas of general fairness
A court has many options, including awarding no alimony at all or just a nominal amount that leaves open the possibility of modification in the future. The court may require that alimony be paid in a lump sum, or it may require periodic payments. The payment obligation may be of short or long duration. A court may also make an award permanent, particularly if one of the spouses is unlikely to be able to earn a living. If there is neither a private agreement for alimony nor any court award of alimony in divorce proceedings, the parties waive forever their right to any spousal support, regardless of whether their circumstances change.
Modifying or Terminating Alimony
Normally, alimony payments terminate upon the death or remarriage of either spouse. A support agreement drawn up between the spouses may include other conditions for modification or termination. It may even provide that the alimony cannot be modified or terminated. In most situations, however, courts are empowered to modify or terminate alimony payments based upon “a substantial change in circumstances.”
The law is not precise as to what constitutes a substantial change. At a minimum, the spouse seeking modification must show that his or her financial needs or resources are so materially changed that refusal to modify would cause a severe hardship. Furthermore, one party cannot purposefully change his or circumstances to get a modification. For example, an alimony-paying ex-husband cannot resign and take a lower-paying job for the purpose of lowering his spousal support obligation.
Discuss Your Spousal Support Matter with an Attorney
Whether you are expecting to pay or receive alimony, a Connecticut divorce attorney can guide you through all the issues that should be considered. Consult Walter Shalvoy for sound advice on how to protect and promote your overall welfare as you face your future after ending a marriage. Call Shalvoy Law, LLC, at 203-426-4409, or use our online form to set up a free initial consultation.
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