If you were recently divorced or plan on getting divorced, you may be obligated to pay a certain amount of money to your ex-spouse. In Indiana, this is referred to as "spousal maintenance." It's also known as alimony in many other states. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to allow your ex-spouse to maintain the lifestyle he or she had during the marriage.
If you're not sure what this means for your divorce case and finances, it's important that you speak to an experienced Indianapolis family law attorney who fully understands the law. You're already dealing with the division of assets and property and fitting child support payments into your budget. The last thing you need is to be overwhelmed with surprise expenses. Here's what you need to know.
When can a court order spousal maintenance in Indiana?
Under Indiana Code § 31-15-7-1, a court has the authority to order spousal maintenance when it enters a final dissolution of marriage decree under IC 31-15-2-16 or legal separation decree under IC 31-15-3-9. There are three types of spousal maintenance:
- Disability maintenance — Your ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse becomes disabled and is unable to support him or herself financially. This type of spousal maintenance can be granted for however long the court sees fit. That means it can be temporary or permanent.
- Caregiver maintenance — Your ex-spouse is granted custody of a disabled child and can't financially support him or herself due to having to care for the child. This type of spousal maintenance can be temporary or permanent.
- Rehabilitative maintenance — Your ex-spouse needs extra financial support until he or she becomes financially stable. This type of spousal maintenance can only be provided for up to three years. It is only granted if one spouse worked full-time while the other stayed home or worked part-time during the course of the marriage. Critical factors that can determine the course of rehabilitative maintenance include:
- The education level, income, earning potential, employment, and employment skills of your ex-spouse throughout the marriage and at the time of the divorce.
- If your ex-spouse's education, income, earning potential, employment, or training was interrupted due to the marriage or divorce.
- The amount of time and money your ex-spouse needs to pursue adequate education or job training and find employment.
If your ex-spouse can comfortably afford to maintain his or her lifestyle without financial support, then it's unlikely the court will order spousal support payments.
How spousal maintenance payments are determined
Spousal maintenance payments are determined by the circumstances of your divorce and the number of assets you have. For example, if you have many assets but don't have steady employment income, you may be ordered to make a lump-sum payment to your ex-spouse. If you earn a steady income from your job, then your payments may be directly withheld from your paycheck and paid on a weekly or monthly basis.
There are some cases in which your spousal maintenance payments can be modified. For example, if you suddenly become unemployed and reasonably can't afford to make your payments, your payments may be reduced or suspended. Getting a modification on your spousal maintenance payments isn't easy. You will need to prove to the court that your financial situation has changed, and therefore, your financial obligation is unreasonable. In addition, your payments can only be modified if your spousal maintenance obligation was ordered by the court. If your payments were determined through an agreement with your ex-spouse or were part of a property settlement, then getting your payments modified is very unlikely.
Speak to an experienced Indianapolis family law attorney for help with your divorce
Dealing with the process and aftermath of a divorce is emotionally and financially devastating for many. You need an experienced family law and divorce attorney who will take a holistic approach to help you through your situation. Hocker & Associates LLC knows the laws pertaining to divorce and spousal maintenance. We can sit down with you and go over your legal options. We have law offices in Indianapolis and Greenwood, Indiana. Contact us online or call us for your free legal consultation.