When one spouse makes all or most of the money and the other one has few resources of their own, it can make the divorce process complicated. If you’re the spouse without money, you may want the divorce, but you don’t want to be left destitute in the process. And even if you think that you’ll probably end up with a reasonable divorce settlement, you don’t want to be broke or homeless while you wait for everything to settle. However, many people don’t realize that they’re entitled to money from their spouse while they wait for a pending divorce to be completed. Take a look at what you need to know about getting alimony during a pending divorce.
Types of Alimony
States differ in what types of alimony they have and what those types of alimony are called, but there are generally a few different types of alimony that divorcing couples have to think about. For example, there’s bridge-the-gap alimony, which is intended to help a spouse with short term needs following a divorce. There’s rehabilitative alimony, meant to assist a divorced spouse seeking training or education so that they can reenter the workforce. There’s durational alimony, which is meant to last, at most, as long as the marriage lasted – so someone leaving a 5-year marriage might be able to get 5 years of alimony if they meet other criteria as well. And then there’s permanent alimony, in which a spouse who is incapable of supporting themselves receives alimony permanently.
And there’s also temporary alimony, which is what you’re likely to receive if what you need is alimony while the divorce is pending. Temporary alimony is meant to support you during the divorce and will stop as soon as the divorce is finalized, at which time some other type of alimony may begin.
Who Gets Alimony?
In an age of two-career families, alimony isn’t heard about or talked about as much as it used to be. However, it’s still very much an option, and it’s important to pursue it if you think you’re entitled to it. In the past, alimony was generally considered to be the province of ex-wives. Since many women didn’t work outside the home, the courts ordered their husbands to continue to support them during a divorce. Today, however, men can also request alimony and may be awarded it if they happen to be the house spouse or if their partner is the primary wage earner.
However, in some cases, often when both partners earn about equal money or when the couple comes from a lower socioeconomic background, no alimony is ordered. The purpose of alimony is usually to maintain, as closely as possible, the standard of living that the recipient had while married. But if both people earn about equal money, or if both partners are poor, there’s usually no need to order alimony, especially if the person who would be ordered to pay it wouldn’t be able to afford to pay it.
What to Do to Get Temporary Alimony
If you need spousal support while the divorce is pending, it’s important to let the judge know. The court will come up with a temporary financial plan for the couple and will make and enforce temporary alimony in the meantime. Then, as the divorce proceeds, the couple or their lawyers will negotiate some sort of divorce agreement, or the judge will order one. At that when that new order is in place, the temporary agreement will end and the couple will abide by the alimony decree in the divorce order.
Filing for temporary support isn’t too difficult. You’ll need to file a motion with the court with your request for spousal support and with the amount of money that you want. You’ll also need to explain why you need the money, whether it’s for medical bills, to support reasonable needs because you’re unemployed, or for some other reason. You may be able to get the forms that you need to fill out from the court from your attorney, from the Clerk of Court, or from a legal resource group like National Family Solutions.
The order for spousal support or alimony will most likely not be immediate. Courts have to go through a process before they can award alimony, even temporary alimony. In some cases, you may need to attend a hearing to explain to the court why your spouse should pay alimony and why you need it or to set a date for when alimony will begin. Alternatively, the judge may simply order temporary alimony without a hearing. Waiting for a temporary alimony hearing can be frustrating. However, chances are that you won’t be denied if you are the spouse that earns less or is unemployed. You have a right to have your spouse continue to support you at least through the period when the divorce is being finalized.
For both temporary alimony and for a longer-term arrangement after the divorce, you will most likely need to submit financial documentation to the court. For example, tax returns, W-2s, and 1099s are all possible documents that a judge might ask for. The more clearly you can document your own financial situation, as well as the marital financial situation prior to the time of filing the divorce, the easier it will be for the judge to make an accurate and helpful position regarding alimony. In any court proceeding, the evidence is crucial, and your financial documents are the evidence of your need for alimony during a divorce.
If you think that you’re eligible for alimony, you should definitely consider asking for it, at least on a temporary basis during the divorce. Divorce is difficult enough without having to struggle to cover your basic needs, and if you’ve been a homemaker or stay-at-home parent, you’ve contributed to your spouse’s financial well-being even if you haven’t been drawing a paycheck yourself, and you’re entitled to some support in return. A legal resource group like National Family Solutions can help you figure out what to ask for and how to correctly file for temporary alimony.