There are a number of issues that must be discussed during a divorce, including spousal maintenance. The court can order one spouse to pay spousal maintenance to the other, but only under certain circumstances. Who is entitled to spousal maintenance? Here’s what you should know:
When is Spousal Maintenance Awarded?
Spousal maintenance can be ordered for three different reasons. First, if one spouse is unable to support himself or herself because he or she is mentally or physically incapacitated, the other spouse may be ordered to pay spousal maintenance.
Spousal maintenance can also be awarded when a child with a mental or physical incapacity is involved. If the spouse who is the custodian of the child is unable to work because of the child’s needs, the other spouse may need to pay spousal maintenance.
Finally, the court can also order one spouse to pay spousal maintenance when the other is temporarily unable to support himself or herself. This is known as rehabilitative maintenance.
The court will take a number of factors into consideration when making this decision, including each spouse’s education, work history, and income. For example, let’s say a wife stopped working in order to take care of the couple’s children during the marriage. The judge could order the husband to pay spousal maintenance until his wife has found a job that will allow her to support herself.
It’s important to note that spousal maintenance can be awarded in both divorce and legal separation cases. Therefore, one spouse could be ordered to make these payments to the other spouse even when the couple is not officially divorcing.
How Long Do Spousal Maintenance Payments Continue?
The judge presiding over the case must determine how long spousal maintenance payments should continue. If a spouse’s or child’s incapacity is involved, the court will typically order the payments to continue until the child or spouse is no longer incapacitated. However, the judge has the authority to order spousal maintenance for any period of time that the judge feels is appropriate given the circumstances.
The rules are a bit different for rehabilitative maintenance cases. The judge cannot order someone to make rehabilitative maintenance payments for longer than three years after the final decree is entered. This is because rehabilitative maintenance is only to be paid long enough for the spouse receiving payments to get back on his or her feet after a divorce.
How Are Spousal Maintenance Payments Calculated?
Many states use a specific formula to calculate spousal maintenance payments, but that is not the case in Indiana. There are no guidelines for calculating spousal maintenance in this state. Instead, family law judges are given the authority to order payments in any amount that they believe is appropriate. Of course, this does not mean that family law judges simply pull a number out of a hat. Judges will carefully consider many factors before arriving at a final number, including each spouse’s income, monthly expenses, and the child custody arrangement.
It is not uncommon for either party to disagree with the judge’s decision. Both spouses must comply with the terms of the spousal maintenance court order, however it may be possible to modify the order in the future. If you’re unhappy with the current court order, work with an attorney to determine if it is possible to request a modification.
If spousal maintenance is an issue in your divorce or separation, seek legal representation as soon as possible. Our experienced family law attorneys will work tirelessly to reach a favorable outcome on your behalf. Contact The Nice Law Firm at 317-269-7311 to schedule a consultation regarding your needs.