Spousal support often becomes one of the most contested aspects of any divorce or legal separation, regardless of whether the divorce itself is contested or uncontested. The courts often award maintenance to one spouse, terming it ‘alimony’ or ‘spousal support’ and ensuing as a monetary payment from one spouse to another.
Maintenance goes both ways and can be awarded to either spouse. The court has the broad discretion to award any amount of money necessary for their support as long as this decision finds its roots in the facts and circumstances of the parties’ living situation at the time of the granting of the award. This monetary payment can happen over time or in a lump-sum.
Quite a lot of circumstances matter for the grant of spousal support. The length of the marriage, conduct of the parties during the marriage and the assets and debts of the parties all play a part in the grant of an appropriate amount of spousal support.
While your divorce case is going on, if your spouse earns more than you, you may also ask the Judge to award you temporary financial support, which your spouse will pay to you until the divorce becomes finalized. This type of support is called “temporary” or “pendente lite” maintenance.
Even if your spouse earns more than you, the Judge will not order your spouse to pay temporary maintenance if they would not be able to support themselves while making payments.
If you are seeking temporary maintenance and child support, the amount you receive in temporary maintenance gets subtracted from your spouse’s income and added to your income before child support is calculated.
If you have children and you also have an order for child support, you can get help to collect money from your spouse or ex-spouse from the Support Collection Unit (SCU) in Family Court.
Unless you are very sure that your spouse or ex-spouse will pay the support ordered by the Judge or Support Magistrate, it is a good idea to have the judgment or order require your spouse or ex-spouse to pay both child support and spousal support or maintenance directly to SCU. SCU will then send the money to you.
There may be a couple of weeks delay right at the beginning. Then, you will start receiving the money from SCU on a regular basis as long as your spouse or ex-spouse or his/her employer sends the support monies to SCU. SCU will keep track of what is paid by your spouse or ex-spouse and sent to you in its computer system.