Divorce can be a messy situation that can dramatically impact a person’s financial future. According to the US Census Bureau, 20 percent of women and 11 percent of men live in poverty after getting divorced. Alimony payments are one way the courts can help a divorcing spouse produce income. While that is true, alimony payments are among the most highly contested areas of Utah divorce law.
If you are getting divorced and worried about whether you will be able to support yourself or your kids, call Brown Family Law today. Our team of experienced family lawyers prides itself on helping our clients take the fear out of getting divorced. Having helped many families in Utah, we understand the extenuating circumstances your family is facing.
Call Brown Family Law right away at (801) 685-9999 for a consultation on your case. We offer peace of mind you can trust.
Who is Eligible to Receive Alimony Payments in Utah?
In Utah, both spouses are eligible to receive spousal support. Once the request is made to the judge, he or she can determine whether the case warrants it in the final divorce decree. Perhaps the judge determines that your spouse can reasonably produce enough income to pay alimony. Once the recipient’s earning capacity is looked at, including his or her taxable income and marital property, the ruling will be made.
While it might seem unfair to add an alimony obligation as part of the divorce, the goal is to prevent a large income disparity. This type of financial support can also prevent a person from having to face a big drop in his or her standard of living. By asking the spouse to provide support, alimony can allow a substantial marital change from putting someone in poverty.
Types of Utah Alimony Support
While the divorce is pending, a judge may award alimony to the recipient spouse. This is considered temporary alimony in Utah. Temporary alimony is given by the paying spouse until either the divorce is final or some other date is chosen by the judge. Once the divorce process is finalized, permanent alimony and child support can be decided.
To receive temporary alimony, your spousal support attorney must file a Motion for Temporary Order to the court. This presents reasons for the court to determine why temporary alimony should be considered. The court will examine the request, including the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income.
In a best-case scenario, the other spouse would agree with the alimony calculated, which is determined by the length of the marriage. Once the divorce is finalized, a transitional alimony is put into place. Transitional alimony allows the other spouse to do what is necessary to become self-sufficient. The Utah court may give a certain date for the self-sufficiency to be completed.
Permanent alimony can happen if the other spouse does not have an earning capacity or ability due to disability, age, or health. In this case, the receiving spouse may receive spousal support payments for the rest of his or her life or until the judge says otherwise. Permanent alimony is more common among long-term marriages. It would be unfair for the payor spouse to keep paying alimony after a short-term marriage.
What Qualifications Can Determine If Alimony Is Accepted?
To receive Utah alimony, there are certain qualifications you must meet to be considered. Before awarding alimony, a judge will take a good look at your case to see whether or not you are eligible due to your financial condition. These qualifications can also help determine the length, type, and amount of awarded alimony you receive.
These qualifications can include:
- The financial needs of the supported spouse
- The ability of paying spouse to keep up with the payments
- The alimony length
- The spouse’s earning capacity and financial condition
- The amount of substantial material change
- Whether the dependent spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the paying spouse
- The length of the marriage
- Whether the recipient spouse is awarded child custody
- Whether the spouse helped to contribute to the payor spouse increasing his or her income through job training or education
Other issues can impact a Utah alimony award as well, such as living expenses, misconduct, or whether the spouse may fear life-threatening harm. In these cases, the court may increase alimony for a longer period. As a general rule, the judge has full discretion on how the payor spouse should pay alimony.
Terminating or Modifying Alimony in Utah
There may be times when neither spouse wants a judge to oversee setting up alimony payments. To avoid paying alimony or to terminate alimony altogether, it may be ideal to negotiate a settlement via a written statement sent to the judge. Both sides can agree to modify alimony payments. Again, it all depends on several factors.
To maintain financial stability, Utah law states that alimony payments cannot last longer than the marriage. This may allow for alimony payments to taper off over time or for the paying party to stop paying alimony sooner than intended. It all depends on what was written in the alimony order by the judge and whether both spouses agree.
Another situation that might come up is a drastic change in circumstances. When a judge is calculating alimony for the dependent spouse, he or she is looking at the present situation. But if the payor spouse loses his or her ability to produce income, it is possible that the court may decide to terminate alimony payments altogether. Simply modifying alimony may also be an option if the financial change wasn’t too drastic.
Enforcing Alimony Awards in Utah
After alimony calculations have been made and the divorce decree is final, it is possible for a spouse to fall behind. When an order to pay alimony fails, there are several ways in which the judge can ensure the supported spouse receives what is owed. Automatic wage garnishment is one such tool. Putting a lien on any owned properties or business owned by the payor spouse is another.
Once financial support has been ordered by the judge, the winning party’s spouse cannot simply decide to terminate alimony on his or her own. If the situation gets bad enough, the paying spouse may even be found in contempt of court and face jail time and fines. It is in his or her best interest to comply and award alimony as decreed.
Can My Spouse Quit His or Her Job to Avoid Paying Alimony?
If a judge orders someone to pay alimony in Utah and he or she later becomes unemployed, it is possible for alimony to be reduced. Of course, the loss of employment must be due to no personal fault of the employee. He or she will not be able to terminate alimony without prior approval of the judge. If it is found that this person intentionally quit his or her job, the judge may impute the spouse’s income.
Imputing someone’s income means the court will still award alimony to the dependent spouse by any means necessary. This imputed income is based on the amount of money the court assumes the spouse has – based on past job experience, skills, prior earnings, and more. Determining alimony this way can keep the spouse accountable for the payments owed.
What If You Deny Asking for Alimony But Change Your Mind or Get Remarried?
You only have a short window during which you can make an alimony order. If you think you do not want alimony, but later change your mind, you might be out of luck.
For example, if you have a written agreement with your spouse that you do not want alimony, it may be binding. It would not be fair to ask for payments later.
Also, once the divorce is finalized, you will not be able to change your mind, legally speaking.
If the receiving spouse decides to get remarried before your alimony is complete, the court may decide to end the payments. This will not become automatic, though, as the paying spouse will have to make a request to the court.
Other Ways Alimony Can Be Denied
Utah is a state that looks at fault before deciding on alimony. For example, who is at fault for the marriage ending? If you had sexual relations with someone who is not your spouse, you may not be able to request alimony. If you neglected your spouse or caused physical harm to your spouse or child, the court may factor that into its decision.
Contact Brown Family Law Today to Learn More About Your Rights After a Divorce
Life after marriage can be scary and confusing. This is especially true if your spouse was the breadwinner and you face living in poverty now that the marriage is over. It is even worse if you have kids and are terrified of losing them. The good news is that you do not have to face this situation on your own. You have rights that protect you, including the right to ask for alimony.
Brown Family Law has been protecting clients through bitter divorces for many years. Our team of experienced attorneys has what it takes to fight back even in the grittiest of circumstances.
Not only do we take the fear out of divorce, but we can also guide and educate you along the way. Having that type of support during these trying times will give you the type of peace of mind you need and deserve.
Call Brown Family Law today at (801) 685-9999 for a legal consultation on how we can help you maximize time with your kids today. We are available 24/7 to take your call.