Spousal Support / Alimony
Spousal support or alimony refers to payments made to a former spouse in lieu of a legal obligation for support. Alimony may be either temporary or permanent, for so long as a dependent spouse remains unmarried and is incapable of self-support. In Iowa there is no absolute right to spousal support and no formula or guidelines which apply. An attorney experienced in spousal support and alimony cases can help you weigh the relevant factors and advise you what type of award may be fair in your case.
Factors That Determine Spousal Support
If you and your spouse agree to an alimony payment as part of your overall divorce settlement, your agreement will still need to reviewed and confirmed by the Court, along with the rest of the terms of your divorce. If no agreement is reached and one spouse requests alimony, the following factors will be used by the Court to make an award:
- Earning capacity of each party
- Each party’s present standards of living and ability to pay
- The amount of property division
- Each party’s age and health condition
- Education levels
- Ability to become self-sufficient
- Tax consequences
- Any prenuptial agreements
Other factors may also be considered such as ownership of the family home, child support and alternative sources of income. In many cases, spouses are both earning comparable incomes at the time of the divorce, and the award of spousal support may be unnecessary.
Types of Spousal Support in Iowa
There are three types of spousal support in Iowa which may be awarded:
Traditional support payments are typically longer term, and can be awarded where there is a longer marriage and one spouse cannot meet the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. This may be awarded in cases where one spouse is the primary earner, and the other maintained the home, cared for children or otherwise supported the other in their profession. A traditional support award generally continues until the receiving spouse remarries, but does not automatically terminate upon such event.
Rehabilitative support awards are common in cases where one spouse needs to go through retraining, re-education, or a job search to become economically independent. Spousal support payments are temporary, with the intent of creating an opportunity for the receiving spouse to become self-supporting.
Reimbursement support is designed for marriages that involved one spouse making educational or career sacrifices to enhance the earning capacity of the other spouse. For example, a divorce after an advanced decree is obtained by one spouse, with that spouse being on the verge of a significant increase in earnings, and with modest assets and incomes available at the time of divorce. Reimbursement support is an award concerned with fairness to a spouse who has made substantial sacrifices for the benefit of the other spouse.
All three types of support will involve analysis of the factors outlined above, and all three types of support may be awarded in any given case. Alimony awards may be modifiable and will create tax consequences to both parties.
As with all aspects of your divorce, the award of spousal support will depend on a careful analysis of the facts in your case. Courts are very practical when it comes to the financial elements of divorce, and will consider the sum-total of your economic circumstances in determining an appropriate alimony award. At Starcevic Law we know how to evaluate the potential for spousal support in your divorce, and which factors may apply in your situation.
If you are contemplating divorce and would like to discuss the financial effects of dissolving your marriage, including spousal support or alimony, then we invite you to contact Starcevic Law for a consultation.