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Alimony Basics

September 21, 2017

 

 

Alimony is the common name for what is termed as "maintenance" in Montana. Or, some call it "ali-moan-y" because they do not want to pay it! Whatever you call it, and I will call it maintenance, it is something that must be considered in some divorces. 

 

Maintenance is an amount of money that one party in a divorce will pay to the other for a set amount of time.  The parties can agree on an amount for maintenance, or a judge can decide how much the payor will pay. The factors used to determine how much maintenance is paid, and for how long, are set forth in statute.  Maintenance is a separate determination from child support. 

 

In order to receive maintenance, the requesting party must prove that they lack enough property to support their reasonable needs, and that they are unable to be self-supporting OR that they are the custodian of a child whose condition makes it inappropriate for the person to seek outside employment.  The amount and duration of maintenance are determined by a number of factors, such as the duration of the marriage, age and physical and emotional condition of the requesting party, and standard of living established during the marriage. The determination of maintenance is not limited to these factors. 

 

A lot of the maintenance determination comes down to is how much money there is to be paid after the payor has covered their own reasonable living expenses. In other words, if your ex has a lot left after their monthly expenses, the more likely you are to get any maintenance amount. If they are scraping by, an award of maintenance is unlikely. 

 

Maintenance is viewed as "rehabilitative" in nature. Maintenance should help you get back on your feet until you can retrain, get a new job, or save up some money. It is not viewed as a long term solution to the support of a spouse. Maintenance may be ordered for longer periods of time in cases where they parties have been married for a long time, and one party was a homemaker, as that makes it difficult to accrue retirement and professional training that the person can use to generate income once divorced. 

 

Maintenance can be modified in certain situations. Most commonly, modification can occur when the payor takes a substantial, involuntary pay cut which would make the current maintenance payment "unconscionable." 

 

If you would like to set up a telephone consultation to discuss maintenance in your dissolution, please feel free to set up a consultation with me on my scheduling page. Thanks for tuning in! 

 

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