Some people wonder what is the difference between alimony and spousal support. The truth is that there is no difference in Utah. Spousal support is just another word for alimony. These are just two terms that refer to the payment of financial support from one ex spouse to another after a divorce. Spousal support is meant to provide sustenance to the ex spouse who makes less money after the divorce in an attempt to give the lower-earning spouse the money necessary to maintain, or nearly maintain, the same standard of living after the divorce as the spouses had during the divorce.
Spousal support laws in Utah allow for a couple to agree on spousal support arrangements themselves. However, if the divorcing couple is unable to come to an agreement regarding spousal support, the court will have to take matters into its hands. The court will take into account a number of factors when deciding which spouse will receive spousal support and how much.
Factors Considered By The Court For Spousal Support Determinations
Who will pay spousal support is the first determination made by the court. In light of the standard of living, the court will consider the following factors when making a spousal support determination:
- The length of the marriage,
- Which spouse has custody of the couple’s children and if those children have any special needs requiring support,
- The financial need and condition of the spouse who is requesting spousal support,
- The education level and earning potential of the spouse who is requesting support,
- The other spouse’s ability to pay spousal support,
- Whether the spouse who is requesting spousal support worked in a business owned or operated by the other spouse, and
- Whether the spouse who is requesting support contributed to the other spouse’s earning potential by, for example, supporting the other spouse while he or she earned an education, or by paying for the other spouse to attend school.
The court may consider the following additional factors if the court sees particular relevance for the factor’s consideration based on the divorce situation of the two spouses:
- If one of the spouses was unfaithful during the marriage or committed some other marital misconduct, which prompted the divorce.
- If the spouse who is requesting support was out of the work force for an extended period of time to raise the children and care for the home.
- The ages of the spouses, as well as the state of their physical and emotional health.
- Any additional factors that the court sees fit to consider.
Once a decision is reached as to who will pay spousal support, then the exact amount is determined. The amount of spousal support is assessed on the following factors:
- The value of all sources of income each spouse has.
- The current earning potential of each spouse.
- Whether the spouses work overtime, receive bonuses, hold a second job, or are self-employed.
Spousal Support Modifications
Sometimes circumstances change and a payer spouse might not be able to afford paying so much spousal support any longer, or the recipient spouse’s financial circumstances might change and their need might be reduced. After the initial spousal support order is made at the time of the divorce, spouses can seek a modification of a spousal support order, which can increase, decrease or terminate the payment of spousal support. If the spouse requesting the modification can demonstrate that there has been a material change in circumstances, the court will once again conduct a spousal support determination in light of the factors discussed above.
Termination of Spousal Support
Spousal support can terminate when one of the following factors occur: 1) the length of spousal support allocated in the parties Order comes to fruition; 2) the party receiving spousal support remarries and/or cohabitates; 3) either party dies.
Call An Experienced Spousal Support Attorney in Salt Lake City
If you are involved in a spousal support dispute, or need to seek a spousal support judgment modification, you can contact a spousal support attorney in Salt Lake City at CoilLaw, LLC, a Utah family law firm. Salt Lake City spousal support attorney Jill Coil can guide you through your spousal support legal issue. We have helped many clients with spousal support issues and we can help you too. Please call an alimony attorney in Utah at (801) 884-3775 today.
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