Clients who are divorcing are usually concerned whether there is a potential for alimony. Will they receive or will they be forced to pay alimony? Alimony is a sharing of income by the party with the greater resources with the party with fewer resources. The party with fewer resources is known as the dependent spouse. Does the dependent spouse have expenses that exceed their income? Are the expenses reasonable? Is their income appropriate? Many questions arise when dealing with an alimony case and having appropriate representation is always recommended.
In Delaware, permanent alimony awards are limited to marriages that last over 20 years, but are considered rehabilitative in nature. That means that while receiving alimony, the dependent party must find a job, continue education, or training that will help them meet the standard of living they have come accustomed to during the duration of the marriage. Under certain circumstances, this requirement may be considered unfair by the judge. The Court will take consider factors like caring for a child full time, advanced age, and debilitating illness before deciding on the nature of the alimony. The maximum award for alimony in shorter marriages is half the length of the marriage. Alimony may end at 5 years for a 10-year marriage.
In Delaware, the Court will take many things into consideration when deciding spousal support. Fault is not one of those considerations. Some of these do include:
- Duration of marriage
- Contribution to each party’s financial success
- Deferment of goals and financial success for the other’s goals and financial success
- Deferment of goals and individual financial success to care for a child.
The goal of alimony is to fairly maintain the standard of living both spouses are accustomed to over the duration of the marriage. Interim alimony may be required to protect a potential dependent during the proceedings.
One spouse cannot run up bills and expect the other to pay for a new standard of living. At the same time, an individual cannot say they are dependent because they want to maintain a standard of living but they are no longer working as an executive and now are underemployed as a fast food worker. Their income has to be appropriate to their age, experience, education, and prior working history. Delaware Courts prefer couples work out an alimony agreement. When couples agree to the alimony, similar to child custody and child support, it is more likely that everyone can live with the outcome.
Either spouse may ask the court to modify or terminate alimony unless they have a written agreement to the contrary, based on changing material circumstances. The law describes alimony as terminated when either spouse dies or the dependent cohabitates or gets remarried. Cohabitation does not have to include a financial benefit to terminate alimony. Changing financial circumstances may be grounds for modification or termination. As stated earlier, the dependent cannot purposefully be unemployed or underemployed, but if the circumstances change and the dependent betters their financial status, the payer may find grounds to terminate the alimony as their spouse has the ability to maintain their own standard of living. Alimony and spousal support is a complicated process and have representation to protect the parties is always recommended. Contact us for a consultation at our Delaware Office Location.