When it comes to divorce, there is a generalized “word cloud” that is fairly ubiquitous among any to-be-divorced couple. For instance, if you and your spouse are getting divorced, you’ll most likely need to research things like property division, child support and custody, and alimony, also known as spousal support.
At its core, spousal support is a divorce-related court order that involves financial support to a spouse in financial need. The idea is that spousal support ensures the maintenance of a standard of living for both parties with the goal that both will become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time. If you are looking to acquire a basic knowledge of alimony and spousal support in Maine, then this guide can help; in the meantime, if you are planning on getting divorced in the Portland, Maine, area, then call Portland divorce attorney Susan M. Schultz today.
The Basics of Alimony and Divorce
If you have a job or a business, then getting divorced doesn’t automatically necessitate alimony payments for your ex-spouse. Instead, Maine family courts will consider your ability to pay when setting the spousal support obligations, which can include gross income (wages, public benefits, interest and dividends on investments, rents from real property, and any other sources of income) as well as mandatory deductions (income taxes, Social Security, health care, and union dues).
Additionally, courts consider you and your ex’s ability to earn and ability to be self-supporting. In Maine, if you or your ex prove to be self-supporting, then the court might not mandate support payments. In general, it’s important to remember that Maine courts try to set an alimony based on the pre-divorce standard of living, if feasible.
Maine Law Regarding Alimony and Spousal Support
The primary Maine law regarding spousal support is Title 19-A, §951-A. Spousal support. Under this law, Maine family courts involved in a divorce proceeding will determine:
- An order granting, denying or modifying spousal support
- The type or types of support, if support is awarded
- The method or methods of payment, and the term and limitations imposed, if support is awarded
- If the support awarded is not, in whole or in part, subject to future modification
- The factors relied upon by the court in arriving at its decision to award or deny spousal support, if the proceeding was contested
All of these factors will be included in a statement by the court.
Factors That Determine the Amount of Spousal Support
To calculate the spousal support (if any is awarded), Maine courts look at several factors to ensure a fair and reasonable amount that maintains a pre-divorce standard of living for a certain period of time. The factors that determine spousal support in Maine include:
- The length of the marriage
- The ability of each party to pay
- The age of each party
- The employment history and employment potential of each party
- The income history and income potential of each party
- The education and training of each party
- The provisions for retirement and health insurance benefits
- The tax consequences of the division of marital property
- The tax consequences of spousal support
- The health and disabilities of each party
- The contributions of either party as homemaker
- The contributions of either party to the education or earning potential of the other party
- The standard of living of the parties during the marriage
- The ability of the party seeking support to become self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time
- The effect of actual or potential income from marital or non-marital property and/or child support payments
Types of Spousal Support
After the Maine family court considers the above-mentioned factors, it will award or modify spousal support for one or more of the following reasons:
- General Spousal Support — Awarded if the marriage lasted for longer than 10 years, and support usually may not be awarded for longer than half the length of the marriage.
- Traditional Spousal Support — Awarded for short-term needs when transitioning after the dissolution of marriage or reentry into the work force.
- Reimbursement Spousal Support — Awarded in response to exceptional financial circumstances, such as economic misconduct by one spouse or substantial contributions that one spouse made to the other’s educational or occupational advancement.
There are several different ways that the awarded spouse can receive spousal payments, and the divorce and spousal support order must include the method of payment, such as a lump sum payment or installation payments, among others. Generally, the order must also include the term of payments and any limitations.
How Portland ME Divorce Attorney Susan Schultz Can Help
In some divorce cases where spousal support is relevant, this aspect can lead to extensive conflict which will not only extend the time and financial commitment required for the divorce, but it can also leave you emotionally drained. Instead, you can benefit from calling Portland ME divorce attorney Susan M. Schultz today. At our firm, we’ll give your case the fullest attention and a compassionate ear, while vigorously litigating with your interests at the forefront of our legal strategy.
For a free consultation with Portland ME divorce attorney Susan Schultz, call our Portland law firm today at (207) 210-6555.