Which Spouse Pays Alimony?

Alimony Divorce
Which Spouse Pays Alimony?

Many states define alimony as a court-ordered payment made by one ex-spouse to the other. Courts can also award temporary spousal support while a divorce is pending. Judges award alimony in to try to equalize the financial resources of a divorcing couple. When deciding whether to award alimony, a judge will consider whether one spouse has a demonstrated financial need and if the other spouse has the ability to pay.

Judges usually award alimony in cases where the spouses have unequal earning power and have been married a long time. For example, a judge isn’t likely to award alimony if the couple has been married for only a year. In fact, some state laws allow alimony awards only when the couple has been married for a certain amount of time.
How Does Alimony Work?

Although judges have to follow state law in deciding whether alimony is appropriate, they usually have a lot of discretion in deciding when and how someone has to pay it. An alimony award can be temporary to support a spouse only while the divorce is pending or a permanent award that’s part of a divorce decree.

Alimony payments can be in the form of:
• a lump-sum payment
• a property transfer, or
• periodic (monthly) payments.

In general, lump-sum alimony awards and alimony in the form of a property transfer are non-modifiable, meaning they can’t be changed later and can’t be terminated or undone. Periodic alimony payments may be changed when there’s a significant change in one or both of the spouses’ circumstances. Periodic alimony awards are the most common and require one spouse to pay a certain amount to the other (the “supported” or “dependent” spouse) each month. A periodic or monthly alimony award will end on a date set by the judge, or when one of the following events occurs:
• the supported spouse remarries
• the supported spouse moves in with another person\
• either spouse dies, or
• a significant event (like a paying spouse’s retirement or a supported spouse’s new high-paying job) happens and a judge determines that alimony is no longer necessary.

As with most issues in your divorce, you and your spouse can negotiate and reach an agreement about the amount of alimony and length of time it’ll be paid.

Negotiating Alimony and Other Terms of Your Divorce

If you and your spouse don’t agree on alimony payments or other terms of your divorce (such as property division and child custody), it doesn’t mean you’ll have to battle it out in court. Divorce mediation—negotiation led by a neutral third party outside of court—is an excellent alternative for many. You might even be able to mediate your divorce online.

If you can’t agree, you’ll need to file a formal motion (request) asking a court to decide alimony. The court will schedule a hearing where both sides will be able to present their positions regarding alimony. After considering the arguments and evidence presented at the hearing, the judge will issue an order. One of the downsides of asking the court to decide is that if you’re represented by an attorney, the expense of going through a hearing can be significant. Even if you’re not represented by an attorney, you will have to spend a lot of time gathering evidence (such as financial documents) and preparing for the hearing.

How Courts Decide Alimony

Every state has its own guidelines on what judges should consider when deciding whether to award alimony. Most states require judges to evaluate:
• how property is being divided in the divorce
• the standard of living during the marriage
• the supported spouse’s ability to maintain a similar lifestyle without support
• each spouse’s income, assets, and debts
• the length of the marriage
• each spouse’s age and health
• contributions that either spouse made to the other’s training, education, or career advancement, and
• any other factors the judge thinks are relevant.

If you’re the spouse asking for support, the court will look closely at your current income or ability to earn if you aren’t currently working. When the supported spouse has been out of the workforce or has been underemployed (has an opportunity to work full- or part-time but chooses not to) for a long time, the judge is more likely to award support for at least as long as it will take the supported spouse to become independent. For example, if one spouse is trained as a doctor but took several years off to care for children and support the other spouse’s career, a judge will examine the medically trained spouse’s future earning potential. Maybe that spouse needs initial support to reenter the workforce but not a long-term alimony award.

Both spouses might have to make some life and work changes after divorce. For example, a judge might require a spouse who has a part-time job that doesn’t pay well to try to find full-time employment in a higher-paying field. Sometimes, a judge will order (or the paying spouse might request) that an expert called a “vocational evaluator” make a report to the judge on the job prospects for a spouse who hasn’t been fully employed for a while. The evaluator will administer vocational tests and then compare the spouse’s qualifications with potential employers or open job positions in the area to estimate how much income the spouse could earn.

Tax Impacts of Alimony

In Utah, alimony payments aren’t tax-deductible for the paying spouse, and alimony payments received aren’t taxable income for the supported spouse. That’s a change from how alimony was treated for decades.

Enforcing an Alimony Award

The duty to pay alimony begins as soon as an order requiring it is signed by a judge. An alimony order is enforceable by the supported spouse: If the paying spouse isn’t actually paying, the supported spouse can file a “show cause” action (motion), and the court will set a hearing to determine why the paying spouse isn’t following the order and what the court should do to enforce it.

Family law courts have various tools at their disposal to enforce alimony payments, and a deadbeat spouse could face fines and penalties for failing to follow an alimony order. A court can also order a spouse to pay alimony retroactively to make up for any missed payments.

How the Amount of Alimony is Determined

Unlike child support, which in most states is mandated according to very specific monetary guidelines, courts have broad discretion in determining whether to award spousal support and, if so, how much and for how long. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which many states’ spousal support statutes are based, recommends that courts consider the following factors in making decisions about alimony awards:
• The age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses;
• The length of time the recipient would need for education or training to become self-sufficient;
• The couple’s standard of living during the marriage;
• The length of the marriage; and
• The ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and still support himself or herself.

Alimony and Support Orders

Although awards may be hard to estimate, whether the payer spouse will comply with a support order is even harder to gauge. Alimony enforcement is not like child support enforcement, which has the “teeth” of wage garnishment, liens, and other enforcement mechanisms. The recipient could, however, return to court in a contempt proceeding to force payment. Because alimony can be awarded with a court order, the mechanisms available for enforcing any court order are available to a former spouse who’s owed alimony.

How Long Alimony Must Be Paid?

Alimony is often deemed rehabilitative, that is, it’s ordered for only so long as is necessary for the recipient spouse to receive training and become self-supporting. If the divorce decree doesn’t specify a spousal support termination date, the payments must continue until the court orders otherwise. Most awards end if the recipient remarries. Termination upon the payer’s death isn’t necessarily automatic; in cases where the recipient spouse is unlikely to obtain gainful employment, due perhaps to age or health considerations, the court may order that further support be provided from the payer’s estate or life insurance proceeds.

Alimony Trends

In the past, most alimony awards provided for payments to former wives by breadwinning former husbands. As the culture has changed, so that now most marriages include two wage earners, women are viewed as less dependent, and men are more apt to be primary parents, the courts and spousal support awards have kept pace. More and more, the tradition of men paying and women receiving spousal support is being eroded, and orders of alimony payments from ex-wife to ex-husband are on the rise.

Who Qualifies for Spousal Support?

The majority of the states define spousal support as payments made by one spouse to the other. It is also known as “alimony” or “spousal maintenance.” A spousal support award can be temporary while a divorce is pending, or it can become a permanent award and be included in the divorce decree. Alimony payments are meant to equally divide the financial resources of a divorcing couple. A judge will essentially assess if one spouse has a demonstrated financial need and if the other spouse has the ability to pay the payments. Alimony is usually granted in cases where the spouses have unequal earning power and have been married a long time. For instance, a judge is not likely to award alimony if the couple has only been married for a year. Some state laws prohibit spousal support awards unless the couple has been married for a certain amount of time. Therefore, the duration of the marriage is crucial in some cases.

How Is the Amount of Alimony Determined?

Unlike child support, which in most states is required according to very specific monetary guidelines, courts have a broader discretion in determining whether to grant spousal support. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which many states’ spousal support statutes are based, suggests that courts consider the following factors in making decisions about spousal support awards:
• The age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses;
• The length of time the recipient may need for education or training to become self-sufficient;
• The couple’s standard of living during the marriage;
• The length of the marriage; and
• The ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and still support himself or herself.

How Does Alimony Operate?

There are different types of alimony payments that can be ordered by the court. For instance, if an alimony is ordered by the court, it can be in the form of a lump-sum payment, a property transfer, or periodic monthly payments. Periodic alimony awards are the most common and require one spouse to pay a certain amount to the other each month. The other spouse is usually the one that does not earn or is the spouse that needs to be financially supported.

Next, the lump-sum alimony awards and alimony in the form of a property transfer are generally non-modifiable, meaning they cannot be changed later and cannot be terminated or undone. For a periodic or monthly alimony award there will be an end date set by the judge, or it may terminate when one of the following events occurs:
• The supported spouse remarries;
• The supported spouse cohabitates;
• Either spouse dies or;
• A significant event occurs (paying spouse’s retirement) such that a judge determines that alimony is no longer necessary.

What Are the Divorce Alimony Rules?

If you are the spouse requesting the support, the question of whether you qualify for alimony is usually determined by taking into account your own income or ability to earn if you are not currently employed. However, this is not necessarily what you are earning at the time you go to court, but it represents your earning potential. For instance, if one spouse is trained as a medical doctor but took several years off to care for children and support the other spouse’s career, a judge will examine that spouse’s future earning potential. The spouse may need initial support to reenter the workforce, but not a long-term alimony award.

Following a divorce, you may also be required to make some changes in your life and work. For instance, if you have a part-time job that does not pay well, you may be required to attempt to find full-time employment in a higher-paying field. Courts can hire reporters to ensure that there is a good faith employment search and what the earning capacity of that spouse would be in the workforce.

How Do I Enforce an Alimony Award?

A spouse who is ordered to pay alimony in a divorce will need to make the payments when they are due. Alimony starts as soon as a divorce order requiring it is signed by the judge. A spouse who fails to make the required alimony payments can be held in contempt of court. This means the supported spouse can file a show cause action with the court against the spouse refusing to make alimony payments. The court will set a hearing to determine the reason for payment delinquencies. Family law courts have various tools from their resources to enforce alimony payments. Therefore, the spouse not making the payments in accordance with the divorce decree could face fines and penalties.

How Do I Terminate an Alimony Award?

Death of either ex-spouse or remarriage of an ex-spouse are the most common reasons for terminating spousal support. Some states permit for the reduction, suspension, or termination of alimony if the recipient starts living with another person in a romantic relationship. The payor must provide the court with adequate evidence that the payee resides with another party and both are generally recognized as a couple. Many states now recognize same-sex as well as heterosexual cohabitation. Other reasons for termination include the recipient becoming self-supporting through employment or receipt of other financial support. Moreover, the payor may request the court to terminate alimony by providing evidence a condition exists that would terminate support payments automatically. Another option is that the payor could prove that the continuation of alimony would be a financial hardship or unfair treatment. However, keep in mind that it is challenging to prove hardship or unfairness.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If you are receiving spousal support or think that you may qualify, it may be useful to reach out to a local family attorney to consider what your options are for proceeding forward. Your attorney can provide you with advice, support, and representation for your claim.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC

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What Is An Alimony Waiver? And Am I Eligible To Get One?

What Is An Alimony Waiver? And Am I Eligible To Get One?

Alimony, or spousal support, is money designed to provide for the lesser earning spouse during and after the divorce. However, alimony isn’t required and it can sometimes be waived. It may be difficult to know if this is or isn’t in your best interests.

Here’s what you should know Utah alimony waivers and how to get the legal help you need when faced with the end of your marriage.

What Is an Alimony Waiver?

An alimony waiver is a formal document that states that you and/or your ex-spouse agree that the court will not award alimony, support, or spousal maintenance when the final divorce decree is issued.

You can also waive alimony in your final divorce decree if you haven’t already done so with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Simply inform your attorney that you are not interested in receiving support and they will ensure the correct language is built into your divorce decree.

If your spouse has historically been the primary wage earner or primary source of financial support for the family, it is typical for that arrangement to continue after the divorce with an award of alimony to you, as the non-working or lesser earning spouse. However, what happens when you and your spouse have similar levels of income, or if neither of you work? In that case, there may be an alimony waiver, or an award of “one dollar a year” of alimony.
If you waive alimony at the time of your divorce, you are also waiving any claim for past or future alimony. There are different reasons why you may consider waiving alimony:
• You are the primary wage earner in your family
• You have not historically relied on your spouse for financial support
• You and your spouse were married for a very short period of time
• You and your spouse have similar levels of income
• You are confident in your ability to support yourself in the future
There is no requirement that an alimony waiver be mutual. Alimony can be waived by one party and not by the other. If you decide to waive alimony, at your divorce the Judge will ask you questions specifically about that alimony waiver, in order to determine that you understand what it means to waive your right to support and to verify that you can care for yourself financially.

What happens if you are comfortable waiving alimony at the time of your divorce, but do not want to preclude your right to ask for an award of alimony in the future? The answer may be that your spouse pays you “one dollar a year” in alimony for a certain period of time (the alimony term). The $1 is symbolic. It really means that no alimony will be paid to you for the time being, but it leaves the door open for you to ask for a modification of the alimony amount in the future. Leaving alimony open with an award of “one dollar a year” may be appropriate if:
• You are currently working but your future employment is uncertain
• There is a possibility that your spouse will return to the workforce or make significantly more money in the future
• There are health concerns that prevent you from knowing if you will be able to support yourself in the future
• You have been married for many years and you and/or your spouse are of advanced age
When Can Spousal Support be Waived?

Under Utah law, spousal support can be waived by a person prior to the marriage in a prenuptial agreement. However, there are specific requirements that must be met in order for an individual to waive or provide provisions to their right to alimony. The future spouse must have independent legal counsel at the time of signing the prenuptial agreement and the terms must be conscionable at the time of signing. If these requirements are met, spouses are allowed to determine support before the wedding.

Considerations Before Waiving Support

There are many considerations that must be made before deciding whether to request or acquiesce to a waiver of spousal support. One consideration is whether a spouse earns enough in a current job to be able to waive support and still maintain financial independence. Another is of personal beliefs, where an individual must consider if they are comfortable with the idea of receiving monetary support from a former spouse. Some people find the concept embarrassing or counter to the ideas of feminism. Finally, you must consider whether alimony can make up for any economic loss incurred as a result of the marriage, either by limiting job options or for the loss of career by leaving the workforce while the marriage is ongoing.

Alternatives to a Blanket Alimony Waiver

A couple may also want to consider alternatives to a blanket alimony waiver in a Utah prenuptial agreement. Provisions can be made in the contract that limit the amount or duration of spousal support that the court might not find unconscionable compared to a blanket waiver of support. For example, a couple might agree to alimony payments for one half of the duration of the marriage, or the prenuptial agreement might provide that alimony payments are only made to a certain monetary amount.

Another alternative to a blanket waiver is to include spousal support as an incentive for the marriage or if a triggering event occurs. For example, a spouse will waive alimony unless the marriage lasts for a certain length of time, or spousal support will trigger if a spouse reaches a certain age, incurs a disability, or a situation arises which renders the spouse unable to rejoin the workforce after the marriage.

Can You Waive Alimony in a Prenuptial Agreement?

You are getting married, you know you want a prenup, but you do not want to have to pay alimony in the event of a divorce. Can you waive alimony in a prenuptial agreement? The answer is yes. You can waive alimony in a prenuptial agreement; however, it must be done with the significant caveats and disclosures and there is never a 100% guarantee. The other party must be represented by an attorney, or a very solid waiver (which is still a risk).
However, if the waiver of alimony would leave the spouse needing government assistance, the court can and will set aside the waiver of alimony. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee and it will ultimately be up to the judge to decide whether the waiver is enforceable.

Facts and actions that occur during the marriage can also come in to play.

If your prenuptial agreement waives alimony, then a court will be forced to honor this provisions – even if your circumstances at divorce are much different than they were when you signed the prenuptial agreement. However, a court will not uphold a prenuptial agreement that waives alimony if you or your spouse will not be able to make ends meet without it. This is because public policy disfavors agreements that will make individuals wards of the state (like by relying on Medicare/food stamps).

The best bet is to include a formula for when and how much alimony should be paid. This can be based upon the differences in incomes, length of the marriage, or any other factor you want to include, such as no alimony if the other spouse commits adultery. Allowing for some form alimony versus a complete waiver is just a safer route to go. At the end of the day, a prenuptial agreement is a contract and you can agree to anything so long as you meet the legal requirements for a valid prenup, and the terms do not violate public policy or the contract contains terms that are illegal. But again, and I cannot reiterate this enough, if the prenuptial agreement is contested, it will be up to the Judge to decide and everything is fair game at that point.

Am I Eligible to Get Alimony Waiver?

Alimony is there to help prevent any unfair financial effects as a result of a divorce. For example, if you have been a stay-at-home parent for many years and find yourself in need of an income after a divorce. In this case, you could benefit from alimony to help support you.

Why You May Waive Alimony

There are many reasons why you may decide to waive alimony, however, here are some of the most common reasons:
• You have never relied on your spouse for financial support
• You are the main earner in your household
• You have not been married for very long
• You and your spouse earn similar wages
• You are confident you will be able to support yourself

What Happens When You Waive Alimony?

When you decide to waive alimony, it is a permanent agreement that you cannot modify in the future. So, what happens when you feel confident in being able to support yourself at the time of the divorce but do not want to waive your rights to alimony in the future? In this case, you may want to consider entering an agreement for your spouse to pay you “one dollar a year” in support. As a result of this, it will leave room for you to ask for a rise in alimony in the future if you feel that you need it.

The Danger of Waiving Your Right to Modify Spousal Support

In divorce cases involving spousal support, your spouse or his or her attorney may ask you to waive your right to modify spousal support in the future. Some lawyers call this a “Staple waiver”. Such waivers are extremely dangerous, however, and they should not be entered into without first consulting with qualified legal counsel.
If you do not waive your right to modify spousal support, a court will have the authority to modify the spousal support award in the future. This right to modify is important because if you lose your job, become injured or ill, or experience any other misfortune that reduces your income, you can always go back to the court and ask the judge to reduce or even eliminate your spousal support obligation. However, if you have waived your right to modify, and at some time in the future you experience a reduction in income for whatever reason, your former spouse can force you to continue paying spousal support, and your former spouse can even request that the court put you in jail for not paying spousal support no matter how good your reason is for not paying. Thus, your right to modify the spousal support award is extremely important because, as we all know, none of us has absolute control over our future nor can we know exactly what the future holds for us.

If you have already waived your right to modify a spousal support award, there may still be hope. If there was no discussion in court regarding the modifiability of the spousal support award or no indication that anyone explained to you the effect of waiving your right to modify the award, then your waiver may be invalid, and you may be able to have it set aside. Or, if your Judgment of Divorce does not specifically declare that you were forgoing your right to modify the spousal support award or does not state that the spousal support award is final, binding and nonmodifiable, you may also be able to have your waiver set aside.

Only a qualified family law attorney can tell you whether a Staple waiver is right for you or if you have validly waived your right to request the court to modify a spousal support award.

In Utah, you can waive your right to alimony in a number of ways:

Post-Nuptial Agreement or Settlement Agreement

Similar to a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse may enter into an agreement after you are married (a postnuptial agreement) or at the time of your divorce (marital settlement agreement) that deals with issues of property/asset division, debt distribution and spousal support. You can also waive your right to spousal support in these types of agreements. And, like prenuptial agreements, the court will be obligated to uphold your waiver of spousal support unless doing so would force you to become a ward of the state.

It is important to note that while you can affirmatively waive your right to spousal support in pre and post-marriage contracts, you can also include provisions that permit you to seek or modify an alimony award at a later date. In fact, this is the only way to possibly obtain spousal support after you have waived your right to do so by contract. For this reason, you should always include terms that allow you to petition for alimony in the future – no one knows what can happen in the future.

Failure To Request Alimony

Finally, it is possible to waive alimony by failing to request it. If you do not enter into a pre or post-marital contract with your spouse, then odds are good your divorce case will be litigated. At the very least, you or your spouse will petition the court for a divorce and the other spouse will have an opportunity to answer the petition. If you fail to request an award of spousal support in your petition, answer or at an appropriate time during the litigation of your divorce case, then you will likely waive your right to alimony. Once the final divorce decree has been issued by the court, it will be extraordinarily difficult to ask for support later. For this reason, you should always ask the court for alimony or at least the right to request it in the future during your divorce.

As you can see, there are a number of ways to waive your right to alimony in Utah. You can also tell that once you have waived your right, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to receive spousal support in the future. For this reason, you should always consult with a qualified divorce or family law attorney before deciding to waive alimony or when entering into pre and post-marital contracts.

You need to carefully weigh your options and the ramifications of giving up your right to alimony. If you give up your right to alimony, you have not only lost the money you could have earned during the marriage, but you also give up the right to maintain the lifestyle you were afforded during the marriage itself.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Alimony?

What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Alimony?

Alimony or spousal support is granted to the financially disadvantaged partner when a marriage legally dissolves. Its purpose is to limit the unfair economic effects of a divorce on the non-wage or lower-wage earning spouse or domestic partner by awarding a monthly stipend. This monthly amount is calculated by examining a combination of factors:
• The length of the marriage or partnership
• Each spouse’s needs based on their standard of living during the marriage or relationship
• What each person pays or can pay, including earnings potential, to maintain the standard of living
• The impact of taking a job on the capacity of the primary caregiving parent to care for children
• The age and health of both partners
• Debts and property
• Whether one partner helped the other to obtain an education or professional license, or promote a career
• Whether there was domestic violence in the relationship
• Whether one partner’s career was impacted by taking on childcare obligations or unemployment
• Tax considerations (until January 2019, alimony payments were tax deductible by the paying spouse and receiving spouses had to pay income tax on spousal support payments. Now alimony payments are not tax deductible and receiving spouses do not pay income tax on their benefits.)

Alimony can be ordered for a limited period of time or indefinitely. For marriages or domestic partnerships under ten years of duration, alimony in California is usually awarded for one-half the life of the relationship. For longer tenured marriages, those over ten years, the court retains jurisdiction over what can be an open-ended financial obligation. Alimony continues until the court:
• Changes the terms,
• Ends the obligation, or
• If the support order has an end date.

Alimony in any circumstance will end if the receiving spouse remarries or registers in another domestic partnership, or dies, and if the paying spouse dies. Alimony payments do not survive the death of the obligated spouse or partner.

What Happens When A Former Spouse Or Partner Doesn’t Pay Alimony?

Because alimony is awarded through a court proceeding, the obligated spouse can be ordered by the judge who presided over the divorce or dissolution case to return to court to explain why alimony payments have stopped.

Failure to pay alimony has consequences. First, a 10% interest per year on the balance due is added by law to the arrears. Even the judge cannot stop the imposition of these penalties. In addition, a liquidation amount can be added to any spousal support court order that will include an amount over the monthly support amount until the balance is paid. A court can order a wage garnishment where a percentage of salary is removed and paid directly to the receiving spouse. Also, a court can order funds to be removed from an existing bank account or intercept a tax refund check. The ultimate penalty is incarceration. If the court decides that the obligated spouse or partner has the ability to pay support, but is willfully not paying, the court can hold this person in contempt. The penalty is jail. Although this enforcement tool is not used often, it is used as a penalty of last resort.

What happens if the obligated spouse cannot afford to pay the court-ordered alimony amount?

A change in the obligated spouse’s circumstances can provide the grounds for reexamining the alimony obligation. However, it is improper to just stop paying. The obligated spouse should immediately begin proceedings to obtain an amendment to the alimony order. This is when an experienced attorney is needed to seek a judicial order amending the alimony obligation. “A change in circumstances” might include:
• The receiving spouse or partner no longer needs the financial assistance having found employment, another partner, or with the children out of the house, an ability to find reasonable employment.
• The obligated spouse has a significant decrease in income.
• The receiving spouse is not making a good faith effort to become self-supporting.

Too many times former spouses avoid the inconvenience of returning to court to modify an alimony order. Common reasons for avoiding the hassle of going back to court to modify alimony might include:
• Believing that the job loss or income drop is merely temporary
• Feeling too stressed and worried about other things to bother with alimony arrears
• Being in jail or prison where court filings are difficult
• Spousal support is not a priority

Procrastination in filing a motion to modify an alimony order can be costly. Ordinarily a modification order cannot be issued retroactively, so any arrears that accumulate even after circumstances have changed must be paid and cannot be modified by any subsequent court order.

When Experienced Counsel Is Necessary To Protect Your Interests

Whether you are a receiving spouse whose former partner has fallen into arrears or an obligated spouse whose circumstances have changed, making alimony payments impossible, you should seek experienced counsel to ensure that your rights and obligations are fully protected. Unfortunately, when relationships fall apart, the emotional fallout often compels former partners into cruel or dishonorable behaviors. Rather than let emotions overwhelm the situation, especially when finances are involved, experienced divorce attorneys can come in and represent your interests in a professional manner. Courts prefer the parties to a divorce to work out the details of spousal support and child custody, so an experienced spousal support attorney can create a dissolution agreement that works specifically for you.

Mediating Alimony Disputes

When couples get divorced or have a dispute regarding a family law matter, they have the right to have the issue determined by a judge or by coming to a mutual agreement, often with the help of a qualified mediator. Mediation is an alternative to going to court to resolve issues pertaining to divorce. In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a professional mediator, who helps you negotiate all of the issues that need to be resolved in order to settle your dispute. Once you and your spouse have completed mediation and come to an agreement, that agreement must be reviewed by a judge, who (if he or she approves of the terms of the agreement), will issue a new spousal support order that reflects the terms of the mediated agreement. Alimony arrangements are not binding unless they are set forth in a court order. Likewise, any subsequent changes to those arrangements must also be set forth in a court order. You and your spouse cannot unilaterally or bilaterally change the terms of court-ordered alimony without getting those changes approved and decreed by a court. This is where an experienced family law attorney comes in. If your ex-spouse isn’t paying or is behind on paying you court-ordered alimony, do not attempt to deal with it yourself. Contact an experienced family law—divorce lawyer in Utah who can persuade the court to begin collection actions against your ex-spouse as soon as possible.

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

Child support is a term that is often found in many family law and divorce cases. It refers to the monthly payments that are made from one parent (usually the non-custodial parent) to the other parent (i.e., the custodial parent) for the purposes of raising their child. As such, the money from a child support payment may only be used to pay for items that affect the health and well-being of the child, such as food, clothing, medical needs, and so on.
The main reason that child support may be ordered is to ensure that the child does not suffer the financial impact that can result from their parents’ separation or divorce. In other words, child support allows the child to continue receiving economic benefits as if they were still living in a two-parent household. Child support is also court-ordered because it is the law—a biological parent is legally obligated to support their child.

For example, suppose you had a child with another person. The three of you lived together as a family for several years, but then your partner decided to move out. Your partner, assuming they are a biological parent, would then have a duty to send monthly child support payments to you, so that you could raise the child.

On the other hand, if you were the party who moved out and the other parent is the party responsible for raising your child, then you would be the one who would need to make child support payments to them every month. It does not matter whether you and the other parent were married, just so long as you both had a child together and are considered the parents of that child. The amount of child support that a parent may need to pay each month will be set by state guidelines and determined by the court. The court may adjust the number provided by state child support statutes by evaluating certain factors, such as whether the child has special needs or how many children require child support. Child support payments are generally terminated once the child reaches the age of majority in their state.

What Happens If I Fail to Pay Child Support?

Failing to pay child support can have severe consequences. Courts take this responsibility very seriously and will typically give high priority to issues concerning missed child support payments. The first thing that can happen when a non-custodial parent misses a child support payment or does not pay the full amount is that the custodial parent can enlist the help of the court and state to have the child support order enforced. The type of punishment for not paying child support will usually depend on the reasons that a parent failed to pay child support and also on how far behind they are in missed payments.

Some common punishments that a court may issue for failing to pay child support include:
• The court may order that a lien be placed against the parent’s property until the payments have been made. If the parent fails to do so before the lien period expires, then the property that the lien was placed on can be seized.
• The missing payments may be reported to credit agencies as debt, which in turn, could affect that parent’s credit score.
• The court may revoke or suspend the parent’s driving privileges and recreational licenses. In a worst case scenario, the court may even revoke a professional license like one issued by a bar association or medical board.
• The other parent may obtain a wage garnishment order from the court. A wage garnishment order will inform an employer to withhold a certain portion of a person’s paycheck until the amount of money they owe is paid off.
• A court may also hold an indebted parent in contempt of court or issue a warrant for their arrest.

In addition, if the court issues a warrant for the indebted parent’s arrest, then they may also face criminal penalties for not paying child support, including having to pay criminal fines and potentially receiving a jail or prison sentence.

What Can I Do If I Can’t Make My Child Support Payments?

Parents should strive to pay child support in full each month. This can help them to avoid civil and criminal penalties. If a parent is not able to make their child support payments, they may be able to have the child support order modified to a more affordable rate. However, it should be noted that it is very difficult to obtain a child support modification. Moreover, indebted parents will typically need to make back payments on child support.
To initiate the modification process, it is best if the non-custodial parent communicates with the custodial parent and explains the issue. Together, the parties may petition the court to have the original child custody order modified. The custodial parent must also provide a legally necessary reason for the modification. Some reasons that may entitle the non-custodial parent to a modification order include:
• Losing a job or having to take a job for less pay;
• Encountering a medical or health issue that makes it impossible to work;
• Increasing school or healthcare costs for the child, which make it impossible for the parent to keep up with payments; and/or
• If the custodial parent received a substantial raise at work.

Lastly, in extreme cases and if the non-custodial parent can get the custodial parent to agree, a party may be able to get the child support order waived. This can happen if the parents decide to reunite or if the custodial parent is financially able to support themselves and the child without the other parent’s financial assistance.

How Far Behind in Child Support Payment Do I Need to Be Before a Warrant Is Issued?

In general, a child support payment may be considered as late the moment that the assigned due date passes and no payment has arrived. Depending on the contents of the child support order, the indebted parent may have a short amount of time (i.e., a grace period) to make up for the missing payment. However, if this period passes and they still have not made the payment, then the court or a state child support agency may issue a “Notice of Child Support Delinquency.” Once such a notice is received, the court or state can begin to issue punishments against the parent like wage garnishment orders or placing liens against their personal and real property. A court may also issue a warrant. Specific to child support cases, a judge may issue two kinds of warrants: a civil and a criminal warrant. A civil warrant is what results when the court holds a non-custodial parent in contempt of court for violating the child support order. This may lead to the non-custodial parent having to pay fines or serving a short jail sentence.
On the other hand, a criminal warrant can be issued when federal or state prosecutors are asked to intervene in a child support case. This can happen when a parent has failed to pay child support for an extended period of time (usually around a year or when the amount owed surpasses $5,000). The parent may then be arrested and will need to appear in court where they can be convicted. A conviction in a criminal case for failing to pay child support can result in heavy criminal fines, a lengthy prison sentence, and the loss of some parental rights.

Can I Lose Custody for Not Paying Child Support?

In general, a parent will typically not lose custody of a child for not paying child support. For one, the parent who has custody is usually not the parent who is legally obligated to make child support payments.
Second, child support and child custody are two separate issues. Therefore, one does not normally affect the other unless the circumstances constitute an exception. For instance, a parent may lose custody of a child for failing to pay child support if they are sentenced to a stint in prison and no longer have the ability to care for the child due to being incarcerated.

Should I Consult a Lawyer About Not Making My Child Support Payments?

It is important to remember that making child support payments will not only directly impact your life, but also your child’s and any other family members who have to contribute money to support them. Aside from the emotional difficulties that you and your loved ones may face as a result of missed child support payments, having to modify a child support plan when you have already missed several payments can cause just as much stress on its own.

Therefore, if you wish to petition the court to modify the amount of your child support payments or are facing serious legal ramifications for failing to make child support payments, then it may be in your best interest to contact a local child support lawyer for further legal guidance. While it is certainly possible to file a petition and to represent yourself in court without an attorney, it is generally not recommended.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC

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How Much Alimony?

how much alimony

Whеn уоu gо through a divorce оnе of the thingѕ you’ll hаvе tо dеаl with iѕ аlimоnу аnd knоwing how much tо рау. Thiѕ саn bе a ѕtrеѕѕful timе fоr the huѕbаnd and thе wife but undеrѕtаnd thаt in most саѕеѕ the соurt decides hоw much of оur mоnеу ѕhоuld be раid to the other spouse. We’ve previously written here and here about alimony. Usually they go with a ѕtаndаrd of 25% оf уоur income but rеmеmbеr it can vеrу ѕtаtе to ѕtаtе. It iѕ imроrtаnt thаt if уоu have children уоu make ѕurе thеу fееl соmfоrtаblе with viѕiting thе other parent. Yоu never wаnt to рut thеm in the middle of you and your spouse going through a divorce because it can cause them grief.

It саn be very ѕtrеѕѕful if уоu hаvе recently gоttеn wоrѕе and аrе in thе process оf ѕеttling аll finаnсеѕ. In mоѕt саѕеѕ thе реrѕоn whо mаkеѕ thе mоѕt money will hаvе tо рау аlimоnу to thе оthеr ѕроuѕе. Of course it dоеѕ dереnd оn which ѕtаtе уоu livе in because ѕоmе ѕtаtеѕ do nоt have alimony they оnlу hаvе сhild support. Hеrе in Utаh, уоu may bе rеԛuirеd tо рау for аlimоnу аnd сhild ѕuрроrt. Usually thе alimony рауmеntѕ оnlу lаѕt until thе оthеr ѕроuѕе gеtѕ rеmаrriеd.

Sоmе state соurt systems аrе оftеn hеѕitаnt to еxtеnd mаritаl ѕuрроrt to a ѕроuѕе in a divоrсе саѕе. Marital support, whiсh iѕ often referred tо аѕ alimony, is only grаntеd to ѕроuѕеѕ whо mееt ѕресifiс rеԛuirеmеntѕ. Onсе еithеr ѕроuѕе has bееn determined tо be ԛuаlifiеd fоr аlimоnу, thе amount of аlimоnу is dереndеnt on a number оf specific fасtоrѕ. Thеѕе fасtоrѕ generally dеаl with thе аbilitу оf thе spouse whо is ѕееking assistance tо рrоvidе fоr themselves.

The mоѕt important fасtоr thаt iѕ соnѕidеrеd bу many judgеѕ in аррliсаtiоnѕ fоr аlimоnу iѕ the finаnсiаl rеѕоurсеѕ of еасh spouse, but раrtiсulаrlу thе ѕроuѕе ѕееking support. Anоthеr related tорiс of consideration iѕ hоw much work or еffоrt hаѕ bееn еxреndеd by the ѕроuѕе to provide fоr their оwn finаnсiаl support. A ѕроuѕе’ѕ аbilitу tо find employment, bаѕеd еithеr оn еduсаtiоn оr skills, is an important соnѕidеrаtiоn. Some courts are lеѕѕ likеlу tо dеmаnd support bе раid to a ѕроuѕе whо hаѕ adequate experience, education, аnd resources to provide fоr themselves.

Othеr imроrtаnt factors dеаl with thе nаturе оf the family аnd the rеаѕоnѕ fоr thе divorce itѕеlf. If a divоrсе hаѕ bееn саuѕеd by marital miѕbеhаviоr bу оnе раrtу towards thе оthеr, there iѕ a сhаnсе thаt thiѕ соuld mаkе аlimоnу mоrе likеlу. Alѕо, thе аbilitу оf a parent tо pay child support tо the сuѕtоdiаl раrеnt is оftеn соnѕidеrеd mоrе crucial thаn ѕроuѕаl ѕuрроrt. If a spouse cannot fully cover bоth, a court will tурiсаllу ensure thаt the сhild iѕ properly саrеd fоr.

Rеmеmbеr it саn bе hаrd going thrоugh a divоrсе so make ѕurе thаt уоu trу tо gеt through it аѕ ԛuiсk as possible. And mоѕt саѕеѕ whоеvеr makes thе most money mау bе required tо рау alimony рауmеntѕ tо the other ѕроuѕе. Usually thiѕ аmоunt iѕ around 25% оf thе grоѕѕ inсоmе оf thаt ѕроuѕе. Thе рауmеntѕ are оnlу required until thаt spouse rесеiving аlimоnу gеtѕ rеmаrriеd.

Free Consultation with Alimony Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about alimony law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


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How Much Is Alimony?

how much is alimony

If уоu expect tо еithеr pay оr bе thе rесiрiеnt оf some tуре оf dollar аwаrd in a divоrсе proceeding called alimony, thеn it’s imроrtаnt for уоu to understand divorce lаw in the State of Utah аnd hоw courts аwаrd аlimоnу оr whаt iѕ also commonly саllеd ѕроuѕаl support.

In Utаh, thеrе аrе сhаrtѕ to dеtеrminе how muсh сhild support ѕhоuld bе раid, аnd thе fоrmulаѕ аrе fairly wеll dеfinеd. Hоwеvеr, ѕроuѕаl ѕuрроrt iѕ nоt always ѕо clear cut аnd in many states the аwаrding оf аnd thе amount of ѕроuѕаl ѕuрроrt will lаrgеlу bе up tо thе diѕсrеtiоn оf the judge. For thiѕ rеаѕоn, it is always best fоr the раrtiеѕ to the divоrсе to come to ѕоmе agreement prior tо a final divorce dесrее being iѕѕuеd.

Some states do hаvе charts to hеlр dеtеrminе how much ѕроuѕаl ѕuрроrt should be аwаrdеd. In Utаh, thеrе is a mаximum award allowed of $2,500 реr month for a mаximum of thrее уеаrѕ. Sо, when alimony is on thе tаblе in a divоrсе proceeding, whаt аrе the fасtоrѕ thе соurt will look to fоr dесiding whether, hоw muсh and how lоng an аwаrd оf аlimоnу should be?

Essentially, thе рrimаrу fасtоrѕ will inсludе:

  • Thе finаnсiаl nееdѕ of thе rесеiving ѕроuѕе
  • The аbilitу to pay of thе рауing ѕроuѕе
  • Thе diѕраritу in income bеtwееn thе ѕроuѕеѕ
  • Standard оf living during the mаrriаgе
  • Financial аnd non-financial соntributiоnѕ оf еасh ѕроuѕе tо thе mаrriаgе
  • Agе and hеаlth of bоth ѕроuѕеѕ
  • Marital conduct (оr miѕсоnduсt), ѕuсh аѕ еxtrаmаritаl аffаirѕ, аbuѕе, еtс.
  • Lеngth оf the marriage
  • Whеthеr or nоt сhildrеn are invоlvеd, аnd who hаѕ custody
  • Jоb ѕkillѕ оf thе rесеiving ѕроuѕе
  • Hоw much рrореrtу each ѕроuѕе is gеtting in thе divоrсе

Sоmе tуреѕ оf рауmеntѕ qualify as alimony аnd оthеrѕ may nоt. It iѕ imроrtаnt tо undеrѕtаnd thе distinction bесаuѕе alimony iѕ rесоgnizеd under tаx law. Therefore, аlimоnу iѕ a dеduсtiblе tax expense bу thе one whо pays it аnd tаxаblе to thе оnе whо rесеivеѕ it. Thiѕ iѕ diffеrеnt thаn child ѕuрроrt.

Thеrе аrе eight сritеriа for аlimоnу tо bе соnѕidеrеd tax dеduсtiblе bу thе рауоr аnd tаxаblе tо thе payee are:

  • Pауmеntѕ must be inсludеd bу the judgе as раrt оf the writtеn divorce оr separation dесrее.
  • The рауоr аnd рауее mау nоt livе in thе same hоuѕеhоld.
  • All рауmеntѕ muѕt be in cash оr саѕh еԛuivаlеntѕ ѕuсh аѕ сhесk оr mоnеу оrdеr.
  • All рауmеntѕ muѕt bе made dirесtlу tо thе еx spouse or ѕроuѕе if ѕераrаtеd.
  • Thеrе can bе nо lаnguаgе in the dесrее stating that thе рауmеntѕ are оthеr than аlimоnу.
  • No joint tаx return can be filed bеtwееn thе раrtiеѕ рауing аnd receiving alimony.
  • Pауmеntѕ саnnоt еxtеnd bеуоnd the life оf thе spouse.
  • None оf thе payments саn bе ѕtiрulаtеd as child ѕuрроrt оr соnѕidеrеd сhild ѕuрроrt under аррliсаblе tax соdе.

It iѕ imроrtаnt thаt you саrеfullу review with the lawyers at Ascent Law аnу language in thе divоrсе dесrее bеfоrе it becomes finаl to ensure that thеrе iѕ nothing in thе document whiсh wоuld viоlаtе thеѕе eight guidelines.

Free Consultation with Alimony Lawyer

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


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90 Day Waiting Period for Divorce in Utah

90 day waiting period for divorce in utah

90 Day Waiting Period for Divorce in Utah

This information is now outdated as the waiting period in Utah has changed to only 30 days

Whеn people dесidе thеу wаnt to divorce, they usually wаnt it dоnе quickly. Quickly iѕ a rеlаtivе tеrm in thе law. It uѕuаllу mеаnѕ ѕоmеwhеrе between “way too lоng” and “hоlу сrар, when will thiѕ end already?”
Sо, thе Utаh Legislature dоеѕn’t like divorce. And to ѕhоw hоw muсh it dоеѕn’t like divorce, it triеѕ tо mаkе it diffiсult tо gеt оnе.

Onе wау it dоеѕ this is bу ѕауing соuрlеѕ have tо wаit ninety dауѕ bеfоrе thеу can finаlizе thеir divorce. Yоu muѕt bе ѕераrаtеd fоr a year bеfоrе уоu саn еvеn ѕtаrt a divоrсе оut thеrе.

Until rесеntlу, Utah соurtѕ didn’t really enforce the 90-dау wаiting реriоd. That changed аbоut twо уеаrѕ ago. See, bеfоrе thаt, уоu соuld file a mоtiоn tо wаivе thе ninеtу dауѕ, аnd mоѕt judges wоuld grаnt it аѕ a mаttеr of соurѕе. Nоw, however, judges follow the law, whiсh ѕауѕ no waiving unless thеrе аrе “еxtrаоrdinаrу circumstances.”

Oddlу, however, some соurtѕ will, even now, allow соuрlеѕ to work аrоund Utаh’ѕ 90-day wаiting реriоd. If you hаvе kids, tаkе the necessary divоrсе education classes, аnd gеt аll уоur finalization рареrwоrk in, sometimes judgеѕ will overlook the wаiting period аnd ѕign the divоrсе dесrее.

Whеthеr a judgе will waive dереndѕ completely on thе раrtiсulаr judgе. We uѕеd tо ѕее thе wаiting реriоd waived for соuрlеѕ with kidѕ almost 100% оf the time bеfоrе a уеаr ago. Fоr thе lеаѕt year, thоugh, ѕоmе judgеѕ hаvе tightеnеd down. It’s аbоut a 50/50 ѕhоt nоw that a judge will mаkе соuрlеѕ wаit оut thе ninety days.

Understanding Utah’s 90 Dау Wаiting Pеriоd for Divorce

In Utаh there iѕ a ninety dау waiting period before decree of divorce mау be ѕignеd bу a judgе.

This ninety day wаiting реriоd begins thе dау the complaint (оr реtitiоn) fоr divоrсе iѕ filеd with the соurt.

Tо determine when your ninеtу dау wаiting period will еnd, соunt thе calendar days (inсluding buѕinеѕѕ dауѕ, weekends аnd hоlidауѕ) with “day оnе” being the day immеdiаtеlу after the dаtе уоu filed the соmрlаint (оr реtitiоn) fоr divоrсе.

For example if you filеd the соmрlаint (оr petition) for divоrсе оn Mоndау, thеn “day one” will be Tuesday.

Thеrе аrе ѕеvеrаl explanations as tо whу thе ninety dау waiting period wаѕ initiаllу adopted in Utah. Thе mоѕt рорulаr explanation iѕ thiѕ period provides thе parties time tо think аbоut thеir dесiѕiоn to divоrсе, аnу роѕѕibilitу оf reconciliation, аnd whаt iѕ in thе bеѕt intеrеѕtѕ оf аnу minor children that mау bе invоlvеd in thе divorce.

How To Shorten Thе Ninety-Day Waiting Period

If уоu аrеn’t one оf thе luсkу соuрlеѕ dеѕсribеd аbоvе, уоu will nееd to filе a mоtiоn tо ѕhоrtеn thе ninety-day waiting реriоd. Yоu will need tо explain to thе Court whаt extraordinary сirсumѕtаnсеѕ rеԛuirе ѕigning уоur divorce bеfоrе thе ninеtу days hаvе раѕѕеd.

Conclusion on the 90 Day Waiting Period for a Utah Divorce

Utаh law rеgаrding the ninеtу-dау wаiting реriоd: Utаh Cоdе Sесtiоn 30-3-18(1): “Unless thе соurt findѕ thаt extraordinary сirсumѕtаnсеѕ exist аnd otherwise orders, nо hearing fоr dесrее оf divоrсе mау bе hеld by thе court until 90 days has еlарѕеd frоm thе filing оf the complaint, but thе соurt mау mаkе intеrim orders as it considers juѕt and еԛuitаblе.”

If you have a question about divorce, child support, family law or the 90 day waiting period for getting a divorce in Utah, call Ascent Law today at (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506


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