All spouses have an obligation to deal with each other in some form or fashion, and that obligation carries on even after divorce when one spouse needs financial help from the other, as support installments. In Utah, sometimes you can escape alimony – but if you’ve been married for over 7 years, and one of the parties has been a “stay at home” mom or dad – there is a chance you may have to pay alimony.
Types of Alimony
In Utah, alimony is referred to in three different ways: as alimony, spousal support, and maintenance. Temporary maintenance is an order that one spouse must financially support the other while the divorce is being finalized. Once the divorce is finalized, the temporary maintenance stops and the judge decides whether permanent alimony is appropriate. A spouse could receive temporary maintenance but no permanent order once the divorce is finalized, or could receive no temporary maintenance during the divorce but later receive a permanent order. Judges decide whether or not to order spousal support based on individual circumstances of each case.
How Alimony Works
To decide whether spousal support is appropriate, the judge will look at the needs of the spouse asking for support and whether the other spouse has the financial ability to provide financial help. For example, if your income is lower than your spouse’s but you are able to support yourself, you may not be entitled to alimony. The court will also look at other factors when making a decision about support:
- the length of the marriage
- each spouse’s age and health status
- each spouse’s present and future earning capacity
- the need of one spouse to incur education or training expenses
- whether the spouse seeking maintenance is able to become self-supporting
- whether caring for children inhibited one spouse’s earning capacity
- equitable distribution of marital property, and
- the contributions that one spouse has made as a homemaker in order to help enhance the other spouse’s earning capacity.
The court will also look to see whether the acts of one spouse have inhibited or continue to inhibit the other spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain employment. The most common example of this would be domestic violence. If one spouse’s abuse of the other affected that abused spouse’s ability to maintain or to get a job, the court might consider those actions in making its order.
Length of Alimony
Impermanent upkeep orders end when a last judgment for divorce is entered. Regardless of whether you’ve been accepting provision while your divorce was in process, you will just keep getting installments if the judge makes a changeless request for it. Permanent alimony ends either on a date specified in the order, at the death of either spouse, or when the spouse receiving alimony remarries
Either of the spouses can ask the judge to modify the permanent order if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if the spouse receiving support gets a better paying job, the court may reduce the payment amount or even terminate the payments.
The state of Utah provides an online guideline calculator for temporary spousal support. The calculator only looks at each spouse’s income and does not take into consideration any of the factors listed above, so you’ll get an estimate but not necessarily the exact amount the judge would order.
Alimony is tax deductible to the paying spouse and must be reported as income by the receiving spouse.
Free Consultation with an Alimony Lawyer in Utah
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 help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced their separation in May after 25 years together. Tipper and Al Gore separated after being married for four decades. Getting divorced after many years together is becoming more normal as time goes on says long time divorce lawyer Mike Anderson.
These long-wedded political couples are far from alone. A U.S. Census report issued earlier this year found that, over time, fewer first-time-married couples are making it to their 25th, 30th and 35th wedding anniversaries—even as life expectancies have increased.
The data don’t indicate how old the couples were when they broke up, says Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. But some divorce attorneys and financial planners say they are seeing a growing number of long-married couples call it quits.
As years go by and they get close to retirement age, where they have to be near one another more, one of them realizes they don’t want to live the rest of their life in this manner. We recently drew up divorce papers for a couple who were married 42 years.
Divorce When You’ve Been Married Awhile
A long-married couple that has done well financially must figure out how to divide investments, pensions and other retirement savings, vacation homes and businesses started by one spouse during the marriage. They must contend with a crazy quilt of regulations—some federal, some state and some set out by retirement plans themselves.
Pulling apart all the fine threads of this tapestry we’ve created is very tedious says a 60-year-old teacher in Utah who was married for 35+ years before she and her husband separated last year.
But dividing a nest egg in a way that allows both spouses to retire without worry is crucial when there is little work time left to make up any shortfall.
Several of our clients are in their 50s and are getting divorced after three decades or more together, — so here’s the truth – a woman who’s 58 years old who’s been out of the work force for 30 years is going to be very different from what we tell a woman in her 30s.
For older women negotiating a financial settlement, “that money has to last the rest of their lives,” he says. “Even if they are employed, there’s usually a huge disparity in what they’re making.” The timing is different and needs are different.
Dividing Assets After 20+ years of Marriage
Splitting up assets like brokerage and bank accounts and insurance policies is relatively straightforward. But some of the largest family assets can be much trickier. Among them:
- The house. Large family homes have become an albatross for many couples going through divorce after long marriages, Ms. Maier says.
It used to be easy, when the children were grown, for a couple to sell the house. But in the current market, a house could remain for sale for more than a year, causing one more point to negotiate: Is one spouse willing to take the house itself in the settlement, or share in the ongoing expenses to maintain it, with the hope that the market will turn around in a few years?
- The retirement plan. A couple’s biggest asset, aside from their house, is often the retirement plan. Dividing it fairly could mean the difference for a nonworking spouse between a secure retirement and a hand-to-mouth existence.
Splitting Retirement Plans and QDROS
Pensions, 401(k) accounts and individual retirement accounts are typically titled in one spouse’s name, but they are still considered marital property if they were earned or acquired during the marriage. In the 41 “equitable distribution” states, spouses have the legal right to claim a share. In the remaining “community property” states, both spouses are considered equal owners.
To divide such accounts, you generally have to get a court-issued “qualified domestic relations order,” or QDRO, which spells out what each partner gets. Be sure the QDRO addresses the specific retirement plan in question, because each plan has its own rules, says Wendy Foster, senior vice president of Fidelity Investments’ defined-benefit unit.
In some cases, a judge approves a QDRO but it doesn’t meet a retirement plan’s qualifications, so the plan administrator must send the couple back to court to fix it. It can be very expensive to go back and forth so, to avoid such issues, Fidelity works with its plans to provide model QDROs for participants to use, she says.
It also is important to distinguish between the two types of plans: “Qualified” plans, including 401(k)s and traditional pensions, fall under federal law and can be divided using a QDRO. But “nonqualified” plans that are typically awarded to executives—along with stock options, restricted stock and deferred compensation—aren’t subject to the same rules and may not be able to be divided using a QDRO. You need to make sure those benefits are addressed separately in a settlement.
People negotiating divorce settlements should consider working with an attorney who has extensive QDRO experience, or who hires a specialist—and be wary of attorneys who play down how tricky QDROs are, Mr. Landers says.
- The family business. Mid- to late-life divorce can cripple a business started during the marriage and owned by one spouse, because the other spouse is generally entitled to a share, Mr. Landers says. Without careful planning, the business might have to be sold to comply with those terms.
We recommend that couples with a small business—especially those with children—enter into a “post-nuptial” agreement that spells out what happens to the business in the event of death and divorce. Such agreements, which are recognized in most states, are increasingly being used in estate planning, particularly for people in second marriages.
Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah
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.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506