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Spousal Support

Spousal support, or alimony, is a court order stating that one spouse must provide financial payments to the other (less economically well-off) spouse after divorce. Though statutes may differ in some ways, all states have laws regarding spousal support orders in appropriate cases. In the past spousal support was commonly awarded to a wife after divorce to allow her to live at the same standard of living, providing that she had been a faithful and had no marketable career skills. While the guidelines for spousal support have changed, states still award spousal support in appropriate divorce cases.

Spousal support can be appropriate in a variety of cases for different reasons. While spousal support is separate from child support, alimony can facilitate the continuation of family support. Spousal support can also prevent the dependant spouse from requiring public support (welfare). Spousal support may also be appropriate to compensate the dependant spouse for unpaid work and non-economical investments made into the marriage.

When one spouse sacrifices their education or career to be a homemaker or to further their spouse's career or education, he/she also sacrifices their income potential and earning capacity. Spousal support after divorce is intended to both compensate him/her for their unpaid service to the marriage and help gather the resources needed to obtain income independently. In these cases, spousal support may be awarded for such time as to allow the lower income partner to receive the education and training necessary to become gainfully employed.

Spousal support can be awarded in a number of ways. Spousal support may be ordered in a one-time or lump-sum payment, temporary periodic payments, or periodic payments for an indefinite period of time. There are a number of factors that the court will consider when determining the appropriate spousal support payment to award the lower income partner. Though it varies by state, the following are common factors used to determine spousal support: the length of the marriage, the age and health of the partners, their respective income and earning potential, each person's needs and ability to pay, the standard of living that was established during the marriage, the sacrifices made for the sake of the marriage, and more. Nearly 30 states factor in fault when determining whether or not to award spousal support. For example, some courts will not grant spousal support to a wife who committed adultery during the marriage.

Spousal support affects both parties' tax considerations. The person who pays spousal support will not be taxed on the amount, while the person who receives spousal support will have to claim this as taxable income. This is virtually the opposite of tax consequences for child support. Payments to a spouse are not considered spousal support when it is given in the same year a joint tax return is filed or when the couple is living together. Spousal support must be cash, as opposed to debt, property, or services.

If you are interested in learning more about your legal rights and options regarding spousal support, please contact us to speak with a qualified attorney in your area.

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Issues Regarding Child Custody


Child Custody Rights

Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.

Custody for Fathers

Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.

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