If you are recently divorced or have plans to get a divorce, it’s important to understand what might be financially required of you during or after the proceedings. Divorce is never easy, but the more you know about the process ahead of time, including how spousal maintenance works, the more it can help you get through the ordeal with fewer setbacks and bumps in the road.
At Zentz & Roberts, P.C., our attorneys understand how difficult divorce can be and are here for you every step of the way. For help with your case, contact our Indiana divorce attorneys for a free consultation today.
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Alimony is the financial support a person is required by the court to provide to their spouse following a divorce. Technically, there is no alimony in Indiana, but they do have something similar called spousal maintenance.
Spousal maintenance is not to be confused with child support. Child support is provided for the benefit of a child from the marriage, while spousal maintenance is provided specifically for the support of the spouse.
The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide financial assistance to a spouse who contributed to the marriage but might not have been paid externally, such as a stay-at-home parent who heavily supported the family but did not receive a paycheck.
However, spousal maintenance is not just for a spouse who might have made a career-related sacrifice to support the family. It can also be provided for a spouse who is incapacitated and incapable of supporting themselves or for a spouse who was unable to work because they were providing care to a disabled child.
While the decision to order spousal maintenance is up to the trial court, the trial court’s authority to order spousal maintenance is limited.
How Does Spousal Maintenance in Indiana Work?
Spousal maintenance is decided by the court if the parties involved cannot agree on the financial support that should be provided. If a court awards spousal maintenance without the agreement of the parties involved, a spouse can appeal the award. If the court denies spousal maintenance, the spouse that was to receive the maintenance can also file an appeal. However, the Court of Appeals will only overturn the court’s decision if it clearly goes against logic and the facts presented.
According to Indiana Code 31-15-7-2, there are only three circumstances in which spousal maintenance could be awarded:
- Rehabilitative Support: This type of maintenance is awarded when a spouse lacks sufficient means or property to provide for their needs. After considering things like the spouse’s education level, their earning capacity, employment skills, and other factors, the court will determine how much support they need temporarily until they can get back on their feet and are financially stable on their own. This type of maintenance is limited to three years.
- Incapacitated Support: This type of maintenance is awarded when a spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to support themselves financially. Unlike rehabilitative maintenance, incapacitated support can be awarded for as long as the incapacity lasts, which is up to the court to decide.
- Caregiver Support: Caregiver maintenance is awarded when a spouse does not have the means or property to support themselves because they were unable to work due to a disabled child who needed full-time care. Again, this type of support can be temporary or permanent and is up to the court to decide.
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?
Spousal maintenance payments are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the number of assets a spouse has. This could result in a spouse having to make a lump sum payment to the spouse in need of support, or they could have money withheld from their paycheck which would then be paid to the other spouse on a weekly or monthly basis.
The duration of payments can depend on various factors, such as the length of the marriage, standard of living, and custodial status. In some cases, the court might award temporary spousal maintenance during the divorce process, which is meant as a way to maintain the status quo while the divorce plays out, but it depends on the individual situation.
Of course, as mentioned above, how long it lasts will also depend on the type of maintenance being awarded. For rehabilitative support, the limit is three years, but for incapacitated and caregiver support, it can be temporary or permanent.
How to Get Spousal Maintenance
During the divorce process, if your spouse does not agree to spousal maintenance, you can request it through the court, and a judge will then review the situation to determine if you are eligible, what kind of support you need, how much you need, and how long you will receive payments.
If you are not getting the payments you are supposed to get, you can then ask the court to enforce the spousal maintenance order. In this case, the judge might issue an income withholding order, which forces your spouse’s employer to withhold maintenance amounts from their paycheck and forward the money to you. Or the judge could find your spouse in contempt of court, which could lead to a fine and jail time.
If you are confused about the process or what you need to do, talking with a family law attorney can help. An experienced divorce attorney can help guide you through the process and protect your interests.
Zentz & Roberts: Experienced Divorce Attorney in Indiana
Whether you recently went through a divorce, are currently in the process, or are planning to get a divorce and need help with spousal maintenance, our team can help. Contact the Indiana divorce attorney specialists at Zentz & Roberts today for a free consultation by visiting us online or calling us at 317-220-6056.