Couples that are in the process of divorce have to think of many things, including the sharing of their marital property, care for the children, and if one of the spouses has to support the other after the divorce.
Alimony is a frequent divorce topic and refers to spousal support or payment from one spouse to the other (on a monthly basis mainly) for a time that will allow the recipient to get financial stability. If one of the spouses worked, and the other one was dedicated to the home and their children, the court will decide that the spouse with higher earnings will support the one that has lower incomes.
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Arkansas alimony types and duration
Every case is different, but usually, Arkansas judges are awarding temporary, rehabilitative or permanent support.
The court understands that a household with two incomes that turns into a household with one income is quite a stressful and difficult change. This is especially challenging for the parent who gets the children and becomes the only earner in the home. The judge can issue a temporary alimony award to the spouse with a lower income. That will provide financial support from the moment of filing for divorce to the final order.
Temporary support orders are terminated when the judge creates a new post-divorce order or ends the divorce.
Permanent alimony is reserved for spouses with very poor employment possibilities because of illness or advanced age.
The most popular type of alimony in Arkansas is rehabilitative support, which is also temporary. The goal of rehabilitative support is to help a spouse while they find a job or to receive training or education to improve employment chances. Usually, lower-earning spouses can’t take the time necessary to gain the proper skills if there’s no financial assistance. Rehabilitative support is suitable in cases where one spouse left their job to raise the couple’s family, give a home for the other spouse, or to help the other spouse’s career during the marriage.
Permanent alimony used to be common but now is quite rare, especially in marriages that did not last long. A couple can also make an agreement between themselves that one spouse will receive long-term or permanent alimony.
Qualification and determining of alimony
Many people think that alimony is awarded based on gender; actually, both spouses can ask financial support during and after the divorce. Before awarding alimony, an Arkansas court must find that one spouse has financial need, and the other spouse can pay. In Arkansas, there are no set guidelines for judges to follow, but usually, the court will evaluate these:
- each spouse’s current and expected income (future earning ability as well);
- each spouse’s resources, debts, and assets, including any award of marital property
- the marital standard of living;
- How long the marriage lasted.
In cases of rehabilitative support calculations, the paying spouse or the court may require the requesting spouse to show a plan of rehabilitation for the court to consider in determining whether the plan is achievable and the amount and duration of the award.
When calculating spousal support, the court may consider the guidelines, but should also see all other relevant factors. A judge has discretion in deciding how much and if they should award the alimony.
If the spouse that pays the alimony can afford it, the court often allows a lump-sum payment of cash or property to reduce future alimony requirements. Most couples are not that financially powerful nor have the ability to pay the lump-sum, so the standard for alimony is mainly a monthly payment.
In case the spouses cannot agree, the court will bring the decision for them (duration, amount, and payment methods).
The court then issues an income withholding order, which allows the payer’s employer to withhold the amount for support automatically from the employee’s paycheck.
Modification or end of alimony
If the couple agrees not to seek any changes in the original spousal support award in court, both spouses can ask the court to modify the alimony because of drastic material changes.
If the spouses cannot achieve an agreement, the alimony will be automatically determined if any of these occurs:
- the recipient spouse remarries
- the recipient spouse has a child, and a court order requires another person to support them (this is an equivalent to remarriage)
- the supported spouse lives with another person in an intimate, cohabitating relationship
- either party dies
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