Understanding Alimony in a Utah Divorce Proceeding
Does the granting of a Utah divorce decree require alimony payments?
This is a common question our clients frequently ask. The answer depends on several factors.
Also known as spousal support, alimony payments are awarded in many cases. Consequently, it is reasonable to expect some discussion on this point during the negotiation phase.
Who Can Be Awarded Alimony in a Utah Divorce?
Historically, alimony rights have been granted almost exclusively to women.
This was customary, as men held all property rights during the marriage. Married women were discouraged from holding outside employment, and thus unable to support themselves financially.
Times have changed, however.
Now, either spouse can be ordered to make spousal support payments as a part of the divorce settlement. As a general rule, the courts require the spouse who earns more to provide support for the other, if that individual will be placed at an economic disadvantage as a result of the divorce.
How Is Alimony Decided in a Utah Divorce?
To determine if alimony payments are appropriate, the judge will look at several factors including: the needs of the requesting spouse; the ability of the requesting spouse to meet his/her own needs; and the ability of the paying spouse to pay alimony to meet requesting spouses needs. Other factors will be considered such as: standard of living and length of the marriage.
The earning capacity of each spouse also will be considered. The judge will examine past employment history and the ability of both parties to work. In addition, monthly debts and obligations and the custody of minor children will be factored into the alimony calculation.
In a Utah divorce proceeding, the judge also may consider the fault of the parties when determining the terms of spousal support.
How Long Are Alimony Payments Required?
For short marriages, spousal support may not be awarded. If alimony is granted, Utah divorce law states that the duration cannot be for a period of time longer than that of your marriage (absent any special circumstances).
In some cases, spousal support is temporary, lasting only through the divorce process or for a specified number of years. As part of the alimony terms, the judge may require the spouse receiving payments to make an effort to find full-time employment or a job with a better salary.
In most cases, alimony requirements automatically end if the receiving spouse remarries or dies.
Payments also can be halted if the spouse receiving support moves in with another companion. In the case of cohabitation, however, alimony doesn’t stop automatically. The cohabitation situation must first be proven to the court.
Ideally, if you, your spouse and your respective attorneys can negotiate the terms of spousal support directly, you can avoid the risk of having the court make the decision. Either way, an experienced divorce attorney is the most effective way to protect your rights and future financial well-being.
Contact the experienced legal professionals of the Burton Law Firm today to schedule a consultation. We are conveniently located in Ogden, Utah, and we stand ready to help you navigate the complex legal aspects of a Utah divorce proceeding.