calculator with change

Determining the Type of Spousal Support

Financial support for spouses after divorce is probably one of the most strongly contested issues in a divorce settlement. It is referred to as alimony, spousal support, and spousal maintenance. Spousal support is not automatic in Arkansas and the court has the power to grant or deny it completely. There are no set guidelines for judges to follow when determining if spousal support is warranted, but usually, the courts will look at many factors when making a final decision about spousal support. They are:

  • The length of time you were married.
  • One spouse’s need for financial support versus the other spouse’s ability to pay support.
  • Each spouse’s individual income level.
  • Whether or not one spouse gave up the opportunity, to pursue a career to be a stay-at-home caretaker for the children.
  • If one spouse financially supported the other spouse’s professional education.
  • Each spouse’s resources, debts, and assets, including any award of marital property.
  • Each spouse’s ability to earn a living, both short term and long term.
  • The standard of living the couple has established during the marriage.

The courts also have the ability to choose the type of spousal support to be granted. Again, this will depend on factors such as:

  • The length of time support is deemed necessary for the spouse to get back on his or her feet.
  • The lifestyle the spouse has grown accustomed to from the marriage.
  • The length of time required for the spouse to earn a living, i.e., future earning ability.

The three types of spousal support are:

  1. Rehabilitative spousal support is the most common type of alimony granted. This type of support is just as the name implies --- it is rehabilitative, giving the spouse receiving the support time to find a job or obtain the training and/or education necessary to be able to support him or herself. In order to receive this type of support, either the paying spouse or the court may require the requesting spouse to show a plan of rehabilitation for the court to consider when determining the amount and length of time the support will be paid.
  2. Temporary spousal support is paid while the divorce is still pending or for a set period of time after the divorce. This type of support is typically terminated when the judge creates a new post-divorce order or ends the divorce. It usually provides support from the moment of filing for divorce to the final order.
  3. Permanent spousal support is most commonly granted in cases such as long term marriages where the recipient spouse spent most of his or her productive years as a homemaker. It is also granted for spouses with very poor employment possibilities because of illness or advanced age.

If the paying spouse has the financial capability, the courts will order a lump-sum payment of cash or property to pay the spousal support, however, many do not have this ability, so monthly alimony payments are required. The court will issue an income withholding order allowing the payer’s employer to withhold the amount for support automatically from the employee’s paycheck.

Whether you are the spouse seeking support or the one contesting an unfair amount, Kevin Hickey Law Partners is ready to represent you. We are highly qualified and skilled to protect your interests in all things family law-related. When you hire a Kevin Hickey Law Partner professional team member, your case will be fully reviewed to build the strongest possible argument for you. To learn more about spousal support options, contact our office today, 479.434.2414 for the River Valley office or 479.802.6560 for the Northwest Arkansas office. Remember, things are about to get better.