In Delaware, part of a court order or divorce settlement often includes an award for alimony. Alimony and spousal support are two separate categories, as the first applies to a post-divorce settlement, while the second is temporary and usually lasts for the interim period until the divorce is final.
Because of the financial and emotional complexities of divorce, it can be challenging for Wilmington residents to confidently navigate all aspects of a settlement that will alter every aspect of their lives. It can help to have compassionate legal advocacy to make sure that you can obtain a fair alimony award that is also enforceable.
Factors that determine an alimony award
Under Delaware law, an alimony award for a marriage of less than 20 years will generally last for half the length of the marriage. For longer marriages, there is no limit to eligibility, but the determining factors in either case will include:
- The standard of living during the marriage and the alimony recipient’s financial resources available to maintain this lifestyle.
- The length of the marriage, age of the spouses and the time or expense that would be necessary for the party seeking alimony to find employment
- The financial means of the party providing alimony, as well as tax implications
Of course, there are other factors to consider. For example, the alimony recipient may not be able to seek gainful employment if they have a physical or mental incapacity, are older, or have custodial responsibilities for minor children. There is no remedy for a spouse who waived their right to alimony before, during, or after the marriage. Future alimony will terminate on the death on one spouse, or remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse.
Refusing to pay alimony
Alimony payments often become a source of conflict that negatively binds two people who are no longer together. Recent changes to tax laws have made it impossible for the paying spouse to write off their payments as a tax deduction. Things can also get contentious when the receiving spouse takes a long time to get the training or experience necessary to become gainfully employed.
The paying spouse may also feel the strain of continued payments, especially if there is a change in their income or if they are also providing child support. But refusing to pay alimony is not a good idea, as this can lead the court enforcement of the order, involving possible wage or tax garnishment, fines, or even jail time. It is preferable to demonstrate to the court that there has been a significant life or economic change in circumstances when requesting a modification of the alimony order.