Alimony Attorney in Louisville, Kentucky
When a couple gets a divorce, one thing that may be part of their divorce settlement is an order for spousal support or alimony, referred to as maintenance under Kentucky code. While maintenance is not a part of all divorce settlements, it is common, and may be relevant to your case if one party to the marriage is unable to provide for and support themselves financially. Maintenance can also be obtained as part of a legal separation. If you are considering divorce or legal separation and have questions about alimony, working with a skilled spousal maintenance attorney is highly recommended.
At John H. Ruby & Associates, we have represented clients facing divorce and other types of family legal matters since 1999. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and the important issues that must be addressed during a divorce, such as alimony/maintenance. We have an in-depth understanding of the factors the court usually considers when determining whether or not spousal support is warranted, and how much should be awarded. We work closely with clients, taking the time to listen and understand their unique needs and concerns, and skillfully advocating for their rights and interests during this process.
What Is Spousal Maintenance?
Maintenance is a court order that requires one spouse to issue payment to the other spouse. Maintenance may be ordered during the divorce (temporary support order) in order to help the dependent spouse transition into a more independent lifestyle; or it may be part of the final divorce settlement (final support order). In addition to being temporary or final, a spousal maintenance order that is issued at the end of a divorce proceeding can be short or long-term, depending upon the circumstances of each of the spouses involved.
Spousal maintenance is ordered by a court when one spouse is financially dependent upon another. The following factors are considered by the court in determining whether to award spousal maintenance, and if so, for how long.
Factors the Court Considers in Awarding Spousal Maintenance
As found in Section 403.200 of Kentucky Code, a court will grant an order for maintenance when it finds that:
• One party lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs; and
• The party is also unable to support themselves through employment (often times because they are the custodial parent of a shared child and staying home with the child is more appropriate).
If both criteria are satisfied, then the court will determine both the amount of maintenance and the length of time for which the maintenance award should last based on the following factors:
• The ability of the spouse who will pay maintenance to meet both their own needs and the financial needs of the other spouse;
• The age and physical condition of the maintenance-seeking spouse;
• The duration of the marriage;
• The amount of time it would take for the maintenance-seeking spouse to acquire education or training necessary for employment and income;
• The standard of living established during the marriage; and
• The financial resources of both parties.
When Does a Maintenance Order Terminate?
A maintenance order will terminate upon the date set by the court (which is determined using the factors above). If the award is permanent and meant to continue through the spouses’ life, then a maintenance award will terminate upon either spouse’s death, or if the maintenance-receiving spouse remarries. It is more common for a maintenance order to be permanent when the couple has been married for many years (more than 20) and the maintenance-seeking spouse is of an age where seeking employment to provide for oneself is unrealistic.
Modifying a Spousal Maintenance Award
The court does allow for a spousal maintenance award to be modified in some situations, although the standard for modification is high. As found in Section 403.250 of Kentucky Code, the provisions of a maintenance order may only be modified upon “showing a change of circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms [of an existing award] unconscionable.” This means that a slight change in circumstances may not warrant a modification, but a major change–such as a severe financial event (like a loss of all one’s assets), an accident that renders a party disabled and unable to continue working, etc. might. If you want to modify an existing spousal maintenance award, working with an experienced attorney is highly recommended.
Does Marital Misconduct Affect Spousal Maintenance?
Many parties wonder whether marital misconduct, such as an act of adultery, will influence the amount of spousal maintenance that they can receive or are ordered to pay. While the court cannot consider marital misconduct in determining whether awarding spousal maintenance is appropriate, and while misconduct is not listed by Kentucky statute as a factor that a court should consider in determining how much maintenance to award, there is court precedent for a court weighing marital misconduct. Again, misconduct cannot be considered in determining whether or not an award is appropriate in the first place but may be considered in making a decision regarding how much alimony to award. If you think that marital misconduct should be considered, you should discuss your feelings with your attorney, who can provide you with more specific and knowledgeable advice.
Tax Consequences of Spousal Support Payments
Tax implications are among the primary concerns for spouses who are considering a divorce. There are numerous ways that a marriage dissolution can impact your tax situation, and the payment and receipt of spousal maintenance may be among them. For divorces finalized on or after January 1, 2019, there are significant changes to the tax code regarding the deductibility of alimony payments.
Under the old rules, payor spouses were able to deduct spousal support payments in their federal income taxes, and recipient spouses were required to claim these payments as income. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 did away with the alimony deduction for payor spouses, and it also did away with the requirement for recipient spouses to report alimony received as income.
These is a major change because, in most instances, when Kentucky courts determine that spousal maintenance is appropriate, the payor spouse is in a much higher tax bracket than the recipient spouse. This means that the amount they saved by deducting the alimony would be considerably higher than the amount recipient spouse would have to pay in taxes by reporting the income. By eliminating the spousal maintenance deduction, many divorced couples will have a lower combined income than they would have had prior to the changes in the law.
Our Attorneys Can Help You Secure a Fair Spousal Maintenance Award
If you are getting divorced, there is a lot on your plate. You may already be tasked with worrying about the outcome of a property division settlement or child custody arrangement; thinking about spousal maintenance on top of that can be overwhelming.
At the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates, our attorneys understand that whether you are the maintenance-seeking spouse or the spouse who may be ordered to pay maintenance, a judge’s decision regarding alimony can have a huge effect on your future. We will work with you to help secure a fair spousal maintenance decision, advocating for you every step of the way.
If you are ready to act and protect your best interests, please call our Kentucky divorce attorneys today – we can guide you through all aspects of your divorce. You can reach us at 502-895-2626 today or send us a brief message requesting more information using the intake form on our website. We will reply to your inquiry as soon as possible.