Alimony: Rehabilitative Spousal Support
Alimony awards, also called “spousal support,” are usually granted at the court’s discretion upon a determination, which takes into account certain factors, that spousal maintenance is necessary. Some of the factors considered when determining alimony payments include the education of the spouses, their respective work experiences, income histories, ages, health, the length of the marriage, and the time either spouse has spent out of the work force. Alimony may be either temporary (often called “rehabilitative alimony”) or permanent. The court grants rehabilitative spousal support when one spouse has been disadvantaged in order to equalize the burden of the divorce.
In order to obtain divorce, domicile and residence are important factors. One party must be resident and domiciled in the state where the divorce is sought. In order for the court to obtain jurisdiction, the requirements are “actual residence” and legal domicile. Jurisdiction is determined at the time the divorce petition is filed.
Fault-based Divorce: Cruelty
There are two basic approaches to divorce: fault-based divorce and “no fault” divorce. Most states permit a “no fault” divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Some states still require a fault-based divorce, some allow no-fault divorces, and a few states permit both. The fault grounds or reasons for divorce vary from state to state. Cruelty is a specific fault ground for divorce in most of the states that allow fault based divorces. Prior to the introduction of no-fault divorce grounds, cruelty was the most frequently used reason in seeking a divorce.
As the name implies, “equitable distribution” seeks to give the divorce court some discretion to distribute property equitably in divorce. Many common-law states and some community property states use equitable distribution for dividing marital assets and debts between divorcing spouses. Many equitable distribution states also apply the scheme to divisible property, and some so-called “all property” states may apply it to all of the spouses’ property.
Collaborative law is a method of family law dispute resolution in which divorcing spouses settle their differences out of court. The trend towards collaborative law developed from a desire to avoid lengthy legal and court proceedings while still reaching a compromise mutually acceptable to all parties. Parties to divorce, their attorneys, and any other professional involved agree to make a good faith attempt to reach an amicable settlement without going to court; collaborative practice is intended to minimize difference while working toward that resolution.